Berlin

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin is one of the coolest cities you’ll visit. With such a recent, tumultuous history, the city is vibrant in culture, street art, and realness unlike anywhere else. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the city began to rebuild itself, but many of the distinctions between East and West Berlin are still apparent. With the famous East Side Gallery and street art, the underground music and party scene, and the Holocaust Memorial recently opened; Berlin is rich in history and revolution.

Quick Facts

Country | Germany
Language | German & English
Location | North East Germany
Closest Airport | TXL (9.2 km)
Currency | Euro
Days Needed | 3-4
Best Time to Visit | April-October

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Getting There

From Berlin Tegel Airport: Bus connections right from the airport into the city centre (every 5 minutes) and takes about 15-20 minutes.

From Schönefeld Airport: Directly connected to the regional and S-Bahn rail. You can take the S-Bahn into the city (departs every 10 minutes). The Regional Railway Airport Express (runs twice every hour) will take you directly to Berlin Hauptbahnhof (the main station) and takes about 30 minutes.

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Stay

We stayed at an Airbnb in Kreuzburg, one the best-known areas in Berlin. Easily walkable to the club district and with close connection to the S or U-Bahn. There are also tons of hostels within the city if you’re looking to meet people and experience a more relaxed, backpacker vibe.

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Sights

East Side Gallery

Not needing an introduction, the famous East Side Gallery is 1316 metres long, and is an international memorial for freedom.

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Holocaust Memorial

Designed by Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is not one to be missed. With an abstract design, it speaks volumes and can be interpreted in many moving ways.

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Walking Tour

I highly recommend doing a walking tour(s) when in Berlin. Beginning with the Holocaust and working your way up to present day, it’s the best way to get an overview of the city’s history, as well as see the sites. Sandeman Tours is highly recommended. Depending on the tour you choose, you’ll see sites such as the Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall, the Opera, etc. The Alternative Walking Tour gives you the background on the squatters and the art scene.

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YAAM Berlin

If you’d like to relax a little bit, spending some time at YAAM is ideal. A chill spot next to the river, you’ll walk into a sandy area resembling a Caribbean island. With a bar fully stocked and tables and recliners to relax on, YAAM is a great way to spend an idle afternoon.

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Party

Pub Crawl

The best way to meet new people and check out Berlin’s pubs and bars, is a pub crawl. You can choose from the Original Pub Crawl or an alternative one (or both), and drink your way around the city.

Clubs

If you’re a party person, it would be sacrilegious to come to Berlin and not check out their famous clubs. Deep house and techno are the soul of the city and you can spend all day, night or weekend in their warehouses of sound. Berghain is said to be the Church of Techno and the most exclusive club in the world to get into. Tresor is the most respected and first techno club of the city, one that gave birth to techno and Berghain.  Check out this list on Berlin’s top clubs and their door policies.

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Eat & Drink

Neni

A garden high in the sky, Neni is Berlin’s place to go for Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fare. A delicious meal and beautiful surroundings, you can’t ask for better.

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House of Small Wonders

As cute as the name suggests, House of Small Wonders is a cozy spot, perfect for a casual brunch (and yes, definitely Instagrammable). They only take cash though, so come prepared.

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Silo Coffee

Totally hipster with a raw, wooden interior, Silo is a great little cafe for a light brunch, coffee, or to just hang out.

Burgermeister

There’s nothing quite like sitting under a rail station and having a burger. Burgermeister is a fun, casual take out spot in Kreuzburg to enjoy a burger and fries. Sit at the communal tables or take yours to go. And yes, they have a veggie option!

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Additional

Kebab Shops | any in the city

Berlin is truly unlike anywhere else, and it’s best to visit when you’re young and looking for culture mixed with partying and relaxing.

Check out my travel post for more photos.

xx

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Himalayan High

What are men compared to rocks and mountains? – Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

DSC_00034205 meters above sea level – where birds drift on wind currents, the air is charged with energy reverberating from surrounding monasteries, and the only sound you can hear is your own breathing…

Our last minute trip to Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, India, found us snuggled in the lap of the Himalayas, with nothing but rock, glaciers, and the rawness of Mother Nature as our companions.

With no expectations going into this trip that was planned two days prior, every minute managed to amaze me. Each day we would ascend higher and higher, leaving civilization, along with plentiful oxygen, behind. Hiking along the border of India and Tibet, dipping our feet into roaring rivers of ice cold glacier water, riding shaggy yaks, visiting the highest village and highest post office in the world, driving along the most treacherous road in the world, and getting our fill of delicious momos was just the tip of the mountain top.

Our guide, familiar with the entire region, and friendly with the monks, took us to heights reaching beyond altitude. His trained eye helped us spot the rare “blue sheep”. Living high in the Himalayan crests and seldom coming down, they are almost impossible to find. Legend says that upon seeing one, your kismet will be great and luck will be yours.

We visited 8 monasteries, each in its own style and size. While some were tucked away on the tip of a cliff, others were in the valleys – simple structures that had been there for thousands of years. The monastery in Komic was eye-opening and amazing. Set up in the passes, with the snow-capped Hindu Kush as the backdrop, the monks here shared a brotherhood that lasted from when they all arrived at the monastery at 10 years of age. Completely in contrast by their flowing red robes topped with ski jackets and sunglasses, these monks were the ultimate in cool. Joking around with us, offering orange pekoe tea and asking about life in Bombay, the peace that surrounded their behaviour was so alluring. Kaza Monastery was new, colourful, and captivating. Arriving just after the sun rose for the first Morning Prayer, we witnessed the tiniest monks, aged 5 and up running to the balconies of the temple, blowing into a conch shell, signaling prayer time. The prayer itself was unlike anything we’d ever heard before, talkative chants, with the lama leading the verses. We were given Tibetan butter tea, rich and salty to help keep us warm. At Pin Valley Monastery, we were warmed with tea, prayers, and the smiles of female monks, blending into the room with their shaved heads and crimson robes.

With the landscape changing from green foliage, to brown rock, we truly felt like we were on another planet. Trees were non-existent, and instead we found small shrubs and fish fossils from the days the mountains slept under the sea. With absolutely no network, and often no electricity or hot water, we were totally removed from the world. Save for the comforting presence of our driver, the three of us were immersed in a beautiful cadence of rock, river and self-reflection. And while on this road to reflection, I thought about so many things. How personal traveling is, especially to indigenous areas, and at home, how distant we are from reality. No cell phone service and we were cut off from the “real world?” No. This was the real world. Raw and unforgiving. Alone, we wouldn’t stand a chance. While I continue to partly feel guilt at commodifying culture, I recognize that photography is visual storytelling, and these photographs are just a recount of my experience.

If being a product of your environment is true, then peace surrounded my soul. Stars, mountains, and meditation – ten days in the Himalayas was barely enough.

(For tour information, visit Incredible Spiti)

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Lama at Lalung Monastery
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Roadside veggies
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Phone Line
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Morning reflection
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Serene
Mini monks with the shell
Mini monks with the shell
Morning Prayer
Morning Prayer
Details
Details
Kaza Monastery
Kaza Monastery
Rock Walk
Rock Walk
Spiti River
Spiti River
River Read
River Read
Key Monastery
Key Monastery
Devoted
Devoted
To the monastery
To the monastery
Well wishes
Well wishes
The highest village in the world
The highest village in the world
Construction worker's carry on
Construction worker’s carry on
Of the mountains
Of the mountains
Proceed with caution
Proceed with caution
Breathtaking
Breathtaking
Revered blue sheep
Revered blue sheep
Upper crust
Upper crust
Sea shrubs
Sea shrubs
An offering
An offering
Sky high views
Sky high views
Solitude
Solitude
Post man's son
Post man’s son
The highest post office in the world
The highest post office in the world
Getting schooled on littering
Getting schooled on littering
Cliff bar wonders
Cliff Bar wonders
Mountain crew
Mountain crew
Langza Village
Langza Village
Nomads
Nomads
Nirvana - not yet
Nirvana – not yet
Break time
Break time
Shepard
Shepard
Mountain cricket
Mountain cricket
Evening game
Evening game
Night fall
Night fall
Golden peak
Golden peak
Female monks
Female monks
Tibetan butter tea
Tibetan butter tea
Full house
Full house
The yak I rode
The yak I rode
Unreal
Unreal
Proof
Proof
Life
Life
10km to China
10km to China
Tibetan Prayer Wheel
Tibetan Prayer Wheel
Rock
Rock
Road trip
Road trip
Thupka preparations
Thukpa preparations
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Monastery with a view
Intense
Intense
Farmer
Farmer
Himalayan flowers
Himalayan flowers
Beauty
Beauty and baby
Tabo Monastery established in 990
Tabo Monastery established in 990
Tabo Monks
Tabo Monks
Mirror me
Mirror me
Julley! (hello)
Julley! (hello)
Curious
Curious
Nako
Nako
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Border of Tibet and India

 

Granite
Granite
Trees
Chitkul
Last village before Tibet
Last village before Tibet
Road to Tibet
Road to Tibet
Vertical orchards
Vertical orchards
Goat town
Goat town
Shimla monkey
Shimla monkey
Pit stop in Jaipur on the way home
Pit stop in Jaipur on the way home
Hawa Mahal
Hawa Mahal
Keeping watch
Keeping watch
Screen printer
Screen printer
Spiti Valley
Spiti Valley