'the north south divide, a tale of two very different cities'
berlin & munich; this was not my first trip to germany. i had been to berlin a few years ago in winter time but this was summer now so i was defiantly expecting something different. I find in europe that late spring/summer is when people truly have fun they come out of their hibernation mode & enjoy the few short truly beautiful months of great weather. i decided that this time i wanted to visit munich as i have heard so much about it but i started my journey in berlin....
i arrived in berlin on what had to be one of the worst rain storms that i have ever seen in europe but with a positive attitude i knew it was only for a while so didn't worry so much about it. for the first few days i was staying with my amazing friend vanessa in the east of berlin this was a really cool local area away from all the tourist hotspots she made so much effort in the few days i was there so want to give a big shoutout to her but we will get onto some of the things we got up to later. on the last day before leaving i stayed in the hipster hangout 25 hours hotel located in the west of the city right next to the famous berlin zoo that was home to knut the polar bear.
this uber cool trendy hotel is perfect for young guests. if you're interested in design, sustainability & great service then this is the only place to stay in the city. i stayed in the jungle room overlooking the zoo that had it's own hammock with views across the zoo & skyline beyond it was a great place to have a nap after traversing the city. on the rooftop, you'll find the wonderful monkey bar that has to be one of the top spots to visit in the city the views at sunset here are marvellous, they do great cocktails too. nemi restaurant just on the other side of the rooftop is where have to say is one of the best breakfasts that i have ever had in any hotel it's truly something special & as I'm a huge breakfast fan this was one of the highlights of my stay.
things to do
berlin truly is one of the most diverse cities in the world from outdoor spaces in the summer to the infamous night scene this is one of the most popular places in europe for young travellers to visit.
as it was summer my friend took me to the badeschiff this outdoor pool & sunbathing area has to be one of the coolest spots in the city on the weekends its right on the banks of the river it a cool place to do some people watching & catch some rays.
one of the great thing about berlin is that's it's super friendly to bike riders with lots of pathways and cool areas to explore. the kruezberg area is a super nice place to visit on a sunny day with outdoor markets & cool coffee shops, check out what has to be the best vegan donuts in the world at brammibal's donuts located right on the canal.
now for what had to be one of my favourite places in the city. mauer park located very centrally is home to a flee market & food truck gathering on the weekends it a place where all the cool young berliner's hangout on the weekend. people come here from all over the city to spend the day with bbq's & beers of course it has an amazing atmosphere mainly due to all the street artists that perform here. they have a small amphitheater where local artisst & novices can show off their skills to a discerning audience all in good favour of course as the beer flows freely here & the applause too.
where to eat
food is life & this city does not disappoint. berlin has seen a huge change in its eating habits in the last few decades & on this note, i will only be recommending vegan & vegetarian places as this has to be one of the only cities in the world where you can find this amount of meatless food it's awesome. i don't define myself as vege but i rarely eat meat so i was so happy to be here as i could try some truly innovative dishes from some of the best meat alternative restaurants in the world.
first up we have my favourite place. i was taken here by my friend vanessa it's her favourite place too so big shoutout to her. 1990 vegan living was absolutely packed when we arrived so i had high hopes for this place & it did not disappoint. its based off vietnamese food but all vegan, the small sharing dishes create a collaborative style of eating & conversation that i love.
just a few minutes walk after all that healthy vegan food you can treat yourself to vegan ice cream at delabuu. this vegan based rolled ice cream comes in any flavour you choose its for sure one of the best no dairy ice creams that i have ever tasted. if you go in the evening be prepared to wait a while as the lines here can be huge as its all made to order.
my last two places are cafes / juice bars. daluma has the best smoothie bowls in the city & just across the road superfood & organic liquids have some awesome chia pudding & fresh juices they are both great places to go for health lunches & dinners.
berlin has one of the most organised & advanced public transport systems in the world from over & underground trains to buses & trams its has you covered in most of berlin & beyond but there are times where you need transport for the final few km's & this is there coup comes in. this ride-sharing electric scooter company has hundreds of gogoro scooters (the best electric scooters on the market in my opinion) scattered around the city. all you need to do is fire up the app to find a scooter when you are close, click start & you're on your way in seconds. it's really fun to ride around the city & then when you get to your destination just park it on the sidewalk no need to look for parking. you are changed a small fee per minute of use most of my rides where less than 10 mins they cost a few €'s, less than a public transport ticket.
get 3 free ten minute rides here with promo code: REF-FP2R-JFGX
to sum up
berlin has to be one of the coolest destinations to visit for the weekend especially in the summer the whole vibe here is about the outdoors. the bar & food scene is some of the coolest that i have come across in europe & the prices are super reasonable compared to other major cities in the region. this is a young person's city & with all the hipster hostels & hotels you won't regret visiting.
the next stop on my german adventure was the most famous beer city in the world, munich. i arrived here on the overnight flixbus that got me into the city at 7am. now normally when you arrive at this time of the morning to the hotel you know you're going to have to wait for the room but i knew my first hotel 25 hours had a trick up there sleeve. located right outside the train station just a few mins walk from where my bus dropped me off i was greeted by some friendly staff & after dropping my bags off i had the keys in my had to a brand new mini cooper, yes indeed this hotel offers free rental of the famous british car.
things to do
it was a beautiful morning so i took myself off the starenberger lake less than 30 mins south of the city. driving around the lake in the morning sunshine was something special you can still see the snow covered mountains of the alps in the distance it's an amazing place to relax away from the hustle & bustle of the city.
i always take a free walking tour in every new city i visit, it's a great way to get your navigation bearings for the days to come & also to find some local gems in the city. although on some free tours they expect more than €10 i think a reasonable price is €3-5 especially if you're on a budget.
now talking about tours the best way to get around the city is by bicycle this city especially in the summer is super friendly to bicyclists so i would really recommend renting a bike, most hotels in the city offer them for you to use for free or a small change.
as i was walking one day through the park i saw a guy with a surfboard & i was intrigued the city has no sea for 100's of km's. after a little research, i found the place where all the surfer dudes go during the summer here, the eisbachwelle. this is a naturally occurring permanent wave that is formed by the rushing water forcing it was up forming the perfect wave. when i arrived there were tons of people at least 20 surfers & triple that in spectators it's a nice place to take a beer & watch the cool kids wipe out in the sunshine.
the jams music hotel located in a cool residential area on the east side of the river has to be one of the most interesting concepts that i have come across in all my travels. as the name suggests this is a music hotel from the design & artwork to the record player in your room it's a place to get the creative juices running.
this boutique hotel offers beautifully decorated rooms in bright colours with interesting furniture great bluetooth speakers & of-course the record player. downstairs in the lobby that had a great record collection of oldies & some of the latest tracks on the market it's such an interactive way to engage with the staff.
the 33rpm restaurant downstairs is where you will have breakfast but they also serve up a good lunch & dinner all for a reasonable price as its open to the public.
as i mentioned bicycle is the best way around the city & the hotel has you covered with some hipster bikes to get around town..
for a more budget option try wombats hostel.
where to eat
since i was staying at the wonderful jams hotel the 33rpm restaurant is the place to start your day. for lunch you have to get your hand dirty a little & make your way to one of the best kebabs shops in town ben oncle.
about eight years ago i was introduced to eataly in rome and i have been hooked ever since. i was so glad to see one here, the diversity of this place is amazing the sheer amount of italian food that can be found here is mind-boggling. they have a huge selection of restaurants & food stalls inside to suit everyone's needs.
hofbrauhaus had to be the most famous food & drink landmark in munich & while super touristy they still serve some of the best beer in the city & the atmosphere is awesome, just make sure not to eat the food here it's terrible but the beer, amazing.
a special mention... the rooftop on the mandarin oriental is one of the highest points in the whole of the old town with spectacular views of the city especially at sunset. although the price is high, treat yourself & go for one drink & enjoy the amazing array of colours that befall you while sipping on one of the best cocktails you will ever have.
a few hours away by public transport or private tour you enter the fairytale-like mountainous landscape the surround neuschwanstein castle. this place is seriously straight out of a fairytale movie it has to be one of the most beautiful views in the world.
munich has some great inner-city transport options from the underground to the trams but my favourite was going by bicycle.
truly the best way to get around germany & now most of europe is by the ever-growing network of flixbus that has seen some astounding growth over the last years in germany its for sure the king of transportation. i took the night bus from berlin to munich for around €20. night buses are always a good way to save time & money on trips around europe especially since last min tickets on the railways can be super high here.
to sum up...
for a summer weekend, this city has so much to offer the discerning traveller of any budget. grab yourself a bike around the city, enjoy sunbathing in the parks & get yourself to the fairytale castles & beyond you will not be disappointed.
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country travel tips
atm: any is fine, most are free. just make sure not to select the on screen conversion.
sim card: any provider is fine i got 10GB for a month for €20.
transport: use the public transport or rent a scooter.
taxi: uber? use promo: carlm5078ue for free ride.
accommodation: get ($20) off your first booking.com reservation here