21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

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

It’s proper Springtime!

A few weeks ago, I told you about how we had such a lovely time in Croatia, and all the unique things that we did!

However, we did more than just go to Croatia.

Yep!

We also went to..

Wait for it.

Dubrovnik!

And what a magnificent city. I really can’t hold it in any longer so this week, I’m going to tell you why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit, and that if you haven’t been, you ought to go now!

21 REASONS WHY DUBROVNIK IS ONE OF THE TOP EUROPEAN CITIES TO VISIT. IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN. GO NOW!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European citities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!
21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

If you’re just joining, this is what you missed:

Croatia is the first time that I’ve ever been to the Balkan States, my 62nd country, and the first (1st) new country for 2017!

It was better than I ever hoped.

Whoopa!

LET’S GET A LITTLE HISTORY!

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

Dubrovnik , otherwise known as Ragusa, is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, in Dalmatia!

The name Dubrovnik is first recorded in the Charter of Ban Kulin in 1189 and was mostly explained as a Slavic name, meaning an oak grove or oak forest. However, both names Dubrovnik and Ragusa co-existed for several centuries.

Ragusa, recorded – since the 10th century – considered to stem from the Greek word Lausa – remained the official name of the Republic of Dubrovnik until 1808, while Dubrovnik – first recorded in the late 12th century – was in widespread use by the 16th or early 17th century!

The prosperity of the city was historically based on maritime trade, and during the 15th and 16th centuries, became famous not only for it’s wealth, but also for it’s skilled international diplomacy!

Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport, and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. It’s population is about 42,461, and is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

WHY GO TO DUBROVNIK?

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

Courtesy of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board who issued me with a press pass, and very kindly invited us to a Croatian traditional lunch, and organised a private customised walking tour, we were in fact, able to do quite a lot.

Thanks so much!

What now?

I thought you would never ask…

Welcome to the Old City in Dubrovnik, otherwise known as Grad!

1.  The Dubrovnik Old City & City Wall: Dubrovnik is a museum city crammed with hidden treasures. If you don’t do anything at all, make sure you climb the City Wall! Top tip! You can use the ticket of the City Wall to get into the Lovrijenac Fort – for free – and there is no need to buy another ticket!

2.  It’s a waterfront port city: You know how much I enjoy water destinations. Dubrovnik ticked each, and every box!

3.  History: Dubrovnik is an old city alive full of history and stories, and Dubrovnik like the city of Split, is a flagship heritage attraction, utterly protected by UNESCO, since 1979!

A large part of Kings’ Landing and the Red Keep was filmed in Lovrijenac – the fortress outside the City Wall in Dubrovnik – and just a few minutes away!

4.  Walking Tours: The Dubrovnik Tourist Board very kindly organised a private customised walking tour which was peppered with the history of the old Republic of Dubrovnik, tips about famous Croatians, and the secrets of where Game of Thrones was filmed. A large part of King’s Landing and the Red Keep was filmed in Lovrijenac – the fortress outside Dubrovnik’s City Wall and just a few minutes away! In fact, I’m watching the bestselling cult series again right now, and I’m ecstatic. I must have seen the complete 1 – 6 series American Amazon here, British Amazon here, German Amazon here, at least four (4) times, and I’m watching it all over again!

5.  The port of Dubrovnik is romantic: You can enjoy a very pleasant walk along the river-side or towards the castle and fortress. Or you can simply have a meal or a glass of something bubbly, while basking in the early evening sun!

Take me to the island of Lokrum in Croatia, which is a mere 15 minutes away and a special UNESCO forest vegetation reserve!

6.  You can visit an island: You can take a daytrip to the Elaphiti Islands or to the island of Lokrum, a mere 15 minutes away and a special UNESCO forest vegetation reserve! We really tried hard to get there, but either it was raining and no boats were going out, or we spent a hell of a lot of time on the City Wall!

7.  You can stroll through the very small Old City with nothing to fear but the selfie stick of other tourists!

Me in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

8.  It’s a city of history through the ages: You only have to walk through the City Gates and history is right before your very eyes. Turn here, and you’ll see ancient sailing vessels, turn there, and you’ll hear the whisper of centuries of wealth, power and fame!

9.  Dubrovnik is known as a city on the palm of the hand: The city is so named due to it’s history, it’s beauty, and it’s openness to the world!

In a living city, there are strings of washing strewn across the window or terrace. In some places, with the horror of a pair of damp dangling knickers fluttering, in front of one’s face!

10.  Dubrovnik is an authentic living city: I always felt as if I was in somebody’s backyard, as on practically every corner and side-street, there were stairways and steps, and strings of washing seen strewn across the window or terrace. In some places, with the horror of a pair of damp dangling knickers fluttering, in front of one’s face!

11.  Dubrovnik is international: We saw plenty of American, Korean, Italian and Croatian tourists, dominated by Brits and the Irish! A quick look around and a bit of a natter with other tourists would reveal a bevy of young wealthy Indians. Many of whom actually lived in Germany!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

12.  Dubrovnik is small: I don’t know how they do it, but Dubrovnik is tinier than Split! And with a population of just 42,461 inhabitants, is perfectly walkable. In fact, no vehicles are allowed into the Old City except for those trolley-like carts!

13.  The nightlife: Dubrovnik has a great nightlife. In pretty much every corner, there’s a bar or a few tables, and in the summer, live music. As this was a family holiday, the party would have to wait however, almost every evening we found a nice little place where we could enjoy a glass of wine or champagne, while the sun set!

We found a natural cave complete with stalagmites and stalactites. It’s known by the locals, but not so much by travellers. It’s the Cave Bar More in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

14.  Secret bars: We found two bars that were not well-known, but were absolute fantastic. We stumbled upon both of them! One was whilst we decided to go cliff walking around Dubrovnik instead. We found a restaurant, but deeper inside it was a natural cave complete with stalagmites and stalactites! It’s known by the locals, but not so much by travellers. It’s called the Cave Bar More where you could have wine and cocktails. Which we did!

The other place we saw whilst we were on the Castle Walls itself. It’s difficult to find as it’s part of the cliff and sort of tucked behind a side street, that leads to the City Wall. There’s no signage, but if you’re determined, you’ll find it! On talking to one of the waiters, he told me that their customers tend to be locals or those “in the know.” It can get a little chilly, and there are no barriers or fencing, so you’ll need to keep a hold of young kids, but it was awesome.

A marvellous place to have a beer and watch the sun go down in front of the Lokrum island. It’s called Zto Bard. Go find it!

Night life in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

15.  Museums & Galleries: I love places that teach you something and give you an impression of the lives of those living there, and Dubrovnik had them in spades. We were only able to make it to the Maritime Museum, which really gave me some insight into the maritime history of Dubrovnik and how important the sea is, but I so desperately wanted to visit the Ethnographic Museum. We managed a quick peek into the Franciscan Monastery which I recognised from Game of Thrones, and a peek into the Cathedral, but we weren’t able to do it properly, and simply had no time at all, for the Dominican Monastery!

The cable car is a unique way to see the height and sights of the city of Dubrovnik!

16.  Dubrovnik Cable Car: What a unique way to see the height and sights of the city of Dubrovnik! In fact, once you’ve taken the cable car, and you’re at the top of the Srđ Hill, there’s a viewing platform where you can see enchanting views of the Old City, the Lapad Bay, and the other nearby islands!

17.  It’s off the beaten path: Croatia, not to talk of Dubrovnik, is still relatively unknown! Perhaps, it was the fact that we had arrived in the low season, but in Zagreb we saw very few tourists except for Americans and local Croatians. In Split, mainly German and Italian.

Most of the Asian and British tourists seemed to be in Dubrovnik!

There was some sort of voluntary cat home under the steps of the Dubrovnik City Wall!

18.  Cats: We saw cats everywhere. They weren’t as feral or as wild as the cats that we saw in Portugal – but quite cute. In fact, there was some sort of voluntary cat home under the steps of the City Wall! You can make a donation or leave tins of cat food, and even play with the cats. If the cats let you!

19.  A budget destination: In comparison to Italy and Austria nearby, prices are lower and the quality just as good!

OMG! The seafood in Croatia is so impressive!

20.  Croatian food: OMG! The seafood was impressive. More about that next week!

21.  Because Game of Thrones!

TAKE ME THERE?

Take me to Dubrovnik right away!

As you all pretty much know by now, I’m a great believer in train travel. However, Croatia is quite far from Germany, so we flew!

Note: There aren’t a lot of inter-city trains. In fact, there’s no train station in Dubrovnik at all!

There actually aren’t a lot of trains in Croatia at all!

If you’re on a tight budget then many bus-coach companies such as MeinFernbus FlixBus also go to Croatia. But do be aware that the fastest routes are usually only sold in Croatia itself.

We decided to use the coach-bus between Split-Dubrovnik.

Split – Dubrovnik proved problematic, as the coach-bus actually went backwards in the direction of Zagreb, then dropped us in the backwater town of Benkovac, at the Benkovac Busbahnhof!

I didn’t like Benkovac in Croatia, at all!

Benkovac was yucky!

As soon as I saw the “bus station,” I wanted to get the hell out of there!

It was practically deserted and every “room” was boarded up.

We had a 1 hour stop-over at 10:30, and the next decent place was a bar. So we ran to it and ordered a few (non-alcoholic) drinks there!

It’s 10:30 in the morning remember.

An early morning shot of vodka in many East European countries, is believed to be quite healthy!

Not that it stopped any of the local punters. Ho! Ho!….!

Our journey took 8 hours and 30 minutes, but the bus was 45 minutes late, so make that 9 hours and 15 minutes instead!

We probably should have rented a car, and be done with it!

Cost: Split – Benkovac €12.00. Benkovac – Metkovic €7.35. Benkovac – Dubrovnik €5.65 per person.

IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?

Dubrovnik has the potential to be most popular!

Not in April.

But it has the potential to be, as Dubrovnik is most popular!

In fact, most of the tourists were on the City Wall, and many tourist attractions  were still very much empty as it wasn’t yet “the season.” Many a restaurant were looking for punters and luring customers in with 10% discounts, or more!

But in the summer, prepare to gird your loins, and fight your way through!

Plan well.

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS DUBROVNIK LIKE?

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

Marvellous!

We were only there for 4 days, but we could have stayed for a week, as we had so many things to see, and the weather put a hamper on some of the activities that we wanted to do.

It’s rich in history, is of architectural interest and has a wonderful harbour. There are castles and fortresses galore, the seafood and wine is not to be missed, and the islands nearby are attractive.

If it’s good enough to reflect the main filming location in Game of Thrones as King’s Landing, the capital city of the Seven Kingdoms, it’s good enough for you!

I DON’T SPEAK CROATIAN!

I’m guessing that the parrots don’t speak much Croatian either, although I couldn’t quite understand what they were doing there!

No worries!

It’s amazing how many languages a typical European speaks.

Most speak a minimum of three (3)!

If you speak English, German, Italian or Korean, you’re good to go.

Besides, everyone pretty much speaks English too!

AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?

You really can’t live on the Dubrovnik City Wall. Even if you want to!

Not at all.

Not unless you want to!

I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This glass of beer was quaffed on our Dubrovnik apartment terrace, and was a gift from our Croatian landlord!

We’ve all been there.

Dubrovnik isn’t cheap-cheap, but if you’re from the UK or the US, it’s as cheap as chips.

If you’re from Germany, prices are the same as in Berlin, and you can eat at gourmet restaurants, at budget prices!

And the seafood is delightful!

We pretty much spent a large amount of time drinking lots of wine, whilst people watching. And a few more!

And on this trip, we decided to book apartments instead of hotels or hostels.

Book your apartment here!

This was our sunny terrace at our Dubrovnik apartment. We were very comfortable!

We had great difficulty with personal space in Madrid last year, as The Tall Young Gentleman has recently turned 15 (OMG!), and is very tall. We decided to either book two (2) hotel rooms, or a large apartment instead.

Prices are low, and the quality and standard of apartments available, is exceedingly high.

Book ahead to get good prices.

Book your apartment or hotel here!

I’M LOOKING FOR SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT. ANY IDEAS?

I have plenty of ideas. Just ask me!

Always.

Go ahead and ask me!

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?

Lots of people, walk or take the bus. But you can just as well canoe your way around!

All of Croatia is pretty small, so every city we visited was quite walkable.

Cars are not allowed into the Old City! For the day-to-day, the locals used some sort of cart!

Dubrovnik is pretty small so everywhere is walkable. You can travel around the city by bicycle, boat, cable car, the local bus, or simply walk.

We were lucky to get a private customised city tour courtesy of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board who paired us with the expertise of the PR Department Coordinator!

ANYTHING ELSE?

You need proper shoes in order to navigate Croatia!
You need proper shoes in order to navigate Croatia!

Ditch the heels and expensive leather brogues, and take comfortable walking shoes.

There be steep and cobbled stones!

Oh, and get the Dubrovnik Card. It includes the cost of the City Walls, which more than makes up for itself!

MY VERDICT:

Dubrovnik is a dream!

Dubrovnik is an undisputed dream.

It’s medieval.

It’s appealing.

It’s got history, art and culture, and looks utterly charming.

If you’re looking for one of the top European cities to visit in 2017, that is safe, lively, and ready to be discovered. It’s right there!

WOULD I COME AGAIN?

Because the White Walkers from Game of Thrones, scare me!

Utterly!

Because, Game of Thrones!

Go visit Dubrovnik. Now!

Where we stayed: Green Park Apartments – Just €60.00 per night for the whole apartment. Marvellous!

Book your hotel here!

21 REASONS WHY DUBROVNIK IS ONE OF THE TOP EUROPEAN CITIES TO VISIT. IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN. GO NOW!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a press pass, and a complimentary city tour courtesy of the Split – Dalmatia County Tourist Board, all opinions and the delightful Castle Wall that we sprawled over, are my very own!

In May & June, I’ll be visiting Sweden and Slovenia!

From May 17th – May 20th, I’ll be at the Berlin Music Video Awards.

From June 8th – June 9th, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.

From July 4th – July 7th, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week. It’s going to be so much fun!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in May, you’re quite mad!

Save the Date!

May & June are going to be pleasing!

Croatian food is most delicious!

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!

21 reasons why Dubrovnik is one of the top European cities to visit. If you haven’t been. Go now!

Have you ever been to Dubrovnic? Any ideas why parrots are in the Old City? 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

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

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How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

You have to take action to get it!!
You have to take action to get it!!

It’s 2017 and it’s January. At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year and what you’re going to do this year.

Last year, I travelled to 10 counties. 10 countries!

However did I do that?

My husband - The Music Producer and I in Milan - Italy.
My husband – The Music Producer and I in Milan – Italy.

I’m not a multi-millionaire. Neither is my husband!

I didn’t win the lottery.

I didn’t quit my job.

I didn’t change my lifestyle.

I didn’t throw my one and only child into boarding school.

I didn’t re-locate to a warmer (cheaper) climate.

I didn’t sell my stuff!

The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” - Fixing bikes. As boys do!
The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” – Fixing bikes. As boys do!

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my About Me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a job as a School Vice – Principal / Social Media Manager in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And by god. I have a daily budget. Absolutely, just like you.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" in Switzerland!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” in Switzerland!

And yet.

And yet…..

There was something that I did differently that might have been slightly the opposite of you.

I wanted to travel to more destinations last year, and I did.

Me at the Grotto in the Algarve - Portugal!
Me at the Grotto in the Algarve – Portugal!

I wanted to get on that plane and go to the Philippines. I wanted to visit a Chinese-speaking country. I wanted to give Spain another chance, so we went to other parts of Spain. In fact, we loved the region so much, that we added a week to Portugal as well! I wanted to take that train to Switzerland, so we did. OMG! “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I were spending money over the summer, as if it were going out of fashion, so we decided to invest in sandwiches, salad and cake whilst travelling to Luxembourg. We sort of missed our transport in Denmark, and had to buy a new ticket in Copenhagen. Again!

We were desperate to travel through the peak season of the summer holidays, so we used all the summer weekends!

We took the long-distance-inter-country-night-train.

From Berlin.

Book your hotel here!

"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!

I’m totally mad! But I did it anyway LOL!

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.

You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!

I'm looking gorgeous in the Philippines! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
I’m looking gorgeous in the Philippines!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I’m living proof of that.

Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era. I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed! I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely! I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the name of our 5-star historical hotel. (thankfully, I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)! I had an awful time in Barcelona, had two flight delays and ended up having to spend the complete night at the airport as my final destination was two (2) hours away, and there was no transport that could take me there!

Heck! I even missed my flight to Qatar and had to go to Korea instead!

I’ve adjusted my travelling style over time according to my circumstances, who I’m travelling with, my budget, and my mood!

And let me tell you. I’m not 20 anymore so those fleapit hostels, motels, cheap-I-don’t-wanna-know-who-slept-here-previously are definitely now gone!

Yes, I’m going to keep an eye on my hard-working money, but no, I’m no longer going to be sharing a room with 20 people, 10 people or even 5 other people!

Book your hotel here!

Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.
Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

So book your hotel here!

This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn't justify the cost!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn’t justify the cost!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few last year, but we paid that little bit extra for two (2) private rooms (since our child is a teenager and a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We also went to fancy hotel resorts and even slept in an antiquated classical castle, on the German seaside!

So, how can you have it all?

If you’re under 25 years old, you don’t need it all, and that’s the darn truth!

Book your hostel with free cancellation. Here!

Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!
Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!

Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business. Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage. and you’re good to go!

I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go. If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. But my goodness, the USA is good for the greatest roadtrip of your life. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.

And when it’s over, it’s over!

You come back, buckle down, save up, and then do it again.

Properly!

Grab a few friends, and off you go. You're gonna have a thrilling great time!
Grab a few friends, and off you go. You’re gonna have a thrilling great time!

Now for those of you over 25 years old with jobs, families, responsibilities, and crossroads in front of you, do what I do.

I live life to the full, I work hard at my office and on my blog, and I get creative.

Yes, creative.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.
  • Our son is 14 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

What do I do?

I book ahead. Far ahead!

In 2012, we went on a 3 week trip to Tuscany. In August!

I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling. Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I took out a map, planned the places that we wanted to go and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles. Yes, castles. And the most we paid for our 300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-river was €52.00 per day. For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

Book your hotel here!

Ouch! I'm still smiling. I'm still smiling! Even though there's a monkey on my head in Bali! Photo @Frank Böster
Ouch! I’m still smiling. I’m still smiling! Even though there’s a monkey on my head in Bali!
Photo @Frank Böster

In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Indonesia, Qatar, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.

In 2015, we went to the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Actually, we took a ferry to Helsinki, but still! Anyway, we took a bus-coach. The journey took us 26 hours, and we were knackered and exhausted, but we didn’t die!

We started planning it in 2014.

In 2016, I went back to Asia, but our family trips were firmly based in Europe. Brexit or not! We went to Spain, Portgual, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.

Again, planning started in 2015, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!

So book your hotel sooner rather than later. Right here!

The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn't stop you travelling! @Visit England - Rich J Jones
The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn’t stop you travelling!
@Visit England – Rich J Jones
  • If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days. Many get more! If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks!

And how did I do this?

Over Easter and May Day weekend. And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2015) you can just take the Monday and Tuesday off and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 9 days off but 2 official holidays.

Boom!!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" skiing at Rokytnice nad Jizerou - the Czech Republic!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” skiing at Rokytnice nad Jizerou – the Czech Republic!

If you live in Europe, everywhere is so close. Poland is 1.5 hours away from Berlin. Denmark about 4-5 hours. By car.

England is 1.5 hours away by plane. France, Greece, and Italy, are about 2-3 hours. Spain, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco, and Egypt about 3-4 hours.

By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, we travelled all the way from Finland for all of €50, and we didn’t die!

In short, distance isn’t an issue.

You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle. If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels and couchsurfing for absolutely free!

if you’re nervous about couchsurfing, you can book your hotel here!

My family & I in Thailand - All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
  • We’re comfortable. We’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do I do?

We save, budget and plan how much we can reasonably spend.

It took us 2 years to save for our Asia trip, and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day. We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150.00 flying around in Asia itself each rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali! We were there for a month.

  • Book ahead.

Far ahead!

And as for Poland, I paid €26 per night for the lovely floor-heated-free-WIFI-on-the Baltic-Sea double room!

If the budget is “reasonable” then use B&B’s, pensions, and small or budget hotels.

Book your hotel here!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" with the Pearly King in London.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” with the Pearly King in London.

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it. Plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.
20 years of EasyJet flying!
20 years of EasyJet flying!

So go ahead and register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.

Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with EasyJet for free! And why? Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.

If you’re travelling miles apart, book ahead and take a plane.

It’s generally not worth travel hacking within Europe as flights are so cheap, and destinations are short.

If money is an issue, there are plenty of no-frills, low budgets airlines available to you such as EasyJet and the like. If you book ahead, fares can be as little as €4.99, sometimes less!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" taking to the sails in Mardorf.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” taking to the sails in Mardorf.

You can also go by boat and sail away onto the sea which is exactly what we did when we went to Finland!

In many cases, trains are cheaper than planes if you book ahead, and certainly in Germany, children under 15 years old are completely and utterly free! We travelled to Budapest from Berlin which was a thirteen (13) hour train journey and it only cost €69.00 for myself and my boy. First class!

For train travel all around the world check out the website of The Man in Seat Sixty-One . . . or Deutsche Bahn.

Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!
Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!

But remember, if you’re using the Deutsche Bahn website, change the location to Germany and use the English word for Deutschland which is Germany! NOT the UK/Ireland one! And then change the language to English!

  • Be creative with flexibility! We have school and jobs. Just like you.
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn't mean that you can't look for an adventure!
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t look for an adventure!

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible. If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget and then go on the airline’s own website.

It pays to be a little flexible if you can. You don’t have to limit yourself. You don’t even have to make up your mind. Use your home-base as a starting point and then go for “anywhere” and just keep trying out different destinations until you’re happy with it, or the location is within your budget.

Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Go to South America instead of North America.

Go to Wales instead of England.

Or not.

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.

If you're American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that's alright too!
If you’re American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that’s alright too!

If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated. However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure. Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.

Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to. Do the road trip. Fly to Argentina.

If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful. I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.

If you feel more comfortable, going on a package tour. Go for it.

If you feel more comfortable travelling with the whole family. It’s your call.

Book your hotel here!

Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
  • Don’t forget to ask. We love a bargain. Just like you.

Ask for discounts. Ask for a bigger room. Ask for an included breakfast. Ask for WiFi. Ask for an extra bed. Ask for free parking. Ask about children prices, student prices, “elderly” prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices. If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.

Ask, and ask again.

Being a British European means being widely travelled.
Being a British European means being widely travelled.

As far as international relations is concerned, last year was a disaster so I’m taking part in bringing the world together as part of a Pledge to Travel campaign.

I’m going to #ExploreMore2017. You should too.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “only” 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days. Just know that you can afford to travel. You can have it all.

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2017?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Romania
Romania
  • Romania
  • The Czech Republic
Croatia
Croatia
  • Croatia
  • France
Lake Bled in Slovenia
Lake Bled in Slovenia
  • Slovenia
  • Holland
Sweden
Sweden
  • Sweden
  • England
Russia
Russia
  • Russia
  • Poland
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again! Ho! For the the luck of the lovely Irish!
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again!
Ho! For the luck of the lovely Irish!
  • Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  • Austria
Austria
Austria
  • And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!
Beer for everyone in Germany 'cos the drinks are on meeeee!
Beer for everyone in Germany ‘cos the drinks are on meeeee!

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure. I live in Germany which many consider to be an expensive Western nation.

I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.

I choose to have it all.

HOW I CAN AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL. DON’T CHOOSE. HAVE IT ALL! BUT YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION TO GET IT!!

I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too! #ExploreMore2017
I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too!
#ExploreMore2017

This article is not sponsored, and the thrilling countries that I’m going to visit in 2017, are my very own!

It’s January. Well, hello there!

I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.  Save the Date!

At the beginning of  January, I’ll be going to Holland, and at the end of it, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, you’re missing out!

January is going to be spectacular!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don't choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!
How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

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!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don't choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!
How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

Do you have any travel plans for 2017? Join me and let me know where you’re going to #ExploreMore2017!

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!

Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

Shocking news! I'm actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is....Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

I’m actually in the Philippines you guys!

And wow!

It’s looking far better than what I ever imagined it would be like!

But first.

The Philippines?

Shocking news! I'm actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is....Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

WHATEVER AM I DOING THERE?

Well boys and girls, a long time ago, in the summer……..I told you that I had astonishing news! That astonishing news was the introduction of my journey to the Philippines for the very first time.

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO THAT EXOTIC PLACE?

I’m in the Philippines right now, and it’s ridiculously exciting.

I'm in Manila right now! Yeow!
I’m in Manila right now! Yeow!

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO THERE?

I’m going to:

I'm going to eat the best that Filipino food has to offer!
I’m going to eat the best that Filipino food has to offer!
  • Visit Manila
  • Fly to the island of Bohol
  • See the most famous Chocolate Hills (which aren’t actually made of chocolate…)
  • Stare at the tarsier, otherwise known as the world’s smallest monkey!
  • Go on a river cruise
  • Run around the Bohol Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Explore the southern edge of Bohol’s Panglao Island
  • Search out where the best dives can be found on the Balicasag Island
  • Explore historic Cebu – the Queen City of the South!
  • Sail across and experience a Mactan Island Tour
  • Find out if the Lechon suckling pig dish delicacy really is as good as they say!
  • Eat the best that Filipino food has to offer!
  • And at the end of it all, I’m going to take advantage of the spa and massage moments, because by the end of an exciting but intense time, I’m going to need it!

Book your hotel here!

I'm going to see everything that there is to see all over the Philippines!
I’m going to see everything that there is to see all over the Philippines!

Whew!

BUT WHY AGAIN?

Sigh!

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

As you know, I’m a lifestyle expat travel blogger. And part of this lifestyle is spending an awful amount of time writing and spreading the love on social media.

If you don’t get yourself out there, it can be quite lonely.

Thankfully, I’m a bit of a social butterfly and a little bit of a show-off, so meeting other bloggers is always going to be a good thing. One of those ways to get-together is to attend a TBEX conference.

I had originally planned to go to Sweden...!
I had originally planned to go to Sweden…!

I had originally planned to go to the European conference in Sweden, but a window opened up. That window was the fact that I’m taking up a new job!

Yep!

I'll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!
I’ll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!

Now you all know that I presently work for a British / American company doing corporate teaching in industrial, business and governmental establishments. Well, from November 2016, I’ll be working for a German company as the Vice-School Principal. And get this. I’ll be responsible for their English-speaking business AND their Social Media Management!

It’s a small business and will be focused on international languages. The company is called LOGO Sprachenschule, and is based in my gentrified hipster neighbourhood of Prenzlauerberg. In the best place in the world – Berlin!

As usual, I’m an advocate for smart travelling, so I’m not quitting either my travels or my job anytime soon, thanks very much!

and then We Were Three. In Wales!
and then We Were Three.
In Wales!

Anyhoo!

Oh yes. I didn’t go to the conference in Sweden, so I decided to go to the TBEX Asia-Pacific 2016 conference in the Philippines instead!

Gosh, you’re a busy girl Victoria!

WHAT IS TBEX ALL ABOUT?

I'm at TBEX - Travel Blog Exchange Asia Pacific 2016 - The future of travel Media!
I’m at TBEX – Travel Blog Exchange Asia-Pacific 2016 – The future of travel Media!

Well, TBEX is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange.

It’s the world’s largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, writers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and social-media-savvy travel industry professionals. There are three (3) conferences held annually in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, attracting 600-1000 delegates from all over the world!

The organisation used to be located in North America and Europe but for the first time in 2015, was based not only in “the West” but in Asia too, and on a cruise-ship in the middle of the sea!

Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain for TBEX.
Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain for TBEX.

It’s also a medium for the creative minds of the travel industry to come together, to network, to learn, to negotiate with the travel industry, and for those who are so inclined, to take the business of blogging to the next level.

How exciting!

I had heard a lot of good and sometimes controversial things about TBEX, but I decided to attend the conference for myself and make up my own mind.

Last year, I went to the TBEX conference for the very first time.

Eeek!

Shocking news! I'm actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is....Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

Every year, TBEX partners with fantastic destinations so that bloggers and media people get the opportunity to meet potential business partners or sponsors, meet influential bloggers, get new strategies and tips, network with each other, discover new destinations, share a new experience and well, be entertained and paaaaaaaarty like it’s 1999!

Oh alright then. Paaaaaarty like it’s 2016!

Party like it's 2016 at TBEX in Manila! ©Vicki Winters
Party like it’s 2016 at TBEX in Manila!
©Vicki Winters

There.

Happy now!

I love the Asian continent, and I’ve been to Asia many, many times, but I’ve never been to the Philippines!

THE PHILIPPINES

Turtles in the Philippines!
Turtles in the Philippines!

The Philippines officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a sovereign island country in Southeast Asia, situated in the western Pacific Ocean!

It consists of:

I can't wait to run across the many sandy white tropical beaches such as this, in Bohol!
I can’t wait to run across the many sandy white tropical beaches such as this, in Bohol!
  • A population of 101 million people!
  • 36,289 kilometres of coastline
  • 10,000 feet of mountain ranges
  • 7,107 tropical islands
  • 6,000 endemic plant species
  • 5,000 species of clams
  • 2,000 species of fish
  • 900 species of seaweed
  • 600 species of birds
  • 500 animal species
  • 400 species of coral
  • 176 languages and local dialects
  • 100 indigenous ethnic groups
  • 22 species of whales and dolphins
  • countless beaches
  • and the capital city – Manila

Book your hotel here!

Just me and my horse in Manila!
Just me and my horse in Manila!

Golly!

While I’m in this part of Asia, I decided to visit another new country in the vicinity.

I picked Taaaaaaaaaaaiwan!

TAIWAN

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).
Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia.

Neighbors include the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous non-UN state and the largest economy outside the UN.

The history of Taiwan dates back tens of thousands of years although it’s believed that the appearance of a culture based on agriculture around 3000 BC, reflects the arrival of the ancestors of today’s Taiwanese aborigines.

Taiwan was initially colonised by the Dutch in the 17th century, followed by an influx of Han Chinese including Hakka immigrants from the Fujian and Guangdong areas of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait.

The Spanish built a settlement in the north for a brief period, but were driven out by the Dutch in 1642.

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).
Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).

In 1662, Koxinga, a loyalist of the Ming dynasty who had lost control of mainland China in 1644, defeated the Dutch and established a base of operations on the island. His forces were also defeated by the Qing dynasty in 1683, and parts of Taiwan became increasingly integrated into the Qing empire. Following the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing ceded the island, along with Penghu, to the Empire of Japan.

In 1945, following the end of World War II, the Republic of China (ROC), led by the Kuomintang (KMT), took control of Taiwan.

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).
Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).

The KMT ruled Taiwan (along with Kinmen, Wuqiu and the Matsu Islands on the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait) as a single-party state for forty years, until democratic reforms in the 1980s.

During the post-war period, Taiwan experienced rapid industrialization and economic growth, and was known as one of the “Four Asian Tigers.”

Wow!

How intriguing!

That’s all for now!

Book your hotel here!

SHOCKING NEWS! I’M ACTUALLY IN THE PHILIPPINES AND GUESS WHAT? THE SECRET CHINESE-SPEAKING LOCATION I TOLD YOU ABOUT IS….TAIWAN!

Street food in the Philippines.
Street food in the Philippines.

Even though I was a member of TBEX, all opinions and the exciting time that I’m currently in the middle of, is my very own!

Right now I’m travelling around the Philippines and Taiwan and you can follow what I’m doing and where I’m going, on Twitter & Facebook.

Come and find me on social media ‘cos you know what, I believe it really is more fun in the Philippines!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria and starting a new job!

Save the Date!

October is going to be just delightful!

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 October, you’re lost!

Watch this space!

How do I get to Taiwan?
How do I get to Taiwan?

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!

Shocking news! I'm in the Philippines and the secret location is Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m in the Philippines and the secret location is Taiwan!

Have you ever been to the Philippines? Did you guess the secret location would be Taiwan? Any tips? 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!