I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

I bet you weren’t expecting this!

So, what happened?

As you know, I’m a great advocate for Europe, and even more so for Eastern Europe. I mean you only have to scroll through this link to experience my love for the continent.

But if you’re as lazy as I am (whaaaat!), I’ll give you a helping hand!

CROATIA:

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

THE CZECH REPUBLIC:

Myself with ski leaders in Rokytnice nad Jizerou – Czech Republic

ESTONIA:

On the cobbled streets of Tallinn, Estonia.

HUNGARY:

With Eszter Bittmann In Budapest, Hungary.

LATVIA:

Green soup from Riga, Latvia.

LITHUANIA:

Our extremely funny walking tour guide in Latvia.

POLAND:

Polish fishermen on the Polish Baltic Sea who did fabulously well. 🙂

SLOVAKIA:

Take photographs and wander at will!
Go on a walking tour in the Old Town.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

SLOVENIA:

A delicious mug of cold beer in Ljubljana – Slovenia!

Now to be clear, I’m not saying that I don’t like Romania. I’m not a hater you know.

I’m just saying that it didn’t tickle my fancy!

And even though that’s a rare thing, here’s somewhere else that I won’t be rushing to anytime soon.

Singapore.

South Africa.

The Dominican Republic.

And.

Slovakia!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Not Sloveeeeeenia that I absolutely adore.

But Slovaaaaakia.

I mean, once upon a time, I even spent a considerable amount of time living there.

And it hadn’t changed.

Not one bit.

And not for the better either!

Now before you all get your pitchforks out and proceed to burn me at the stake.

When writing about Romania, I’m refering to the nation and state of Romania, not the people.

And certainly, I’m not in any way making reference to the Roma minority!

I’m not cruel!

 

If anything, I very much enjoyed learning about the history and culture of the indigenous people, and only wish that I could have learnt more!

So what’s this post all about then?

Well, Romania was my 65th country, and in truth I was excited, and waiting to be dazzled.

Not by flashy buildings or histories of yore, but just by that feeling of joy.

Being in another place.

I mean, I was in a new country n’ everything.

And some things were quite interesting (I’ll tell you all about them next week)!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

But.

I wasn’t overwhelmed.

I wasn’t fascinated.

And sad to say.

I wasn’t even impressed.

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

I’m well-travelled and know perfectly well that each country has a different charm to it.

And you don’t have to be a wealthy nation, have historical claim, or filled with a huge amount of resources, to get it right.

You don’t even have to have a name that anyone can pronounce.

Heck!

You can be as tiny as you like and still be totally compelling!

How to visit the Balkans: Introducing Croatia – the dream of Game of Thrones!

So.

I’m the last person on earth to ram my opinion down anyone’s throat.

Let’s get a little bit of background shall we?

ROMANIA

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Romania is a country in a region that is considered to be Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and South-East Europe, and surrounded by Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, Moldova, the Ukraine, as well as the Black Sea!

It has a population of almost 20 million people, is considered one of the poorest members of the EU.

That notwithstanding, Romania has the second-longest river in Europe flowing through it – the River Danube – the second-longest mountain range in Europe – the Carpathian Mountains – and has been around as far back as 40,000 years ago!

Most people don’t know an awful lot about Romania, but it’s rise to fame came about in modern times due to the Communist rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the intrigue of Bran Castle, otherwise known as Count Dracula’s Castle.

More about this next week!

AND BUCHAREST?

WELL, I WENT TO ROMANIA. IT DIDN’T WOW ME!

Corvin Castle / Hunyadi Castle / Hunedoara Castle or Castelul Huniazilor / Castelul Corvinilor in Hunedoara, Romania!
I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Bucharest, otherwise known as București, is the capital of Romania.

It has a population of roughly 1.8 million people, is very near the Bulgarian border, and was first mentioned in 1459!

The architecture of Bucharest is an interesting mix of neo-classical, art-deco, French and communist-era design.

Outside Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Palace of the Parliament!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

In fact, pre-WWI and WWII, Bucharest was sometimes referred to as Little Paris, but was utterly destroyed by earthquakes or the rampant desires of Nicolae Ceaușescu, who preferred Bucharest to look like the country of his dreams, and bull-dozed most of the city to the ground!

Inside Nicolae Ceaușescu’s Palace of the Parliament!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

In truth, Nicolae Ceaușescu did this to make way for his Palace of the Parliament, which outside of the Pentagon, is the largest administrative building in the world!

So there’s that!

WHY GO TO ROMANIA?

Vlad the Impaler – The Real Dracula!

To visit Count Dracula’s Castle!

Nah.

Don’t be ridiculous!

No seriously.

That’s really why I went to Romania!!

The legend of Bran Castle in Romania!

To visit the castles!

Not just Bran Castle, but Pele Castle too!

I’m a tourist. What of it?

TAKE ME THERE?

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer about to get on the airport bus in Romania!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Once again.

We flew with Ryanair.

Phew! We made it! The Ryanair flight was alright!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

And it was pretty alright.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

There’s hardly any one here! Most of the tourists at Hanu’ lui Manuc in the Old Town, were local!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Nope!

Bucharest is beginning to attract attention, and certainly, in the peak months, you’ll get a summer rush, but it’s hardly Dubrovnik.

Or Prague!

Romania isn’t on the radar of most people and so the capital city – Bucharest – is almost always mixed up with – Budapest – the capital city of Hungary!

They’re nowhere near the same!

Budapest is far nicer!

WHAT IS ROMANIA LIKE?

The Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest is most beautiful!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018
Near the trams in Bucharest. Not so much!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Well, it isn’t Switzerland, that’s for sure.

Or Denmark!

It’s not anything like other East European cities either!

It’s a bit gritty, but not like Berlin.

It’s got that old ex-Soviet Union look, but not like Riga, or Warsaw.

It’s a bit rough-looking, and not very well looked after, as there were loads of really beautiful buildings that were either abandoned, or falling apart!

I wanted to get a feel of Romania, so we were there for a week.

Romania didn’t wow me, but The Music Producer said his Romanian soup was nice!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

It didn’t wow me!

I DON’T SPEAK ROMANIAN!

Not a problem.

If you can speak German, Russian or a little English, you’ll be fine!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You’re not going to live in this abandoned hut, so don’t worry!

Umm!

Thanks to the fact that Romania isn’t on the beaten path, accommodation ranges from quite simple, to 5-star establishments.

It won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!

Prices are excellent, so we decided to use booking.com to book a large two-bedroom, two-bathroom, two balcony apartment for just €54.00 a night.

Our Green Apartment was big enough for four (4) people sharing, making it a ridiculous price of €13.50 per person.

I really don’t think you can do any better!

Having said that, in the summer months, book ahead.

BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO ROMANIA?

But what should I dooooooo?
I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Romania isn’t boring.

There is plenty to do.

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Outside the bigger cities, simply walk or use Uber!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Romania isn’t the safest of countries, but public transport is cheap and available.

We chose a better option.

Uber.

OMG!

Uber was so cheap that our rides across town cost as little as €2.60 in some places.

Two (2) Euros and sixty cents!!!

Isn’t that marvellous!

If you’re in Germany, here’s my link!

ANYTHING ELSE?

The service at Distrikt 42 & other restaurants in Romania, was under-whelming!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bucharest – April 2018

Prices are extremely cheap, but do double-check your bill.

Don’t bother to use public transport as Uber is cheap as chips.

The city centre seems to be alright at night, but most of the side roads had no street lamps, so was pretty dark.

There also seems to be a lot of construction going on as the pavements had lots of huge manholes that were fenced off with plastic tape, and couldn’t be seen at night, so that you did, in actual fact, fall in!

Don’t expect service at restaurant and bars.

I live in Berlin, where service isn’t that fantastic, but Romania totally beats nonchalant attitude, hands-down!

The amount of time that I had to ask staff at “nice” restaurants to clear and clean tables before we sat there, was rather too much for my liking.

And apparently, it’s quite the norm!

MY VERDICT:

Romania – A blend of European history, with distinct reminders of a socialist past!

Romania is a European historical country, mixed with distinct reminders of a socialist past.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Victoria & family in Bran Castle near Brasov – Romania!
I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Brasov – April 2018

Probably not!

It didn’t wow me!

I wouldn’t go all out to visit Romania, but if you’re in the region, take a day or two and visit.

Or go to the countryside, which is quite nice!

But as always, don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.

Go see for yourself.

Europe is wonderful!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

I WENT TO ROMANIA. IT DIDN’T WOW ME!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions are really, my very own!

Next week, the Romanian places that I did like!

And in a few weeks, I’ll be revealing my next summer trip!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

I went to Romania. It didn’t wow me!

Have you ever been to a place that didn’t click? Would you visit Romania?

Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Advertisements

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

So last week, I was at the BBC.

You know.

As you do!

And of course, I had to be in London in order to do the BBC Radio 4 recording.

The city of London hasn’t been having a good time of recent, what with two (2) terrorist attacks, a devastating fire in the Grenfell Tower building, and just a few nights ago, a fire outbreak in the market of Camden Lock!

What a disaster!

Thank goodness Londoners, like Mancunians, are the type of people to rally together, and keep each other close. They’re strong, and not easily over-whelmed.

Definitely no #reeling!

If you’re just joining, here’s what I’ve been up to in the past few weeks:

Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner for Bild am Sonntag
©Christian Spreitz

UK:

SWEDEN:

SLOVENIA:

Fantastic news! I’m travelling to Slovenia by bus. Now isn’t that just awesome. Eek!

GERMANY:

Book your hotel here! 

Arriving at Heathrow Airport – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

Now my time in London was awfully short – 24 hours to be exact!

I literally flew in from Berlin on the day, and after checking into my business hotel – The Wesley – promptly left to go to the museum!

Yes.

I’m that girl!

Tate Modern – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

I didn’t have a lot of time to do “stuff,” but if you plan well, you can really pretty much do a lot of things, and on a budget too. I’ve spoken about 6 easy ways to spend 48 hours in London, and how to save money before.

I know!

So here we go:

24 HOURS IN LONDON: 24 THINGS TO DO!

Is it safe to travel to Britain & the UK right now ‘cos I’m scared to travel abroad?

VISIT:

I love museums so whenever I’m in London, I try to go to as many as I can, in order to get a heads up on some art and culture.

Here are my favourites:

  1.  The Museum of London:
The Museum of London – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

The Museum of London is my absolute favourite London museum, and tells the story of London and its people, from archaeological interest, and is also the largest urban history collection in the world!

It’s located between the Barbican centre, the old Roman London Wall and St. Paul’s Cathedral! It looks pretty drab on the outside, but once you venture inside, you’ll be excited!

The Museum of London Docklands – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

A second site was opened in 2003, called the Museum of London Docklands. It’s housed in a Grade I listed warehouse at Canary Wharf, not far from the river Thames. I’m inclined to say that I liked it even more than the original site!

Cost: £0.00

I flew in & after checking into my business hotel – promptly left to go to the Charles Dickens Museum!

This museum was such a great new find that I had to go there, and was kindly sent a complimentary ticket.

Thanks so much!

The Charles Dickens Museum is a large Georgian terraced house, and the first family home of Charles Dickens! He wrote Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby right there, and achieved international fame as one of the world’s greatest storytellers!

I really had a great time there and was able to explore how he and his family lived, his books, furniture, and even some of his clothes. In fact, by all accounts Mr. Charles Dickens was a bit of a dandy!

At the Charles Dickens Museum – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

A delightful visit and well worth, the admission fee!

Cost: Adults – £9.00. Students – £7.00, Children from 6 – 16 – £4.00. Under 6 – Free of charge.

3.  The National Gallery:

The National Gallery – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

Founded in 1824 to display a collection of just 36 paintings, the National Gallery is home to more than 2,300 works of art, from medieval classics to world-famous pieces by French Impressionists.

The National Gallery is located at Trafalgar Square which can be quite packed with tourists and busy Londoners out and about for a drink, or a bit of lunch. So if it all gets too much, just pop into the nearest pub!

Cost: £0.00

4.  The Science Museum, London:

The Science Museum, London – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!
©Plastiques Photography, courtesy of the Science Museum

When I lived in London, this was actually my favourite museum!

I remember getting scammed by a man who sold us magic jumping beans, and once we left Kensington & Chelsea, those beans never jumped again!

Anyhoo! The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator, as well as medical history treasures, and developments in contemporary science, medicine and technology.

The Natural History Museum – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

But the best bit is the hands-on gallery where children can explore basic scientific principles, the oldest display of clocks and watches in the world, and the fact that the Science Museum is right next door to the Natural History Museum!

Cost: £0.00

Book your hotel here! 

SEE:

There are loads of things to see in London such as:

5.  Movies on the River!

Movies on the River – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!
©Time Out

Yep!

London has the first ever open-air cinema!

This amazing and unique addition to London’s buzzing outdoor cinema scene is a summer-long collaboration of London’s Time Out Magazine. However, this being England, make sure that you have a brolly handy!

Cost: £29.00. Over 18’s only!

6.  Sutton House:

Morris Dancers at Sutton House in Hackney, London!
©Kbthompson

Sutton House is a beautiful Tudor red-brick manor house which surprisingly, can be found in the middle of Hackney!

It’s the oldest house in East London and is owned by the National Trust.

It was built in 1535 and is now beautifully restored with authentic original decor, London’s oldest loo, and a mural under the roof, painted by a group of squatters in the 80’s!

Cost: Adults – £5.40. Children – £2.70. Family – £13.60

7.  The Old Vic:

Old Vic 12
©2017 The Old Vic

The Old Vic is an 1818 venue named after Queen Victoria.

The Old Vic is the crucible of many of the performing arts companies and theatres in London today and formed the core of the National Theatre under Laurence Olivier, becoming a highly successful touring company.

It received considerable media attention when Kevin Spacey was appointed artistic director in 2003!

The Old Vic – Girl from the North Country
©2017 The Old Vic

The Old Vic is one of London’s oldest theatres and is located near Waterloo Station.

Cost: £10.00 for the first five (5) previews of every production, except otherwise stated. Thereafter, £15.00+

8.  SPORT:

On the cricket field at one of my best friend’s wedding on the Isle of Wight.
In the UK!

If you don’t have the stamina to plod through the city and queue with the masses, not to worry. Get yourself a basket, pack a picnic hamper, grab a blanket and a deckchair, plop in some champagne, and head to an outdoor open-air screening of whatever you fancy.

Next stop Wimbledon!

All you need is, some strawberries, a picnic hamper & a bottle of Pimms!
©British Tourist Authority

Don’t forget the Pimm’s!

Book your hotel here! 

EAT:

A lovely batch of fish n’ chips!

It’s true that London is known as one of the world’s most expensive cities, but amazingly, you can still eat well, and save quite a lot of money at the same time, by being diligent, keeping your eyes and ears open, and thereby saving yourself a pretty penny!

But how?

9.  LOOK FOR SPECIAL OFFERS:

Look for specials offers in the Evening Standard Newspaper!

A few years ago, I was in London and found that for the month of January and February, twenty-two (22) fine dining / top London restaurants, offered specially priced menus from only £15.00, including an alcoholic drink!

Lunch at Rotunda – A riverside restaurant in London.
Potted salmon & pickled cucumber

That food event was sponsored by the London Evening Standard newspaper, which believes that everyone can afford to eat at the best places, for only a fraction of the cost.

Lunch at Rotunda – A riverside restaurant in London.
Roast free-range chicken, cream potato, white onion sauce & onion petals!

Sponsored by the London Evening Standard Newspaper once again, June saw the launch of London Food Month, for the very first time featuring over 400 events and midnight feasts across the city of London!

I managed to fit a two-course meal plus a drink, at a London restaurant, on the riverside, for just ten (10) quid!

That’s right.

Lunch at Rotunda – A riverside restaurant in London.
A refreshing rosemary lemonade drink!

Cost: £10.00

10.   GET YOURSELF A SANDWICH:

A sandwich anyone?

In Britain, pretty much every shop, supermarket and pub, will sell you a large variety of wonderful sandwiches, spanning from an egg and cheese buttie to a BLT sandwich.

I usually get myself a lovely prawn and cocktail sandwich, which simply, never fails!

Cost: £1.80+

11.  EAT HUMBLE PIE:

A steak and kidney pub meal pie!

I never go to Britain, without having at least one helping of pie.

This trip wasn’t about being a tourist but luckily for me, there was a pub opposite my hotel – The Wesley – so I had a steak and kidney pie meal there!

Cost: £6.00

12.  UNICORN FOOD:

Freakshakes – An instagram monster of a drink & a dessert, all thrown together, and piled up with goodies!

It hasn’t yet reached Berlin, but the craze in London right now are freakshakes!

A freakshake is a milkshake topped with cream, cake, sauce, and sprinkled over with bubblegum, marshmallow, and a handful of sweets!

Cost: £8.00

Book your hotel here! 

DRINK:

Drink up!
©The Churchill Arms

Need I say more, but if you insist. A few words!

13.  Go to the pub and get yourself a pint of ale, bitter, lager, stout, or cider!

Get yourself a pint at a traditional pub in Kensington & Chelsea – London!
©The Churchill Arms

Trend at the moment – The Churchill Arms in Kensington:

The Churchill Arms was built way back in 1750, making it one of the oldest pubs in London!

14.  The London Cocktail Club:

There’s always time for cocktails – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

Opt for up-market cocktails at the London Cocktail Club.

Club membership is free and there’s a choice of eight (8) bars all over London! Over 18’s only.

What more do you want?

Cost: £9.00 – £12.00

15.  GIN & TONIC:

Gin & Tonic has been around for a very long time & we’ve never looked back since then!

A gin & tonic is a highball cocktail made with gin and tonic water poured over ice. It’s usually garnished with a slice or wedge of lime or cucumber, and commonly referred to as a G and T.

G & T has been around as far back as the 16th century, and we’ve never looked back since then!

A favourite of The Queen Mother.

Cost: £5.00

16.  AFTERNOON TEA:

Tea isn’t just a drink. It’s a way of life – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

Tea isn’t just a drink.

It’s a way of life.

The world is a better place with a cup of tea & delicate savouries – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

The world is a better place when you order your cup of tea accompanied by delicate savouries, such as thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, crumpets, sponge cakes, and a glass of refreshing champagne!

The most outstanding servings are to be found at historical hotels such as Afternoon Tea at The Ritz and Claridge’s. But of course, a more budget-conscious way is to go to a typical cream and tea shop such as Bea’s of Bloomsbury and the Urban Tea Rooms.

Cost: £3.50 – £50.00

Book your hotel here! 

PLAY:

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

London is a 24 hour city, and if you know where to look, there’s always something to do. Read on!

17.  URBAN BEACH PARTIES:

Brixton Beach party – 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!
Ⓒ Brixton Beach 2017

London isn’t Miami and you’ll be lucky if you get even the slightest tan, but when the sun does come out, you’ll need to use your elbows in order to jostle Londoners out of the way!

Beaches can be found all over London. Most are free like the Urban London Beach and The Beach at Brent Cross (free with the App), but some like Neverland London or Brixton Beach, have an admission charge.

18.  FESTIVALS IN THE CITY:

Music festivals are key to having a good time! 24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

South West Four (SW4), is a popular UK music festival that takes place on Clapham Common! Over 18’s only!

An alternative music festival would be OnBlackheath.

OnBlackheath is a music, arts and food festival for the discerning music and food lover, with bizarre yet wonderful fringe entertainment, and a safe and nourishing children’s area! It’s held in Blackheath! Families are welcome.

19.  CLUBBING:

There are loads of London clubs to try out and discover. I mean. Whatever. Right!

There are loads of clubs to try out and discover. Get yourself Time Out London, to find out what’s going on in town. Failing that, why not try a former residential block turned into a two-floor club and bar in the heart of trendy Dalston. The name? Birthdays!

Over 18’s only.

Cost: £5.00 – £10.00

20.  CONCERTS & GIGS:

Life is a party. If you’ve only got 24 hours, then dance on!

London is a trendy, hip, city. There’s just loads of live music, concerts and gigs to discover, and if you’ve only got 24 hours, then you’d best check right here!

Book your hotel here! 

SLEEP:

I was exhausted and really, really tired. So I nipped off for a nap!

I know that London is expensive, but my expert recommendation is to actually stay in the centre of the city.

Yes, the centre!

There’s a logic to my madness ‘cos transport around London is iffy and unreliable. You’re better off staying in Central London, where you can either take the bus, or walk!

My business hotel – The Wesley  was booked for me by the BBC, and even though it’s not my usual choice of an art-design or boutique hotel, it was a mere two (2) minute walk to Euston train station.

My hotel at Euston was very practical, and close to all forms of London public transport!

It’s very practical as the mainline train, the underground train stations, and bus stops, were right next to each other.

In fact, during my free time, I used the opportunity to walk right down to Covent Garden!

My hotel was that close!

And then I went to Covent Garden!

Book your London hotel here!

21.  SPLURGE AT DUKE’S LONDON HOTEL:

Splurge at DUKE’S London Hotel!

I’ve been wanting to come here but on this visit, I didn’t have the adequate amount of time to really indulge, but if YOU do, take a stroll down, have some refreshment, or stay for the night!

DUKES LONDON  is a majestic, historical, sophisticated, luxury hotel nestled in the heart of historic Mayfair, and only a 5 minute walk from Buckingham Palace!

Cost: £450.00+

22.  LUXURY AT THE GORING HOTEL:

Choose luxury at The Goring – © The Goring 2016

The Goring Hotel was opened in 1910 and is the only remaining hotel in London that is still owned and run by the family that built it!

The Queen Mother was a regular at The Goring Hotel, and Kate Middleton was based at the hotel during her wedding to Prince William.

Cost: £285.00+

23.  AFFORDABLE LUXURY AT THE HOXTON:

Trendy, affordable luxury at The Hoxton, Shoreditch hotel!

The Hoxton is the first trendy hipster destination hotel to open in East London!

This being London, the rooms are small but cleverly designed, with Wi-Fi, an hour of phone calls, fresh milk, tea, coffee, water AND a light breakfast bag provided, for free!

There are now two branches in London – Hoxton, Shoreditch and Hoxton, Holborn.

I’ll take it!

Cost: £139.00

24.  BED & BREAKFAST AT PARKWOOD:

Bed & Breakfast at the cute Parkwood / Parkwood at Marble Arch Hotel, London!

If you’re looking for a warm family atmosphere, opt for a B&B instead of a hotel.

I went to the Parkwood Hotel, now Parkwood at Marble Arch, back in 2010, when it was the UK Award Winner Bed and Breakfast for 2009 – 2010!

The Parkwood is a beautiful 200-year-old Regency townhouse. It’s just across the road from Hyde Park at Speaker’s Corner, and mere minutes from Marble Arch, Oxford Street & Harrods – ready for some serious shopping! Most of the West End theatres are also within walking distance and Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, etc, are just across the park!

Cost: £120.00

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

Book your hotel here!

24 HOURS IN LONDON: 24 THINGS TO DO!

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the swift time that I had in London, are my very own!

Next week, I’ll be writing about the great time I had in Slovenia, and spending the summer in France and Germany!

On August 23rd, I’ll be at Gamescom!

I’ll be there. Will you?

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

Watch this space!

SPECIAL OFFER!

For two days only (17.07.17 and 18.07.7) Blue Host are offering their webhost programme at a rate of just of $2.65/mo for 36 months on their Basic Plan.

Book it here now!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

24 hours in London: 24 things to do!

What would you choose to do in 24 hours – Visit. See. Eat. Play or Sleep? How many things have you done? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

So as you know, through the summer I’ve been travelling across Europe.

Yes indeed!

But why, you might ask?

Well, you know.

It’s the summer!

And even though Britain is out of the EU, I’m still European!

I'm the British Berliner - a British European. And I'm proud of it!
I’m the British Berliner – a British European.
And I’m proud of it!

What better thing to do than to travel through one of the world’s best continents – that’s right Europe!

If you want to read about ALL the countries that I’ve visited in the last two years, then just click here!

Oh, the summer!

Book your hotel here!

It's summer. Drink up!
It’s summer. Drink up!

My challenge was to visit a European city. Every weekend, through the summer holidays.

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks!

And only to travel.

By train!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" didn't look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

So let’s see how we’re doing.

If you as lazy as I am (whaaaat!), I’m going to put the countries that I’ve been to, on Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign below:

DENMARK:

Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers' markets. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Ditte Isager
Eat Danish street food or visit Danish farmers’ markets.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Ditte Isager

I started off with Denmark and hopped off to Copenhagen.

Is Copenhagen a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Sort of a tick!

Copenhagen was great and you can read all about it below:

Book your hotel here!

SWITZERLAND:

A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!
A few paces away you would find cows in the field gently chewing away, in Lucerne!

I then went to Switzerland, and bounced into Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern!

Is Lucerne a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern was brilliant, and you can read all about it just below:

Book your hotel here!

LUXEMBOURG:

After that, I went to Luxembourg.

Me in front of the Palace of the Frand Dukes. In August! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Me in front of the Palace of the Grand Dukes. In August!
Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe’s smallest countries!

Luxembourg was a new country for me, and I had heard lovely things about it, so I was pretty excited to visit!

Is Luxembourg a European city?

Yes. Tick!

Did I travel only by train?

Yep! Tick!

A most delicious Bosso Spätzle!
How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!

Luxembourg was pretty impressive, and you can read all about it just below:

The next destination was Slovakia!

Book your hotel here!

SLOVAKIA

A historical castle in Slovakia!
A historical castle in Slovakia!

Slovakia, otherwise known as the Slovak Republic, is a country in Central Europe.

It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, and Hungary to the south. Slovakia’s territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres or 19,000 sq miles, and is mostly mountainous. The population is a little over 5 million!

The Slavs arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 5th and 6th centuries. In the 10th century, the territory was integrated into the Kingdom of Hungary, which later became part of the Habsburg Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Slovaks and Czechs established Czechoslovakia, and on 1st January 1993, Slovakia became an independent state,  after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

A prime example of how two nations, even after separation, still live together and or are, connected to each other, without hate and strive!

Myself as lovely as Prague!

As you know, I used to live in the Czech Republic and whilst there, I lived briefly in Slovakia too!

In those days, there was hardly any difference at all, so I wanted to find out if it was still true!

Book your hotel here!

SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava, is the capital of Slovakia.

Bratislava, for much of its history, was a three-language town. Its citizens spoke Slovak, Hungarian and German, and was always quite cosmopolitan in nature. Before 1919, Bratislava was known as Pressburg, Prešporok, Prešpurk, Pozsony, Břetislaw, Bratislav, and finally Bratislava!

Slovakia is a small country, so the capital has a population of just 450,000 – the largest city in the country!

Bratislava in southwestern Slovakia, occupies the banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. It borders both  Austria and Hungary, and is the only capital city in the world that borders two independent countries, separated by just 66 kilometres!

All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!
All three capital cities are connected by the beautiful River Danube!

Bratislava has been strongly influenced by people of different nations and religions, namely from Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Serbia, Hungary, and the Jewish nation. Not only that, but between 1867 and 1918, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary were parts of the same country, otherwise known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

Book your hotel here!

WHY GO TO BRATISLAVA?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Once again, my task?

To visit Bratislava. Sleep in Bratislava. Eat in Bratislava. With young boy tween in tow.

Here we go.

Whoopsie!

TAKE ME THERE?

The best way to travel through Europe is by train!
The best way to travel through Europe is by train!

Bratislava is a small city.

We came in by train.

As you know, Victoria’s Summer European Challenge Campaign is to travel through the summer by train. Being that I live in Berlin, makes it an extremely easy way to travel.

In fact, travelling by train through the European continent is one of the most comfortable ways to travel with ease, from one country to the other. And by far, one of the cheapest!

Book your hotel here!

Think about your budget, and travel cheaply. By train!
Think about your budget, and travel cheaply.
By train!

The snag is to book tickets with the national train companies, directly. On their own websites, or through the German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn. Most websites have an English version. Some can be admittedly slightly hidden, but persevere, or contact them directly by calling, or via Email!

The cheapest way to ease into buying train tickets through most European countries (not all), is to actually book through the Deutsche Bahn portal on the local German English version not the UK or USA version! Note that for Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland, if you’re going by train, I don’t recommend that you do so by InterRail or EuroRail passes, if you’re only travelling to one country, as the prices are ridiculously expensive and children have to be paid for!

Book your hotel here!

Don't suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Don’t suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Last year, I bought a twelve-hour direct train ticket from Berlin to Budapest. In first class for €69.00. Second class was just €10.00 cheaper at €59.00! My child was free of charge!

I bought a seven (7) hour train journey (second class) train ticket via the Hungarian Railways or MAV at a cost of 11,780 Ft or €38.40 to travel from Budapest to Prague. Child included in the cost!

I bought a five (5) hour train journey ticket (second class) to travel from Prague to Berlin. In August for just €29.00! And don’t forget, on the German inter-city Deutsche Bahn trains, children under 15 years old, travelling with their relatives, are free and cost nothing at all!

Use public transport. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Use public transport.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Our return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00!

For Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Lucerne – Berlin, including reserved seating in July was just €98.00. My child was free!

For Luxembourg, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, again, and the twelve (12) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Luxembourg via Cologne and Koblenz – Berlin, including reserved seating in August was €116.00. My child was free!

For Slovakia, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train, once again, and the eleven (11) hour return ticket journey from Berlin – Bratislava – Berlin including reserved seating in August, was a mere €59.00. Yes €59.00! My child was free!

In a future post, I’ll be giving you tips as to how to prepare yourself when travelling on a European train!

Book your hotel here!

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
A knight in the Old Town of Bratislava.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t say so.

We went to Bratislava in August.

Of course you get the day-hopper tourists from Vienna and Budapest, and neighbouring Czechs, but most people haven’t a clue where Slovakia is. In fact, many confuse it with Slovenia.

Most people don’t know where Slovenia is either!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS BRATISLAVA LIKE?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Due to the long train journey, we were there for merely 2 days, but we’re used to that now!

Well, it isn’t Switzerland, that’s for sure, or Denmark!

I mean, Slovakia once used to be a part of Czechoslovakia, and it has a certain charm, but to be honest, it’s not anything like Prague either!

It’s a bit gritty, but not like Berlin.

It’s got that old ex-Soviet Union look, but not like Riga.

In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ - Bratislava Main Train Station - is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc
In my opinion the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ – Bratislava Main Train Station – is a national disgrace! ©rail.cc

It’s a bit rough-looking, and the Bratislava hlavná stanica‎ main railway station, unlike the main train station in Porto, is a disgrace!

Bratislava has presence, but is not very well looked after!

In fact, “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least impressed, but I’m putting it down to the fact that just the weekend prior, we were in a luxury hotel in Luxembourg, and he was treated like a king!

Book your hotel here!

I DON’T SPEAK SLOVAKIAN!

The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!
The local folk of Bratislava, in Slovakia!

Not a problem.

Most people speak English, but if you can speak Czech, German, Russian or Hungarian, you’ll be fine!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

Not quite! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Not quite!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Nah!

Thanks to Bratislava’s excellent location on the border of three countries, accommodation ranges from quite simple to award-winning boutique hotels, so  it won’t be necessary for you to live in a cave!

I had previously wanted to go the boutique route like I did in Warsaw, but the prices they were asking bordered on the ridiculous, so a hostel it was then!

Book your hostel here!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

I'm on a budget. I could sing for my supper! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
I’m on a budget. I could sing for my supper!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Whenever we go on a family holiday, I like to mix things up a little in order to experience a wide variety of accommodation possibilities, to meet the locals, and to stretch our budget in a more comfortable way.

In Copenhagen, I decided to book a family friendly budget hotel. In Lucerne, we went for the cheap and cheerful option of a hostel.

I like comfort, and I’m not averse to a little splendour every now and then so in Luxembourg, we went upscale to a very lovely luxury hotel.

But being that we wanted to be smart, we decided to take the simple route of a hostel, once again!

Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

We went to Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel.

Downtown Backpacker’s is a hostel situated in the historical quarter of the city, and the first hostel in the country!

It’s located 15 minutes walking distance from the main train station, and is one minute from the Presidential Palace!

I had booked a private twin room of course, as I liked the idea of paintings on the wall. We were put on the top floor and into what would have been the best room in the hostel – Mucha – as the private double room also came with it’s own balcony.

No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratsilava, so we had to look through from afar!
No one was able to open our private balcony at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, so we had to look through, from afar!

Sadly, no one was able to open it, and so we looked through what would have been our private balcony, with our private outdoor table, where we would have watched our private sunset, whilst I sipped a glass of Slovakian wine as I wrote my blog!

But it was not to be, as the balcony door lock was broken!

Sigh!

Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!
Our bedroom at the Downtown Backpacker’s Hostel in Bratislava, Slovakia!

Our room came with two single bed and bedsheets already laid out, two large wardrobe-like lockers, two chairs, two standing lamps, a glass table, a large private balcony with a further four chairs, paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs, dotted all over the room, and free WiFi.

There were side plugs, but only on one side of the room, so “The Tall Young Gentleman” wasn’t in the least pleased!

The hostel had a large fully-equipped kitchen, a small dining room, a terrace that turns into a garden, a library, a piano, a large common TV, a dryer, a washing machine, and a very comfy large common room, which for some reason, one man spent every night sleeping in! And shared bathrooms and toilets on every floor.

The bathroom on the lower floor is nicer, and larger!

A free shot of vodka isn't a bad thing!
A free shot of vodka isn’t a bad thing!

There’s also a free shot, free tea and coffee, and a really nice paid breakfast with a 10% discount, if you’re a hostel guest!

We paid €50.00 per night.

It was a nice hostel, and the hostel staff were great and extremely warm and friendly. Highly recommended.

Tick!

Book your hostel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Most likely!

But you’re going to have to do your own research!

Book your hotel here!

BUT WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO BRATISLAVA?

But what should I dooooooo? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
But what should I dooooooo?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

There is plenty to do Bratislava.

I would even go as far as saying, you should spend at least two (2) days in order to get a real feel of the city.  You can:

Go on a walking tour in the Old Town. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Go on a walking tour in the Old Town.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Go on a free walking tour. We went with a little outfit called Be Free Tours
  • Make your own independent walking tour. Pick up free maps in your hostel and hotel, and just take off! It’s really not that difficult!
  • Explore the history and architecture of Bratislava
  • Get your camera out and take a selfie with Čumil peeking out of the manhole, or Schöne Náci in a tall hat and tails!
  • Put on your walking shoes and climb up to Bratislava Castle and take in the view. They sometimes have a night show too!
  • Wander round the cobbled streets of the Old Town, and just get lost!
  • Go to the Town Hall and visit the most impressive Bratislava City Museum  – the oldest museum in Slovakia!
  • Go to St. Martin’s Cathedral and as many other churches as you can manage!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Take photographs with Čumil and wander at will!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
  • Take photographs and buy souvenirs at Michael’s Gate – the only preserved gate left – dating back to the 14th century!
  • Visit the Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Community Museum
  • Walk by the riverside
  • Peep into every corner, and walk onto every little path that you see. And why not?
  • Join in the summer celebrations
  • Go people-watching
  • Check out the various cafes, bars and restaurants, for a quick bite of rustic Slovakian sausages!
  • Relax , take a break, and have a Slovakian beer!

Book your hotel here!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them! p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!
Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are so closely connected that you can easily travel between them!
p.s. Not by the alpine lift obviously!

Bratislava is small. Everywhere is walkable, but local trams, buses, and cruises are simple to use.

In the olden days, the capital cities of Austria and Hungary were so close, that they were connected by a tram line!

Sadly, after World War II, the tram line was closed down!

Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest are connected by the river Danube via a cruise ferry, and there are frequent bus and train connections. In fact, many tourists happily go from at least one of these countries to the other, on a day-trip.

Isn’t that marvellous!

Book your hotel here!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Even though we're tourists, stop cheating us! Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Even though we’re tourists, stop cheating us!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Prices are extremely cheap, but do double-check your bill.

We had lunch in the Old Town and we were over-charged twice! One restaurant even had the cheek to charge the complete bill of their local Slovakian mates, from the next table!

My suspicions were raised when the bill started with the butter that I ordered, but never received…..!

MY VERDICT:

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Bratislava is a European historical city, mixed with forgotten reminders of a socialist past.

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

We wouldn't go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you're in the region, why not? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
We wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, why not?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

I wouldn’t go all out to visit Slovakia, but if you’re in the region, take a day or two and visit, or go to the countryside, which I hear is amazing!

If you’re on a budget, stay in Bratislava and commute to Vienna instead.

But as always, don’t just read the papers, or listen to hearsay.

Go see for yourself.

Europe is wonderful!

Book your hotel here!

Quit your job! Don't quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don't travel through Europe!
Quit your job! Don’t quit your job! Travel through Europe! Don’t travel through Europe!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about Slovakian food, art and films in Berlin, travels to the German Baltic Sea, as well as a comprehensive post on how to use the train in Europe!

In October, I’ll be preparing to go to the TBEX ASIA travel conference in the Philippines, and an extra Asian country, but I’m still not sure where, but heavily leaning towards a Chinese-speaking country!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria.

Yay!

Book your hotel here!

SHOULD YOU VISIT BRATISLAVA, OR STAY AT HOME AND NOT BOTHER!

The Old Town in Slovakia. Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
The Old Town in Slovakia.
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the most delicious Slovakian sausage that we gobbled up, are my very own!

STRICTLY STAND UP – The English Comedy Night is going to take place on 21.09.16 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

I’ll also be attending an exclusive GOLUM! Preview Social Meetup at the Jewish Museum in Berlin!

Save the Date!

September is going to be thrilling!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!

If you’re not in Berlin in September, I can’t imagine where else you would be!

Breakfast in Slovakia!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Have you ever been to Slovakia? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!