A blissful Berlin experience contains small change and good shoes

I bloged about Berlin not long ago. But the best tips comes from insiders, so I asked Benedikte who used to live in Berlin to tell us what she likes most in Berlin.

Here is what she has to say:

If you didn't already know: Berlin is a patchwork of what used to be tiny, peculiar villages stitched together into a city that is Chaos In Form (btw the name of a hip shop in Falkensteinstrasse). As a consequence, the city has no true epicenter but rather a string of pearls. A long string, too, which is part of the blessing. But unlike the bead string, Berlin had no beginning nor end and sometimes there are stretches between the oases of good stuff. If you don't want to walk yourself silly it's neither complicated to rent a bike nor maneuver around in traffic on one. The Berlin drivers are used to bikes - but be aware: Riding on the sidewalk can get you a ticket. True story, I live to tell it.

Early 2009 I counted my blessings and realized I had visited Berlin 4 times before Easter. So after graduating as a copy writer, I followed my heart and desire, packed my 7 things and aimed for a sabbath year in Kreuzberg. I got everything I wanted (except the sabbatical rest but I never missed it either). And during my days a couple of musts emerged:    

1. Photo boxes - bring your small change. You'll find them with irregular intervals in the hip areas Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg. Old school style photos and good fun!

2. Mauerpark - epic flea marked every Sunday paralleled with magnificently organized karaoke in the park. Leave your lunch box but bring your change.

3. The Turkish Market - Tuesdays and Fridays at the Maybachufer. Veggies, fabric, shoppers and tourists. The cacophony of special offers in Turkish mix with spontaneous concerts at the far end of the market. 

4. Park life - large, lush and lovely parks when the hangover gets too rough or you hang out with kids. Some of the parks has impressing playgrounds and/or open air cinemas. (Achtung, nur auf Deutsch)

5. Breakfast - most cafes with some dignity offer a variety of Frühstück right until supper time. You usually get a huge plate with a tower of goodies and a basket of bread to go with it. Weekends there will be excessive buffets at fixed prices. Work up an appetite, get there early and stay until late.

Benedikte Kluge 


Travelling and home sweet home

One of the effects of travelling is the fact that I appreciate so much more what I have back home. I love exploring new countries, understanding other cultures, seeing new things and meeting new people. But it also makes me understand how lucky I am, what I have where I live.

Off course growing up and living in Norway is pretty good because it's a democratic and wealthy country with benefits others can just dream about. But what I appreciate the most is the beautiful nature we have. I live in Oslo and today I have been walking in the nature (Østmarka) for hours and I started just outside my own door. The closeness to the nature is great about Oslo.

But even more I love the place where I grew up (Urke in Ørsta, Sunnmøre), one of the most beautiful places in Norway, between mountains and fjords. I actually had to move away to understand how beautiful it is and I understand it even more after travelling.

I was standing on a mountain top in Peru (4000 meters above the sea, the highest I have ever been), and the local guide proudly asks me; Isn't this the most beautiful view ever? I didn't know what to say, because it was truly beautiful, but I have seen something even more amazing, at home sweet home.

I'm so grateful that I can travel the world, learning about the world and seeing new places the way I do, but I will always love home sweet home the most.

This picture is from the mountain Saksa in Urke, I grew up in the village you see at the foot of the mountain.

My sanctuary

My sanctuary

 

That airport feeling

I love airports. Well, some of them are not that nice, but it's the feeling I get when I'm at an airport I love. Knowing that I'm travelling somewhere, looking at other people and the feelings they show: the joy of meeting again, the wanderlust. I feel that I'm ready for the whole world.

Some people are going home, others leaving for a great adventure, the long awaited beach holiday, or just a business travel to another city, another country. Listening to all the languages around me, looking at the smiles, the travel habits. It makes me feel good.

It inspires me to see the planes take off and land, to imagine the stories behind all the travellers. Airports make me think. 

I have some pretty bad airport experiences off course (who doesn't). I have missed flights, I have felt lost running for my transfer, I have waited way to long at boring airports. But sometimes even the long waits feel good. I spent the night at Bombay airport in India once. All by my self, first time in India, tired but excited. It was my first meeting with India and I loved it. 

There are so many feeling at an airport: excitement, anger, joy, anticipation, frustration... I like to observe, dream, go! And then there's my feeling, my excitement. Even though I'm just going to another city for a business meeting, I feel good at airports. 

Not feeling the same way, are airports just stressful to you? Try being there earlier (most of them have wifi so you can work if you have to), try observing, imagining, take it all in. It doesn't have to be stressful that way. 

Just looking at the departures, dreaming of new destinations...

Have fun and relax in Berlin

Berlin is fun, it's calm, it has its beauty and is a live history lesson. I love it! Berlin is one of those cities where you just feel relaxed and it's kind of hard to say why because it's an enormous city both in people living there and the size of it. Maybe it has to do with all the parks in between all the city stuff, maybe it's the people. Anyways, I love the feeling.

And Berlin is fun! So many great bars and clubs, people walking down the street drinking beer (and manage to not get to drunk doing it), all kinds of people, a vibrant start up scene and so much more. But Berlin is also one big history lesson, wherever you go there are references from the war, there are tons of museums, historic buildings, places and monuments. Actually there is so much to see and do in Berlin that I recommend more then a long weekend there. Or just go back. I've been there twice, the last time this summer. And I will be back! Here's my top Berlin tips:

 

How to get around?

Berlin is actually one of the cities in the world with the longest distant between the different parts of the city. And there is really nothing you can call the city centre.  I usually recommend walking, to see more different stuff. But you definitely have to move around otherwise in Berlin. And the best way is the subway/metro (or S bahn and U bahn as its called there), it goes almost everywhere and is quite effective. And to see something you didn't plan to see, just hop of on a random station:)

 

What to see in Berlin?

Well there is so much, here's some of the things I have seen and recommend:

  • The East Side Gallery - an international memorial for freedom. It is a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.
  • Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg - very hipster cool fun area of the city.
  • The Pergamon Museum - houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings. Actually one of the most impressive museums I've been to. It's located on The Museum Island where you can stroll by many other museums as well.
  • Brandenburger Tor - because of the history, not to hang around the area, to many tourists.
  • Checkpoint Charlie (the museum) - for another history lesson.
  • Parks, I love cities with green lunges, especially in the summer. Just relax and eat a Currywurst.

 

Shopping in Berlin

I think I found one of my favorite shopping streets in the whole world in Berlin this summer; Alte Schonhauser Strasse. The street is filled with cool little shops, a mix of smaller known and unknown designers, lots of fun stuff, vintage shops, cool cafes and restaurants. Some of the streets around it is also great. 

If you are more up for 'mainstream' shopping, go to Kurfürstendam and in Kurfürstendam, KadeWe for more luxury shopping. Great shopping in Berlin!

 

Where to stay?

Stay in an area you think you will like (because of the distance). I loved staying at Michelberger Hotel, very trendy and cool with a great outside restaurant/bar/garden area, not to happy with the food at the restaurant though (except from the breakfast, it was great). It was close to Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg with lots of nice places. And the S and U bahn was just across the street. 

 

You have to to Berlin sometime, I'm sure you'll love it too - everybody does. If you have any good tips yourself, please share them here.  And check out some insider tips from mye friend Benedikte

The back garden at Michelberger

The back garden at Michelberger

People paddle boarding down the river Spree, I want to do that some time

People paddle boarding down the river Spree, I want to do that some time

The East side gallery

The East side gallery

Aljezur and the beautiful beaches of southern Portugal

Aljezur is a municipality in the south of Portugal. I spent a couple of days there this summer and Tipi Valley was in the Aljezur area. Not much going on Aljezur itself, but the reason to visit is the amazing beaches in the area. And Aljezur is close to many of them.

During my stay at Tipi Valley I visited three beaches; Odeceixe, Monte Clerigo and Amoreira. All beautiful beaches great for surfing. The surf school we went to was located in Odeceixe (Odeceixe surf school) and had great instructors, you can rent boards there any time. One morning we did yoga followed by breakfast at Monte Clerigo, it was beautiful!

I recommend the area around Aljezur and Aljezur itself had a nice Italian Pizza place and the restaurant Pont'a Pe was very good. Cafe da Ponte was also I nice cafe and the food marked there is worth a visit as well. If you walk to the top of the city you can see the remains of the Moorish 10th century castle and there's also a great view from there. 

You can take a direct bus from Lisboa to Aljezur (3-4 hours), but the airport Faro is closer. You should have a car if you are going to the area, it's worth it to visit different beaches and you will get bored staying and eating in Aljezur all the time. I stayed at the Amazigh hostel in Aljezur, nice hostel that also had private rooms. 

More about Portugal: check out my post about Lisboa.

Surf's up

Surf's up

Streetart in Aljezur

Streetart in Aljezur

Aljezur

Aljezur


That feeling

When you first arrive at a new destination. The first view on the way to your accomodation and when you walk out to the streets for the first time. I love it!

When I come to a big city I get this great feeling immideatly, even though I have been there before. I think it has to do with all the people I see, just belonging there. I really felt good when I arrived in Berlin, Germany this summer. 

It was the day after they won the world championship in football. People were happy, walking down the street laughing and drinking beer. It was warm outside, my hotel was really cool (Michelberger hotel) and the area it was in as well. It all just made me smile and wish I lived there. It must have been visible, my happiness, because the restaurant even gave me free drinks. 

Berlin - always so fun and relaxed at the same time. 

 

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Berlin sky line.

Traveling on your own

Sometimes I travel on my own. And I like it. I know people who want to travel on their own, but find it a bit scary and are afraid of getting bored and I know people who do travel alone but have not found the joy of it. So, I wrote down my tip on how to get "better" at traveling on your own.

I travel on my own, not because I have to, but because I want to. I like doing what I want. I also like traveling together with someone. But for me the target of the travel, the travel in itself is most important. I decide that first and then I find out if it fits to travel with someone or I will do it on my own.

My best advices: 

Make a plan for the travel, something to do
It is boring being somewhere where nothing happens. You should travel to a place where there is a great chance of meeting new people, where you can see and discover stuff or where you have a plan to do something else. I have been on my own in New York, maybe the easiest place to travel on your own. There is always something going on. I traveled on my own to a beach holiday in Goa, India. Not much happening there, but my plan was to do and learn more yoga, to relax and read plenty of books. It was great!

Be aware of how long it feels ok to be on your own
I have this limit for how long it feels ok to be on my own. Even though you meet other people it is not like being with your friends back home. Think about how long it feels ok for you just being on your own or with people you don’t know. Some people can travel like that for a year, some people think one week is enough. Try figuring out your limit before planning a long trip.

Get a hobby
And I do not mean learning Salsa so that you can dance the night away in Cuba (even though salsa is a great dance to know and can give you lots of fun in many countries). What I do mean is that it is great to have something to concentrate on where you are. I often have a photo project, the camera keeps me busy and even feels like a good friend. Another tip is to write a travel journal or a blog. Or just find things you plan to see, like all the vintage shops in Paris or all the strangest museums in Berlin. Learning more of the language in the country your are in is another tip, it helps you to meet new people as well.

Books, books, books
To bad if you do not like reading because when you travel alone a book is the perfect thing when waiting at airports, sitting on your own at the coffee shop or at your hotel in the evening. You need it so much more then when you are traveling with someone. My best tip is to read about the country you are in. I love travel guides (one of the areas where I still prefer paper books), but even better is books about the country you are in, about culture, food, history and maybe a story about someone traveling in the country or people living there. Then you learn even more about the country you are in and have entertainment at the same time. 

Find social spots
It actually takes some practice, but if you are dining on your own or are just looking for a place to grab a beer, you should look for places where you see people talking, maybe there is music, a relaxed mood, not the fancy restaurant. A place where it looks comfortable to read your book or easy to get to know people. When it comes to accommodation, a hostel is the best place if you want to meet people. 

Travel with a group
It was not my favourite, I like planning my own trips. But if you are afraid of traveling on your own because of safety or want to make sure that you get to know other people, traveling with a group is great. You just have to find the right company to travel with. Do some research to make sure there are people on your own age, many agencies have a pretty high average age on their travelers. I found one (Gadventures) where the average age is around 30 and they arrange tours with adventures and activities and I loved it. 

Travel and get lost
This advice is my favorite travel advice both when you travel alone and with someone. Throw away your map and walk in the opposite direction, you will definitely see things you did not expect. But use common sense, make sure you do not walk in to areas tourist should keep out from. 

Use common sense
You are more vulnerable when traveling on your own and especially if you are a girl. I swear to common sense: Do not go to areas you know are unsafe (do some research), skip the dark alleys, be sober enough to find your way home or to find a taxi etc.

Do what you feel like
The greatest reason for traveling on your own, you can do exactly what YOU want and I guarantee you will do stuff that you would not do traveling with someone else. 

Do you have another advice to share? Please do below!

Finally selfies is a cool thing to take, ypu do a lot of them traveling on your own.

Finally selfies is a cool thing to take, ypu do a lot of them traveling on your own.


Surf and yoga in beautiful Tipi Valley, Portugal

I can feel the stay at Tipi Valley in my whole body; the big smile on my face as I think back, the peace I feel in inside and the muscles hurting from much more physical activity then I normally have in five days, .

Earlier this summer I spent five days at Tipi Valley Surf & Yoga Eco Camp in the historic area of Aljezur in the south of Portugal. In Tipi Valley you sleep in tipi's (with beds), the electricity is from solar power, the (sometimes) warm water in the outdoor shower is heated in the sun, there is no phone reception or wifi and most of the vegetables and spices in the food are grown at the place. You can really lose yourself there!

A day at Tipi Valley (you can choose to stay for 5 or 7 days) was normally like this:

  • A sweet bell sound is waking me up around 7.45. Outside, tea and fruit is waiting and then it's time for yoga. Yoga is done outside under the cork trees with a beautiful view over the valley and you do your sun salutations as the sun rises. A great way to start the day.
  • After yoga, breakfast was ready and after breakfast David from the surf school was there to pick us up and drive us to the beach. David is a great guy, he also showed us around the area and we visited three different beaches during the stay.
  • Then we had surf instructions and surfing for about two hours with great instructors from Odeceixe surf school.
  • After surfing it was time for lunch, brought in a big casket we would find salads or sandwiches, fruit and more. The location was off course the beach. When we finished our lunch we could surf some more or just relax at the beach or in one of the cafes for 3 hours before David brought us back to Tipi Valley.
  • Back at Tipi Valley we had time to relax in one of the hammocks, have some tea and fruit, take a shower or just do whatever we wanted for some time until it was time for yoga again. The afternoon yoga was of the more restorative type and there was some meditation to.
  • And then dinner was waiting for us. Always amazing home cocked healthy food with lots of vegetables and spices. We would sit by the table enjoying the food until the sun set down in front of us.

It may feel like a busy and strict program, but it really wasn't. I did not even use a watch while I was there and the fact that everything was so planned and great food always brought to you, just made it feel very relaxing. I also really enjoyed the fact that I couldn't use my phone (except on the beach during the day). It all kind of felt like being at summer camp, with adults. 

I also appreciated that even though Tipi Valley is health focused and all, it wasn't like yoga retreats where you could not drink alcohol or coffee and it was not all vegetarian food. We bought wine for dinner some days and went to a bar in Aljezur one evening. It was all up to us, but to be done with respect for fellow travelers and the eco friendly environment.

The week I was there we were 6 people (from England, Ireland, the US and me from Norway, all traveling on our own), but the place had room for 12. You don't need to have any experience with surfing or yoga to go there (I had never even touched a surf board). However, I did find the yoga a bit to basic, I have done yoga for some years and I know that 'back to basic' was good for me but it would be nice if they did adjust it a bit more for those of us more experienced too. On the last day we did yoga and had breakfast at the beach. A really nice experience before heading home.

If you want to totally relax from your every day life and at the same time be physically active, do yoga and surf, eat healthy, live eco friendly and meet new people - then you should definitely check out Tipi Valley!

Obrigado Tipi Valley!

Yoga with a view.

Yoga with a view.

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Hammocks all around camp.

Hammocks all around camp.

Monte Clerigo, one of the beaches we visited.

Monte Clerigo, one of the beaches we visited.

Odeceixe, the beach where we spent most of the days.

Odeceixe, the beach where we spent most of the days.

James, Esther, Jennifer, Alex, me and Harriet. The great people I spent the week with. Thanks guys!

James, Esther, Jennifer, Alex, me and Harriet. The great people I spent the week with. Thanks guys!


Welcome to my blog

I have another blog. It is really about everything and nothing. Then it turned in to a travel blog. But it is in Norwegian and I want to write more about travel and I want it to be in English. So here you go!

 

Why Travel and Get Lost?

I believe that traveling is about seeing something new, to learn something, to experience. In order to do that you sometimes have to throw away your map and get lost. You have to look back, you have to see more then the tourist sights. Lose your self in the experience. But within reason, with respect and with common sense.

This blog will be about my travels, both coming and travels I have done, it will be about traveling, it will give you tip and smart travel stuff. Just another travel blog, but maybe with some new perspectives.