Almost a year and a half after making the move, this is what I wish I knew before landing in Berlin.
I wish I did an intensive German course before I started working full-time
Since moving to Berlin in I’m ashamed to say my level of German does not go beyond ordering a kebab. I learned Spanish in school and I can say that there aren’t that many similarities between the two languages. I can’t blame my lack of knowledge of German on my full-time though as I didn’t foresee the amount of time and effort you have to put into learning a completely new language.
So will I ever become 100% fluent in Deutsche? Probably not. But I do strive to be able to hold a conversation with my neighbours and local shopkeeper. Coming from Ireland has made me a chatty person, and if I could translate my chatter from English to Deutsche that would change my life in Berlin a lot.
The level of bureaucracy in Germany
I had been warned, but I did not listen. Anyone who moves to Berlin has been through the hoops of getting your Anmeldung, the official document stating you are a citizen of Berlin. The government needs to know pretty much everything about you, from where you work to your religion so they can tax you accordingly.
What do you need in order to get your Anmeldung? You need your name on a flat contract. Which brings me onto my next point.
How hard it is to find your own apartment
You think in one of the largest cities in Europe that you would find an apartment or a shared apartment (WG) easily. You can if you want to live in an unpopular area. But in neighbourhoods such as Friedrichain, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte it can be impossible to find an apartment where you can get your name on the contract.
There is a housing crisis in Berlin partially caused by Airbnb and rising rent prices in upcoming neighbourhoods like Neukölln. In a lot of cases, people can’t get an anmeldung because they’re renting a room for a few weeks or months. Which has lead to a lot of expats finding themselves in a catch22 situation.
I wish I knew I could buy a Monthly ticket “Monatskarte” from a ticket machine
I just missed the memo on this one. Some months, my good months, I would buy my monthly ticket at the ticket office. Other months I would take a look at the line and keep on walking. Which would lead to burning cash over the month buying single tickets.
After one year and two months, I learnt I could just buy my monthly ticket from the ticket machine on every single train platform in Berlin. Oops.
The sentence “Ich mochte gerne ein _______ bitte.”.
“I would like a ______ please.” – this sentence is the gateway to whatever I want in Berlin, and I only learnt it recently. Thanks to Memrise the best language app I’ve used so far.
Before you continue to read this, ask yourself, do I want to discover a city barely touched with swarms of tourists, with the best seafood in Europe and the friendliest people? If yes, then you will love Lisbon.
In mid-January my boyfriend and I left our beloved snowy Berlin for four days of sunshine in the Portuguese capital. From the moment the airplane door opened I could feel the heat, the scent of a hot country and a cool breeze. We were in paradise.
What did we get up to? Check out my top romantic tips for Lisbon.
Get lost in Alfama
The hilly neighbourhood of Alfama may appear daunting to those who fear steep inclines (me) but they’re not as bad as they seem. Roaming hand-in-hand through the tiny staircases and narrow streets of this district evokes a feeling similar to one in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Those who stuff their face together, stay together xox
One of Lisbon’s biggest selling points was the rumour that it’s home to some of the best seafood in Europe. After some of the best meals of my life, my chins and I would like to tell you this is in fact, true.
Some of the best dishes I had were at SeaMe, where Japanese dishes meets Portuguese seafood. From sardine nigiri to rolls with salmon, strawberry and avocado delivered in a divine presentation. It’s hard to stop and take photos before you dig in. So you end up taking a photo of one of the bottles of wine you had instead.
Case in point.
So how much did it cost? The beau and I had around 8 dishes of sushi which filled us to the brim, and two bottles of wine which came to a total of 99 euros. Least to say I would save my pennies up and go again!
Take a baking class
Lisbon is famous for a particular custard pastry – pasteis de nata. With over thirty-two thousand hashtagged images on Instagram, the pastry itself could be considered a social media starlet in its own right.
But I didn’t want to come, eat, take a photo and leave. No way, this millennial wanted to take it to the Marta Stewart level. So we booked a baking class at the Cooking Lisbon, we had a lovely chef showing us the way of Portuguese pastry baking.
Take in the sunset
Neither of us have witnessed a sunset like the ones in Lisbon. Park your bum near the Praca de Comerio, the main square in Lisbon parallel to the river and wait for the sky to blow you away.
Watching the sun disappear off the edge of the Earth makes for the perfect resting time after a long day of exploring the Alfama neighbourhood. What makes it even better is a bottle of wine to share.
What makes Lisbon the perfect spot for couples in a nutshell?
At the very core of our trip, my boyfriend and I realised that for the money you pay for a weekend away in Lisbon (we spent about 700 euro altogether) is very reasonable compared with Paris or Venice romantic getaways. Our accommodation was 116 euro each, and most of our money we splashed on a lot of seafood, which as you may be able to tell, I don’t regret a bite of.
What’s also worth mentioning is that the people are exceptional. It’s very rare that civilians of a capital are so friendly, chatty and have a great sense of humour.
Final Romantic Ratings:
Quality of Wine – 10/10.
Service – 10/10 (most of the time!).
Beautiful scenery – 10/10.
That’s all on romantic Lisbon for the moment. I hope you will make it to Lisbon and will love it as much as we did. 😀
I like to spend a fair amount of my spare time playing “travel agent”. Pretty self-explanatory, but yes I will spend hours researching every wonderful aspect of that destination. Whether it’s a city break or a journey across the globe, if the place is in my interests I will make an itinerary and keep it in mind.
What stops me from going absolutely everywhere? The costs. I never really write that part down. But 2017 is here and I’m ready to get my shit together.
Below I’ve listed my ideal destinations for 2017 along with itinerary details and different ways I’m saving money to go achieve my travel goals. I’ve researched each place to visit heavily so the costs are fairly accurate. Another thing to keep in mind that my budget fluctuates based on the destination; from backpacker to mid-range.
Pictured above: One of the many beautiful streets in Lisbon.
How many nights: 4.
Best time to go: January-May, October – December.
Transport budget: Flights from Berlin cost 55 euro.
Accommodation budget: Suite bedroom at Passport Hostel cost 116 euro per person sharing.
Top Activities: Lisbon Aquarium (voted best in the world), learn how to bake Portuguese custard tarts, take a day trip to the colourful Sintra castle and eating as much seafood as humanly possible.
Total costs (incl. shits’n’giggles): 350 euro.
Alpine Lakes, Germany
Pictured above: St. Bartholomew’s Church in Bavaria, a region in South Germany.
How many nights: 4.
Best time to go: June-September.
Transport budget: 50-100 euro, depending on train or bus travel.
Accommodation budget: 120 euro in total for four nights.
Top activities: Hiking, chilling out, cycling, more chilling out.
Total costs (incl. shits’n’giggles): 350 euro.
New York, USA
Pictured above: One World Trade Centre.
How many nights: 5-7.
Best time to go: September-October.
Transport budget: 450-550 euro.
Accommodation budget: 650 euro.
Top Activities: See Van Gogh’s Starry Night in MOMA, delve into the city’s history, eat a slice of proper New York pizza, Central Park, see a show on Broadway, check out why Brooklyn is so popular and, of course, pretend I’m in Sex and the City. 🍸
Total costs (incl. shits’n’giggles): 2000 euro.
Pictured above: Hamburg docklands.
How many nights: 2.
Best time to go: June-August.
Transport budget: 30 euro.
Accommodation budget: 70 euro in total.
Top Activities: Explore the docks, go ship spotting and embrace the city’s nightlife.
Total costs (incl. shits’n’giggles): 200 euro.
Pictured above: a view of the Atlas mountains.
How many nights: 5-10 nights.
Best time to go: March-May and October-December.
Transport budget: 150 euro.
Accommodation budget: 250 euro in total.
Top Activities: Explore Marrakesh, kick-back in a Riad, go on a camel ride in the Sahara, see the Atlas mountains and photograph Chefchaouen.
Total costs (incl. shits’n’giggles): 1000 euro.
Different ways to save money to go see the world
New year new you right? I’ve always been bad at saving and I really don’t know where my money goes. But for 2017 I’ve come up with some ways on saving cash from the get go.
Giving myself a weekly budget: Saying no to myself is hard. I buy what I want, when I want it. With little thinking about budget. So from now on I have a weekly budget and this includes…
Not eating out: I like pizza. I like sushi. I like burritos. I like eating my money. So I’m cutting out the restaurants this January in favour of hopefully eating in other destinations.
Dry January: I gave up alcohol for two weeks in November. As sad a time that may seem, I felt amazing doing it! So I’m doing it again, for a whole month.
Less partying, more learning: On February 8th I will have my Berlin-anniversary. As my German is still woeful, I’ll be taking advantage of the long, dark nights to educate myself on the magical language that is Deutsche.
That’s all folks!
If y’all have some great saving tips and/or advice about any of the destinations I mentioned about I’d love to hear it! Just holla at me in the comments section. 🙂
Last but not least, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a badass 2017. All the very best and let me know where you want to travel to in 2017.
If you were born or live in a popular tourist destination the chances are you will read an online article discussing “authentic” things to do or hidden gems in said destination is very likely. I for one, call BS on most of these posts.
As an Irish expat with a Facebook feed, I am subjected to these click-bait articles which are supposed to fill you with pride and a dash of homesickness. Not if you’re from Dublin.
To be Frank, a slim amount of “authentic” content seems to exist surrounding things to do in Dublin city. Let’s call a case study into action, shall we?
Cheese toasties in Grogan’s
As a Dubliner and content writer, I am sick of seeing this as an “authentic” thing to do in Dublin. If you type “cheese toasties in Grogan’s” into Google, there are 11,400 results.
So there’s some overlapping? That’s natural if the experience is that amazing. Now, cheese toastie’s in Grogan’s are tasty and their Guinness is 10/10.
But that’s not my point, my point is content writing has gotten so lazy that it’s easier to copy content than come up with something authentic. Or at least with some genuine enthusiasm behind it. Don’t believe me? If you type “things to do in Dublin cheese toastie” into Google there are 46,700 results.
Every single result on the first page is from an online publishing source. Get it together guys.
I understand that content writers are under a lot of pressure to create content that is relevant, shareable and viral. I’ve been there, I’ve done this before. But you’re not benefiting yourself in doing just that. It’s important to step back once in a while and ask yourself how are you putting your stamp on this topic? You’ll be way more proud of your work and contribution to travel enthusiasts all over the web.
And for the visitors looking for things to do in Dublin? Go to Grogan’s because their toasties are the shit and their Guinness is one of the best in town, but if you really want to do something authentic in Dublin talk to the locals.
Dubliners, and overall the Irish, are friendly people. Speaking on my people’s half we like to help others out. Whether that be a backpacker looking for directions or some weekenders searching for a proper Irish pub. If you’re a bit shy without the drop of the barley I’ve put my two favourite places to hang out when I’m back home below.
Sweeney’s Pub AKA. Dame Lane.
If you want to sample the city’s people head to Dame Lane. This skinny lane has numerous bars along it. But the nature of the Irish nightlife means that most of the party takes place outdoors, even when it’s absolutely baltic outside.
Behind the hippie-dippy bar Sweeney’s you’ll have the pleasure of meeting Dublin’s creative communities: hippies, musicians, thespian’s alike gather here for the craic. To drink, I recommend the ginger ale and whiskey cocktail for five euro a pop. With music flowing from the inside onto the lane, you’ll be submerged in good company and good craic.
Whelan’s is one of the most popular joints for a joint in Dublin. The rock’n’roll bar boasts guests such as Arctic Monkeys, Damien Rice and Irish pop-royalty- The Corrs.
What I love about this place is that it’s a no fuss bar, which provides a laid-back atmosphere. Booming out of the speakers are rock classics, mixed with early Gorillaz tracks and Blur anthems. Not to mention they can pull a decent pint of Guinness. All in all, it’s impossible to have a bad night here.
8 months have come and gone, summer has passed and my winter body is coming along nicely. In celebration of said winter body I decided to share some of my favourite places to eat in Berlin.
Berlin being a multicultural hub you’ll find a healthy mixture of great places to eat. Mention any one one of these places to me and watch my eyes instantaneously light up. Guten Appetit!
8. Piri Burger, Wiener Straße 31
This glorious hole-in-the-wall across from Görlizter park restored my faith in chicken burgers. The succulent combination of juicy chicken, fresh toppings and spicy sauce is enough to have any burger-lover coming back for more. Not to mention their herbal-doused fries are enough to share between two. The best deal? Piri burger, fries and a beer for 9 quid, worth every penny I say.
7. Hamy’s Vietnamese, Hasenheide 10
Hamy’s holds a dear place in my heart, and it’s not cholesterol I’m talking about. Hamy’s was where my now boyfriend and I’s first kinda date was. The decor isn’t romantic, there are no candles or violin-serenading waiters; but dinner for 5 euro, cheap beer and great service. The perfect spot for any twenty-somethings to relax and enjoy a meal. As for what to eat, my fella always chooses the Pho-Ga and I the dish of the day. After a year of going, we’ve never been disappointed.
6. Burgermeister,Oberbaumstraße 8
I am fully aware and prepared to be clubbed to death by the non-conventional Berliners, but gosh darn it I love Burgermeister. I don’t mind queuing the 30 minutes for that first bite of their divine Bacon-BBQ burger as long as I have a Rothaus beer in hand and good company by my side. It has to be said, for food made in a renovated public bathroom, it tastes mighty fine.
5. Lemongrass, Anklamer Str. 38
For some reason, I decided in mid-June that it was time to find a great curry spot. Maybe it was my will for self-destruction or denial that Berlin’s hot summer doesn’t bother me, but it was at the top of my list. Luckily my work colleagues were obsessed by this Thai spot around the corner from my work. They weren’t wrong, each time I order the Saigon curry (6.50e) and each time it brightens up my work day!
4. Hello Sushi, Neue Bahnhofstraße 36
With a name like “Hello Sushi: I don’t blame you for imagining a hyperactive Japanese restaurant smothered in Hello Kitty knock-off posters with emoji sushi placemats. In reality, it’s quite the opposite.
This half-sushi/half-Vietnamese spot by Ostkreuz Bahnhof offers some of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted with amazing service! For those living in Berlin wondering where all the friendly staff are, I found them!
As for what to eat? I recommend getting a platter to share. The price range from 15 – 20e, but you’d be surprised how much you get for your money.
3. Käfer, Platz der Republik 1 (The Reichstag)
Have your ambitions in life ever been set by the quality of food you ate that one time? This is what happened when I ate at The Käfer. It was my boyfriend’s and I one year anniversary; the sweet thing that he is brought me for a five-star dinner… which I’ve lusted for ever since.
Every single bite was like a beautiful sunrise. Everything from the mashed potatoes to the freakin’ charred lettuce was a gift from the Gods. Obviously, this is not a place the average person can afford each day. But it’s a wonderful place to bring visiting rich relatives or if you want to treat someone. Just make sure to book in advance.
P.S: It’s on the rooftop of the Reichstag. If the meal wasn’t enough watching the sunset over Berlin afterwards certainly is.
My go-to place for traditional German food and beer, let’s not forget the beer. Typically shrouded in tourists, the Augustiner Brauhaus is a safe bet for anyone you may have coming to town. Although, I still go when I’m craving some proper bratwurst and sauer kraut.
Did I mention they have the best beer here? I love Ausgustiner beer, the restaurant is essentially built on top of their reputation for beautifully brewery beer. Shipped over from Munich in oak casks, hence the extra-special taste. Plus, it’s so easy to get to. I can grab the U-2 to Hausvogteiplatz and walk 200 metres only to indulge myself in the delightful Dunkel beer. A must-try if you ever stop by!
1. Giannis Pasta-Bar, Schönhauser Allee 186A
Another lunchtime favourite. Giannis Pasta-Bar has an amazing lunchtime menu which boasts classic Italians dishes. My personal favourite being the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (5.50e).
Since my first visit to Italy I have searched great lands to find a decent Carbonara outside Italy; from an M&S microwave meal to pizza places that also serves pasta. I love going to this place, getting a decent lunch without breaking the bank.
I may be a little biased, but I love Ireland and I’m so proud to be Irish. I stubbled across this beautiful video of Ireland and just needed to share with you guys! It truly showcases the playful Irish personality, the magical landscape and sense of enchantment you get while discovering Ireland. With the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising coming up there is no better time to visit Ireland!
Céad Míle Fáilte!
Anyone infused with wanderlust? Share the video, convince your friends to visit Ireland, have the craic, drink some Guinness, be charmed by the Irish and find yourself saying “It’s very green” a lot!
Budapest is fastly becoming one of the top European destinations to visit, and I can see why. I spent 10 months living in this beautiful city and what I can tell you is that you need to see it. It has the style of Paris and the atmosphere of Berlin’s nightlife but without the pretentiousness.
I feel it has become the epicentre of young tourism, accommodating the budget travelling, wanderlust-filled backpackers of the world. It may have become a stag and hen party hotspot, but Budapest ain’t just good for cheap booze, there are so many more reasons to go, 33 reasons actually…
33. For a holiday destination it’s great if you’re on a budget
2016 has arrived! While many of us are making our way back to work, some of us are already making travel plans for the year ahead. But where to go? I’ve knitted together 16 of the newest travel hotspots, events and golden oldie locations to hit up in 2016, so you can get the most from your holiday.
Spilt has won my heart. A beautiful white-marble walled town on the Dalmatian coast. The locals are friendly, it’s budget travel friendly and doesn’t get the hectic crowds like Dubrovnik. It’s only dead easy to hop to one of Croatia’s breathtaking islands, such as Hvar or Korčula.
15. Füssen, Germany
If you’re planning on being in Munich this year, make time for a day-trip to this wee town. I’ve already bragged about the beauty of Füssen in a previous blog, but I’ll happily do it again. Located in the southern Bavarian Alps, the little town of Füssen hosts an array of quaint Alpine architecture encapsulated with the beauty of nature.
The picturesque city of Padua is completely underrated when it comes to tourism in Northern Italy. Yes, ok Venice has beautiful, winding canals, Verona plays host to the greatest love story in theatre history, Romeo & Juliet.
But Padua boasts incredible conservation of old roman buildings, stunning basilicas and might I say, the best Italian food I’ve ever sampled. Head to Piazza dei Frutti to relish in fresh traditional cuisine such as garlic-infused octopus and pistachio covered tuna, produced by Italy’s most famous food stand, La Folperia.
13. Killarney, Ireland
I’m not usually a fan of the countryside, but I’m always up for a trip to Killarney. With it’s ancient rolling hills covering the landscape, I can’t help but completely adore the scenery. Located in the south-west of Ireland, Killarney makes a scenic base for discovering the rest of the region.
Even in the traditional Irish weather Killarney National Park is still extremely appetising to the eys. Take a trip around the Ring-of-Kerry to get the most from this place of natural beauty and check out the Irish towns attached to this mountain for views, such as this.
Here I go, writing about Berlin again, typical of me I know. But I love this city so of course I’m going to recommend it to everyone. It has everything: eccentric culture, extensive history and an exciting buzz about it. Don’t believe me? Check out my previous blog ’44 Little Great Things About Berlin’ and I promise you’ll be convinced afterwards 😉
Croatia, again? Yes please. Croatia is home to beautiful town after town, after town! And Zadar is no exception to that. Like Spilt, it’s a walled city with rolling white-stoned streets but what makes it different is the bustling markets, ancient building and the world’s only sea organ.
A sea organ… right. It’s awesome. It’s an experimental musical instrument in which tubes, located under a set of large marble steps plays music orchestrated by the tumbling waves of the Adriatic sea.
10. Rome, Italy
Rome is the perfect weekend holiday; iconic sites, incredible history and that romantic touch. Rome should be a must on each traveller’s bucketlist. However, I’d avoid going during the peak tourist season as lines for sights such as the Colosseum and the Vatican can be long, and you might melt with the heat.
I love Sziget. I love the unity of it all. People from all over the world flocking towards the most bonkers festival in Europe. Each year Sziget plays host to a mammoth array of acts, from mainstream pop to alternative rock, Sziget truly has something for everyone!
Wroclaw has become a bit of hotspot for tourism in 2015, and I can see why. Not only does this city boom with character, but it’s known for friendly locals and a hopping nightlife. Given the title of 2016 Capital of Culture, Wroclaw has become the place to visit in Europe.
The great Spanish pilgrimage trail. Although it is typically a Christian pilgrimage route, it has been adopted into the hiking and backpacking bucketlist. The route hosts magnificent natural beauty, small traditional Spanish towns and a time to reflect. Something I believe travelling offers to each individual, the time to get to know yourself, and to grow as a person.
Shout out to my hometown! Dublin’s tourism is booming in the recent years, but 2016 will be even bigger. With the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on March 17th, Dublin is going to mental.
Not to mention Dublin is home to many incredible things like Guinness, buzzing nightlife and literary greats such as Jame Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett. Not too shabby at all.
5. Ljubljana, Slovenia
I love hearing people trying to pronounce Ljubljana, let alone trying to spell it. Don’t let the name deter you from visiting. Ljubljana is one of my favourite places to visit. It’s a small city, also the capital of Slovenia. But the locals are extremely cheery, the scenery is stunning and the bohemian art scene is pretty cool.
There is no where in the world quite like Paris. Despite the devastating attacks in 2015 I still highly advise for you to go. Paris is just breathtaking. Okay so there’s the Eiffel Tower which you’re obviously going to see, but to appreciate the city you need to walk around it. Explore areas like Montmartre, the Latin Quarter and Ilé de le Cité, you won’t regret it.
You may have already seen Cesky Krumlov across various travel sights, Pinterest posts and tumblr blogs but there is a reason. It’s an example of how a city gained popularity through the medium of online word-of-mouth. Located just 3 hours from Prague, Cesky Krumlov is a shining beacon of beautiful bohemia buildings.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, a ghost hunter or like hill walking then giving Edinburgh a visit in 2016. It’s home to J.K. Rowling, hosts the spookiest graveyard in the world (Greyfriars) and it is certainly hilly.
Berlin’s tourism industry has been booming in the past 10 years, and with that so has the price of tours, sights and attractions. But what if I told you that there are several ways to explore and absorb the city, for free.
Awesome right? But how do you know this isn’t a string of obvious solutions? Well having worked as a tour guide in Berlin, living and breathing in the city, I’ve discovered the best tracks and trails to prove you don’t need much money to experience Berlin at its best.
A photo posted by Lazy Gal Travels (@lazygaltravels) on
Tiergarten is Berlin’s city centre park which stretches over a massive area of 5km2, giving you plenty of space to take in some serious nature. Tiergarten also hosts wondrous wildlife like moles, hawks and even boars. You can take any number of routes too: from the Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column, from S-Bahn station Bellevue through to the Zoo in the west of the city.
Mauerpark market takes place every Sunday from 9am until 6pm. Both appetising to the eyes and ears, Mauerpark market is a glorious combination of vintage clothing, miscellaneous objects, live music and international food. Entry is free!
Berlin is an international street art hub! Whether you’re arriving by bus, train or plane the first you’ll notice about the city is that it is covered in street art. It’s a part of Berlin’s artistic, open-minded culture. One of my personal favourite projects are these figurines constructed from corks called yogis! You can spot them on top of the street signs across Berlin.
You can figure out a route yourself or you can hop on one of the many free tours companies across Berlin! Keep in mind however, although the tour is advertised as free the guide only makes money from tips, so tip how much you feel the tour was worth.
There’s always at least one act on Warshauerbrücke, whether it be a band, an Irish rapper (oh yeah) or a random guy with a speaker and a trumpet. You never really know what to expect, but hey it’s free and another great way to take in Berlin in its authentic form.
Head down to the uber-trendy neighbourhood of Kreuzberg. Home to some of Berlin’s best bars and clubs, tucked down past the busy main street of Mehringdamm you’ll discover this stunning small park. Climb to top for the best panoramic view of Berlin, with no hefty entrance fee.
This 2km stretch of wall is the largest remaining section of the Berlin wall. Along you’ll see both street art and graffiti portraying famous moments from the history of the Cold War, community inspired pieces and artistic designs. It’s completely free to visit and explore.
My recommendation? Get off the S-Bahn at Ostbahnhof where you’ll spot the East Side Gallery across the road, follow it all the way down to the bridge (Oberbaumbrücke) where you can explore the area of Friedrichshain or hop across to Kreuzburg.
There you have it folks. Remember seeing the world doesn’t mean you need all the money in the world, just a decent budget which you know will keep you fed, warm and on your feet!