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Berlin du bist so....

By Anna Katina

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anders (different)!

Yes, Berlin is different.

I’ll explain but first, a brief historical background.

In the 20s, Berlin was one of cultural capitals of the world, there was no place in the world like Berlin! Creative freedom of thought and expression in culture, art, sex – the city was exploding of ideas! Brecht, Isherwoods, Bauhaus, so many references! Then Berlin became the capital of the Third Reich, followed by the Allies’ bombs and Soviet tanks. The Wall was built, Berlin was divided for thirty years before it was torn down. And today you see that city has suffered. 80% of Berlin had been destroyed. So don’t expect lots of spectacular architecture like in Paris or London where all corners are photogenic. Yes, I had to admit it, Berlin is kind of ugly. No well-preserved oldtown, no design monsters like in New York, it hides some beautiful corners of course but generally speaking, it is not the prettiest city. BUT. That’s what I love about this city! This is what I expected. I wanted to see something different. I saw a lot of #architectureporn this year. My blogposts are filled with buildings, old ones in Malta, new ones in New York – next topic please!! And I got that other topic.

For me, Berlin is all about the underground scene. I loooove leaving the mainstream and my journalistic vein is always leading me towards the hidden. I can tell you something – your guide will be google or local friends because in Berlin, secret spots are kept secretly. I talk about rooftop bars, gastronomic restaurants, clubs, fashion stores etc. Berlin is known for hosting the wildest, most controversial and bizarre parties in the world. I did not have an insight into this but I thought it’s worth mentioning it. My personal fetish is to capture the mood of a city by walking through the streets, watching the people and visiting local stores, restaurants and bars.

Voilà, that’s important to know before we start the photos. My impressions of the trip are more photojournalistic, even conceptual than usual. Berlin inspired me to pay attention to details and random situations. I hope, and you’ve got to tell me, that the visual story below will transport you into Berlin, that you will feel the Berlin mood that I felt. Moody, melancholic, on the one hand oppressing, on the other hand light and free, surprising and random at the same time. Enjoy.


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Ready to take off! I flew to Berlin with Luxair! Short and direct flight, breakfast and baggage included, all good! I was on a mission. Actually, the same mission as on all of my trips, as I already said: avoiding the mainstream, finding the hidden. Luxair has launched the platform LuxairSpottedByTravellers for travellers like me on which you can share hidden spots and even become their ambassador for their next advertising campaign by simply submitting your photo. If your photo is chosen for the campaign, you will see it in magazines, on bus shelters and billboards + get flights for free in return!

Arrived in the late morning, we headed to our hotel Titanic next to Gendarmenmarkt. It was 35 degrees outside already… !

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House of Wonders

Our first stop, recommended by who? By you guys! The perfect spot for a healthy and yummy brunch during the week or week-end! The interior design is incredible, so green! Shortly, urban greenhouse meets American kitchen with a Japanese twist, you have to try their ice matcha latte, delicious!

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Bikini House

As the first day was so hot we could barely breathe, we decided to visit the popular shopping mall Bikini House. The coolest mall I’ve ever seen! A mix of local, alternative fashion and popular brands like Vans or Dr Martens, but also with cool rooftop bars like Monkey Bar and the interior of the mall is so urban, love it! Here I discovered the local designer Esther Perbandt (I bought awesome jewellery, all in my insta story in the Berlin highlight).

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Klunkerkranich

Klunkerkranich is a popular rooftop bar in Berlin. It’s exactly what I was looking for in the city: rooftop, music, people, sunset, mojitos, lanterns, urban setup and decoration, hipster mood – mega! We had some nachos for dinner and waited until the sunset to leave towards our hotel as we were pretty tired from the first long day. How to get there? Take the U-7 (U-Bahn) and get off at Rathaus Neukölln. You will see a big shopping mall called Neukölln Arkaden! Go into the mall and head to the top floor (5th). Arrived at the 5th floor, turn left and walk up a short ramp to the garage rooftop! #LuxairSpotter

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Walk to Kreuzberg along the Landwehr Canal

We started this walk by coincidence and it was a pure joy! The path is full of activites – you can have a picnic, go to a beer garden, rent a small boat, feed the swans, sunbath.. I enjoyed taking photos of the buildings, nature, the people around. I think we walked around an hour before arriving in Kreuzberg, you just have to follow the canal to get there, go with the flow;).

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Kreuzberg

Kreuzberg is known for the hispters! Coffeeshops, concept and vintage stores hidden in backyards, lots of interesting street style in the streets, bicycles,.. Get lost in this neighbourhood!

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The fashion stores I visited here were Broke & Schön, Voo and Zebra Club. The photos below were taken at Voo, here you can find Prada bags from the current collection as well as fashion books, crazy sneakers or have coffee at the bar. I love urban interiors like this!

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This dude below rocks with his canoe!

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Exploring Berlin-Mitte

I’m sure there are other interesting neighbourhoods to explore in Berlin but on our last day, we decided to stay in Berlin-Mitte which has a lot to offer. I didn’t take photos of the classic Berlin sightseeing spots because Google is full of them already but we visited the following ones:

  • Berliner Brandenburg Gate

  • Reichstag building

  • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

  • Checkpoint Charlie

  • Fernsehturm, we watched it from distance

  • Gendarmenmarkt. Our hotel Titanic was located next to it. For me, the most beautiful square in Berlin with nice terraces around the French Cathedral

  • Rotes Rathaus (photo below)

  • Berlin Wall museum (very very impressive! There is a huge panorama and you feel like being part of the oppressive scenery. My personal highlight thanks to the strong emotions conveyed in this room.

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Cookies Cream

Cookies Cream is a vegetarian fine dining restaurant. I recommend you to take the 5 course menu to taste different creations! An amazing local experience for food lovers! Also, go to Crackers (in the same backyard) for a drink afterwards! No photos were allowed inside so I let you discover the meals and interior by yourself but be careful, wine included, your evening may cost you 300€.

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Musem Island and Monbijou Bridge

Beautiful spot!! To me, one of the prettiest of the city!! Visit the museums but don’t forget to walk around the island and admire the buildings. You can relax in front of the Old museum or move towards the Monbijou Bridge and enjoy the unique view of the Bode Museum. There is also a small bar on the banks of the Spree river near the Bode museum where salsa classes are held! I took a photo in the other direction because the scenery looked so peaceful but you can watch my instastory for more impressions of this spot!

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Funk You coffee shop


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Chen-Che Restaurant

We were looking for a restaurant in an other street but as we saw the magic entrance of this one, we decided to change plans. The tea house and Vietnamese restaurant is serving clay pot-cooked regional fare, afternoon cakes & dim sum. Best choice ever – the food was delicious! Try their tasting meal! We had lunch at the terrace, which is hidden in the backyard but the interior of the restaurant was absolutely worth capturing. Look at the photos below!

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Photo below, spotted a Berliner look: Smooth hair combed back with gel. vintage glasses, vintage oversized leather jacket, long white socks and white sneakers.

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Mauerpark

I don’t know, somehow everything in Berlin looked vintage for me. xD Even the Mauerpark. We enjoyed walking from Gendarmenmarkt to the park by discovering other corners of Berlin-Mitte! An area where the local youth likes to hang-out on sunny days. I enjoyed sunbathing between the birches! This park is also a popular canvas for graffiti artists. In fact, a 300-meter strip of the Wall remains in the park and everyone is welcome to decorate it!

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Walking back to the hotel and discovering more gems…

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Neumond

We had dinner at Neumond. My gastronomic highlight of the weekend, especially their starter, photo below. Wonderul corner! You sit outside, watch the hipsters in the streets, have a glass of red wine,, enjoy the sunset and feel the vibes, a perfect evening.

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That’s all for Berlin my friends! I hope you like my story! Berlin may not be the prettiest city in Europe but she hides lots of beautiful gems which are sometimes hard to find. My recommendation, get lost but prepare a few notes with specific spots that you want to visit (stores, clubs rooftop bars, parks, musems etc). My aim was to feel and recreate the mood I’ve always seen in movies and artworks referring to Berlin and I’m glad I got what I wanted. Have you been in Berlin? What do you think of the city?

Find my favourite hidden spots with the address and how I got there on the platform LuxairSpottedByTravellers.lu and share yours as well! Happy spotting! #SpottedbyTravellers

Via:: https://www.annakatina.com/blog/berlin-guide-secret-spots-review-what-to-do-rooftop-bar-mood

      

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Postcards and secrets from Malta

By Anna Katina

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Dear friends, Summer has finally started (hopefully) and it’s time for some Summer inspiration! I’m back from Malta and of course I had to write a blogpost about this adventure! I will start with Valletta, continue with Marsaxlokk and Comino and last but not least present you the EF Malta campus I visited!

So, Malta is one of Europe’s smallest countries and in 3-4 days you can see a lot! You can rent a car but be aware that all cars drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is located on the right-hand side of the car. We did not rent a car, instead we did everything by foot, bus, ferry and Bolt (like Uber). We were based in the heart of Valletta and it took us 5 minutes by foot to arrive a the main bus station at the Tritons Fountain (beautiful spot!!).

The island is very social and I’m super thankful for the people I met here! I will never forget the dinner we planned with my mum, a table in-front by the sea, just the two of us and how we ended up as a group of 10 with people from all over the world, all sitting around a table – what a night!!

Malta’s off-season sunshine makes it a wonderful destination for a spring or autumn break. In May and it felt already like Summer! Locals say it’s the best time to visit the island before the high temperatures and crowds take over! I have to say, we were very lucky with the timing because many places we visited we pretty empty, which for me was very enjoyable! Of course, the main streets, like the Republic Street in Valletta are busy at any time!

So here are the things my mum and I did in Malta!

Valletta

Valletta is one of the most well-preserved cities in Malta, the fortified tiny capital of the Mediterranean island has survived many historical events but has undergone no significant modifications since 1798!! Let’s discover it together!

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St. John’s Co-Cathedral

Valletta, actually, all of Malta, is dotted with giant domed churches, but the most impressive of all is St. John’s Co-Cathedral. From the outside it may look plain, but the interesting part happens once you go through the doors where every surface is decorated with colour and sparkling gold! My mum ran into the cathedral so I had no choice and followed. I’m glad I did. Not only you can admire the exiled Caraveggio’s masterpiece “The Beheading of Saint John” but also the tombstone-covered floor. Yes, beside the decorated walls and ceilings, there is the the floor which is covered with memorials for the dead knights. It’s one of the most impressive cathedrals I’ve ever seen!

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The Barrakka Gardens

We discovered the gardens by coincidence! You can walk through the Upper and Lower Barakka Gardens and enjoy beautiful panoramic views of Valletta. Also, from 12h to 16h, you can watch cannon firing from the Saluting Battery which were originally fired to welcome ships into the harbour. Look how beautiful the parks are! Olive trees, wooden benches, the mesmerising view, like a painting!

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GET LOST IN THE BACKSTREETS

Malta is the perfect place to wander because it’s impossible to get lost, the island is small and you will hit water at some point xD. So I recommend just to walk around and discover. You will come across churches, courtyards, sunny terraces, beautiful doors and balconies, museums… The old buildings are breathtaking!

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brief history

You should know that the island changed hands over the centuries! It started with the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians who both built ports on the island. Malta was then part of the Roman Empire, then of the Byzantine Empire before taken over by the Arabs and finally by the Normans. When Charles V gave the island to the Knights of St. John in 1530 (called the Knights of Malta), they built up the island and mat maintained control until the French arrived in 1798. The British helped Malta to expel the French in 1800 and Malta joined the British Empire in 1814. Only in 1964 the island became an independent nation!

That’s why you can find elements of many different cultures in Malta! Also when observing the Maltese, I could recognise Italian, Arabic traits, in their look and language, it’s a unique country with many facets, so interesting!!

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Where to eat in Valletta?

Breakfast

Every morning, we had breakfast at the same spot, the Cordina Café located in the heart of Valletta. Watch the video below, doesn’t the place look magical? You have to try their rainbow cake!

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CAFé Cordina

244 Republic Street

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Lunch & Dinner

Again, I don’t really have specific addresses for you, but I recommend Trabuxu, a fancy hipster restaurant as I’d call it – nice food, funny ambiance, less mainstream and cool outdoor and interior decoration! If you can, head over to Marsaxlokk for lunch at dinner (at least once!), more infos below about the fishing village are following!

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Where to stay in Valletta?

Stay at De Vilhena for a unique view of the city you can enjoy from your room or from the rooftop bar. We had a beautiful big room and the location was just perfect, it’s impossible to be located more centrally!

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Marsaxlokk fishing village

Marsaxlokk Bay is Malta’s second largest natural harbor, hundreds of colorful Maltese fishing boats decorate the port. This place is so pretty!!! There is also a fish market which gives tourists an insight into the local life and traditions. You can take a colorful boat to Saint Peter’s pool! As we had many other plans, we took a ride for a quick dip in the swimming area and our captain waited for us. It took me about 15 minutes to jump and I finally did it with the help of a stranger who kindly offered his help!

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St Peter’s pool

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We had a group dinner at Marsaxlokk which I will never forget. We were sitting right in front of the boats and the restaurant (pick one of the restaurants along the sea, they should all be good) served us a huge salt baked fish, photo below, so impressive and so so good!!

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SALT BAKED FISH

Comino

Comino is a small island between Malta and Gozo and is known for the beautiful Blue Lagoon bay with its crystal clear and azure-coloured water! Look at the photos below! We took a bus, then a ferry in the morning so when we arrived it was still pretty empty! After lunchtime the situation changed and it became so crowded! Apparently it’s worse in high season and locals don’t recommend to come here during this period to avoid heat and crowds. So we were very lucky! We took a walk to admire the rocky wilderness with jagged cliffs and deep caves. The views are absolutely stunning!!

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BLUE LAGOON

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Popeye village

After quitting Comino, we headed over to the Popeye village by bus (10 minutes away from the ferry station). It’s the film set from the 1980 musical ‘Popeye’ which has become a theme park village with boat rides & food outlets! We didn’t enter the park, instead we adimired the beautiful construction from outisde. I would love to live in a village like this, look at these cute wooden houses!! Also, we had lunch at the Popeye restauraunt, a cute spot, very American and old-school and totally empty which I liked of course. It looked like an abandonned restaurant in the middle of Texas.. 😀 Apparently it’s also super crowdy in high season.

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Ef Malta • St. Julians

I had a mission in Malta as I came here with Education First for a training. In fact, I was absolutely curious to discover the EF concept as I never dared to do this experience during my studies so I’m very thankful for the opportunity! As a reminder, Education First is an international education company that specialises in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange! In short, you can spend time abroad and improve your language skills at the same time!

I got a few many messages from friends on Instagram who made their EF training in Malta a few years ago, so jealous!! I visited the EF Malta campus every day to attend classes, speak to the staff and students and visit the different facilities or attend activities, so lots of impressions! The ambiance here is very relaxed and I felt so welcome here!! I loved the EF New Work campus but this one is my favourite so far! You can follow my adventure on their Instagram account by watching my stories under the ‘Malta’ highlight where I show you all the interviews, the EF Malta beach club, the stdent appartments, the campus itself etc!! Here is the LINK!

The campus is located in St Julians, the nightlife town of Malta. If you like to party, come to this town! Clubs, non-stop parties, beach clubs (the EF Malta beach club included) and late night dancings on boats. I went to a salsa class organised by EF in the area and I loved it! I made friends, exchanged with some EF students and learned new salsa moves!!

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EF beach club

Below you can see the view from the EF Malta residencies. To see the apartments from the inside, head over to the Malta highlight on EF Luxembourg’s Instagram! The pool below fascinated me, how cool is it to have a pool next to the sea? You can choose between both for a swim 😀 There were girls doing yoga in the sea on surfboards, I watched them for an hour or so from the bar right next to the pool, and I thought, ok I need to come back to Malta and relax to the fullest like the girls in the sea. Malta inspired me a lot.

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There are other places you can visit in Malta like Mdina, The Three Cities or Gozo but you have to make choices when you come for 3-4 days only and I need to say that I’m super happy with our itinerary. I love having plans when I travel but I also do appreciate to get lost and go with the flow. Malta is one best destinations in my life so far and it will be my new to-go spot.

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I hope you like my guide and impressions, if you liked it (or not?), if you have questions or comments, share your thoughts below my friends!! Kisses, Anna

Malta, May 2019

Via:: https://www.annakatina.com/blog/what-to-do-in-malta-valletta-comino-guide-spots

      

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