(An article by Julie Kim from a Berlin Travel Review, a city travelreview 2015 work/study project)
Welcome to Berlin, a city with the dichotomy of fascinating history and innovative creativity! One may not quite know what to expect from this German capital; it’s not as romanticized as Paris, nor is it popularized like New York. However, it is full of developments and potential. Germany as a whole has undoubtedly become a strong European country and Berlin has been rapidly building itself as a metropoli- tan city, fit for such a nation.
What differentiates Berlin from the others? First and foremost, history. Germany has unanimously been considered as an important part of modern European history, though rather dishonorably, and the people’s effort in maintaining historical awareness shows through the numerous memorials and monuments: to never re- peat the mistakes and to promote peace, both domestically and internationally.
Does this mean that they constantly live with heavy hearts? Absolutely not. Though Germans could be considered more serious in nature than other Europe-ans, they also know how to relish life, especially in Berlin. The copious amount of pubs, cafés, clubs, and live music venues echo the spunky spirit of Berliners. Berlin is home to countless contemporary artists and avant-garde art and as the residence for the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin is also a hot spot for music, both classical and modern. There are a plethora of creativity going on everywhere, from street art and performances to galleries and symphony halls; there is a multitude of diverse cultural possibilities.
As we have discovered and were enchanted by Berlin, we hope this guide will help you do the same. From an abundance of attractive spots, we’ve worked to introduce the best; and also advise against the less good. Become immersed in Berlin with us, and gute Reise!
(Sample of a Travel Review created by a group of students on a citytravelreview work/study project to Edinburgh in March 2014)
What comes to your mind when you think about the Scottish life- style? Are bagpipes popping into your head, or whisky, golf, kilts and haggis? That is right! These are a few very important aspects of Scottish life, but Scotland has more to offer. Discover the interesting story about the unicorn, why a Scotsman has to get some IRN BRU after an evening with too much alcohol or what a fried Mars bar is. Go out and learn to dance at the ceilidh, so you can act like you are from Scotland. We’ve found the most important things you have to know and try when discovering Scottish lifestyle.
(Sample of a Travel Review by Amy Turner, a member on citytravelreview project in Berlin, Summer 2005)
DO look out for bikes! The bike lanes in the city are rarely differentiated from pedestrian areas.
DO try out your German. Don’t be shy to test out your lan- guage skills. You don’t want to come across as rude!
DO Recycle. Recycling is super big in Berlin and you can even face fines if you refuse to cooperate. Another tip – If you take your used and empty plastic bottles back to the supermarket you will receive €0.25 in exchange for each one.
DO plan your journeys in advance. This is essential, especially during the night-time hours, since if you look like a confused and lost tourist, you may become vulnerable to thieves.
One of the great things about Berlin is that many of the sights and exhibitions are free to visit such as the Reichstag, the East Side Gallery and the Holocaust Memorial. A City that is certainly value for money.
If you fancy venturing to explore the nightlife, it is worth mentioning that most of clubs only get lively post 1am. Great for the night-owls, not so great for those who really like their sleep. Something else to remember if you do intend to head out, is that drinking on the streets and on public transport is strictly not allowed. Respect locals and wait until you are in a
bar or beer garden.
An article written for CityTravelReview by Janina Reiter, Edinburgh project, March 2014
Don’t think you might fancy a deep-fried Mars bar? No worries, it doesn’t taste as funny as it sounds. Basically, it’s just an ordinary Mars bar fried in batter. It is said to have been invented in 1995 in a bar near Aberdeen in Northeast Scotland. Mass media commented on the new snack, so it has become more and more popular ever since. Still it is not very common among Scottish people: According to a survey, most fried Mars bars are sold to tourists. For around £2.50 you can try one yourself, for example at the Castle Rock Take Away at the Grassmarket. It is worth giving this snack a chance. Although consisting of nothing more than warmed chocolate and caramel, it still tastes great.
An article by Zoe Adia, a member on the CityTravelReview programme, Barcelona, Summer 2014
Are you a chocolate lover? Willy Wonka believer? Fudge fan? You have not been left out amigo! To experience chocolate in its fullness, take a gluttonous trip to Museu de la Xocolata. You will soon discover that chocolate is not limited to a cheap bar, but has a plethora of purposes. The museum takes you on a journey from its origins to many artistic forms. It also gives a historical lesson into Catalonia’s own chocolatier past, and into its present. You will see detailed chocolate sculptures of some of Barcelona’s famous sights, like the Sagrada Familia, from a more palatable perspective. For the foodies, there is a brandy and chocolate combining workshop, which actually allows you to sample different types of chocolate, and see what type of brandies best compliment its flavour. There are other workshops and activities that cater for all age ranges. This destination will give you a new-found appreciation for this sweet anti-depressant and edible problem solver.
An article by Michaela Schneider, a project member on a CityTravelReview programme, Edinburgh, Dec.2014
History-rich Edinburgh Castle is one of the symbols of the capital and dominates the Old Town on a volcanic rock. Kings were born here, prisoners imprisoned, guests assassinated and treasures stored. Visitors pass through granite stone gates, see heavy artillery and enjoy the panoramic views of the city. Entering the castle, the two statues of the freedom fighters William Wallace and King Robert the Bruce welcome visitors.
The first castle was built here in the Middle Ages, but apart from St. Margaret’s Chapel and a part of David’s Tower little has remained from this era. Not far from there Crown Square with the Royal Palace, the Great Hall and the Scottish National War Memorial represent the heart of the king’s castle. A must is the visit of the museum with the Honours of Scotland. The beautiful crown, the sceptre and the sword are the oldest crown jewels on the British Islands. The legendary Stone of Destiny has been part of the crowning ceremonies of the Kings of Scotland, England and the United Kingdom for more than 1000 years. It`s not only the Honours of Scotland itself, which makes the visit of the museum worthwhile, but also the modern and descriptive exhibition of Scottish Kings History as well. Visitors meet the figures of King Robert the Bruce or Mary Stuart, for example.
Also have a look into the royal apartments – today also a setting for official receptions. Quite impressive and a place of silence and thoughtfulness is the National War Memorial with the names of all Scottish soldiers fallen since World War I. Those, who are interested in the history of war, three military museums are well worth a visit in the castle grounds.
A look at another main attraction of the Castle: Every day except Sunday at one o`clock they fire a gun. In 19th century Edinburgh’s population set their watches on the bang and sailors compared the chronometers. But why at one o`clock and not at noon? Common people say, it’s because the Scots are thrifty people. So why fire twelve cannonballs, when one will do?
It is recommended to discover the Castle in a guided tour or with an audio guide – minimum time three to four hours.
Author`s Pick: If you love animals, take a walk to the dogs cemetery – for more than 150 years the final resting place of the regiment`s mascots and the dogs of the officers.
An article written for CityTravelReview: Edinburgh project, September 2014
The Elephant House is the café where Harry Potter was born. Not literally of course, but the remarkable author Joanne K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel in the back room. This café is charming and cosy. While sitting inside and enjoying a hot beverage you have a beautiful view to the Castle and old Greyfriars Graveyard, where Rowling borrowed some names for her magical characters. The atmosphere is mainly “Potterish”. Portraits of J.K. Rowling decorate the interior and every inch of the bathroom walls is covered by notes of Hogwarts fans. Many people come here with their notebooks or bring laptops, hoping for some creativity to take hold of them. The cafe on George IV Bridge is always busy, if you go there after 5 pm you usually have to wait to be seated. However, the staff is very friendly and polite. Sandwiches and snacks aren’t that cheap, but with an aromatic coffee for £1.85 you can’t go wrong. The Elephant House is an inspiring place for all authors to be. If you need more inspiration for a character’s name take a page out of J.K’s book and use the graveyard right across the road (you might even meet Tom Riddle there).