Germany: All over the place

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Beer, nature, history, art, fashion – you name it Germany has it.

Germany is frequently overlooked as a backpacker destination, with many heading there for nothing more than Oktoberfest or it’s renowned beer gardens.

I’ve complied a quick list of the main attractions that I have visited during my time there.

Destinations below are: Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dresden, Frankfurt, Meißen, Potsdam.

For visiting Augsburg check out this blog

BERLIN

Thing to see and do:

The Reichstag building is beautiful, combining old and new architecture. It provides amazing views of the city. If you can tear your eyes away from the architecture of the building itself. You must register on the website here to get in.

Checkpoint Charlie is an interesting place to peruse around. This historical landmark will usually be manned by people in military uniform.

Street Art is everywhere. It’s easy to spend half a day looking at the many pieces of art.

Topographie des Terrors is a necessary trip if you are interested in history. This was a memorable stop during our time there.

Berlin Wall – no need to plan for this. You will 100% bump into the wall when aimlessly wondering around.

Eating and drinking is much pricier here than other parts of Germany. Set a good budget so you don’t over spend.

Getting out of Berlin to see the rest of the country is super easy with the SBahn.

BONN

Thing to see and do:

Drachenfells and Schloss – hike up the big hill or grab the tram and get ready for spectacular forest views and a view of the mini Disney lookalike castle.

Feeling Outdoorsy? Bonn is the place to go. There are trees aplenty and lots of places to hike around in the great outdoors.

Quirky Accommodation – Basecamp Bonn is where it’s at. Ever wanted to sleep in a converted car? Or a train? or maybe a Chinese tour bus? Check them out here.

Botanical gardens and the zoological museum are another couple of nice laid back activities during your time in Bonn.

Overall, Bonn is super chilled so you may just want a couple of days wind down time here.

COLOGNE

Thing to see and do:

The Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is unmissable. If you are arriving by subway you will be greeted by it as soon as you emerge from the underground. It is stunning to look at, outside and in. Entry is free.

The River Rhine is a lovely backdrop to the city. Take a ride on it or walk down it at your leisure.

Partying is easy in Cologne. The nightlife is booming and there are many local festivals. Be sure to check the German calendar before you go. I still have no idea what festival we were celebrating whilst I was there but we had a laugh.

Eat, eat, and eat some more. You will never be without naked good in Cologne.

DRESDEN

Thing to see and do:

One of my top destinations in Germany. Very beautiful and historic.

Frauenkirche Dresden is a giant feat of gothic style engineering that should not be missed. Visit at night to see it beautifully lit up.

The Dresden Zwinger is impossible to miss. The grounds are huge and a few hours should be spent walking around it. The gardens and walls are well kept and well worth visiting

Siempre Opera House is stunning. If you have the cash and time I would recommend getting inside under the beautiful ceilings.

Markets, museums and more – Dresden is full of things to see and do. Allow a couple of days minimum here.

DÜSSELDORF

Thing to see and do:

Düsseldorf is another really chilled place to visit for when Berlin’s fast face gets the better of you.

Film Museum – as a film lover I was keen to visit here and it was not disappointing. Check out the website to see it’s diverse exhibits and take an hour or so to stop by. Well worth the money!

Rheinuferpromenade is a lovely chilled place to take a walk down the river. Start from parliament and stroll down from there.

The Rhine Tower is recommended for those unafraid of heights. To enter you will need to buy a ticket when you get there which varies depending on the time you arrive. Allow between £5-£12.

Shopping on a high-end budget is definitely doable here. Get the credit card out for some expensive brand shopping.

FRANKFURT

Thing to see and do:

(Altstadt) Frankfurt Old Town is enchanting with it’s Römer (old town hall). Take a seat to admire the old buildings and grab lunch.

Street Performers seem to be everywhere here, and they were all generally pretty good. Allow a few hours to get swept up in the random entertainment that the streets provide.

Beer is really good here. I’m not a beer lover but I enjoyed it here. Hard not to after the twentieth gulp from the GIANT glass.

MEIßEN (MEISSEN)

Thing to see and do:

Fairytale territory – This tiny town is a lovely day excursion from the cities. Peaceful and friendly with lots of little places of interest like the Dom Zu Meissen below.

Comfy shoes needed – Although it is small, you will need comfy shoes to navigate the cobbled streets. Have fun getting lost here in the bending streets.

Markets and the river – Not too bountiful on this front, but if there is a market then do stop to take a look before heading to the river.

POTSDAM

Thing to see and do:

We did a day trip here. It’s a quick train ride out of Berlin (around 45 minutes) so nice and easy.

Sansoucci Park – This park is massive and with plenty to explore including Sansoucci Palace. Allow a day here and bring snacks.

Botanical Garden – flowers within a beautiful building. What’s more to say.

New Palace – tickets are cheap and the building is just another example of Germany’s impressive gothic architecture. Extend your day by booking to go inside.

As I explore more of Germany I will update this post. Hope you have a fabulous time there!

When Travel Goes Wrong: Learn From My Mistakes.

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The ultimate guide to not being an idiot when travelling. Learn from my mistakes –

1. Do not put your passport in your mouth:

Ok so I wasn’t salivating all over my passport. I promise. I wrapped my lips (not even moist) around the folded edge of my passport in an attempt to juggle two pieces of luggage and my phone. For a split second I put it in my mouth. It was either that or it would have fallen on the floor. As I approached the (not so) lovely Croatian border control I was immediately shouted at. “DON’T PUT PASSPORT IN MOUTH.” He continued … “ITS NOT NORMAL”. I will not be doing that again. In front of him.

2. Don’t joke around with Houston passport control:

“Hi” I said to a (not so) lovely border force man. “GET IN LINE” he replied… I was already in line. This was pretty much the tone of every Houston staff member I encountered there whilst in the way to Nicaragua… both times.

3. Don’t get off the bus to Bosnia during a rest stop … EVER:

Two hours into the bus journey across the border from Croatia and into Bosnia. “Ten minute break” explains the driver. So off I jump to go to the toilet (which is a 5 second walk away). I leave my passport on the bus with my bags, assured that they are in safe hands with trusted company and assured that I don’t need my possessions to pee. I walked into the available cubicle and attempted to pee whilst trying to hold the door closed with my foot and grab the toilet roll with my hand. I exit the toilet 2 minutes later. The bus has disappeared. Long story short. After a lot of swearing (and unanticipated sprinting) I make it to the bus. If it weren’t for the screaming of “STOP THE BUS” I’d probably still be Bosnia selling my clothes to get enough cash to bribe border control to let me across.

4. Don’t queue for the bus in Croatia:

As a British person I just LOVE to queue. It’s basically part of my DNA. A word of wisdom. Unless you enjoy being shut in a moving vehicles door, don’t queue. Push the pensioners and the children out of the way. Don’t feel rude because they sure as hell don’t. You have places to be.

5. Never ask the person selling the ping pong show what a ping pong show is:

In my defence, this one wasn’t my mistake. I knew exactly what a ping pong show was. My boyfriend however did not. After aimlessly walking the streets of Phuket in Thailand he turned to me and asked (in the cutest most naïve fashion) “why is everyone so obsessed with table tennis here”. HA! Bless him. I, being the supportive loving girlfriend that I am, told him to ask the next lady that offered us a show. The results. Hours of laughter on my part and on his part… embarrassment.

6. Don’t tell a City person that you hate cities – unless you’re ready for a debate;

Working in London sparks the question “so …( because everyone starts the question with the presumptuous word SO) when are you moving to the city”. If you don’t have a well prepared answer for this question that declines the offer whilst also showing your love for the city then don’t bother responding.

7. When the guy renting you a bike tells you it’s too far, believe him, and don’t Rent a bike without having ridden a bike in years for a long journey:

Yea this happened. We just wanted to go to the beach for cheaps. A mile and a half in, during what felt like the hottest summer South East Asia has ever experienced, we were regretting the bike decision. We just ended up spending what could have been a short taxi drive’s money on bottles and bottles of water.

8. Don’t say yes to a tour your not interested in / not going to understand:

Whilst in Poland my mum and I decided that the Salt Mines were a must see attraction. Eager to get on a tour we stupidly agreed to joining a Germany group rather than shopping around. Whilst the tour was interesting we spent the entire time being referred to as “THE ENGLISH” as we fell behind trying to work out what the heck was going on. If tours are not available in your language then maybe just book in advance or go back another time. Otherwise, be prepared to hear “THE ENGLISH ARE TOO SLOW” for most of your tour.

9. Never assume that the perfectly perched Vietnamese man is going to let you get away with taking his picture and wandering off:

Ok ok I admit, this was terribly rude tourism on my part. In my defence, despite the language barrier I did point to my camera and charade style ask him if it was ok.  He was sitting in a rice field on top of a giant water buffalo. He nodded and I proceeded to hop off of the bike and snap away. As we tried (emphasis on tried) to walk away he grabbed my boyfriends arm. “Now ride”. Excuse me? He wanted us to ride that thing. Did I mention he was sat on a GIANT buffalo? Before we had a chance to decline we were lifted up into its back and paraded down the field before being promptly thrown off and asked for money. What a rookie mistake.

10. Never assume that people want to learn your mother tongue or that your language is more universal than it is:

I am proud to say that I do not fall into this category. I have however witnessed one too many fellow backpackers that assume or expect others to speak their language. This is not true. Whilst in Tanzania this couldn’t have been more true. Of the many people I met, not many actually found the idea of learning English appealing. And why should they? Unless it’s going to benefit them then what is the point?

11. Don’t jump off the surfboard in shallow water:

Cling onto that board for dear life or suffer the consequences of a broken toe like I did. If the water looks rocky, then it probably is. Don’t assume a broken big toe is manageable whilst backpacking either… It isn’t.

Close Up shot of a girl in a bright blue hoodie on the cliffs of dartmoor with the rocks and lush green hills rolling behind her

Dear backpacker,

Travel wisely and stay safe.

Use your brain.

Don’t be stupid