A Travellerspoint blog

Berlin

rain

After talking for a while about how we needed to do a sight-seeing city break instead of the usual messy pissed-up week abroad seeing as how we are now all so mature (yeah right - who are we kidding?!), my friends and I finally took a weekend off and went to visit Germany's capital, Berlin.

Seeing as how we were only there for four nights we managed to fit an awful lot into the few days. Beforehand we hand made a list of everything we wanted to try and see whilst we were in the city, condensed it to the most important few and off we went.

When we first arrived we went straight to our apartment. From the outside the building looked dated and slightly shabby, making the stark whiteness and modern decor of the inside so astonishing; we were made up with it! Granted, when on a city break you do not plan on spending much time inside, but it was a relief to find ourselves staying in somewhere that was so nice, it made us feel classy and sophisticated!

One of the most obvious sights that we went to see was the Berlin Wall. I must admit when I first saw it (which, granted, was from a distance) I was slightly underwhelmed by it. But as I got next to it and started making my way down it I became more and more moved and interested in it. The wall is split into segments and each one is painted by a different artist - people from all over the world. Some pictures are funny and comical whereas others are serious, intense and moving; It is truly amazing how each picture is so unique and different from the rest, yet each one has the same underlying meaning. It is definitely something that you have to go and see if you are in Berlin - the hardest part is deciding which parts to have your photo next to!

Another sight that we visited worth mentioning is the Reichstag building. It is Germany's parliament building and the only one that allows the public access. Although you are not let loose in the building, you do have access to the roof terrace and the dome. The large glass dome offers you a 360degrees view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. You can also pick up an audio guide on your way in which gives you a guided tour of Berlin - it's pretty cool and you do learn a lot! We stopped for lunch at the roof terrace restaurant and, although it was a hell of a lot more expensive than what we were expecting, it was one of the nicest meals I have ever had!

Other sites that we visited were the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust memorial, the radio tower (it has a revolving restaurant on the top and happy hour every day at 5!), the Nazi museum, the Saturday morning German markets and Checkpoint Charlie (you can pay 5euros and actually get your passport stamped here!) All are worth going to see - each one interesting in their own way and very insightful.

One thing I do feel obliged to pre-warn anyone wanting to visit Berlin... we did go on one night out when we were there. On this night out, the first THREE bars we went to were gay bars. I did not realise before I went that Berlin was a hugely homosexual city! Although in a few places we were made to feel slightly uncomfortable for being there, generally everyone was fine and overall we had a really fun night! It even ended up in some tiny strip club....

There is so much to do in Berlin and everything is worthwhile, the best advice I could give is before going make sure you have a list of everything you want to see, or at least the main things, then work out what is near what then go from there. Fit in as much as you can and you will have a brilliant time - guaranteed!

Posted by LaurenF3 15:45 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Jamaica

No problem man....

sunny

Jamaica... home to Caribbean Rum and Jerk Chicken, two things that you will be sure to indulgent in once you get there! Jamaica is on a whole new level when it comes to experiences. Although it does boast the typical Caribbean island expectancies ( addictive sun-rays, beautiful sands and the pampered resort-life ), something about the place does set it aside, if not above, from the rest.

The thing you need to embrace most about Jamaica is its unique character, the inherent 'African-ness' of its population, if you will. The whole place is just bursting and buzzing with personality and atmosphere that you cannot get anywhere else.

One recommendation that does have to be made (and if it is the only trip that you do there then make sure it is this one!) is the visit to Nine Mile: Bob Marley's house and final resting place. It is amazing to see what and where he comes from and, even as someone who knew very little about the famous man, it is so interesting. The funniest part was on arrival being directed to the small hole in the wall in which several men sold several different types of weed out of! You get the chance to learn a lot about Marley and see where he came from. It does make you see what a truly talented and down-right cool guy he was. And you also realise what a huge impact and positive effect he had on his community - he is truly worshiped! Definitely worth a visit. Although you will be listening/chanting/singing/humming/whistling his songs for the entire time in Jamaica!

'ONE LOVE'

Another recommended trip is to the Dunn's River Falls. It is a huge waterfall that is the most popular in the Caribbean islands and Jamaica's most top-grossing tourist attraction. Starting at the bottom you form a daisy-chain with around twenty people (at first holding hands with randomers is awkward but once you get going you certainly appreciate them being there!) You then make your way up the huge waterfall which has a series of cascades and pools, making it hard to believe that it is a natural wonder. One of the best parts is falling down what can only be described as a slide and landing in a deep pool of freezing cold but seriously refreshing water! It does take some time to get up there and you are guaranteed to get wet, but it is not something that you could do anywhere else and is a truly amazing experience.

The last trip that I took was to Dolphin Cove. It has been a dream of mine for a long time now to swim with dolphins; a dream that finally came true! It was fantastic too...the only downside being it went far too quick. You get to interact with the dolphins, as well as touch them and let them take you for a ride on their fins! It really is something that should be experienced by everyone. The park also includes a lot of other things to see and do. I swam with and held huge sting rays, had a parrot perch on my head and even saw/sat in one of the original toboggans from Cool Runnings! Another thing I did which was really cool was go into the love bird cage. Its a large cage with about forty different colored love birds flying around. The park keeper who was in there kindly gave me some bird feed and within seconds I was swamped with lots of little birds perching on me. The cheeky man even put some feed on my head without me noticing (funny until I thought one had 'relieved itself' on me!) Again it is something you don't often get the chance to do and was a fun experience.

Overall, Jamaica has a cool, fun vibe to it. The island is full of things to do and see and you could never get bored there! It is also so relaxing and very nice and hot! The people go out of their way to be nice and ooze such coolness its hard not to be in awe of them! Definitely someone I would recommend visiting.

Posted by LaurenF3 14:28 Archived in Jamaica Comments (0)

Fiji

The happiest place in the world...

semi-overcast 31 °C

No matter how long and turbulence-filled your flight may be, once you step off the plane and onto Fijian soil, all bad feelings get left on board. After stepping off the plane three enthusiastic Fijians greet each person with a song, a shimmy, and a smile that becomes instantly contagious to all.

The islands offer everything one expects from Fiji - white, sandy beaches, clear blue waters and swaying palm trees. One thing that is not expected to such a level is the welcoming, generous and relaxed people of Fiji. Every person you encounter, even simply in passing, pleasantly welcomes you with a grin and the Fijian favourite "bula", meaning 'welcome' or 'hello', making the people there the most precious asset in all of Fiji.

I stayed in a hostel called Horizon Beach that was pleasant but did put me a little on edge, mainly due to the fact that I was sharing a dormitory with eight strangers and the door had no lock on it, meaning every Tom, Dick and Harry could easily walk off the street and straight into my room. Regardless of this fact, the staff were very welcoming and my stay was more than bearable. Every night the sister hostel, Smugglers Cove, provides entertainment for guests that consisted of typically Fijian things, allowing visitors to experience the Fijian way of life. One event consists of drinking the Fijian classic 'kava', a drink made by pounding sun-dried kava root into a fine powder, straining and mixing it with cold water.

Fiji was amazing for feeling like you were on holiday whilst constantly learning knowledge about the Island. For example, one day I took a stroll across a quarter of the islands beach front. On this journey I came across hundreds of school children on their lunch breaks, playing on the beach and paddling in the water (all with a MacDonalds happy meal I may add). Each child would stop and stare, wave or try to talk to me. After a conversation with one teacher I learnt that these children very rarely see white people and, to them, we are the superior race. Each child was in awe and wanted me to see they had acknowledged me - something I found both amazing and devastating. I learnt all of this in a ten minute walk across a beach - imagine what you could learn if you spent simply a few days there.

I went to Fiji feeling a litle lonely and lost but felt relaxed and welcomed in less than a day (unfortunately I had already booked my flight home - I will be returning!) and would recommend it to everyone who wants to experience different culture, see some beautiful sights and generally relax.

Posted by LaurenF3 13:36 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Australia

I need a dollar, dollar. . .

sunny 30 °C

Sydney

Upon arrival I was waiting for the whole 'wow, I'm in Australia' feeling. . . but, surprisingly, in never arrived. Driving from the airport I get my first glimpse of Sydney, and (as far as first impressions go) I must admit I was a little dissapointed. I was expecting to be mesmorised by amazing buildings, sun-covered streets and stylish people - but what I was met with was more of a cleaner, more modernised version of London.

Don't get me wrong - Sydney is amazing. When seeing the Sydney Opera House for the first time, it takes your breath away. The Sydney Bridge too is a spectacular sight and Bondi Beach is beautiful. But after the sights have been seen and the city explored, you are left with a city that doesn't have much to offer.

The Botanical Gardens have to be my favorite thing to do in Sydney. They are like no park or gardens anywhere in the UK and present a very different idea of wildlife. Both the birds and plants are exotic and exciting - captivating in their difference. The colours and sights are well worth the trip!

The biggest dissapointment in Australia is the prices - I constantly felt like I was being conned! When you are paying over $10 for a simple sandwich it begins to drain on you. Granted, the wages in Australia are very genorous, but - for a tourist with a limited budget - I'd recommend getting out of Sydney as soon as you've seen the sights.

Melbourne

I was surprised at how different Melbourne was in comparison to Sydney. The atmosphere and general vibe of the place overtakes you the minute you arrive, and you cannot help but enjoy it. The best word I can come up with to describe Melbourne would be 'funky'. Its a funky little place.

Again, once the sights are done you are just left with an average city, but this time you can enjoy it that little bit longer. One thing to do (which a lot of people don't know about) is to wait till dusk when the cafes and corner shops shut. Once they do a whole new world and vibe is introduced. The famous and amazing graffitti that is hidden around Melbourne is a lot easier to find this way. A definate recommendation.

The Eureka buidinf is also worth the visit - although if you are scared of heights please be warned! It is eighty-eight floors high (taking only a mere 28seconds to get from bottom to the top in the lift) and very, very high off the ground. The view from the top is wonderful though and, if you are feeling brave, there is always the Edge Experience - a glass box the emerges outwards so you can see all around, including down. Very scary but again, worth the view.

Generally, Australia is one of those places that everyone dreams of going to - but, personally, the word overated springs to mind. Whereas it does have a lot more sun and some amazing beaches, the cost of living there does bring a downer on the whole adventure. Great for those who are wanting to live there - but not so great for the regular traveller. For those of you interested in visiting, get saving - You have been warned.

Posted by LaurenF3 00:19 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne sydney and Comments (0)

Tombstone, Arizona

Living in the Past. . .

sunny 33 °C

Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States. Life in the 1800's was tough and this town thrives because the residents in 2011 are just as tough as the pioneers over 100 years ago. Tombstone is a fun town and the effort residents have made to keep it as authentic as possible goes a long way.

The main 3/4 blocks of the town are cut of from traffic, so a stroll down the middle of the street is easy and educational (there are placards with historical information dotted everywhere). The minute you step on it you feel like you have been transported to the 1880's, with characters dressed as Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and ladies of the night are commonly seen talking with drivers of the old stage coaches and a re-enactment of the famous gun-fight at the O.K Corral breaking out daily.

There is a lot of history to the town, more than just the expected gun-fight. The old Court House is full of facts and interesting objects, such as the gallows out back. Although the town is living in the past, they are making a living out of it - so enjoy it, it is a tourist trap now and, after all, you are a tourist!

The biggest highlight for myself personally was the fact that, yes, people (or should I say 'cowboys') DO ride their horses to the local pub. Amazing.

Is it a bit cheesy and touristy? Yes, of course, but that's just part of the charm. Be prepared for lots of dust, cigarette,pipe smoke and knowledge.

Posted by LaurenF3 08:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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