close

Germany

Where to stay in Berlin: The Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz

no thumb

When I planned my latest trip to Berlin, I planned it mainly around two things: shopping and the Festival Of Lights. I wanted to get all of my Christmas shopping done over the weekend, and I wanted to be in walking distance of most of the landmarks that were transformed into stunning light installations during the Festival (which I highly recommend visiting, by the way – if you happen to plan a trip to Berlin in the fall, check the exact dates for it! You can see some of my photos of it on Facebook.)

I came across the Park Inn by Radisson, which, if you’ve ever been to Berlin, chances are you’ve either heard of it or even seen it, because it is known for two reasons: its terrific location right on Alexanderplatz, with an amazing rooftop observation deck which I’d already mentioned a few years back when I wrote about the best views over Berlin. Because nothing beats the view that has the TV Tower actually in it, as close as you can get! The Park Inn is also the tallest hotel in Berlin (492 feet / 150 meters) and the second largest hotel in all of Germany with 1,012 rooms.Park Inn Berlin AlexanderplatzThe second thing the Park Inn is famous for? Its base flying activity. If you’re crazy daring enough, you can throw yourself off the 4oth floor, face-down, cheered on by hundreds of shoppers down below on Alexanderplatz. I have to admit that just the thought of doing it causes me sweaty palms but I wish I was brave enough to do it. A 410 feet (125 meters) controlled fall at nearly free fall speeds is certainly not for the faint at heart but probably the best adrenaline rush you can get in Berlin! Behind closed windows, however, I felt safe enough to take in the 27th floor views from my room at all times, in fact I came back one day just to watch the sunset from up there. The views were probably my favorite thing about the Park Inn.park inn berlin viewAs you would expect from a 4* hotel, my room was impeccable, and I was a big fan of the open bathroom. While toilet and shower were behind milk glass doors (separated from one another), the sink and mirror were right next to the room without any walls, which meant I could follow the news on the TV while putting makeup on and brushing my teeth in the morning.Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz RoomYou can choose to include the breakfast when you book the room, and I’d definitely recommend opting for breakfast, which is served buffet style in two different areas – in the ground floor Spagos restaurant & Lounge (specializing in Euro-Californian Cusine) and the Zille Stube restaurant on the first floor where you can try some local Berlin specialties in a rustic atmosphere. I found the selection of breads, sweet pastries, eggs, fruits, cereals, cheeses and cold cuts, salads, jams, honeys, juices and coffee drinks to be fabulous and it was the perfect way to fuel up for a day of shopping. Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz BreakfastBecause I couldn’t stop myself from sampling the various pastries and croissants, I was happy to discover that there was a gym in the hotel, complete with a sufficient number of cardio machines and weights. There is also a spa at the Park Inn, and I wish I could’ve squeezed in a treatment or a massage, which would have been the perfect way to relax after the long evening of walking around Berlin to see the Festival Of Lights installations.Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz

Stand-out feature: Location, location, location

The location couldn’t have been more perfect: in walking distance to all the shopping around Alexanderplatz – Galeria Kaufhof, C&A, Primark, the Alexa Mall (a 4 minute walk) and other shops around the ‘Alex’. I was a ten minute walk from Hackescher Markt with its many bars, and there are plenty of food options when you walk to Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse / Diercksenstrasse (five minutes away). Even Prenzlauer Berg with all its fabulous cafes and bars is in walking distance, as is Berlin Cathedral, the lovely historic Nikolaiviertel neighborhood, and Museum Island. For me, I couldn’t have asked for a better location and I prefer the shopping here over Kurfürstendamm. Since Alexanderplatz is such a big transportation hub, you have S-bahn, buses, underground and trams right in front of the hotel’s doors.Berlin Mitte

Room for improvement

The only thing I found to complain about was the fact that there is a daily charge of €9.90 for the wi-fi. This was the first time in years (really, YEARS!) that I was charged for wi-fi use, and I was also surprised because wi-fi in the Radisson Blu Royal in Helsinki where I stayed earlier this year (and which I loved, as I told you here!) was free of charge. Seeing that Park Inn belongs to Radisson, I would expect the same pricing policy for the Park Inn. Looking at Berlin’s competitive hotel market, where wi-fi is usually free of charge, I think the price of wi-fi should be incorporated in the room rate instead of being a surcharge.Berlin Park Inn Alexanderplatz1

Overall

If you are looking for a solid 4* experience in a fantastic location right in the heart of Berlin, look no further – the Park Inn is an excellent choice – especially considering the very reasonable room rates (a standard room starts at $72, a city view room starts at $89)!

Details

  • Location: Alexanderstraße 7, 10178 Berlin
  • Price: Rooms start at $72, superior corner rooms with city views start at $102
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: If wi-fi was free of charge and available for more than two devices, then it would be.
  • Amenities: Buffet breakfast (at extra cost, if room not booked on a B&B basis), 3 restaurants, sauna & spa, gym, rooftop observation deck, concierge desk, tea & coffee making facilities (in some rooms), parking (at extra cost)
  • Website: ParkInn-Berlin.de

park inn berlin bar

 

read more

Polaroid Of The Week: A crisp fall day in Berlin

no thumb

polaroid of the week germany berlin cemeteryConfession: Whenever I spend time in Berlin, I tend to neglect the most central neighborhood, Mitte (which translates to ‘central’). For me, Berlin is all about the neighborhoods outside of the tourist zone, I guess I could say that in New York it’s pretty much the same way.

But this time around, I decided to stay as central as possible to be able to walk to most of the Festival Of Lights installations and it turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me to explore this part of town a bit more. And what a great decision this was. It showed me that central Berlin has much more to offer than I initially thought – especially when it comes to food. I discovered several excellent Vietnamese restaurants (check out Madami, Pho Hoi, Good Morning Vietnam and Chen Che), had the best vegan burrito of my life (the Vegan Lover at Dolores), and great coffee at Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers, Ben Rahim and Oslo Kaffeebar.

I also discovered that some of my favorite hang outs (Kaschk for craft beer at night and coffee during the day, St Oberholz for a good work session, the new(ish) Barn Roastery for the best coffee in Berlin) are in walking distance from Mitte, and so is Prenzlauer Berg with its countless cool bars and restaurants). And since I was planning to shop for a new wardrobe for my next destination (I’ll share in my monthly round-up next week where I’m going, but: any guesses?! ?), staying at Alexanderplatz turned out to be extremely convenient, with plenty of shopping nearby.

Of course I didn’t only stay in Mitte – I caught up with a friend over lunch in Kreuzberg, wandered around Prenzlauer Berg for a photography project (and randomly discovered the St. Mary’s and St. Nicholas cemetery where this week’s Polaroid was taken), and was taken on a fantastic wine bar hopping tour. I love that there’s always still so much new stuff for me to discover in Berlin – in fact, I am always surprised to see how many more places I keep adding to my ‘places to check out’ list, even though I feel like I know the city quite well. (Check out all my Berlin posts here).

I guess to make it through my list, I’ll have to eventually move to Berlin 😉 For now though, I’ve had enough time in Germany and it’s time to pack my backpack again. A few more days of quality time with my family, and I’ll be hitting the road again!

 

read more

Munich- An Enchanting & Fascinating City to Explore

no thumb

Schloss Nymphenburg lion statueFamous for its rich history, ancient cathedrals, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife, Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, has a lot to offer for all ages and tastes. With world-class museums, breathtaking landscapes, spectacular parks and stunning palaces, Munich has become an important stop for travelers across the world.

The Best Time to Visit Munich

Whatever time of year you visit Munich, there will be a lot of things to make your trip exciting . Sensational sights are waiting at every turn and the timeless beer gardens & restaurants open a perfect gateway for you to immerse yourself in the local experience. A very popular time to visit is during Oktoberfest which is a gigantic beer festival staged in late September and early October, you can drink some of the world’s best beer, listen to live brass bands and dine on pretzels, sausages and roasted chickens. Most tourists visit Munich during December to take advantage of the world’s famous Christmas markets. Chinese Tower in Munich

Climatic Conditions in Munich

One can see huge variations in seasonal temperatures. In summer, the city basks in bright sunshine with daily temperatures rising towards 30° C. And in winter season, the crisp night air adds charm to the Christmas markets.

Top Tourist Attractions

No trip to Munich is complete without visiting Marienplatz, the Catholic Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady, the concentration camp of Dachau, the English Garden, Viktualienmarkt and the Residence palace of Munich. In addition to these, the city boasts of 45 museums, 58 theatres, three major orchestras, and two opera houses. All these attractions have made Munich a perfect place to explore. If you happen to visit Munich during the last two weeks in September, of course you will have to visit the world’s most famous beer festival: Oktoberfest!

Schloss NymphenburgAccommodation in Munich

Although there are plenty of options to choose from , the best way to experience everything that the city has to offer is a vacation rentals like AirBnb. Why stay in a cramped hotel room when you can opt for a spacious rental home. You can spend your holiday in a luxury condo apartment in the heart of the city, close to the finest restaurants, museums and music venues or go a bit outside the city and view the sunrise from a balcony and enjoy breakfast in your gourmet kitchen. You can also plan local adventures and take in the unbelievable views of the city from your place. By choosing apartments, not only will you save money, you’ll get to experience a true taste of local Munich life.Pretzels, pretzels

read more

Polaroid Of The Week: Berlin’s dazzling Festival Of Lights

no thumb

polaroid of the week germany berlin festival of lightsThe transition from summery Tel Aviv to chilly Germany wasn’t easy, but what helped was the prospect of finally experiencing the Festival Of Lights in Berlin, a festival I’d been wanting to visit ever since I first saw pictures of it online.

Every year in October, Berlin’s main landmarks are transformed into a spectacular light art installation for about ten days. Historic buildings like the cathedral, the opera house, the city palace and landmarks such as the TV tower or Brandenburg Gate become the canvas for stunning light projections ranging from abstract paintings to remarkable, innovative video installations.

This year I was finally able to plan a trip to Berlin around the festival! The cool October air made for a chilly walk, but I truly enjoyed my lightseeing tour with Sam and Zab, allowing me to see Berlin’s majestic sights in a completely different light (quite literally) – most of the light and video installations were so impressive that they made me forget about my cold fingers.

Even though I spent quite some time in Berlin in the past couple of years, I never spend much time in the historic center of the city – the Festival Of Lights was a good reminder how majestic the city actually is, far away from the grittier, street art covered neighborhoods like Kreuzberg and Neukölln where I tend to spend most of my time. More on what I’ve been up to in Berlin next week – and if you’re interested to see more of the Festival Of Lights, check out more of my pictures on Facebook.

read more

Polaroid of the week: Those sweet Berlin summer days…

Polaroid of the week

polaroid germany berlin klunkerkranichSpending this past week here in Berlin was one of the best ideas I’ve had in a while! I had completely forgotten how amazing the summers in this fabulous city are (no worries New York, you’re still my Number One and nothing beats all the things I love about summer in New York) and since I haven’t been to Berlin in warm weather in two whole years, I tried to soak up as much of the summer here as possible, taking advantage of the fact that pretty much everything happens outside during the summer months. And anyone who knows me knows that when I can be outside is when I am the happiest.

My days were spent writing in sidewalk cafes, sunset beers in the city’s coolest rooftop bar (Klunkerkranich, pictured above), karaoke in Mauerpark (no I did not sing – no way I’d sing in front of that many people!), strolls along the canal, running and walking in Tempelhof, hunting down new street art and new good coffee shops (there are just too many in this city.. but I guess that’s a good problem to have), neighborhood walks and showing a visitor around town. Plus: Meet-ups with new friends, catch-ups with old friends, and of course I also had to fit in all of the good food that makes Berlin so great: brunches and cake, Middle Eastern food, veggie kebabs, fresh fruit from the market and warm simits fresh out of the oven.

As usual, I wish I had more time here, but on Tuesday morning I will hop on a train to Amsterdam, the first stop on my Euro train adventure (more on that in my monthly round-up)! My Interrail Global Pass allows me to take trains in 30 countries in the span of a month – let’s see how many I’ll make it to 😉

read more

Polaroid of the week: Charming and fairytale-like Erfurt, Germany

no thumb

polaroid of the week germany erfurt kraemerbrueckeI left Berlin for a quick visit home to my loved ones, and most importantly, to photograph the wedding of one of my oldest friends. Usually I dread visiting Erfurt, the town I grew up in, because if there is such a thing as growing apart from your hometown, then I have certainly experienced it. I doubt that I’d ever go back there if my sister and a few friends were still living there, and usually only spend a few days there to catch up with everyone.

This time it was different though. It had been a while that I’d visited Erfurt during the summer, and having a first-time visitor in town for a couple of days also helped me seeing my oh-so-boring town in a new light. I spent hours wandering the cobble stone streets, marveling at the well-maintained and restored half-timbered houses, the imposing cathedral and the picturesque little squares, lined with coffee shops and restaurants. Al fresco dinners on warm summer evenings, picnics by the river, a wine festival and long runs with my favorite running buddy also helped making me appreciate my town again. I might not ooh and aah over the Kraemerbruecke, a bridge covered with houses on both sides (pictured above), like many tourists do, but I can see why people are charmed by it and I even felt some hometown pride when I showed my visitor some of my favorite spots around town. Quaint, small Erfurt sure is different from Berlin, where I am spending the rest of the month, and even more so from New York, but the slower pace was a welcome change after spending so much time in big cities over the past few months.

Are you on Snapchat? I am sharing short snaps of my Euro trip on Snapchat and you can follow along if you add me: @mariposa2711.

read more

Polaroid Of The Week: Gritty meets pretty in Berlin Kreuzberg

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week germany Berlin 2015 KreuzbergMy summer Euro trip is in full swing now and I still can’t believe how lucky I’ve been with the terrific summer weather. My first stop after Brighton was Berlin, and on this visit, I was much more like a tourist than I usually am, showing a first-time Berlin visitor around. While we were touring the Kreuzberg neighborhood one day I was reminded why I loved Berlin so much: even though all of the buildings have been beautifully restored to their pre-war grandeur, they are covered in graffiti, down to the doorways. I wish I had caught more of the impeccable facade of the apartment building in this week’s Polaroid, but I was obviously trying to snap the impressive Roa mural, even though I’ve taken at least half a dozen photos of it over the years (he happens to be one of my favorite street artists). The building perfectly sums up the gritty-meets-pretty vibe I get in many neighborhoods around the city, plus it reminds you of the ‘f*ck obedience’ attitude of the city’s innovative and out-of-the-box thinking inhabitants (see the ‘Love Art, Hate Cops’ graffiti on top of the building).

The untamed spirit of Berlin that makes the city so unique within the country and which is so not ‘typically German’, combined with the magnificence of historic buildings; the inspiring and constant reinvention of the city’ and the varied mix of people from all over Europe and beyond that have been making Berlin their home in recent year lures me in so fast that every time I come here, I immediately just want to put my bags down and stay for a few months. I don’t think there’s another city in Germany that comes anywhere close to being as forward thinking, diverse and edgy as Berlin and the city knows how to use its ‘poor but sexy’ motto to attract millennials from all over Europe, making it even more interesting and diverse. Every time I return, I come across new hipster coffee shops, weird but cool bars, cheap eateries and new start-ups. Berlin continues to wow me, to impress me, to inspire my creativity.

While this was a way too short stint in one of my top three favorite cities in the world, I won’t be gone for long – I get to spend more quality time in Berlin this month as I decided to take it easy before a crazy busy September, and because of the work overload I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. If you happen to be in Berlin this month too, let me know! 🙂

read more

Where to stay in… Berlin: The Cat’s Pajamas Hostel

no thumb

During my last visit to Berlin, I decided to stay in a hostel instead of with friends, simply because I had a lot of work to catch up on and wanted to make sure I’d have some time to myself. Whenever I stay with friends, I end up staying up all night, catching up over a bottle of wine (or two).. Work? Not so much.

When I was searching for a hostel, I knew that I didn’t want it to be a huge party hostel like Generator or Plus, I was looking for something smaller and quieter.cats pajamas hostel berlinChoosing a hostel in Berlin can be pretty overwhelming, considering how many hostels there are in this city. Which one is good, which one is in a good location?

My search led me to The Cat’s Pajamas Hostel in Kreuzkölln, the area of Berlin where the two hippest neighborhoods, Kreuzberg and Neukölln, meet, and which happens to be my favorite neighborhood in the city. I didn’t even look any further, I reserved a room right away.cats pajamas hostel berlinI arrived in Berlin on a rainy day and was lucky to discover that the hostel was located only a short 3-minute walk from the Hermannplatz subway station.

Inside it was cozy and warm, and all the staff were enthusiastic and welcoming. The lobby was designed in a way that made you want to linger, and the kitchen right behind was spacious and spotless, a place where you actually feel like cooking or preparing a meal, unlike many other hostel kitchens I’ve come across on my travels. The hostel, which was opened in 2012, and is now in its third year, seemed actually much newer than it actually is, and just show how much attention is paid to cleanliness and upkeep.cats pajamas hostel berlin kitchenIn the mornings, a breakfast buffet is set up in the kitchen, which you can get for only €4.50.cats pajamas hostel berlin breakfastRooms are located on the upper floors, and my 2-bed room still felt so new and shiny and yet comfortable and livable that I didn’t mind being trapped in there for a few hours during a rain storm. In fact, there was even a desk, facing the window, which got quite a bit of use during my time in Berlin.cats pajamas hostel berlinAnother feature I really appreciated was that every bed had a reading light and every bed had power outlets. And not only were there large lockers in the room for my valuables, but also storage space for clothes and other things you might want to unpack – most hostels don’t have any room to put something, unless you lock it up. So this was definitely well thought-out design feature. The room was also big enough to do yoga or a workout on the floor.cats pajamas hostel berlin twin roomYou usually see how well a hostel is kept up when you use the bathroom, but the shared one that belonged to my room and two other rooms was absolutely spotless at all times. A giant bathroom with shower and toilet and room to hang your stuff – also something that most hostels still can’t get right, especially the ones that only have shower stalls and you have to figure out where you put your shower utensils, change of clothes, the clothes you’re wearing and your towel. Here, I had enough space to dry myself after my shower, put lotion and makeup on, all while not jot necessarily having to get dressed yet. Perfect!cats pajamas hostel berlin bathroomThe other bathroom on the floor where my room was located even had a hairdryer and make up mirrors – another standout feature and something I’ve never seen in a hostel before!cats pajamas hostel berlinThe hostel had the perfect level of privacy and mingling that I was looking for: if I wanted to chat and meet other travelers, the kitchen was a melting pot of cultures but I could retreat to the privacy of my room when I needed to work.cats pajamas hostel berlin communal room

Standout features

The location was an absolute highlight for me, but I know that first time visitors who are looking to see Berlin’s historic sights prefer to stay in Mitte.

If you’re looking to experience some of the coolest neighborhoods in the city and just get a feel for how Berlin ticks, it’s the perfect location. Plus: Mitte is only a few subway stops away, and you’re likely to buy a transportation day pass anyway.cats pajamas hostel berlinThe cat’s pajama hostel is in walking distance to the trendy Schillerkiez and the airport-turned-park former airport Tempelhof, the Turkish market at Maybachufer (every Tuesday and Friday), some of the best (and cheapest) Lebanese food right down the road on Sonnenallee, Volskpark Hasenheide Park, the Landwehr Canal (a popular hangout spot in the summer) and countless cafes, bars and eateries.

Room for improvement

The wi-fi was spotty at times, and I saw in some reviews that other travelers had trouble connecting sometimes, as well, so I guess wi-fi could use an upgrade. Other than that, I didn’t find a single thing to complain about!cats pajamas hostel berlin

Details

Location: Urbanstraße 84, 10967 Berlin Germany
Price: €16 for a 4-bed or 6-bed dorm, €15 for a 8-bed dorm, twin room €27.50, single room €39, double room €60
LGBT Friendly: Yes
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Yes
Amenities: Free wifi, breakfast available (€4.50), single sex dorms available, laundry service, terrace, lounge, kitchen, information desk, bicycle rental
Website: TheCatspajamashostel.com or follow The Cat’s Pajamas Hostel on Facebook
book your stay

read more

Polaroid of the week: A snowy winter day in Germany

no thumb

polaroid of the week germany leipzig winterThis week I learned an important lesson: I can survive 48 hours without checking my email. I’ve been way too connected recently – constantly checking social media, my email, and just looking up stuff on the internet – and I decided that it was time for a (mini) digital detox to kick off the New Year, because it’s ridiculous how attached I’ve become to my iPhone (considering that twelve months ago, I didn’t even have a phone and I managed to be without a phone four nearly four years!)

I also learned that snow isn’t as bad as I had remembered it, as I experienced Germany’s first two snow days of this winter. While it wasn’t much fun to run on snow, I felt like a little kid again when I took my nieces out to build a snowman and to throw some snowballs. A stroll along a frozen lake surrounded by a white winter wonderland even was among my favorite days this past days. And drinking a delicious mulled wine to warm ourselves afterwards!

I am now wrapping up my time with family and friends, packing my bags for my trip to Helsinki and Stockholm next week, borrowing winter clothes right and left (5F / -15C? Bring it on!). But first, I’ll spend a few days in Berlin, where I’ll be catching up with some friends before leaving Germany again. I am excited to return to the city that’s been so good to me every time I visited in the past few months, and even more excited to get to know Finland and Sweden after that. Knowing that I’ll be spending a week in the freezing temperatures of Scandinavia, I also dedicated a lot of time to travel planning over the past few days, mapping out my trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines later this month. I am stoked to finally visit the Philippines, a destination that has been on my wish list for so long, and I’ve been getting inspiration for my trip from posts like this one or this one.

I am ready to hit the road again, even though being home for the Holidays felt glorious, and I was happy that I had the chance to catch up with some friends who I hadn’t seen in years, and to take some time off work. Bonus: The reduced number of emails that arrived in my inbox during the Holidays made it easier to do that guilt-free and I am already feeling recharged after my hectic travel schedule in Sri Lanka.

My next Polaroid will be coming from Finland – if you have any tips for Stockholm or Helsinki, or for Hong Kong and the Philippines, feel free to share them in the comments below!

read more

Polaroid of the week: Christmas baking frenzy in Germany

no thumb

polaroid germany christmas bakingI finally did it – I took a vacation! Well, kind of. I didn’t stop working entirely, but I cut down my work time considerably over the Christmas holidays, trying to minimize my time spent in front of my computer screen and maximizing my time spent with family and friends instead. I have to say that I’ve been fairly successful, and even though I can’t shake off the feeling of guilt for taking some time off, the past few days have given me a heart full of love and joy.

Before I returned to Germany for the Holidays, I thought it might be a waste of time and money to fly back to Europe from Asia before flying back to Asia again next month, but coming home for Christmas was the right thing to do. After the struggles I’ve experienced this past year, there was no better place to spend Christmas f0r me than surrounded by the people I love the most.

I hadn’t spent Christmas in Germany for seven years, and never felt like I was missing out on anything – until last year. With my nephew born only ten days before last Christmas, and my nieces and nephew and siblings celebrating with my grandma without me, I had felt more homesick than ever before and made a pledge to spend this Christmas at home, no matter where in the world I’d be at this time of year.

As soon as I arrived in Germany, I found myself surrounded by Christmas music, Christmas decorations and the smell of Christmas – which in Germany means the smell of sugar-roasted almonds and the spices of mulled wine. Over the years,,I had simply forgotten how much I enjoyed strolling over the Christmas markets, nibbling on German Christmas treats and drinking hot eggnog. And all the baking! I took over my sister’s kitchen and managed to bake 15 baking sheets full of different Christmas cookies, trying to make up for the past years  when I didn’t have the chance to make any cookies whatsoever.

As much as I love being in warm, tropical places in the winter months – I will make the effort to spend Christmas with my family more often in the future. The sparkles in my nieces’ eyes when they saw Santa come through the door and while unwrapping their gifts filled me with so much joy, and the laughter and familiarity between me and my siblings made my heart burst.

I’ve also used the time at home to reflect on the past twelve months and will share some of my thoughts in my monthly round-up on Wednesday.

I wish all of you a happy 2015!

read more
1 2 3 4 5
Page 2 of 5