Potsdam, Germany

Whilst we were in Berlin, we took a cheeky day trip to Potsdam. We really can’t ever miss the chance to visit a World UNESCO site. Just half an hour from the capital and a few Euros, we boarded a double decker train to head on our way. We walked from the train station in Potsdam, which was a far old way and the outskirts of the city were very urban, but when we reach the centre, it felt like a world away from Berlin. We wandered the pretty tree lined streets, enjoyed the sculptures in the parks and admired the charming architecture.After lots of traditional German food in Berlin, we fancied something a little different. Potsdam, just as Berlin, had lots of different options – so we settled on Vietnamese. And boy, we are glad that we did as it was so fresh and delicious – the perfect antidote to sausages and potatoes!One thing we didn’t expect from Potsdam was the colour – even on the rather dark day that we were there, the pretty pastel buildings, parks and flora were stunning. We also found Potsdam to be relatively quiet, especially in comparison to the bustle of Berlin.We didn’t really have a plan for Potsdam, we spent out time walking, popping into little shops and taking lots and lots of pictures. We sat in the central square, watching the world go by. Even though it was a deeply overcast day, we were still very struck by the beauty of Potsdam. It was such a nice relaxing day and we’re so glad we took that train.

 

Berlin, Germany

We’ve wanted to visit Berlin for a very long time. So, we booked 4 days in Berlin. Little did we know that 4 days is not enough time to explore this massive city.We were blown away by the size of Berlin – the wide open expanses of green space that we’ve never seen in another European city. We realised pretty quickly that we needed to buy a travel ticket to maximise our time in the city. At 7 Euros a day, it was well worth it for the sake of our feet!A lot of the sites that we visited were free, which is great for a travellers pocket – the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Holocaust Memorial and the East Side Gallery. We loved walking around the Tiergarten park – where we got to see our first Red Squirrels, which was a completely unexpected joy.You can’t escape the history of Berlin and that’s a good thing. Sensitive yet impactful monuments. From the Berlin Wall to the Holocaust Memorial and the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. Spend time at them, quietly explore them and don’t forget the meaning behind them.

The Graffiti, the unique charm of each U-Bahn  station, the gritty vibe all makes Berlin something rather special. Experience the difference between what was East and West Berlin. We loved seeing the different areas of Berlin – Mitte, Kreuzburg, Charlottenburg, Friedrichshain, they are all so different and expose a different side to the city.Our favourite places

  • Charlottenburg – The grand streets and wide boulevards – so very pretty
  • Fernsehturm – the tallest building in Berlin with panoramic views across the city and a great bar the the top. Just get there early to book your tickets as there might be a bit of wait – buy you tickets and then go and explore Alexanderplatz.

Best Meal

  • Each and every Currywurst that we had – all from street stalls, we couldn’t get enough!

Things to try

  • Currywurst – Sausage with Curry Ketchup, cut up into little pieces, making it fantastic street food.
  • Pretzels – chewy, savoury and delicious. We often scraped off a lot of the Rock Salt otherwise it was supper salty.
  • Shawarma – grilled chicken, salad and sesame crusted flat bread, virtually sold everywhere. A cheap and filling meal that is just great.

Travel Details

  • We flew with Ryanair from London Stansted to Berlin Schonefeld– the flight costs were £96.06 each including taxes.
  • We stayed at the Easy Hotel, booked through Booking.com – for £125.29 for 3 nights.
  • We spent £110 on meals, drink and public transport.

Our final thoughts

Berlin really has something to offer everyone. The history, culture, food and night life. The industrial look to the city makes it feel really different from other very pretty European capitals, but it has a distinct charm of its own that can’t be beaten. Berlin is a absolute must visit and we will go back to spend more time exploring and experiencing the city.

* Prices correct as of March 2016.

Split, Croatia

We spend quite a bit of time looking at Flights on Skyscanner – sometimes just the most extraordinarily cheap flights come up – on this occasion it was return flights to Split in Croatia. At £42.98 each return, it would have been rude not to! We did absolutely no research and 4 weeks after booking to the flights, we arrived, grabbed a local bus from the Airport and headed towards the city.We spent our first few hours in Split wandering around aimlessly taking in the very beautiful sights and enjoying the oh so warm weather. Pure delight.

From the bustling fruit scented market to the 4 gates of Diocletians Palace – Split is a truly charming city to wander, drink coffee and just soak up the atmosphere.Our favourite places

  • Marjan Hill – we really enjoyed our time walking around the pine forested peninsula with amazing sites over Split and the surrounding mountains. So very quiet and peaceful.
  • Diocletians Palace – imposing Roman architecture that dominates the skyline of Split. Marble gloriousness with endless shop lined streets that’s part of the very heart of the city.
  • Riva Waterfront – the best place to people watch and see the comings and goings of every day life. A palm tree lined promenade with endless Cafes,
  • Bacvice Beach – when we were in Split, this beach was super quiet, but completely beautiful and a great place to watch the sunset. We enjoyed watching people play Picigin in the shallow waters – a traditional ball game where the players try to keep the small ball from touching the water.

Best Meal

  • Fife – One of the oldest restaurants in Split with a typical Dalmatian menu. We had grilled chicken, Sea Bass, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Vegetables. With a drink each it was just £11 and we could barely finish it all as there was so much!

We could have stayed and watched these sunsets forever. Living on the East coast of the UK, you don’t get to see the sun setting over the sea, so it felt like a real treat.Things to try

  • Coffee – no particularly adventurous, but Split seriously had some of the very best Coffee we have ever had! Hot, dark and strong always served with a big glass of cold water. Simply perfection.
  • Cake – any cake! Split is filled with Bakeries, open late into the night. From Cream Cakes to Madjarica, a layer cake, to Sour Cherry Strudle. There wasn’t one cake that we didn’t devour and enjoy to its very last bite.

Travel Details

  • We flew with Wizz Air from London Luton to Split– the flight costs were £42.98 each including taxes.
  • We stayed at the Lana Apartments, booked through Booking.com – for £61.17 for 2 nights.
  • We spent £90 on meals, drinks, public transport and a beautiful piece of artwork made in Split of the cities skyline.

Our final thoughts

We adored Split – such a compact and beautiful city – the coffee, sedate way of life, the beaches, hills – it really has it all. If you go to Split, don’t forgot to rub the big mans toe!

*Prices – September 2016

Snowy Sigulda & Turaida, Latvia

Another trip that we took whilst in Latvia was to the town of Sigulda and the Castle at Turaida. Another cheap return from the central station in Riga and just over an hour ride on a train that was never going to be stopped by a bit of snow on the line, we arrived in the very snowy Sigulda.

We knew that we needed to get a bus to get us into the Gauja National Park and the Turaida Museum Reserve. But when we arrived there were just lots of somewhat ancient Minibuses. We eventually worked out which one we needed to take, paid 50 cents each and we were on our way. We wound our way around the windy roads – it was so snowy, so very snowy. The driver stopped, opened the door and looked at us – it was our turn to get off.

For the princely sum of 6 Euros for both of us, we entered the reserve. Snow crunching underfoot we set out to explore the site. There was so much to see from the Turaida Stone Castle, Rose of Turaida Memorial, Church and Church Hill, Folk Song Garden and Hill.

The view from the top of the Castle was spectacular – looking out over the snowy Gauja National Park in all its wintery goodness. The building itself, despite being a reconstruction, was beautiful too.

Our favourite part of the reserve was the Folk Song Garden and Hill – it was full of the most exquisite sculptures, nestled perfectly in the snow. There was barely another sole making it a serene and peaceful place to be.

After we were finished at the reserve, we hung out at the bus stop with no time table and hoped that a bus would appear, which fortunately it did! We made our way back to Sigulda to explore the town.

It was so nice to see a very different side to Latvia in comparison to the capital of Riga. A small bakery captured our attention where we bought a variety of delicacies to try with some hot coffee to help warm up. Absolutely delicious and a good fuel stop before heading for a wander around the town. Big open roads, wooden houses and wide open green (well snowy) spaces.

Outside of the train station were 2 boats – filled with giant ice blocks that each contained different items from feathers to ice picks and apples to fish – such an interesting concept and beautifully done too. We even saw lots and lots of people Ice Fishing. It was then time to head back to Riga for our last night in Latvia.

Overall, we are so glad that we ventured out of the Capital – we love seeing a different side to a country.