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

How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Nicolai Perjesi
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Nicolai Perjesi

So last week’s post was pretty grave.

We had a heap of terrorist attacks all over France and Germany, so it just had to be written! And as I indicated last week,

I can’t tell you what to do, or advice you as to who best to run your country. Or mine!

What I can tell you is how to cope, and how to keep on living, doing whatever it is you’re doing. Just read last week’s post.

But for now, time for a little sunshine!

Ha!

VICTORIA’S SUMMER EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CAMPAIGN HAS BEGUN!

Victoria's Summer European Challenge has begun! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Victoria’s Summer European Challenge has begun!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Every weekend, through the summer holidays, I’m going to be visiting a European city.

Every weekend!

For six (6) weeks and the first place that I went to was Denmark!

HELLO DENMARK!

Hello Denmark! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Hello Denmark!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Denmark is a Scandinavian / Nordic country.

It is south-west of Sweden, south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. In fact, you can either take the cruise ferry across the Baltic Sea, or drive across Northern Germany, via Flensburg!

The Kingdom of Denmark is a sovereign state that comprises of Denmark itself, two autonomous constituent countries – the  Faroe Islands (not in the UK) and Greenland. It also consists of Jutland, and an archipelago of 406 named islands such as Zealand (not New Zealand), Funen, Lolland, Falster and Bornholm, of which roughly only seventy (70) are inhabited, and a population of just 5.7 million people!

Denmark stretches along a coast of 7,314 km, which is longer than the Chinese Wall and the highest point in the country is only 170 metres above sea level!

Goodness!

Denmark is a very old country and dates back to the Vikings! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Denmark is a very old country and dates back to the Vikings!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Denmark is a very old country and in fact, the word Denmark dates back to the Viking age and is carved on the famous Jelling Stone from around 900 AD!

Even though today, Denmark is a tiny country, between the 13th and 17th centuries, Denmark was a superpower who was feared by all and an influence which was enormously powerful. Just check out the Irish-Canadian historical drama television series Vikings, and you’ll see what I mean!

It’s fantastic!

Denmark is known for world-class design, cinema, TV crime thrillers and new Nordic food. Denmark is also known for having the oldest flag in the world still in use by an independent nation, the highest taxes in the world, one of the top international standards of living, and is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world!

The Danes are also regularly ranked as the happiest people on the planet!

I’ve been to Denmark many times, but it’s been twelve (12) years, since I was last there!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO COPENHAGEN?

Demark's most famous icon. The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Anderson!
Denmark’s most famous icon.
The Little Mermaid of Hans Christian Anderson!

Wow!

Copenhagen was burning hot! And I mean that literally!

There I was packing a windbreaker, a warm jacket, jeans, a couple of pairs of socks…when Denmark proved that Nordic countries have lovely summers after all!

I’m more a wintry wind and rain type of person who is not averse to a bit of sunshine, but you know, I like wind, and being that I was born in Manchester, I’m used to rain, fog and mist lol!

So let us begin with some history!

Denmark has a population of just under 600,000 people! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Denmark has a population of just under 600,000 people!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and has a population of just under 600,000 people!

Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand, partly located on Amager, and is separated from a town called Malmö which is actually in Sweden, by the strait of Øresund!

Originally a Viking fishing village founded in 1167, the name of the city reflects its origin as a harbour and a place of commerce. The original Danish name was Køpmannæhafn, meaning “merchants’ harbour,” or often simply Hafn or Havn meaning “harbour” and so from 1417, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark, and still is!

Since the turn of the 21st century, Copenhagen has seen strong urban and cultural development facilitated by investment, in its institutions and infrastructure. It is one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe and has become integrated with the Swedish province of Scania and its largest city, Malmö, forming the Øresund Region!

Did you know that…

Beautiful Danish people! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Niclas Jessen
Beautiful Danish people!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Niclas Jessen
  • The best restaurant in the world is called NOMA and is based in Copenhagen! I desperately wanted to try out some dishes there, but they were fully booked. They have a waiting list though, so if you’re in Copenhagen for a few days try to get a reservation, and take anything you can get. It’ll be worth it!
  • Copenhagen boasts a total of 20 Michelin Stars – more than any other city in Scandinavia!
  • Copenhagen is a bike city with more than 36,000 cyclists every day, and 55% of the local population commuting to work on two wheels! In fact, cycling is taken so seriously that the bike lane is wider than the pedestrian one!
Leaping into the harbour baths at the Islands Brygge! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Leaping into the harbour baths at the Islands Brygge!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • You can swim in the harbour as Copenhagen has a beachside, and centrally located pools where you can swim safely. The water was brilliantly and refreshingly clean, and loads of people were jumping in, and swimming all over. Watch out though as we spotted some jellyfish!
  • Copenhagen has the world’s oldest amusement park otherwise known as Bakken in Dyrehavsbakken, and entrance is free of charge so that you only have to pay for rides, with every Wednesday being a 50% discount if you pay by cash!
  • Copenhagen also has it’s own amusement park and pleasure garden right in the city center, opposite the main train station – Tivoli Gardens, and is fantastic in the winter. The park opened in 1843 and is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world!

Go see!

Copenhagen is home to the world famous Freetown of Christiania. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Copenhagen is home to the world-famous Freetown of Christiania.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Copenhagen is home to the world-famous Freetown of Christiania. Christiania is a green and car-free neighbourhood best known for its autonomous inhabitants’ different way of life. It was established in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks on the site and developed their own set of rules, completely independent of the Danish government.

Freetown Christiania is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues, organic eateries, and nature. Christiania is open to the public and guided tours are available.

I went there with “The Tall Young Gentleman” and even though there were loads of children dashing about, he didn’t like it.

Visitors are advised not to film nor photograph in Christiania proper, so I don't have any lol! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Visitors are advised not to film nor photograph in Christiania proper, so I don’t have any lol!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

It was a very hot day, there was a free concert going on, and so the “restaurant” areas were pretty packed. Members of the public are welcome and you can buy local produce and hand-made woven goods and clothes however, there are signs everywhere making it very clear that visitors are advised not to film nor photograph in Christiania, and also not to use any type of media in the area in and around Pusher Street, where you had people covered in masks, and heavier security due to the selling of marijuana, which is illegal in Denmark.

Oh, and no running!

It was educational, but after looking through the galleries, photographic studios, and generally walking around, we left.

HOW TO VISIT COPENHAGEN ON A BUDGET!

Er. Not spending money in Copenhagen Mr. Hans Christian Anderson. What's that now? Surely not! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Er. Not spending money in Copenhagen Mr. Anderson. What’s that now? Surely not!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Get the cheapest form of transport possible to actually get you to Copenhagen. We chose the train!

But actually, it was a Europa Inter-City coach-bus!

Issued by the train company!

If you're really broke, take to the waters, and make your own way to Denmark! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
If you’re really broke, take to the waters, and make your own way to Denmark!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

It wasn’t a big deal as a return ticket from Berlin – Copenhagen – Berlin was just €58.00 and my son – “The Tall Young Gentleman” was completely and utterly free. Note that if you book Spar Preis Europa trains with German Rail otherwise known as Deutsche Bahn on this version, children who travel with their parents or grandparents, and are under 15, are free of charge!

Yep! Free of charge. They cost nothing. Nada!

  • Stay at a cheap hotel. Not a hostel!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous prices. I really couldn't justify the cost! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous prices. I really couldn’t justify the cost!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

You heard that right!

I love going to boutique hotels and hostels and since I knew that Nordic nations are expensive, I had a peek!

My goodness. Private rooms in hostels were going for €180.00 per night, and at the weekend, hostels insisted on two nights!

Er No!

Lovely boutique hotels even with all my charm and begging, were going for €220.00 and that was with a discount!

My husband wasn’t travelling with me. I just couldn’t justify the cost!

The Cabinn Metro Hotel had a more "realistic" price! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
The Cabinn Metro Hotel had a more “realistic” price!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

Sooooooo, cue to a deeper more intense look as to what was available. And I can’t remember how I found it, but I found a hotel, at a more “realistic” price! The hotel was called Cabinn Metro Hotel.

It was a family friendly budget hotel based a few stops away from the centre of the city. We ended up with an en-suite bunk-bed room with it’s own table and chair, a kettle, a flat-screen TV, towels, an open wardrobe, a few sachets of tea and coffee in the room, and free WiFi.

Breakfast could be had for DKK 75 per person (no child discounts), but we didn’t try it.

The rooms are small, but for just a night, perfectly adequate.

And the price? A marvellous DKK 625 per night!

Arm yourself with a good map. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Arm yourself with a good map.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Arm yourself with a good map.

Free maps of the “official City map of Copenhagen” are available at the Copenhagen train station, hotels, public buildings, and pretty much everywhere! It was invaluable in finding our way around in the various districts, as well as having an included map of the train system and their stations.

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!
  • Use public transport.

We found that as far as transport was concerned, figuring out the right ticket to buy, can be confusing. If you’re planning to visit the suburbs and outer regions of Copenhagen, then buy a 24 hour ticket which will allow you unlimited travel by bus, train, metro and harbour bus in all the zones of the Copenhagen region, including trips to Roskilde, Elsinore or other parts of North Zealand, for 24 hours. Adult tickets cost DKK 130 (and you take two (2) children under the age of 12 for free).  Children under 16 otherwise, cost DKK 65.

If on the other hand, you plan to visit Copenhagen only, don’t buy the 24 hour ticket, opt for the City Pass instead, as we did! You can buy a 24 hour Adult City Pass for DKK 80 or a 72 hour City Pass for DKK 200.  Children under 16 cost DKK 40 (24 hours) or DKK 100 (72 hours). The City Pass gives you unlimited access to buses, trains, metro and harbour buses in zones 1 – 4, and includes the centre of Copenhagen and to and from the airport!

I love walking tours, but walking is thirsty work! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
I love walking tours, but walking is thirsty work!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Go for a free walking tour.

You all know how much I enjoy a good ramble in a foreign city, or even in my own!

There are many outfits to choose from and I have my favourites, but I like to mix things around, so I chose the Copenhagen Free Walking Tours instead, and booked both the Grand Tour of Copenhagen and a Tour of Christianshavn. We loved the Grand Tour (which is a free tour supported by tips), but didn’t quite make it to join the official tour of Christianshavn, so we ended up doing that bit by ourselves…!

  • Go to museums or places of historical interest, for free.

Generally, all national museums in Denmark are free to enter for children under 18!

For adults, you can see Denmark’s most famous icon – A statute of The Little Mermaid, visit the Christiansborg Palace Tower which offers a magnificent view of the city’s rooftops, and go to the following museums which are free on selected days – the Museum of Copenhagen, (Fridays – but is closed until 2018!), the Thorvaldsen Museum (Wednesdays), the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Sundays), the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum, (Wednesdays), the Hirschsprung Collection (Wednesdays), and the Danish Architecture Centre, (Wednesdays, 5pm to 9pm).

Take a boat cruise in the Nyhaven District 'cos you can't be in Copenhagen without taking to the waters! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Take a boat cruise in Nyhaven District ‘cos you can’t be in Copenhagen without taking to the waters!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Take a boat cruise.

You can’t be in Copenhagen without taking to the waters.

There are many ships and cruises to choose from with all of them being quite similar in price and tour. However, whilst on our free walking tour, I saw the sign of a boat cruise with a price-tag that I thought was extremely reasonable. It was a guided cruise in Danish, English & German and cost only 40 DKK for adults and 15 DKK for children under 15!

Wow!

You can find it by the huge banner overhead and the side kiosk that is pretty basic. You need to go to the side of the pier and not to the front, where the other companies are! The cruise takes one hour, and leaves every 20 minutes.

Opt for brunch instead of breakfast or lunch as Danish food is enormously delicious, but the prices are simply out of this world! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Danish food is enormously delicious, but the prices are simply out of this world!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • If you’re in Copenhagen at the weekend, opt for brunch instead of breakfast or lunch.

Danish food is enormously delicious, but the prices are simply out of this world! I mean, a Danish pastry on the Scandlines ferry cost DKK 21.95, and a small cup of tea cost nearly the same! Even a simple sandwich on a cracker was costing a handsome ransom at DKK 58!

What to do?

Well, we discovered an area called Nørreport which is full of restaurants and side cafe’s to choose from. Through rambling and strolling around, I discovered a restaurant called Cafe Palermo. This restaurant serves à la carte of course, but it’s biggest attraction was the buffet brunch that they served for DKK 69 and for students / children DKK 59!

We discovered an area called Nørreport jampacked with restaurants and cafes. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
We discovered an area called Nørreport jam-packed with restaurants and cafes.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

We arrived there a little after 11:00 on Sunday morning, and it was quiet, but by 12:00 loads of young, hip, trendy people started to roll in. We sat by the window, surrounded by cushions, and the buffet was on the upper floor! The buffet consisted of pancakes, sausages, bacon, scrambled egg, a variety of bread, croissants, cake and fruit, as well as cheese, cold cuts, chicken, meat balls, sauces, soups, rice, potato, salads, and a very nice creamy tuna salad.

It was quite delicious!

They’re also known for cocktails!

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
  • Eat at street food or visit farmers’ markets.

In my travels over the years, I’ve realised that the best way to get a feel of the people, the culture, and the food that they eat, is to either go to a street market where the locals go, or to find the nearest farmer’s market, and get the freshest food possible.

We did both!

We went to the farmer’s market at the Torvehallerne across the road from Nørreport Station. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the luxury feel of a food marketplace filled with stalls selling Danish delicacies, local vegetables, fresh fish, delis, wine, and other tasty organic Danish delights!

We absolutely loved it!

Copenhagen Street Food How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Copenhagen Street Food
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

On our last day, we decided to go to the very famous Copenhagen Street Food Market which was brilliant.

It’s on the Papirøen otherwise known as the Paper Island, and is Copenhagen’s first and only genuine street food market on the waterfront cross the harbour. Crammed with the young and the beautiful noshing on grand organic fare, sustainable street food, locally produced bottles of organic beer, and the chill-out vibe of a live DJ on a top deck, leather cushions, deck chairs in the sunshine, people leaping into the harbour, and you’ve got yourself a very warm food truck and party atmosphere, while the sun goes down!

Fabulous!

Danish food is rather more seafood, smoked meat, cheese, smørrebrød, and seasonal berries and herbs! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Danish food is rather more seafood, smoked meat, cheese, smørrebrød, seasonal berries & herbs!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Go local and just eat fresh raw stuff: Denmark isn’t known for a hearty warm meal filled with the coziness of mashed potatoes, cabbage, and a pie! Danish food is rather more barren, making way for seafood, smoked meat, cheese, smørrebrød, and seasonal berries and herbs! As a result, we had rather a lot of sandwiches, salad, and cake!
  • If you’re really broke, take a blanket, take a basket, and enjoy the rest of your holiday on a Danish beach!
  • Buy everything you need at the 7-eleven supermarket, which like in Thailand, are everywhere, and the prices are very, very budget-friendly!
Chill out and have fun on the harbour. How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Chill out and have fun on the harbour.
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
  • Chill out and have fun on the harbour.
  • Visit Christiania, but make sure that you follow their rules.
Rent a bicycle as the bike is king! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Nicolai Perjesi
Rent a bicycle as the bike is king!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Nicolai Perjesi
  • Rent a bicycle as the bike is king, but remember, you must always give way to bicycles, and there are thousands of bike riders, so look both directions before you put a step out, as they’re extremely fast!
  • Walk absolutely everywhere.

ANYTHING ELSE?

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!

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t suddenly decide to jump into the first train that you see, even though you have two (2) hours before you have to get back to the coach-bus station.

Because it won’t end well.

And it didn’t!

Before we realised what had happened, we were somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

And it took almost an hour to get back into town.

And an hour to get back to the hotel to pick up our stuff.

And well!

Even though I took a cab, and the taxi driver stepped on it, I paid a DKK 200 fare.

And we still missed the coach-bus! And our connection. Again! How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!

And we still missed the coach-bus!

And our connection. Again!

Luckily, there was another bus company that hadn’t left – Eurolines – and so a quick dash of shifting our stuff from the taxi to the coach-bus, a bit of a sob story ‘cos there were a queue of people who wanted to buy a ticket, and a last-minute fee of €100 in cash, secured two seats for “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I safely back to Berlin.

Phew!

So there you have it.

HOW TO VISIT COPENHAGEN ON A BUDGET. EVEN THOUGH I MISSED MY LAST CONNECTION. AGAIN!

How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! ©Mette Johnsen
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
©Mette Johnsen

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions about hanging out with hipsters and yuppies, on a Danish harbour, are my very own!

Throughout the summer months of July & August, all the museums in Berlin will be open each and every day! This will conclude with the bi-annual Die Lange Nacht der Museen otherwise known as the Long Night of Museums taking place on 27.8.16 from 6p.m. in the evening ’till 2a.m in the morning!

The Pop Kultur Festival is a new festival based in hipster Neukölln, over three (3) exciting days of new international and German bands, live concerts, performances, talks and reading, taking place from 31.08.16 – 02.09.16.

I’ll be attending an Exclusive Food Tour with Fork & Walk on Wednesday, August 10th organised by the Berlin Chapter of Travel Massive.

Berlin Art Week will take place from 13.09.16 – 18.09.16 so if you like contemporary art, this is the place for it!

Save the Date!

August is going to be scorching!

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 August, what are you waiting for?!

Watch this space!

How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again! Photo ©Michael Colville-Andersen
How to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Even though I missed my last connection. Again!
Photo ©Michael Colville-Andersen

Have you ever been to Copenhagen? Do you think Denmark is expensive? Have you ever missed your flight, train, boat, coach or bus? Spill the beans!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or 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

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Oranges & Lemons say the Bells of St. Clement’s. Say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Oranges in Spain!
Oranges in Spain!

So the last few weeks, I told you about our trip to Madrid, but did I tell you that we went to Seville too?!

Seville!

Ah Seville!

Let me just say that our visit to Seville was the first of its kind!

I know!

We were lucky then that one of our blogger friends KemKem and her Italian husband from – Next Bite of Life – very kindly offered to host us while we there.

Thank you so much guys!

The "Tall Young Gentleman" on his birthday, in Spain. Gosh! He's 14 now. Yikes!
The “Tall Young Gentleman” on his birthday, in Spain.
Gosh! He’s 14 now. Yikes!

When travelling to destinations, I don’t make it a part of my trip to particularly follow a festival, on the other hand, I have followed a piece of Art around the world, but that’s another story..!

In this case, not only was it during the birthday of “The Tall Young Gentleman” who happened to be 14 years old (proud mum here!), but it also happened to be the Easter holidays too.

Now I’m not particularly religious, but the people of Spain are, and we happened to be in Seville right slap in the middle of a most important festival.

That festival called Semana Santa, otherwise known as Holy Week or Easter!

But firstly, let’s talk a little about Seville!

SEVILLE IN GLORIOUS ANDALUSIA!

In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.
In the middle of the Old Town in Seville.

Seville is the capital city of Andalusia and was previously known as the Roman city of Hispalis although, according to legend, Seville was founded by Hercules!

Seville has a population of about 703,000 people and is the fourth (4th) largest city in Spain! It’s Old Town is marvellous and is an area of only 4 square kilometres but has three (3) UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!
On the bridge at the Plaza de España in Seville!

Seville is a river destination leading to the Atlantic Ocean and in fact, is the only river port in Spain! It’s a beautiful city deriving its exotic nature from its Moorish roots and the trans-atlantic trade after the discovery of the Americas, art, literature, and architecture, and the Spanish Golden Age.

I’d always known that Seville was a place of history, but I had no idea how much interest and importance Seville had, and this was revealed by our friends.

They took us on a private tour of a hidden place called the Italica Archaeological Complex.

THE ITALICA ARCHAELOGICAL COMPLEX

Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Jumping high at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

Wow!

I had no idea!

I had absolutely no idea that hidden in Seville was the first permanent Roman settlement in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, and the cradle of the emperor Trajan, who was born there in the year 53 AD, and his successor, Hadrian!

If I’d known that a Roman settlement was in Spain, I’d had gone to Seville much sooner!

Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
Mosaics at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

I mean, my interest was piqued as I’m from Manchester – a Roman civilian settlement called Mancunium in 79 AD. I went to the University of Chester – a Roman fort called Deva Victrix in AD 79. And even my husband from Osnabrück, was born in a city which successfully won the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest against the mighty Roman army, in 9 AD!

It was surely meant to be!

In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!
In the gallery of the Amphitheatre at the Italica Archaelogical Complex in Seville!

The Roman city of Italica was established in 206 BC for the soldiers injured in the Battle of Ilipa, and soon became a city of capital importance between 206 BC and 138 AD, after the reign of that most significant Roman emperor – Hadrian – of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England!

The Italica represented the majesty of the Roman city, clearly visible in the layout of its’ streets, and its’ public and private buildings, which were integrated into an exceptional landscape that was Roman town planning.

All roads eventually, lead to Rome!
All roads eventually, lead to Rome!

Even as a little girl, I had always been impressed by the ingenious of the Romans, and the Italica was no exception!

I mean, there was a Roman amphitheatre, the fully existing tiles of quite a few Roman baths, Roman streets, Roman courtyards, even a House of Birds and a Planetarium.

Astounding!

WHAT SHALL I DO IN THE “OLD TOWN” OF SEVILLE?

 

At the Cathedral in Seville.
At the Cathedral in Seville.

Sadly, we only had three (3) days in Seville and so on our last day, we spent all day and pretty much most of the evening, in the Old Town of Seville. And this is what we did:

  • Use public transport: Our friends lived in the suburbs of Seville, so we took the underground metro into “town.” It was pretty easy to use so we bought one way tickets costing just €1.60 each.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
Rafael from Pancho Tours in Seville.
  • Join a free walking tour: I’m a sucker for free walking tours as well as paid tours…! so we contacted a company in Seville called Pancho Tours. Our guide was called Rafael and he was great and rather funny! When it comes to free walking tours, I have my favourites, but it’s always good to mix and match so that everyone gets a free chance, and as many local people as possible, get our custom!
  • Learn about the history of Spain.
  • Go gaga at the fact that Seville has not one (1) but three (3), UNESCO World Heritage buildings!
  • Visit the official tomb of Christopher Columbus, or so they say….!
Drink up. You don't want to be dehydrated!
Drink up. You don’t want to be dehydrated!
  • Drink! Seville is a hot place!
  • For goodness sake, wear a hat and cover yourself with suncream! I’m dark-skinned, but even I wouldn’t mess about with the sunshine!
  • Go all romantic and hire a horse and carriage. Oh go on! You know you want to!
  • Visit the Cathedral.
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville. Go on! You know you want to!
Hire a horse and carriage in Seville.
Go on! You know you want to!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
One of the many gorgeous churches and chapels in Seville!
  • Admire the many churches and chapels in the city.
  • Take lots and lots of photographs!
  • Go swimming in the Guadalquivir River.
Hire a rowing boat.
Hire a rowing boat.

 HOLY WEEK IN SEVILLE!

Jesus at Easter. In Seville.
Jesus at Easter.
In Seville.

If you’ve never seen a group of people, in hoods, and walking all over town, you’re in for a shock!

I observed this personally, when I first visited Spain, many, many years ago.

I’m not American. I’m British, but I’ve seen the films and read the history of the atrocities of slavery. And believe me, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw all those hooded parades, and people were smiling and playing instruments!

I was shocked!

The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville. I was shocked!
The Catholic Brotherhood at Easter. In Seville.
I was shocked!

So this time around, I wasn’t in the least surprised, still slightly uncomfortable mind, when I observed a whole array of hooded people in Seville. In a variety of colours. Some of them children. And many of them members of the Spanish priesthood! I even saw a few of them queuing up to take a bus!

All of this, was a result of Holy Week.

GOLLY! WHAT’S HOLY WEEK ALL ABOUT THEN?

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Well, Holy Week or Semana Santa in Spain, is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town, during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.

Phew!

The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety, relies almost exclusively on the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities, stemming from the late Middle Ages (1350), to date. Think the Illuminati, Free Masons, etc. Membership is open to any Catholic person, and family tradition is an important element to become a member or “brother.”

Holy Week in Seville is known as Semana Santa de Sevilla and is one of the city’s two biggest annual festivals, the other being the Feria de Abril (April Fair), which follows two weeks later.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!

Semana Santa de Sevilla features the procession of pasos, floats of life-like wooden sculptures, scenes of the events of the Passion, and images of the grieving Virgin Mary. Some of the sculptures are of great antiquity and are considered artistic masterpieces, as well as being culturally and spiritually important to the local Catholic population.

Members of the brotherhood can be recognised by the distinctive cloaks and hoods of each procession. The ones we saw had tunics and hoods with conical tips, that were used to conceal the face of the wearer, and sometimes a cloak. Most of the robes tended to be purple, black and alarmingly, white!

Historically, the robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity.

Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla! © Peter Turnley/Corbis.
Holy Week, otherwise known as Semana Santa de Sevilla!
© Peter Turnley/Corbis.

After exploring Seville, we noticed a high number of Spanish people smartly dressed and full of excitement.

The women were wearing black dresses with a mantilla which is a black lace, silk veil or shawl, that is worn over the head and shoulders, in a high comb called a peineta, and black shoes. All the men wore suits and even the children were smartly dressed, with practically every girl wearing a Sunday Best dress, tights and shiny patent shoes, and almost every boy wearing a suit, a tie and suede shoes. Honestly, it reminded me of my old independent private school uniform!

We decided to follow them.

They led us back into the centre of Seville where practically every road and side-street was closed to traffic. Chairs were lined across the roads, screens were put up, and TV cameras and stages were set.

Why not climb up the Cathdral Tower, in Seville?
Why not climb up the Cathedral Tower, in Seville?

We wanted to climb to the top of the Tower for the sunset view, but due to security, everything had been closed down, police officers were everywhere, and if you hadn’t got a ticket, you wouldn’t be allowed into the cathedral.

However, I managed to sneak in with the flow of the congregation, and observe a little bit of the ceremony and service, before it got too crowded!

The atmosphere was electric, and the streets were buzzing.

Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.
Candles for the procession, at the church in Seville.

At one point, we were on the front row of the procession and watched the brotherhood as they held candles and went barefooted, on the warm streets of Seville!

In centuries past, these people would also carry shackles and chains on their feet as self-punishment and penance!

It was all rather interesting but as it began to get dark, we decided to leave the locals to it.

Ah well!

 IS IT WORTH GOING TO SEVILLE?

The bells of Seville.
The bells of Seville.

The city of Seville has beauty, Arabic architecture and both Jewish and Moorish influences. It has brilliant weather and fabulous food. It also has a river to recommend it. And bells!

Seville is pretty awesome.

And you heard it here first!

Spanish monuments of yore!
Spanish monuments of yore!

This article isn’t sponsored and the fruity time that I had in Seville, is my very own!

In the summer I’ll be going to Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and possibly Russia!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on Britain!

Sometime between now and May 1st, I’ll be visiting the interactive exhibition Discover Mexico or Entdecke Mexiko taking place on Washingtonplatz. It’s free to the public. Go see!

On April 18th, I’m going to be interviewed by a German TV station, about the 5th wedding anniversary of our very own William & Kate!

On April 21st, Queen Elizabeth II will be 90 years old. Hurrah! Ra! Ra!

To celebrate this most prestigious event, I’ll be attending a Gala Show Celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday. A Dinner for the Queen performance at the Wintergarten Varieté in Berlin with the talented Jack Woodhead and “a hint of gin and tonic!”

It’s going to be ridiculously exciting, so you’d better hurry up and get your own ticket!

April 23rd will mark William Shakespeare’s birthday and the 400th anniversary of his death with a very special event – Shakespeare Live! From the RSC in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, hosted by David Tennant! There will be live broadcasting all over the world and Berlin is going to be one of the lucky cities. Yay!

On April 27th, I’ll be attending STRICTLY STAND-UP – The English Comedy Night Show!

I can hardly stand it!

Berlin is going to be so much fun, so if you’re in town, come and join us!

I’ll be there. Will you?

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

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you must be bonkers!

Watch this space!

Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!
Oranges & Lemons say the ancient bells of Seville actually! Awesome!!

Have you ever been to Seville? Would you choose an orange or a lemon?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or 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

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Oh what fun! Tapas, Sangria and a food walking tour in Madrid!

Serrano ham tapas for everyone!
Serrano ham tapas for everyone!

I’ve just got back from Spain & Portugal!

Eeeeeexciting!

And even though during that period of time, a most horrific event occurred, I’m not going to dwell on it any longer than to say, don’t be scared to travel abroad, don’t let fear take control. Just live the life you want!

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

A few weeks ago, I told you that I would be going to England and Spain and Portugal. And I did!

I went to my Master of Arts Graduation Ceremony which was awesome and because I needed to work off all the champagne that we drank, I also went on a little hike to the English countryside. In Cheshire!

WHY SPAIN?

 

Espana - Spain.
Espana – Spain.

I know Spain quite well.

Indeed, I went to Spain only last year but it was more of a business trip-ish since it was about the business of professional blogging, improving one’s skills and networking.

For networking purposes most travel bloggers tend to either go to TBEX in Europe, North America or Asia or to the ITB which is on my home turf of Berlin!

There be dragons in Barcelona, Spain.
There be dragons in Barcelona, Spain.

I usually prefer Barcelona but this time I decided to go to Madrid and Seville and take the family with me.

It’s been over thirteen (13) years since I last went to Madrid and after last years’ nightmare experience, it was clearly time to go back again.

In going to destinations, I always like to call upon locals or expat locals, to give the low-down, and show us around.

In Madrid, we had the opportunity to go on a food walking tour and in Seville, we went along with my American blogger friend – KemKem from Next Bite of Life –  and her Italian husband.

A WALKING TOUR? AGAIN!?!

I absolutely love walking! ©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I absolutely love walking!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

I’m a walker.

I absolutely love walking.

Walking around is a brilliant way to see where you are, establish your bearings and get to grips with your surroundings.

I had gone on the internet looking for a tour that would be informative and at the same time local and found SANDEMANs NEW Europe free walking tours. This company runs tours in Tel Aviv, New York, and most European capital cities. In fact, I have taken the Berlin walking tour myself!

Yep! Even though, I live in Berlin, I love taking a walking tour so that I can keep up to date with new buildings and infrastructure.

The truth is, most people have absolutely no idea of their own city. It just makes logical sense!

In economic times, finding a way to cut costs is all the rage, and you know how much I love walking tours especially free tours, but sometimes I go on intriguing tours too, and I’ve even written a few of my own!

Inspiring Street Art in Berlin.
Inspiring Street Art in Berlin.

Here they all are:

Nepal
Nepal

A few weeks ago, I was at the ITB Berlin and because I needed to get to England pretty much the next day, I had to re-arrange all my appointments over 24 hours rather than in five (5) days!

One of those appointments that I managed to snag was that of meeting David O’Kelly – the Chief Executive Officer of SANDEMANs NEW Europe Walking Tours.

David comes from Manchester in England, just like myself, so we were able to have a really good natter about life as an expat in Germany in general and the business of walking tours in particular.

He was super professional and offered me a choice of any walking tour that I desired over a two month period, with absolutely no pressure to write about any of them. I chose walking tours in Madrid and Lisbon.

Thanks so much SANDEMANs NEW Europe Walking Tours!

I decided to go on the New Madrid Tapas Experience.

We had a bit of difficulty getting everything sorted as the special code that I needed to book it, wouldn’t work. Thankfully, David came to the rescue and personally called the Madrid City Manager to book us in, as their guests.

THE SANDEMANs NEW MADRID TAPAS EXPERIENCE!

The SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience Walking Tour. And drinks!
The SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience Walking Tour.
And drinks!

The SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience walking tour is described as one of the best ways to discover the best tapas places in Madrid with local tapas connoisseurs, and the secrets of Spanish gastronomy!

Our tour started at 19:00 in front of the Tourist Information Office, at the quite popular Plaza Mayor Square.

There were a few other tours taking place at the same time such as the Spanish Inquisition Tour, but the Tapas Experience had the largest crowd of all. We must have been about 50-60 odd people divided into two groups – Spanish-speaking and the largest one – English-speaking. Our guide was Guille and even though the Spanish-speaking guide was Dani, made an effort to involve everyone who was in the group and together made an awesome team!

Most of us were there for one thing, and one thing only – Taaaaaapas!

WHAT ACTUALLY IS TAPAS?

Tapas for Everyone! © Elemaki - José Porras.
Tapas for Everyone!
© Elemaki – José Porras.

Simply put, a tapa or tapas are a wide variety of food served as an appetizer or snack.

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar,” meaning “to cover,” and also “on top of” or “a lid” and even to mean “small portion” and there are many stories, depending on which Spanish city you happen to be in lol!

One theory is that the tapas were slices of bread or meat which punters in taverns used to cover their glasses against dirt, dust, and fruit flies, between sips. The meat used to cover drinks was usually ham or chorizo, which were both very salty and activate thirst.

Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with alcohol, thus increasing their alcohol sales.

Portrait of King Alfonso XIII in the uniform of the Hussars.
Portrait of King Alfonso XIII in the uniform of the Hussars.

I like the story which states that King Alfonso XIII stopped by a famous tavern in Cádiz (Andalusian city), where he ordered a cup of wine. The waiter covered the glass with a slice of cured ham before offering it to the king, to protect the wine from the beach sand as Cádiz was a windy place, and he didn’t want to lose his head!

The king, after drinking the wine and eating the tapas, ordered another wine “with the cover,” and to this day, the law and thus tradition, continues!

There are different types of tapas and punters can order a wide range of tapas or combine them, to make a full meal.

Traditionally, the serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation, and it is customary for diners to stand and move about, while talking and eating!

THE FOOD WALKING TOUR

We started our walking tour at the Museo del Jamon.

We had actually dropped by the night before, but my husband – The Music Producer – was slightly over-whelmed by the crowds as it was quite late, and the merriment was in full swing, so it was nice to be in a crowd of our own lol!

A Spanish Tinto de Verano (sangria) and chorizo tapas in a bun at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid.
A Spanish Tinto de Verano (sangria) and chorizo tapas in a bun at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid.

We were offered drinks and a snack in a bun.

Iberico ham iin Spain.
Iberico ham in Spain.

Followed by trays by cold cuts, sausages and a variety of cheese.

As far as tapas goes, there are the free tapas and the paid-for tapas. If you’re drinking ordinarily, the tapas is included and is 100% free. Don’t expect sophisticated luxury though!

What you’ll get in general, are olives, crisps or potato chips, mini buns, sliced sausages, ham or salami or cheese. And not all at the same time!

The more you drink, the more you are given. In fact, we liked the concept so much that we went back again on our own!

You do need to watch yourself and be assertive though, as the Museo del Jamon is teeming with locals and if you stand out as a tourist, the first thing that they plonk down is the menu, and no free goodies!

However. Aha!

Real drinks with real prices. On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!
Real drinks with real prices.
On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!

Once I had made it known that we knew what we were doing and that we weren’t “just tourists,” the real deal was given to us.

Spanish chorizo and crisps (potato chips) tapas. On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!
Spanish chorizo and crisps (potato chips) tapas.
On our own at the Museo del Jamon in Madrid!

Back to the New Madrid Tapas Experience walking tour!

After spending some time at the Museo del Jamon, we then went to a local tapas bar and restaurant called Rosi La Loca Taberna.

As we were a large group we were given two long rows of tables so that we could mix and get to know each other. On my left side were a group of people from England in their late 50’s, and in front of me a group of people from Argentina in their late 20’s!

The Argentinians were great, and engaged “The Tall Young Gentleman” in a little bit of Spanish as that is his third (3rd) language at school. He’s bilingual and already fluent in both German and English!

He’s also very interested in Korean, but we’ll see!

We liked this place so much that we went back here again too!

Gin and tonic (G&T) Spanish style! ©Albert Mollon - Getty Images.
Gin and tonic (G&T) Spanish style!
©Albert Mollon – Getty Images.

At the Rosi La Loca Taberna, we were served jars of clear liquid, which we all thought was water.

At first!

But it wasn’t!

It was Gin and Tonic!

And the first time we knew of it was when “The Tall Young Gentleman” took a gulp of “icy water” and instantly spat it out, declaring that the “water” had gone off!!

Classic Homemade Paella at Rosi La Loca Taberna. In Madrid!
Classic Homemade Paella at Rosi La Loca Taberna.
In Madrid!

After that, we had shared paella in iron skillets coupled with patatas bravas and Spanish croquettes.

Spanish Croquettes in Madrid.
Spanish Croquettes in Madrid.

Our last destination was at a tavern luckily, just a few feet from our own hotel! This tavern was called Taberna la Cristiana.

Taberna la Cristiana in Madrid.
Taberna la Cristiana in Madrid.

This time around, our tapas mates were a group of young people from Italy, Romania and Brazil on my left hand side, and the Brits and some Americans on my right hand side.

Possibly!

My memory’s a bit fuzzy here as I didn’t take my note-book!

Slabs of bagette covered in plain Spanish cheese without the dollop of brown Spanish sauce! ©Trujillo Villas España.
Slabs of bagette covered in plain Spanish cheese without the dollop of brown Spanish sauce!
©Trujillo Villas España.

We had another portion of paella with green spicy peppers, bowls of olives (yuk!) and slabs of baguette covered in plain Spanish cheese and a dollop of brown Spanish sauce!

And then came that extra Spanish tradition of pouring cider down from some sort of drinking bag!

Under normal circumstances, traditional Asturian Cider is used but for some reason, we had Spanish red wine!

Cider is extremely popular in Spain where cider-drinking is national pride and taken quite seriously.

At first, none of us knew how to use the “bagpipe.”

Spanish cider poured in a certain way or collected in a glass and drunk straight from the barrel! ©foodswinesfromspain.com
Spanish cider poured in a certain way or collected in a glass and drunk straight from the barrel!
©foodswinesfromspain.com

I didn’t get to taste Spanish cider this time around, but I’m told that it can only be found in certain parts of the country, and poured in a certain way, or collected in a glass, and drunk straight from the barrel!

Really dry sidra is served by a peculiar “throwing” method, where an expert escanciador (waiter) will pour the drink from a great height, splashing it onto the side of the glass to aerate it, giving it a mousse-like texture akin to champagne. These short measures should then be downed quickly.

Basically, it’s like standing on a tall chair and trying to pour cider into the mouth of a person who’s sitting down!

I had to tuck in a napkin as wine had trickled all down my green wind-breaker! In Madrid!
I had to tuck in a napkin as wine had trickled all down my green wind-breaker!
In Madrid!

Let me tell you.

It takes a little skill, as every one of us ended up pouring red wine down our front.

I even had to tuck in a napkin, as wine had trickled all down my green wind-breaker!

Lots of fun!

Here’s the info:

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND SPANISH?

Nope!

These tour are in English AND Spanish! If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, just keep drinking!

WHAT DO I NEED?

More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!
More drinks are always welcome in Madrid!

A pair of good shoes, a rain-jacket in case it rains, a few Euros for extra drinks, and a huge smile!

HOW MUCH?

This tour cost €16.00 and was well worth the price.

If you’re feeling particularly energetic, there’s a Majestic Madrid €12.00, a Spanish Inquisition Tour €12.00, a Pub Crawl €12.00 and if you’re really broke, down and out, or simply hung-over, free tours which cost €0.00!

Kids under 13 if accompanied by an adult, are able to join the paid tours and are free of charge. No children under 18 are accepted for any of the pub crawls in any country though!

WHERE & WHEN?

Every day. At 19:00.

The meeting point is in front of the Tourist Information Office at the Plaza Mayor.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes.

The tour takes about 2-3 hours. We were a little tired after a day of travelling but if you’re up for it, you could hang-out with the tour-guide and other members of your tour group, and really make a night of it!

Spanish patatas bravas - baked potato wedges with their skins on and sour cream and spicy sauce.
Spanish patatas bravas – baked potato wedges with their skins on and sour cream and spicy sauce.

MY VERDICT:

Absolutely worth it!

The idea of a food walking tour around a city is enormously appealing, and something that everyone should do. At least once. It also gives you confidence to move around on your own as you now know what to do, where to go, and how to get there.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this walking tour, please contact: SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience.

For more information about alternative ways of exploring Madrid, please contact: SANDEMANs NEW Madrid Tours.

WHAT IF A WALKING TOUR ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Keep reading my blog. There’s more to come!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary ticket, all opinions and the enticing tapas that I willingly quaffed, are my very own!

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

I have so much to share with you so for the rest of April, I will be writing about our adventures in Spain and Portugal.

April is going to be a lovely month.

Watch this space!

Tapas, sangria and a food walking tour in Madrid!
Tapas, sangria and a food walking tour in Madrid!

Have you been on a food walking tour? Have you been to Madrid? Do you like walking?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions or concerns about travelling anywhere in Europe, 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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!