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Germany/France Travelling


colinmk
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Going to go for a wee interail trip starting in Amsterdam and going through Berlin on the 7th July to see Radiohead. The plan is to make our way to Barcelona where my mate lives and probably go to benicassim on the 16th. Anyone recommend where to go in Germany/France en route to Barca? I'm thinking Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, then to France either Marseille or Nice then stop in the pyranees and then to Barcelona. Not really sure though, apart from start in amsterdam and go through Berlin..

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Hamburg is a great city, although if you're going to Amsterdam the Reeperbahn feels like a tamer version of it.  Can't recommend the zoo enough though.  They put otters and orangutans together, and they're at war!  I saw an oragnutan hitting an otter with a stick.  The otter wrestled the stick away from it and chased it off!  And if that's not enough, this enclosure is right next to a bar so you can get drunk and watch!  Only downside is the lack of sloths.

 

 

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Did Amsterdam->Berlin as part of an InterRail trip last year. Firstly, I'd recommend doing the Sandemans New Europe free tours in both cities (http://www.neweuropetours.eu/). A good 4-5 hour tour and you're not obliged to pay a penny. I'm not usually a tour kind of guy but both were excellent, informative and entertaining. The guides work for tips so they *have* to give you a great tour, otherwise they won't get paid. Good way of meeting folk as well as the tours tend to be full of other InterRailers/travelling types.

 

Sandemans do other tours too, but they cost. We did the Red Berlin (Communist sights, the Wall, etc.) and Alternative Berlin (squats, street art, counter-culture, etc.) tours: the first was excellent, the second probably would've been excellent if you're into that kind of thing. I think they do a Red Light District tour and some other stuff in Amsterdam too.

 

That aside, try and spend as much time in Berlin as you can. Brilliant city. Every time I've been I've left feeling like there were a lot of things I still wanted to do. Great nightlife, fascinating history, good beer, crazy architecture, AMAZING food and an excellent trainsport network. I usually stay with Berlin-based friends when I'm there (not much of a help :p) but last time we stayed at Wombats City Hostel in Mitte. Good price, excellent rooms for a hostel (better than most hotels I've stayed in) and a lively atmosphere. You'll have just as good a team getting bladdered in Berlin as you will taking-in cultural pursuits. 

 

Things to do:-

- Checkpoint Charlie. There's a crowded, overpriced museum there that you don't really have to go to, but it's worth visiting for a photo by the "American sector" sign alone. Good outside storyboard/gallery too if I recall correctly.

- The wall. The East Side Gallery (Friedrichshain, by the River Spree) is the longest remaining section and is now covered in all sorts of political and socially-motivated murals. There's another decent memorial on Bernauer Strasse (right next to an underground station... handy!) featuring a mock-up of what the wall and death strip would've looked like from 1975 onwards.

- Unter den Linden/Bandenburg Gate. Take a stroll passed the ridiculous Russian embassy and get an obligatory photo by the gate.

- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (go through the Brandenburg Gate, take a left). Not the most obvious choice for a holiday attraction but walking through the pillars is such a harrowing, overpowering feeling. Just don't step on the pillars...

- The Sony Center (Potsdamer Platz) is worth gawking at for an enormous monument of modern capitalism. Similarly, see the TV tower at Alexanderplatz for a symbol of symbol of East Berlin's former "power".

- If you fancy doing something completely different check out Tacheles on Oranienburger Strasse. Former Nazi prison turned squat/alternative art gallery. Sadly it'll probably be closed by the time you get to Berlin, but check it out if you get the chance. Full of interesting characters an interesting exhibits.

- If you get a nice afternoon, grab yourself some beers and chill out in the park at Alexanderplatz for a few hours. Being able to drink in public is a beautiful thing, especially in a place with so much going on.

- Plenty of museums at Museum Island (funny that) if that tickles your pickle, I've only ever walked around the area though. There's the Reichstag too, but I've never been inside.

- GORGE. Eating out is inexpensive compared to other major European cities and you'll find every type of cuisine is on offer. Definitely get a doner kebab: totally puts our greasy shite to shame, you'll never want another British kebab again. Grab a currywurst if you need a quick, tasty snack.

- Lots of interesting pubs and clubs throughout the city, but especially in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. Definitely spend a few hours just walking through both areas during the daytime as there's lots of interesting stuff going on. There are plenty of conventional nightspots around Mitte, but you don't have to look far for something a bit different.

 

Berlin is ace and I'm sure there are hundreds more things to do than what I've listed. It's a huge city, but public transport is amazing and it's almost impossible to get lost: just ask for directions to the nearest S/U-Bahn station and you're sorted. If you're willing to go a bit out of the way the Munich is by far the best drinking/eating city I've ever visited, but it'd be quite a long diversion from your route.

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Nice one lads! Disco, what's your experience with the night trains? Munich is sounding tempting now, could head down from Berlin on I imagine a direct train and then go onto France from there. All that info for Berlin is great Stroller, thanks. I reckon it'll be something like Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin(3 days) then possibly Munich, Nice or Marseille, Pyranees/Andorra, Barcelona. Been to Barcelona loads of times as my mate lives there but taking my girlfriend this time so want to show her it. Was in Amsterdam when I was 14 or so and parts of Germany, loved it. Thought France was strange though.

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Nice one lads! Disco, what's your experience with the night trains? Munich is sounding tempting now, could head down from Berlin on I imagine a direct train and then go onto France from there. All that info for Berlin is great Stroller, thanks. I reckon it'll be something like Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin(3 days) then possibly Munich, Nice or Marseille, Pyranees/Andorra, Barcelona. Been to Barcelona loads of times as my mate lives there but taking my girlfriend this time so want to show her it. Was in Amsterdam when I was 14 or so and parts of Germany, loved it. Thought France was strange though.

 

If you get a spare day, visit Utrecht, half an hour south of Amsterdam and a MUCH nicer city.

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Nice one lads! Disco, what's your experience with the night trains? Munich is sounding tempting now, could head down from Berlin on I imagine a direct train and then go onto France from there. All that info for Berlin is great Stroller, thanks. I reckon it'll be something like Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin(3 days) then possibly Munich, Nice or Marseille, Pyranees/Andorra, Barcelona. Been to Barcelona loads of times as my mate lives there but taking my girlfriend this time so want to show her it. Was in Amsterdam when I was 14 or so and parts of Germany, loved it. Thought France was strange though.

 

If you get a spare day, visit Utrecht, half an hour south of Amsterdam and a MUCH nicer city.

 

Nice one, will look into it.

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Nice one lads! Disco, what's your experience with the night trains? Munich is sounding tempting now, could head down from Berlin on I imagine a direct train and then go onto France from there. All that info for Berlin is great Stroller, thanks. I reckon it'll be something like Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin(3 days) then possibly Munich, Nice or Marseille, Pyranees/Andorra, Barcelona. Been to Barcelona loads of times as my mate lives there but taking my girlfriend this time so want to show her it. Was in Amsterdam when I was 14 or so and parts of Germany, loved it. Thought France was strange though.

 

Only been on them in various parts of Asia but as there just be sure to keep an eye on your stuff and be wary of dodgy looking people. However unlike there I'm guessing you can't just go in with the posh crowd for buttons to lessen the chance of getting hassle. Sure it'll be fine though.

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Berlin is a superb city, I was there for 5 days a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Going back again this year for the marathon. It sounds a bit corny but there's a fantastic walking tour that takes in all the highlights of the city and is a great first day there activity to give you a grounding in the history, architecture and makeup of the city centre http://www.newberlintours.com/ - other than that I believe Ozzie lives there and will be able to give you a heads up on good areas to eat / drink etc. Probably my favourite city I've visited in Europe (bar London).

 

Really, really enjoyed Hamburg when I was there for the christmas markets last year, great city and nightlife, definitely worth a few days. A night out on the reeperbahn before heading over to the fish market (opens at 5 on a sunday morning) for a pick-me-up fish burger and then to bed is a great event. As Tooj mentions I think Parky lives there so should be able to help, he's mental but I bet he knows some great stuff to do.

 

Andorra's not worth visiting but the skiing's ok.

 

Also, kebabs in Germany are out of this world. Eat at every opportunity. In no way do they resemble the muck we get served in this country.

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Berlin is class, don't miss it! I also like Munich - plenty to see and do inc Dachau concentration camp. Aachen is a nice city too, and if you want somewhere quiet then i can recommend Boppard, but i doubt you do!

 

France wise, Lyon is superb, anywhere in the Alps is nice, Dijon and Reims are ok, but not brilliant.

 

Don't know how it fits in with ya trip but Utrecht and Arnhem are worth a visit in Holland, and i personally love Belgium - Veurne, Oudenaarde, Bruges and Leuven are class places to see!

 

I just use Hostelworld or Hostelbookers websites and get the best deals.

 

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Worked it out and the timescale we were talking about means it isn't viable to go to France really, just going to do Amsterdam for 2 days, Hamburg for 2 days then Berlin for 3/4 days then fly to Barcelona for a few days to see my mates and then off to Benicassim for the weekend. It would take a day of non-stop train to get from Berlin to Barcelona so not really worth it I think and because of the time it takes we don't have enough time to stop off in Nice or Lyon and make it worthwhile. Next time will think about the south of France and eastern Europe I think.

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  • 5 months later...

Start my trip trip tomorrow, any recommendations for pubs/clubs and places to eat in Amsterdam/Hamburg/Berlin?

 

Radiohead gigs been postponed due to the stage collapse but going to go again to Berlin in a few months for the re-scheduled gig.

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Nice one lads! Disco, what's your experience with the night trains? Munich is sounding tempting now, could head down from Berlin on I imagine a direct train and then go onto France from there. All that info for Berlin is great Stroller, thanks. I reckon it'll be something like Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin(3 days) then possibly Munich, Nice or Marseille, Pyranees/Andorra, Barcelona. Been to Barcelona loads of times as my mate lives there but taking my girlfriend this time so want to show her it. Was in Amsterdam when I was 14 or so and parts of Germany, loved it. Thought France was strange though.

 

interrailed and done night trains before.  Worst ones were in eastern Europe (Krakow - Vienna).  The ones we had for Vienna - Milan & Barcelona - Paris were cushy.  However you will have to pay an additional supplement to get in a couchette.  It was about a tenner for Krakow - Vienna but cost considerably more (like £50-£70) for the other two journeys.

 

Its a good laugh though if you get a good group of people in your compartment.  We left Krakow at 11pm so just went to sleep, but left at like 5/6pm for the other two journeys so weren't going straight to sleep.  Luckily we were in with other young travellers and shared stories about where we were from, where we'd been etc.

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Start my trip trip tomorrow, any recommendations for pubs/clubs and places to eat in Amsterdam/Hamburg/Berlin?

 

Radiohead gigs been postponed due to the stage collapse but going to go again to Berlin in a few months for the re-scheduled gig.

Places to eat in Amsterdam?

Cafe Loetje - 10 oz Fillet steak in butter €17 and well worth it.  http://www.cafeloetje.nl/index.html

Cafe de Klos - Meat, meat and more meat, served on a block of wood with a big knife. Kerkstraat/leidsestraat corner, on the left as you head down to Leiseplein

BurgerBar - Kolksteeg, Warmoesstraat and one near Rembrandtplein. Stop here for a burger every trip, never fails.

 

Drinking?

t'Nes cafe, Nes (off Dam, next to the souvenir shop with the clog outside). Smoke friendly bar, great craic.

Coco's Outback, Thorbeckeplein. Big Aussie bar, loads of screens for sports, iced pint glasses for the Heineken.

Satellite Sports Bar, Leidseplein. Handy for a lock in if there's owt on late (boxing etc), get in before 1am and yer sorted.

 

The parks are great if you get the weather, Sarphatipark and Vondelpark probably the best/busiest. A trip to De Pijp district down the Oud Zuid gives you a nice range of cafes, bars and market stalls. Cafe Loetje is down this way.

 

If you're shmoking? Voyagers, head NW out of Centraal Station. Ran by a top lad from Manchester called Andy. Not a tourist trap, rare for this part of town. You can also book an informal boat trip here, or here [email protected] 

 

If you're doing a bit of shopping, the Puma concept store is decent. They do a tie-in with Evisu Jeans and also stock some nice Dassler Schuhfabrik pieces. It's on Koningsplein, halfway between Dam and Leidseplein. There's also a shop called Megazino on Rozengracht, hit and miss tbh, sometimes it's full of bargains. Armani, Boss, Prada, SI/CP company etc.

Have fun, and if you get lost in Centrum, head north.

 

 

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