Cultural things to do in Berlin

Photo: Kai_Vogel

Berlin’s metropolitan area has nearly 6 million residents representing more than 180 different nations. It’s a city brimming with culture and politics. Not to mention the place is drop-dead gorgeous for those who know where to look — about one-third of the city’s area is either a garden, forest, park, river or lake. And Berlin’s popularity is gaining. In 2015, Berlin was the third most visited city in Europe, losing only to London and Paris (but coming in ahead of Rome and Barcelona).

Editor’s note: These spots are taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Experience Berlin’s street Art.

 Street Art Berlin – Arte LocalBerlin, GermanyCheck out the incredible street art of #Berlin #streetart

Banksy, Os Gemeos, Obey, Blu are some of the names you can find around here…

2. Spend a day visiting the museum island.

one of our favorite views in #Berlin #vscocam

A photo posted by Fotostrasse (@fotostrasse) on

3. Strole through the Gardens of Gärten der Welt.

Gärten der Welt in Marzahn has 21 hectares of land with nine regional gardens, each representing the history and culture of the country. China, Morocco, Japan, Bali, and Korea are just some of the nationalities represented through the landscaping. Besides all the national gardens, the park has gardens dedicated to religions such as Christianity and the tropical garden that is filled with plants you can only find in South America or South East Asia. The park’s visitor numbers are increasing annually and this is not a place to enjoy with the masses. Make sure you check it out before it is overrun. Once a year they host the cherry blossom day. Check their calendar to see when it will happen next, it’s spectacular.

4. Go to a punk show.

Radio Dead Ones at the Coretex Stage #fotostrasse

A photo posted by Marcela Faé (@marcelafae) on

Berlin is the birthplace for techno but the punk rock side it is just too awesome to miss it. SO36, Ramones Museum, Køpi 137, Cassiopeia, Core Tex are some of the places you can find some punk rock.

5. Visit the eight windmills of Berlin.

Did you know that Berlin has eight working windmills inside its perimeter? My favorite is Britzer Muhle. We discovered this amazing place completely unintentionally when our crew were taking the bikes for a long tour over to Brandenburg. Once I was at Buckower Damm, I saw this weird shaped thing on the corner of my eye and I had to stop my bike. In the distance I saw Britzer Muhle and after a quick Google search, found out that there are another seven windmills in Berlin. Some of the windmills are much closer to the city center and there is one really close to Gärten der Welt. Britzer Muhle is open for tours Fridays to Sundays from 11am to 4pm.

6. Shop in Dong Xuan Center.

Asian Center ️ #tramp #plastic #paradise #heaven

A photo posted by Leon Karatas (@leonkaratas) on

The Dong Xuan Center is a one-of-a-kind Asian market. It’s packed with seemingly endless whacky products. It’s the center of the East-Berlin Asian community. Don’t visit without a large shopping bag or rucksack. Even if you’re not planning to spend money in weird and useless stuff, you will.

7. Admire the gothic architecture at Berlin Cathedral Church.

 Berlin Cathedral ChurchBerlin, GermanyA beautiful gothic building with a nice outdoor area around. #church #archaeology #history

8. View some of the street art originally along the Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery.

 East Side GalleryBerlin, GermanyIf you go to one part of the Berlin Wall, you MUST go here. This section features the best artwork and murals to be found along the wall. If you are into photography, you will love it. #art #berlin #history #free #gallery

9. Take a moment at The Garden of Exile.

 Garden of exileBerlin, Germany#gallery #history

The Garden of Exile stands outside the Jewish Museum Berlin. The garden represents the experience of European Jewish exiles, driven from their home during World War II. Standing in between the rows of forty-nine concrete container columns is a claustrophobic, disorienting experience, where you are aware that logically, escape is very close but physically, you feel as if you are trapped forever.

10. Get to know David Bowie’s favourite and famous spots.

you don't need to guess where we were this morning. #Bowie

A photo posted by Fotostrasse (@fotostrasse) on

His Berlin apartment is on Haupstrasse 155 in Schöneberg, the studio where Heroes was recorded is on Potsdamer Platz and so on.

11. Book a tour at Reichstag Building.

 Reichstag BuildingBerlin, GermanyOne of my two must-do things in Berlin! Book your free tour online in advance as they fill up. If you going when it’s cold, bundle up because the top, glassy dome of the building is open air and you won’t want to miss walking up and around it. They also point out Angela Merkel’s office to you. #politics #government #free #history

12. Stand at the base of the Berlin Wall Memorial.

 Berlin Wall MemorialBerlin, GermanyStanding with a friend on either side of what used to be the Berlin Wall on my first day ever in Germany. #history

13. Learn of the rich history of Sammlung Boros.

 Sammlung BorosBerlin, GermanyAlso known as “Boros Bunker” in English, this is one of my top 5 spots in Berlin you can’t miss! Like the Reichstag, go online and book a tour (only way to access it) in advance otherwise it’ll sell out. World class art collection – with Ai Wei Wei – in an old Nazi bunker that sheltered thousands of Germans during the war. You can actually see bullet holes on the outside of the building and spots where the toilets used to be inside the building. The family that now owns the building and art collection live in the penthouse apartment here. Really, really cool!!’ Cost is 12 Euros, I believe. #nazi #germany #berlin #art #gallery #history #war

14. Enjoy an evening at The Berlin Philharmonic.

Seduced by Stravinsky

A photo posted by Robyn Tse (@robynbiird) on

The Berliner Philharmonic plays for everybody that wants to listen every Tuesday at 1pm. The concert is performed by the wonderful students of the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler. It is by far the nicest thing to do over your lunch break in Berlin. Get there early is you’re trying to attend to one of the events during the summer. For security reasons, the number of visitors to the lunch concerts is limited to 1,500.

15. Have a lazy afternoon by on of the many lakes, pools or man-made beaches.

 Freibad JungfernheideBerlin, GermanySince it’s such a big city, it’s surprising how many lakes and public pools there are in Berlin. This lake is very easy to access off the metro and still in the city limits. Great place to cool off on a hot day whenever there is one 😳 #swimming #berlin

16. Time travel in East Berlin.

#Berlin

A photo posted by Michael Schulz (@berlinstagram) on

There are so many great spots in East Berlin that will transport you to the cold war era. Two of my favorites are Karl-Marx-Allee and Leipzigerstrasse. Walking down both avenues is like going back to the 70s and 80s in Berlin. Karl-Marx-Allee is known as Stalin’s Bathroom because the architecture covered in tiles, just like in your bathroom. Take the U5 or the tram on the east side and emerge yourself in history for free. Grab a beer on the way and walk through iconic places, used for movie sets for the like of “The life of others” and “Goodbye Lenin”. Take a long walk following The Spree from Elsenbrücke towards the TV Tower. You’ll see this on the horizon. You’ll note scenery from “Run Lola Run” and the new series “Sense8.”

Train tripping through Europe, pt 2

FOLLOW FILMMAKER Blaze Nowara as he traverses Europe, hitting up London, Paris, Berlin, and Krakow, and visiting the local Hotel Indigo properties (part of InterContinental Hotels Group). These hotels are individually designed with each city in mind, taking care to reflect their locale and offer an authentic experience. Cookie-cutter chain hotels they are not.

In episode 2, we re-join Blaze at the Hotel Indigo Berlin – Alexanderplatz, his base as he takes us on a visual journey around the city, ending at a pub for a beer. He then travels to Poland, stopping in Krakow, where the Hotel Indigo Krakow – Old Town offers an awesome final example of how these properties are integrated into their surroundings. In keeping with the trip’s theme, Blaze completes his stay with a vodka tasting and a new group of friends.

Click here to check out episode 1!

 

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This video is proudly produced by Matador for the InterContinental Hotels Group.

 

2015: A year of indie travel

I’m often surprised when I look back over photos from the last twelve months to see how much I’ve done… and this year is no different. 2015 has been an amazing year, full of good times, not-so-good times, and time with friends and family.

January

We saw the new year in in our temporary home of Alcalá de Henares, where I was doing a master’s degree. We’d been based there since September 2015 and stayed until the end of June, so it was a pretty long stretch for us. Luckily, we loved it — and who wouldn’t? Not only is it Unesco world heritage listed, it’s full of lovely people and delicious tapas.

Plaza de Cervantes in Alcala de Henares
We spent a lot of time in the Plaza de Cervantes.

February

We’re always happy to have an excuse to visit our old home of A Coruña, so we took advantage of a long weekend to fly up to visit our friends Oliva and Guille at Carnival time. They (and another friend, Alba) had created some spectacular costumes for us to wear, and we enjoyed watching the parades and looking like idiots while eating tapas.

March

I had to knuckle down to work and study, but Craig headed off to Berlin to attend a conference and hang out with awesome people. I wasn’t too jealous — after all, it was at least ten degrees warmer where I was.

visit the Brandenburg gate
I got to go to Berlin later in the year, so I wasn’t too jealous…

April

April was a month of family visits. First, my brother Simon and his fiancée Katie hopped over from London to spend Easter with us, and then Craig’s parents visited for a week in the middle of the month. We made sure to explore Alcalá and Madrid with them, and headed over to Valencia for the weekend.

Family time at the Puerta de Alcalá
Katie, Simon, Linda and Craig at the Puerta de Alcalá.

May

The big event of the month was a trip up to Lloret de Mar in Catalunya to attend the TBEX travel bloggers’ conference. It’s always great to catch up with our travel blogger friends, some of whom we’ve known for almost ten years — as long as Indie Travel Podcast has been running.

After TBEX, Craig headed up to the Baltics with JayWay Travel and I returned to Alcalá with my friend and workmate Alisa. While Craig explored Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, I finished my thesis and went on school camp with a hundred preteens.

The summer palace at Kadriorg, Tallinn
However, I was jealous of missing the trip to the Baltics.

June

Our last month in Alcalá was spent in good company. My sister came over for a visit with her son Henry, and our friend Janine joined us part way through the month. We all hopped in a car together for a quick trip around Portugal with a stop in Segovia along the way, and Janine and Craig finished the journey with a week-long surf school in Peniche.

After my graduation, Janine, Craig and I headed north to take part in the Haro Wine festival — yep, we threw wine at each other for a beautiful, sticky morning.

At the wine fight in Haro Spain
We got a little damp.

July

Janine had never walked a Camino de Santiago, and we are always keen to do another, so we hiked 300km from Oviedo to Santiago over two weeks or so. We started as a group of three and finished as seven, and for some reason we called ourselves the Smurfs.

Female bloggers also walk the Camino Primitivo
One of the many views on the Camino Primitivo.

After a quick stop in Coruña (to show it off to Janine) we hopped in Alba’s car to head to Toledo for Oliva and Guille’s wedding. It was a beautiful day in a gorgeous location and we felt privileged to be invited to take part in it.

We had a few days in Madrid, during which we caught up with a few friends and ate tacos, then flew to Berlin for something completely different.

August

We were housesitting in the outskirts of the city and thought we’d just get down to work — but it didn’t work out like that. Instead, we spent heaps of time with our friends Claudia and Holger; Frankie and Jesus; Adam; Javier; and Natalie and Stephanie from Context Travel. We did find time to walk the dog twice a day, though!

We even spent time at the beach while in Berlin!
We even spent time at the beach while in Berlin!

From there, we caught a bus down to Prague, where we stayed with the excellent Charles of JayWay Travel. Our friends Graham and Jon were over from New Zealand, and Janine and our Camino friend Clothilde joined us for a wonderful couple of days together.

Too soon, it was time to go — we flew to England for another housesit.

September

We’d never heard of Oundle before we accepted the housesit, and it wasn’t anything like what we expected. There was so much to do — pub visits with the neighbours, walking tours, a visit to the theatre. I even went to a blogging festival near London (where I almost froze, but at least in good company). We were sad to leave, but not too sad — we were going to Moldova!

Oundle war memorial in Oundle UK
Oundle was beautiful and surprising.

October

We’d wanted to attend the Moldovan wine festival for at least eight years, so you can imagine our disappointment when it was called off when we finally had tickets to the country. No worries, though: alternative activities were put on, and we enjoyed them in the company of a group of Moldovan and Romanian bloggers.

The Moldovan flag flies over the Et Cetera vineyard.
The Moldovan flag flies over the Et Cetera vineyard.

Our trip to Ukraine was postponed as a result of my incompetence, but we got there eventually. We loved spending time with local people in Odessa and having a Performance Foundry mini-conference on a boat in Kiev.

Kiev was gorgeous -- Santa Sophia Cathedral blew us away.
St. Sophia Cathedral is one of the most spectacular buildings we’ve ever seen — and we’ve seen a few.

November

The weather really started to cool off at the beginning of November, and heading back to England probably didn’t help matters. However, we had a stunning day for watching New Zealand win the Rugby World Cup final, and only shivered a little while travelling across London for the World Travel Market conference.

Watching the big game at the rugby fanzone in Richmond.
Go All Blacks!

Most of the month, though, was spent in Mexico with Janine and our other best friend, Ange. We hung out in Cancun for a week before starting our epic road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula, during which we ate a lot of tacos and only had to pay three bribes.

December

Cuba was our next destination, where we were joined by another friend, Luis. We loved staying in casas particulares (local homes) and trying rum and cigars in various spots around the country.

Classic car in Cuba.
Cuba is full of awesome classic cars.

Pin me on Pinterest!
Pin me on Pinterest!

It was sad to say goodbye to Ange, Janine, and Luis, but they had other plans and we were heading back to Mexico to hang out with other friends. Pete and Dalene had told us they would be spending Christmas in San Miguel de Allende, so we decided to crash the party and head there too, with a one-week stop in Querétaro along the way.

An indie travel 2016

2015 has been an epic year, especially since we thought we’d be travelling slowly. Next year though, we really should be slowing down: we’ve got a housesit lined up in Panama, and we’re heading to Colombia for three months after that. We hope to explore a bit more of this part of the world before heading south again to hang out with family and friends in Australia and New Zealand towards the end of the year.

What are your plans for 2016? What was your highlight of the last year? Leave a comment below.

Eleven Instagram photos of Berlin

We love Berlin, and it’s always great to be back. On our most recent visit, we spent most of our time housesitting in the outskirts and drinking beer in beer gardens with friends. However, we still found time to see some of the city’s most famous monuments, like the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Jewish Holocaust memorial.

While you check out the Berlin Instagram photos, take a listen to our Berlin podcast: hit play below or find episode 304 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Mitte

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is pretty iconic.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

I quite like this view of the Brandenburg Gate.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

The soviet war memorial in Berlin's Tiergarten commemorates the Russians who died during WW2.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Holocaust memorials

Another one of Berlin… This is the memorial to the Roma and Sinti people who were murdered in the Holocaust.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Another view of the Jewish holocaust memorial in Berlin.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Berlin Instagram.
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Come join us on Instagram by searching for indietravel — we’re having heaps of fun!

You can also find us on Pinterest, Facebook, iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

What’s your favourite part of Berlin? If you haven’t been, what would you like to see there?

Berlin: The Berlin Heatmap: Where to Eat Right Now

eater-berlin-germany-jan2014.jpg
Sra Bua by Tim Raue [Photo: Hotel Adlon Kempinski]

hasmap.jpgToday, for the first time ever, Eater heads to Berlin, Germany for a look at the nine restaurants and bars that have opened in the last year and are garnering some serious buzz and acclaim. This time around, ElizabethOnFood.com blogger, world traveler, and restaurant reviewer Elizabeth Auerbach — who also writes the Eater London heatmap — has shared her picks for the hottest drinking and dining Berlin currently has to offer.

Among the picks are two restaurants from Berlin’s two-Michelin-starred chef Tim Raue (La Soupe Populaire, Sra Bua), as well as a contemporary French restaurant from the legendary Pierre Gagnaire (Les Solistes). Israeli chef Gal Ben Mosche, whose resume includes stints at Alinea and Hibiscus, has also opened a modern restaurant that offers a table-plated dessert much like that at Alinea (Glass). Rounding out the pedigreed chefs landing in Berlin is the Michelin-starred elBulli alumnus Paco Pérez with an avant garde addition to the city’s dining landscape (5-Cinco, which opened in December 2012, but remains so hot that it’s an exception to the one-year rule). Here now, the Eater Heatmap to Berlin, a chronicle of the city’s restaurants of the moment.

· All Heatmaps on Eater [-E-]
· All Berlin Coverage on Eater [-E-]