What’s it Like to Live in Germany – the Good, Bad and the FUN

What’s it Like to Live in Germany – the Good, Bad and the FUN

It has now been close to five years that I have been living in Germany. The last five years have been extremely eventful. I have learned a new language, lived with Germans, made many friends, traveled within the country, celebrated many festivals, taught Yoga in a studio here and done much more than what can even be put on a list like this.

There have been moments when I have been bewildered by German rules, excited at the start of spring or snow season, hated everything when I missed my home country too much – but most of my moments were spent enjoying  the joy of living in this country.

If you’re on this page, then most likely you are considering moving to another country. Is Germany the country for you? Read on to see my experience of living in Germany. 

Germany is a Country Full of Rules

Every country has rules for everything, but not everyone follows them. In many cases, the people aren’t even aware of the rules in the first place. Things run very differently in Germany. In fact, things run exactly the way they should. 

There is a reason why public systems or many other processes run very efficiently in Germany. It is because the people have a very high regard for the rules and hardly ever break them. There is a process for everything and it is black and white hence highly efficient. If only every other country functioned like this, the world would have been very different. 

If you break a rule in Germany, then it is very likely that a fellow resident will point it out to you instead of turning a blind eye. Take it with a smile because they are just trying to help you.

Trash Management is Insane but Awesome

Yeah so almost every developed country and some developing countries have a trash management system that starts with people segregating their trash, but things are a little too extreme in Germany. 

Broadly speaking, all households need to sort out their trash into bio, plastic, paper, diaper, glass, old batteries, old electronics, paint, and drink bottles. Yes, you need to segregate trash in these categories in your house.  This is a very broad bifurcation because there are many “if”s and “but”s to this segregation in terms of rules. 

There are recycling boxes for old clothes and shoes in many parts of the city so you can get rid of everything that you don’t use as long as you plan accordingly.

I don’t know if there’s any country that beats Germany in terms of trash management but I have heard that the Scandinavian countries are pretty good too.

Clean Air and Forest Reserves

Germany is so green

Germany is so green

I love how Germany as a country protects and preserves the environment. The country is full of forests. There are plenty of nature reserves and they aren’t just close to small towns but also big cities. Yes, you could be living in a busy city on some 4th floor of an apartment building but you may still be able to find a small forest reserve nearby where you can go for a run and feel alive in the nature. 

Everything is Closed on Sundays (+ Holidays)

In most of the countries, offices are closed on Sundays but the big shopping areas are open because that’s when a lot of people finally get the time to step out and buy things. Of course, the things are very different in Germany. Here everything is shut on Sundays. Really, everything.

It took me some time to get used to the fact that there is one day in a week where almost all the shops are closed. Sometimes there is a holiday that’s on Monday or Saturday, so one has to be prepared for two days of supermarket closure and buy the important things from before.

This required a bit of planning from me in the beginning because in India the stores are open literally everyday. Even on Diwali. Yes, this is one of the things that I miss about living in India.

Drinking in Public is Normal 

Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal

Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal

Yes, shockingly you can drink beer in many public areas in Germany, including trains. No, that doesn’t mean you see wasted people everywhere.

Germans know how to handle their alcohol well because beer is a very important part of their culture. They seem to respect the social decorum and you’d hardly ever seen anyone overdoing it unless it is a special occasion. But yes, occasionally you will see people who are drunk as hell. 

No Work After Hours: Work Life Balance is Super

Do you have a 9-5 job? It is highly likely that you don’t leave your workplace at exactly 5 everyday. It can be 5:15 on some days or 4:50 on the others. Even after you leave work, it is likely that on some days your team or colleagues will call you or email you about some important work. It is very normal to work after the hours in most countries. It sucks!

Having experienced corporate life in India and the US, the German way of working came as a pleasant surprise to me. If someone’s work ends at 5 pm here, the person WILL leave at 5 pm, and not a minute after that. No boss will call or email after the work hours or on a weekend. That just doesn’t happen in Germany, unless it is a highly exceptional case. 

This system really works well in Germany because Germans are highly efficient during their work hours. They really do work like machines because being efficient is in their blood. 

Silence on Buses or Trains

Berlin Train Station

Berlin Train Station

Things may be different in bigger cities that are international, but when you travel within a smaller city or a town, you will notice how silent the public places are. Coming from India, this was a big change because on a train in India, you’d normally hear a few people talking excitedly and loudly, a group laughing, somewhere a kid whining and his mother yelling.

Most of the Germans don’t talk loudly and if they are in a public place, they observe an unwritten but mutually understood rule that they’d lower their voices to a level that no one else can hear them. 

I do remember traveling with a group of blogger friends on a train in Berlin and all of us were from different countries. Someone from the USA, someone else from the UK, a couple from Spain, and me from India. Yes, all from the countries where people talk loudly. Of course we were the loudest group on the train but we weren’t even talking loudly.

Getting a Doctors Appointment Isn’t Always Easy

This isn’t always the case but  it happens a lot. Don’t be surprised if it takes you 6 months to get an appointment with a doctor. Because it is 6 months away, you are highly likely going to forget it and miss it. Good luck getting another appointment within the next few months. 

Lovely Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Most of the people who travel to Germany end up visiting the most expensive and touristy cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Hamburg or Cologne. No doubt these cities are lovely but so are the smaller towns. 

No matter where you live in Germany, you are never going to be far from old town areas and traditional timber framed houses a.k.a. Fachwerkhäuser. Even my completely under the radar boring town has two breathtaking old town areas with some historical houses. Some of the houses are from as early as 1300 AD.

The old town areas are super dreamy and they will make you feel like you’re starring in your own romantic movie. You will most likely find old buildings, small shops with lovely but expensive handmade things, benches strategically places in scenic spots and an amazing atmosphere.

Talking about the timber framed houses, yes – they exist in other countries too. BUT, as per wikipedia, the country that’s most known for these kind of houses is (drumroll) – Germany.

The Language

If you’re traveling within Germany then you will not really face a lot of language barriers. It is only when you start living in the country, you will realize that you will need to learn more than just the basic level German to do things here. I’m talking about paperwork, visiting different government offices like the town hall, tax office, etc.

In order to live in Germany, most of the visas have a prerequisite of basic German language skills. Trust me, you NEED to learn the basic level German, else you will feel stuck.

If you know English, then learning basic German isn’t that difficult because many nouns and verbs are same. What’s different is how the verbs are used and the endless articles. The good thing is, that German words sound exactly how they are written, which can’t be said about a lot of English words. The bad thing is that German language is highly complicated if you compare it to English.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you slightly mess up the grammar. If you make an effort to speak a few sentences in German then the locals will highly appreciate it and help you.

Paperwork Never Ends

Get ready to drown in a lot of paperwork if you end up living in Germany. Yes, paperwork exists in every country but in Germany it seems to never get over.

If you live in Germany, you will notice that there’s something new that comes up every month that needs immediate attention. Hence, more paperwork. Thankfully, the paperwork in Germany is pretty straightforward because all the rules and procedures are always black or white. 

The Food in Germany

Food in Germany - Schnitzel

Food in Germany – Schnitzel

Potatoes, meat, eggs, bread and dairy are things that truly rule the German food scene. If you eat in a restaurant in Germany, you will find very limited vegan food options unless it is an Asian restaurant.

In India and many other Asian countries you will find an entire section of vegetarian and vegan dishes, even if it is burgers. I have spent 3 months in the USA and I always noticed a lot of veggie items in the menu too. In comparison, here in Germany you will notice barely 1-2 dishes in the entire menu that are vegetarian and just one out of that would be vegan. 

However, when it comes to the availability of vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets, then Germany is awesome. Even the smaller super markets in small towns have German as well as a lot of international produce so you can find almost anything. If you love vegetables as much as I do, you are going to really enjoy cooking while you live in Germany. I didn’t know I could cook before I arrived in Germany!

Trains are Good BUT Expensive

German trains are awesome. They are clean, comfortable, 98% on time and extremely fast. You can travel very easily within Germany and nearby countries on trains. But they aren’t cheap.

It is sometimes cheaper to take a flight than travel by train. In many cases, if you’re looking for an affordable train ticket, you may have to change trains a few times in your journey.

Bicycle Will be Your Best Friend

Cycling in Germany

Cycling in Germany in Spring

Forget driving, or buses but the best way of getting around in Germany is on a bicycle. The bike lanes are everywhere and in many cases you can take an inside “walking / cycle only” path that’s more scenic. You can also take your bicycle on a train and travel to other places within Europe. San and I once also traveled to Amsterdam from our town in Germany on our bicycles.

Carry a lock, learn how to take care of your bicycle and enjoy riding one. 

You Can Travel all Over Europe 

Us three with van and our camping spot - traveling with a baby

Us three with van in Croatia – we drove all over Europe with our camper van

I’m sure other Europeans who are reading this would just say – “yeah of course”, but for a non European the ease of traveling within Europe is unbelievable. Yes, one of the best things about living in Germany is the possibly of reaching a new country in just a couple of hours. Not just by air but very easily by road or train without any need for visa paperwork. 

Depending on where you live in Germany, a few hours of driving can take you to Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, or the Czechia. If you take a flight, you can reach most of the European countries in just 2 hours. How awesome is that? San and I ended up traveling in most of Europe on our camper van while living in Germany.

Tap Water is Safe for Drinking

The tap water in Germany is safe for drinking even in big cities. It is the most controlled beverage in Germany and it should be. I wish it was the same all over the world. Everyone should have the access to clean and safe drinking water from their taps.

Strangely enough, not many Germans that I know drink tap water. They buy bottled water or carbonated drinks and choose to drink that over tap water despite its consequences on the planet (and their health).

Tap water gets tested periodically to check the quality and as per many reports it is as good and sometimes even better than the bottled mineral water. 

BUT You Can Never Order Tap Water in Restaurants. Never.

For a country where the tap water is safe for drinking, it is super strange that you can never ask for a glass of it in a restaurant. You are expected to order drinks with your meal and water isn’t always cheap. Also, bottled water creates unnecessary plastic waste. 

If You Ask for Water, You Will Most Likely Get Soda

For non-Europeans, water means just water. But that’s not the case with most of the Europeans. If you order water in a restaurant or ask for it somewhere, you will get a glass or a bottle of soda. In some places, they’re nice enough to ask if you want your water with or without bubbles. No, plain water doesn’t have bubbles, that’s soda. 

Highways have no toll.. and no speed limit

German highways are awesome. They are very well maintained, have resting stops after every few kilometers and are toll free. The only time we remember ever paying toll was when we used a bridge that connected Germany’s mainland to Rugen island.

Guess what, Germany’s highways are world famous and some people come come here from surrounding countries with their fancy cars. All because the highways (Autobahns) have no speed limit.

School System is Very Weird

There are just a few things that I dislike about Germany and one of them is the school system. It is very weird and it feels wrong. There are separate schools based on the intelligence level. There is a school for very bright kids and only those who finish this school can go to college. Rest others have to go to a school that’s not for the smartest kids. If they fail, they get thrown into a school that’s for below average kids. 

I understand that this may be an efficient system for managing education but it is a horrible system for developing smarter all rounded children. In real life, everyone has something to learn from the other. When children aren’t given the opportunity to study with those who are smarter than or not as smart as them, then they will miss out on some important life lessons.

Customer Service Doesn’t Normally Exist

You know what’s the only word that comes to my mind when I think of German customer service? It’s non-existent. Unlike Asia or Americas where the service mantra is that the customer is the king, in Germany it is completely different. Apart from the Deutsche Post and DHL, if you seek help from anyone at any office at any time, they will act as if they are doing YOU a big favor or they will just say no.

You Get to Enjoy All the Seasons

Snowy Winter in Germany

Snowy Winter in Germany

You’re probably thinking – huh, so that’s in many other places. Yes it is but I felt a need to add this here because this is a very big deal for me. You see, while living in New Delhi (India), I thought I was experiencing every season but I realized what I was missing after moving to Germany. 

Because Germany is in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter is really cold with shorter days. It doesn’t snow throughout the winter but it does snow at least once or twice per season. When it does, the world turns absolutely magical and white. Because of the extreme winter, spring feels more alive and the sudden burst of color because of the flowers is eye-popping.

Spring in Germany - Rapeseed Flower Field

Spring in Germany – Rapeseed Flower Field

The summer is warm in Germany and sometimes the temperature can go till 35-40 degree celsius. Those are the times I miss an air conditioner but I made do with a fan here. Right after summer, the autumn season is pretty intense.

Honestly, my first Autumn experience was in Germany. I never realized I was missing out on Autumn beauty in India till the time I moved to Germany. Autumn in Germany is beautiful because there are so many trees everywhere. They all turn yellow, then red and then brown. It is insanely beautiful to see autumn foliage in Germany.

When it Snows, You Gotta Shovel the Sidewalk next to your House

No, I’m not talking about shoveling the driveway – that’s something you will need to do anyway if you want to take out your car after it snows. If you live in a house then most likely it would have a sidewalk for bicycles or pedestrians. In Germany, if anyone walks on the sidewalk next to your house and hurt themself bad if they slip on the snow then it is your responsibility. So, enjoy the snow but keep shoveling the sidewalk. 

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a rant about Germany but just an observation about how life is different here than my own country. I like the fact that the residents are accountable for the area around their house in the immediate vicinity.

Celebrations and Festivals

Carnival in Germany

Carnival in Germany

I thought India had too many festivals and celebrations but Germany isn’t any different. There’s something that happens every month in Germany. Everyone knows about the Oktoberfest? Well that’s just one of many. There’s the Carnival that’s crazier than anything you can imagine. It is like a psychedelic festival where everyone dresses up crazy and participates.

My First German Christmas Market - Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

My First German Christmas Market – Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Christmas time in Germany is like no other. Guess what, many famous international Christmas traditions actually came out of Germany., Santa Claus is from Germany too! Christmas festivities start in Germany at the end of November and last till Christmas.

There’s St Martin where children walk with the lanterns. Apart from this, there are so many smaller monthly celebrations and some are region specific. In my area we celebrate Kirmes, Schützenfest, Medieval Fest, Plum festival and many wine festivals to name a few.

The only time of the year when I haven’t seen any celebrations is between the New Years Eve to Carnival and that’s just one month. Carnival occurs in mid February every year.

Germany Has Bad Internet

You will find it unbelievable but you will find better internet in most places in Asia as compared to Germany. This comes as a shock because Germany is a highly advanced and developed country but the internet situation has evolved in a strange manner.

You see, Germany has an Oligopoly market situation when it comes to the internal. That means, there are just a handful of providers that rule the market. The speed is slow, service is horrible and faster internet is obscenely overprices as compared to many other countries.

Conclusion – Life in Germany – Yay or Nay?

I didn’t particularly love every aspect of living in Germany right away. It took me some time to adjust, and I kept comparing it to life in India. I missed the food, the color, the sensory overload and my people from India. I don’t know how it happened but two years after living in Germany, I started to miss it while I was traveling in India. When I was at the airport, I felt an odd connection to people who were talking in German. This is how I usually felt when I saw Indians talking in India. 

So, for me life in Germany is definitely YAY.

The Ultimate Hamburg Nightlife Guide: Top Clubs + Survival tips

The Ultimate Hamburg Nightlife Guide: Top Clubs + Survival tips

Hamburg Nightlife Guide has been written our Germany and Netherlands content specialist – Alara Benlier. This post has been further expanded by the editor. 

Young, hip and fun – those are just some words that can describe the “Gateway to the World”, aka Hamburg. Located along the River Elbe, this radiant city has the second busiest harbor in Europe.

Over the years, Hamburg went through a lot of big historical moments. The city’s largest part was destroyed during World War II, but the historical value has been preserved. And today, the city is one of the main cultural hubs in the World. In my opinion, it is Germany’s most interesting city.

Hamburg at night looks even better

Just a random spot in Hamburg – gorgeous like other random spots

Hamburg has a lot to offer if you are someone who has a colorful mind and wild at heart. In Hamburg, you can unearth your creative soul by day and dance like there’s no tomorrow at night. Not only that, Hamburg’s green cityscape with its 2,500 bridges, expressionist architecture, and spectacular botanical gardens will make you never want to leave the city.

Does Hamburg Have a Good Nightlife?

Enough about what Hamburg is all about, let me come to the point. The nightlife in Hamburg is insane! If you don’t believe me, believe the statistics, because Hamburg is ranking higher than Amsterdam, Berlin, and Barcelona when it comes to nightlife! As per a survey by Hostelworld, Hamburg’s nightlife is really the best in Europe.

Hamburg Harbor at night - Hamburg Nightlife Guide

Hamburg Harbor at night – Hamburg Nightlife Guide

Filled with amazing music venues, wild nightclubs, interesting exhibitions, techno concerts, and cultural events, you can find something for every taste.  What’s better is that there’s a typical Hamburg style thing to do right after the party in the early morning hours. I won’t won’t spill all the beans here, but you can read about this in the “party like a local” section. 

Whatever your idea of fun, Hamburg seems to have always the right alternatives, both day and night. This young and multicultural city is definitely suitable for all ages and all budgets, with many cheap (some even free!) alternatives. Not just Europe, Hamburg is one of the best places in the world for an epic night out. With its outstanding bars and nightclubs for every budget, this lively port city offers a crazy night out experience for every taste. 

Whether with its famous red-light and party district of St Pauli (with wild Reeperbahn), or alternative Sternschanze, Hamburg offers one of the best experiences to everyone, no matter your gender or age.

Hamburg Nightlife Tips + Info

What Time Do the Clubs Close in Hamburg?

Germans love to party and their typical party starts and ends very late. It isn’t unusual for the bars to remain open till the wee hours of morning. Nightclubs go a step further and in some places, the party really begins after 1 am. Many Bigger clubs (like Grosse Freiheit 36) aren’t open on all days of the week and are functional on mostly Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Most clubs remain open till 6:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights and till 4 am on  

Which part of Hamburg has the best nightlife?

Everyone knows that the hub of nightlife in Hamburg is the St. Pauli district. This district also contains Reeperbahn, which is Hamburg’s red-light district. Hamburg’s St. Pauli attracts tourists at any time of day or night, with a wide choice of entertainment for all tastes. 

If you walk all the way through St.Pauli, you will reach the World-famous Reeperbahn, which is almost a kilometer long road full of bars, night clubs, theatres, and burlesque shows! If you are looking for alternative vibes, you have to check out the Sternschanze. 

The best part is, it is just further from the Reeperbahn. With its entirely different atmosphere, you can enjoy many trendy cafés and cocktail bars. If you can’t choose where to party, here is the extensive Hamburg nightlife guide!

Most of Hamburg’s nightclubs can be found in bizarre but extremely cool locations. Even Hamburg’s famous river, the River Elbe, is a nightlife location with swimming bars and clubs in many fancy ships for party people! You can probably have fun anywhere in Hamburg, but there are some cult places that you shouldn’t be missing out on.

Where to Stay in Hamburg for Nightlife?

Our private room in Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

Our private room in Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

The best place to stay in Hamburg to experience the nightlife is Superbude St Pauli. You can get private rooms and dorm beds – whatever works for you. The place is hip, vibrant and completely matches the vibe of Hamburg. I can not think of a better place to stay in Hamburg than this.

The best part about Superbude is the location. It is directly in St. Pauli, you can walk for barely 2 minutes and you will reach the boho Sternschanze. If you walk in the other direction, you will reach the red light area – Reeperbahn. Want to know more? Read my blog post about my experience in Superbude.

Getting Around: Hamburg Public Transport

The buses in Hamburg have bookshelves full of books

The buses in Hamburg have bookshelves full of books

It’s very easy to travel within the city, that’s why the public transport in Hamburg is the most popular method of getting around. You can use the metro trains – S-Bahn and U-Bahn (underground) to reach literally anywhere.  Buy a ticket at the Ticket Automat at the station and make sure you validate the ticket using the machines at the station before boarding. 

There are also many frequent buses both during the day and night. So, you don’t have to worry about how to reach your accommodation, after a wild night out. A special night bus – “Nachtbus” connects the city centre with the far off districts. 

Guess what – as of this year, you can also use Uber in Hamburg. If you didn’t know, Uber is an app that connects taxi drivers to passengers. Uber rides are much cheaper than normal cabs and you can easily call one using just the app on your phone. 

Experience the Nightlife in Hamburg Like a Local 

Before beginning this epic list of nightclubs, let’s talk about the inevitable truth about having a crazy night out, the next morning, aka hangovers. And trust me, even the locals have excruciating hangovers! But of course, Germans made even hangovers a tradition. 

To experience Hamburg’s nightlife just like the locals, you have to go to “Der Fischmarkt” – the fish market, after partying. There, you will meet a lot of crazy party people. 

Der Fischmarkt - Hamburg Fish Market

Der Fischmarkt – Hamburg Fish Market

While you’re in the Fischmarkt, be sure to eat the traditional bun with Fischfrikadelle, which is basically a fish cutlet with bread. It is yummy. (Or as Germans say, lecker). Oh, and let’s not forget the beer on the side! Not my personal hangover cure, but it is the tradition. So, when in Rome do as the Romans do!

Best time to visit Hamburg

Located in northern Germany, Hamburg tends to have a gloomy weather, so the best time to visit Hamburg is during the summer. Moreover, there are many street parties and open air festivals during summer. Some of the most famous street parties are Bergedorfer Stadtfest in Bergedorf, Osterstraßenfest in Eimsbüttel, and Schanzenfest in Schanzenviertel.

Open Air Festivals or Parties

A typical open air festival or a party is usually referred to as just “open air” in Germany. If you like rock music, you should check out the Wutzrock festival thats lasts for 3 days in August. Another notable festival is Vogelball, which literally just translates into “Bird Ball”. You can let your inner creativity show by dressing up in feathers. During easter, you can check out the Oster open air. Other open air festivals and parties are Wilhelmsburg, Come Dance, Humpty Dumpty and Dockville

Hamburg Neighborhoods to Experience the Nightlife

St Pauli – the Nightlife hub

The Lively St. Pauli in Hamburg

The Lively St. Pauli in Hamburg

The famous red-light and party district, which is also known as St Pauli, is at the heart of Hamburg. During the day, this district is very cool, but here comes to life after midnight. 

Did you know that the Beatlesmania actually started in Hamburg? It all began right here in St Pauli. With its erotic bars, sex shops, old sailors’ pubs, and hip discos, here offers something for everyone. It is great for every budget too, you can find many cheap student bars or fancy cocktail bars in every corner.

Just a quick tip: if you end up in an erotic bar, be careful about the ladies inside. They might charge you for a lot of stuff (like walking with you inside the bar, drinking with you, etc.)

Reeperbahn – the Sin Street

Dollhouse and other clubs in Reeperbahn - Hamburg's Red Light area

Dollhouse and other clubs in Reeperbahn – Hamburg’s Red Light area

Along the calm Elbe river and located within St Pauli, Reeperbahn has always been a hot-spot for entertainment. This historic ropemakers’ district was a very popular destination for seamen, who were looking for some fun at night. 

During the 1960s, the red light district turned into a very exciting spot for musicians as well. The legends like The Beatles, The Jets, and Rory Storm and The Hurricanes performed here. Today, you can still find many live-music venues, but also nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. If that is not enough, you can enjoy many art galleries, cabarets, and theatres! 

Don’t have enough time to go through each of them? Well, then you have to check out the Panoptikum wax figure museum, the Beatles monument, Große Freiheit street, and Hans-Albers-Platz, or if you are only interested in drinking, you can simply join a pub crawl. 

If you love outdoor concerts or markets, you also need to check out the Spielbudenplatz, which is a large square at the center of the Reeperbahn.

Also in late September, Reeperbahn hosts a massive festival full of amazing concerts, art exhibitions, and a music industry convention annually! This festival attracts around 25,000 visitors each year, so if you are visiting Hamburg in late September, you have to check out the amazing Reeperbahn Festival.

Sternschanze – the Boho Zone

Sternschanze - right outside Superbude St. Pauli hostel

Sternschanze – right outside Superbude St. Pauli hostel

Just a short walk from the Reeperbahn, you will be in an entirely different atmosphere, because the Sternschanze will salute you with its boho and leftist vibes. In here, you can check out the multicultural Karoviertel, which is known for its trendy cafés and cocktail bars.

Get yourself a yummy bite to eat, because the food here is more affordable than other areas. I recommend a place called Fischimbiss. You will most likely meet a lot of Erasmus students, and tourists here. If the weather is good, you can join the people who will be partying out on the streets too. 

Best Hamburg Clubs & Bars

As per Lonely Planet, Hamburg’s party places can be broadly segregated into pubs, cafe-bars, cocktail bars, music bar, brewery bars, and nightclubs. We don’t want to confuse you with an exhaustive list, so here’s a short and curated list of best places to party in Hamburg:

Docks, St Pauli [Techno, House and R&B]

Opened in the early 1900s as a cinema with a capacity of more than 1500 people, today, the Docks is one of the most famous clubs in Hamburg. And not only the visitors love this crazy nightclub, but also the bands. The world-famous metal band Metallica called the Docks the “damn best club in the world” when they performed in 1997.

In this entrancing nightclub, you can enjoy Trance, Techno, House and R’n’B music every Friday and Saturday night.  So, if you want to dance till the morning where some of the greatest music artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Black Sabbath have performed, then you have to check out the Docks!

Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn [Multi Sectional]

Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn - Best Hamburg Clubs

Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn – Best Hamburg Clubs

By far the most popular club in Hamburg is the world-famous Grosse Freiheit 36 club. This epic club is known as a real nightlife hub in Hamburg for years. With its extravagant live concerts, the Grosse Freiheit 36 has been attracting many party people for more than four decades. The club owes its fame to the epic band, the Beatles, which was also performed in this venue.

The Grosse Freiheit 36 has three separate sections; the Galerie 36, Kaiserkeller, and the Grosse Freiheit 36. The Galeria 36 is located on the upper floor and can be reached via its own entrance from the outside. In this section of the club, you will find a cocktail bar and exciting art exhibitions. You can enjoy many delicious cocktails and shop for amazing art pieces, while listening to exotic Latin music.

The second section is the Kaiserkeller. This is where the epic band, the Beatles have performed for 6 hours. Today, the concert stage of the Great Freedom 36 offers a forum for young musicians. With a good mixture of gothic, metal, rock, hip-hop and chart parties, the Kaiserkeller turns into a popular party location at the weekend. 

Suggested: The Ultimate Amsterdam Nightlife Guide 

Last but not least, Große Freiheit 36! You might have heard the name of the club from the famous movie called “Große Freiheit Nr. 7” from director Hans Albers. But today, with over 100 concerts annually, various wild parties and event programs, here is one of the best-known clubs both in Germany and internationally.

Golden Pudel Club, St. Pauli [Underground]

Golden Pudel is small underground club that’s right next to the fish market (Der Fischmarkt) in St. Pauli. This place is for serious party goers who can handle being in a small room that’s packed with people. This place is open almost everyday till 6 am in the morning. 

This club has quite a history. It was once a smugglers’ prison and later turned into an underground club. The building caught fire and it was non operational for many years but then it reopened. 

Südpol, Süd Hamburg [Techno]

Love techno? Then Südpol is the place for you. Many say it is the best techno club in Hamburg and has the most amazing atmosphere. Just like Berlin’s Berghain, the queues outside Südpol can be extremely long. It isn’t very easy to get inside, so make sure you’re not overly drunk and overdressed – else you may be denied entry.

If you somehow manage to enter, congratulations – you’re one of the few. At the point of entry, your cell phone camera will be taped by the security to ensure you do not click photos. 

Prinzenbar, St. Pauli [Electronic and Rock]

In 1906, part of this Art Nouveau discos premises belonged to one of the first cinemas in Germany, the Kinosaal Spielbudenplatz 19. With this history and the partly preserved interior, the ambiance of this dazzling club captivates its visitors.  

With ornaments in stucco and chandeliers hanging from the high vaulted ceiling, the Prinzenbar offers a very interesting experience to not only the party people, but also photographers and filmmakers. 

In Prinzenbar, you can enjoy electronic and rock music, a large selection of concerts on the crowded dance floor. The prices also don’t break the bank. You can enjoy the live performance of many young musicians by paying a modest admission price.

Fundbureau, Sternschanze [Punk, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Reggae and Electro]

Being originally a lost and found office, today, the Fundbureau is known as one of the busiest underground clubs in Hamburg. With its vaulted ceiling, walls covered with graffiti, and the narrow corridors, this nightclub offers a great atmosphere for party people.

In the Fundbureau, you can enjoy live popular DJ shows or wild live concerts. If you are lucky, you can also attend the clubs famous Datschaparty, which is a themed party organized by the club itself! At the Datschaparty, you can taste many different Russian beers, vodkas, and local produce while listening to electronic music.

Uebel und Gefährlich, St. Pauli

Looking for unforgettable concerts and long nights of dancing? Then you have to check out the famous Uebel & Gefährlich. In this massive nightclub, you can attend many fascinating concerts, wild parties, and interesting events. 

This nightclub stands out from other famous nightclubs in Hamburg by its breathtaking view over the roofs of Hamburg. Located on the fourth floor, Uebel & Gefährlich is divided into three locations which host 1000 people; the ballroom, the tower room, and the roof terrace. And if you are into techno and 20s jazz, you have to check out this amazing nightclub.  

Cotton Club, Alter Steinweg [Jazz]

If you are into jazz music, then you have to check out the Cotton Club. This legendary club is the oldest and most famous jazz clubs in Hamburg. In the Cotton Club, you can get to enjoy an exquisite program full of the finest exponents of Trad, Ragtime and Dixieland jazz from both national and international artists. 

The program usually starts around 20.30 with a welcoming atmosphere. So, if you would like to enjoy great musicians like the Schnelsen Stompers, the Hot Shots, and the Boogie Connection while sipping your drink, then you have to check out the House of jazz in Hamburg, the Cotton Club!

Mojo Club, Reeperbahn [Mainstream] 

Back in the 1990s, Mojo Club was the most popular place to party in Germany. It was the place to be if you loved clubbing. Like Massive Attack? They performed here too. Mojo Club closed in 2003 but then reopened in 2013 in a basement under “Tanzende Türme” – the dancing towers. Today it is the place to be to if you like jazz,  alternative rock, and dub. You can also sometimes hear the 90s music and Bossa Nova. 

Bar Hamburg, St. Georg

Want to chill with Robert De Niro on one of the chicest bars in Hamburg? Then, you have to check out the celebrity bar, aka the Bar Hamburg. In this bar, you can hang out with international stars, while choosing the best cocktail from 90 other cocktails. Whether you are looking for a chill night out or crazy dance parties, you can have them both in Bar Hamburg.

The party boat – Ms Hedi / Frau Hedis Tanzkaffee, St Pauli

I know partying on the famous nightclubs is a must, but have you wondered how cool it would be if you can party on a boat while gazing at the spectacular view of Hamburg? If yes, then you have to check out the party boats!

These tour boats offer parties or some kind of fun programs every night. If you are into live music performances, you can attend the party boat on every Tuesdays and Thursdays, or enjoy DJ performances on the other days of the week. Another cool thing about the party boat is that you can hop and hop off any time you want! The prices don’t break the bank either.

How to Reach Hamburg

Hamburg has 4 airports, so it’s not hard to get in here. You can fly to Hamburg from any major European city, with cheap flights. 

If you are traveling within Germany or from any other close countries, environmental friendly options like trains, or buses like Flixbus are also nice alternatives. Hamburg is also only three hours away by bus from Berlin. 

Did follow our nightlife recommendations for Hamburg?

Tag @drifterplanet on Instagram and hashtag it #drifterplanet. We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

 

About the writer:

Alara BenlierAlara Benlier

My name is Alara Benlier, and I am a passionate traveler who is in a constant search for delicious foods and historical places. Currently living in Germany, I visited many places in Europe and met lots of lovely people from different cultures. Before Germany, I lived in Rotterdam for a year and traveled all around the Netherlands. I am excited to share all my experiences in Drifter Planet.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Visiting Jasmund National Park on Rugen Island: Germany’s Baltic Coast

Visiting Jasmund National Park on Rugen Island: Germany’s Baltic Coast

Jasmund National Park is on Reugen Island, which is the biggest island in Germany. It is on Germany’s Baltic Coast in Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns state. In Germany, the Baltic Sea is called the Ostsee and Reugen Island is called Insel Rügen.

Having lived in Germany for a while, I had no idea about this island. Even when talking about Germany’s beaches, most of the people mention Nordsee – or the North Sea. Not many people end up visiting Rügen Island, but those who do absolutely love it.

Introducing Jasmund National Park and the Chalk Cliffs

Jasmund National Park is famous for its dramatically high chalk cliffs. The chalk cliffs go as high as 160 meters above the sea level. The chalk cliffs are along the coast, so the chalk coast runs from Sassnitz via Lohme to Glowe. There is also a beech forest behind the cliffs. 

Baltic Sea Coast in Jasmund National Park on Rugen Island

Baltic Sea Coast in Jasmund National Park on Rugen Island

Reugen Island is pretty big and there’s a lot more to see and do here apart from just Jasmund National Park. This post however only focuses on the smallest national park of Germany – Jasmund National Park.

One of the Chalk Cliffs of Jasmund National Park along the Baltic Coast, Germany

One of the Chalk Cliffs of Jasmund National Park along the Baltic Coast, Germany

The chalk cliffs of Jasmund National park are eroding continuously. Wissower Klinken, one of the most beautiful parts of Jasmund National Park collapsed in 2005 because of a landslide. Chalk being a porous and soft sedimentary carbonate rock, can not withstand aggressive storms. [/box]

How to Reach Jasmund National Park

Wild Poppy field on Rugen Island and a car with a caravan in the background

Wild Poppy field on Rugen Island and a car with a caravan in the background

The easiest way to read Jasmund National Park is by road. Drive your own car or rent one to reach here. Here’s a search engine for cars where you can find cheap rentals. We actually did this trip on our camper-van – check out these tips for Van Life Europe. Now you must be thinking how is that possible if Jasmund National Park is on an island, no? Well, there is a bridge that connects Reugen Island with mainland Germany. 

In order to reach Jasmund National Park by road, you have to drive to Stralsund town and from there drive over Germany’s longest bridge, called the Rügenbrücke. After entering the island, you have to follow the signs to Jasmund National Park – it is that easy. The national park is on the North East of the island.

If you’re looking for a way to reach Rugen Island by train, then please note that the journey isn’t exactly easy or cheap. You have to first reach the closest town Stralsund and from there catch a train to Sassnitz. You can also take a train to Ostseebad Binz, but that is a little outside Jasmund National Park but on the Rugen island.

The thing is, if you’re traveling anywhere in Germany, it is much easier if you drive. The trains are expensive and sometimes you have to change many. Trains make sense when you’re heading to a big city like Berlin / Hamburg / Frankfurt, etc. Check out our post about 5 amazing short road trips in Germany.

What to do in Jasmund National Park

1) See Königsstuhl (the King’s Chair)

The King’s Chair or Königsstuhl in Jasmund National Park

The King’s Chair or Königsstuhl in Jasmund National Park

At 118 meters above the sea level, Königsstuhl is one of the highest chalk cliffs in Jasmund National Park. Königsstuhl means “King’s Chair”. This spot is the most famous point of the entire national park. 

Once you enter the Königsstuhl National Park Centre, you can climb the narrow granite staircase to a flat area that’s almost the top of the cliff. From here, you can get an amazing view of the Baltic Sea.

There is also a small museum inside that provides information about Jasmund National Park’s history, flora, and fauna. Entering Jasmund National Park is free but if you want to go inside Königsstuhl National Park Centre, you will have to pay a small fee. 

You can also see the Königsstuhl from the water. Some boat tours can take you along the chalk coast and you can see the Königsstuhl from another perspective.

View of the Königsstuhl from the Baltic Sea

View of the Königsstuhl from the Baltic Sea

Honestly, if your motive is just to see and admire the King’s Chair cliff, I’d recommend you skip entering the Königsstuhl National Park Centre. You can’t see the Königsstuhl from there. For a free and faster option, see the next point.

Suggested: Durmitor National Park in Montenegro – A detailed travel guide

2) Victoria-Sicht (Victoria Viewpoint)

Admiring the view from Victoria-Sicht in Jasmund National Park

Admiring the view from Victoria-Sicht in Jasmund National Park

When you enter the Königsstuhl National Park Centre, you can’t really see the Königsstuhl because you’re on top of it. However, the best spot to see the Königsstuhl is Victoria-Sicht. 

Victoria-Sicht translates to Victoria’s view or Victoria viewpoint, is right next to the Königsstuhl. You can choose not to enter the Königsstuhl National Park Centre but head to the Victoria-Sicht directly to see the amazing view. Even the Lonely Planet says that this is the best spot to see Königsstuhl.

If you’re short on time (or money), I’d recommend you avoid going inside the Königsstuhl National Park Centre but head to Victoria-Sicht instead. There are many benches where you can sit and relax. 

Königsstuhl or the King’s Chair in Jasmund National Park

Königsstuhl or the King’s Chair in Jasmund National Park

The viewing platform on Victoria-Sicht is pretty small. At one time just one person can stand and look. You can also spot the Königsstuhl viewing deck from Victoria-Sicht.

In case you want to click photos or create a video, then you should come here early. I remember I was here around midday and I stood on the viewing platform and clicked barely just five photos. When I turned around, I noticed there was actually a queue behind me. I couldn’t, of course, be shameless and hog this spot and let everyone else wait. 

Suggested: Tara National Park in Serbia – A detailed travel guide

3) Experience the Beech Forest

Sitting in the forest in Jasmund National Park

Sitting in the forest in Jasmund National Park

Jasmund Park’s chalk cliffs get all the attention but the Beech forest should not be overlooked. This particular forest is centuries old and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

The forest inside Jasmund National Park has many trails, which can be explored by walking or cycling. We were here with our 7 month old baby so we decided to walk with her on the pram.

The Beech Forest in Jasmund National Park

The Beech Forest in Jasmund National Park

As you walk inside the forest, you will cross ponds and small lakes. You will also notice several patches of wildflowers, especially wild poppies. Of course, this totally depends on the season. We visited in the month of June.

Suggested: Kravice Waterfalls National Park in Bosnia & Herzegovina – A detailed travel guide

4) Find a Wildflower or a Poppy Field

Wild Poppy field in Jasmund National Park, Germany

Wild Poppy field in Jasmund National Park, Germany

One of the first things that amazed us about Jasmund National Park was the abundance of wildflowers, especially poppies. We saw many poppy fields that looked stunning from a distance, like a sea of blood (eww but looked fab).

If you love photographing flower fields, then you will love these poppy fields. I have seen many flower fields but I will never forget the stunning sight of red poppy fields

5) Herthasee (Hertha Lake) and Herthaburg

View from the Herthaburg over the Herthasee in Jasmund National Park on Rügen Island

View from the Herthaburg over the Herthasee in Jasmund National Park on Rügen Island by Lapplaender – [cc-by-sa-2.0-de] via Wikimedia Commons

Herthasee is not very far from the Königsstuhl and we crossed it on our way back to Kruger Nature Camp from Victoria’s view. It is 170 meters long and 140 meters wide. This lake also has a Slavic hill fort – Herthaburg which was inhabited between 8th and 12th century.

I wasn’t very impressed with this lake and I think it is avoidable if you don’t have enough time. Of course in our case, if we had another few days and if our little baby wasn’t restless at this point, maybe we would have loved the Herthasee.

 

6) Waterfall at Kieler Shore

It is said that the waterfall at Kieler Bach is the biggest one in the entire Mecklenburg Vorpommerns state. We did not visit this waterfall but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. This point is on this list so that you are aware of this waterfall’s existence and you can include it in your itinerary.

 

7) Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht

The view from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht in Jasmund National Park

The view from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht in Jasmund National Park – CC0 by micpicee via Pixabay

The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht or viewpoint can be reached by getting on the path that connects Sassnitz with the Königsstuhl. You will also see the remains of Wissower Klinken on this path. 

The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt viewpoint is towards the south of Jasmund National Park. I wasn’t able to find this spot on Google Maps but you will see it on local maps. You can find more information about this viewpoint here

The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht or viewpoint in Jasmund National Park

The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Sicht or viewpoint in Jasmund National Park

Where to Stay in Jasmund National Park

Krüger Naturecamping 

Kruger Naturecamping in Jasmund National Park

Kruger Naturecamping in Jasmund National Park

If you’re visiting Jasmund National Park on your camper van or car, then you should definitely book a spot in Krüger Naturcamping (or Kreuger Nature Camping in English). This place is HUGE with really big individual camping / van parking per van. Perhaps the biggest I have ever seen. Exactly as the name suggests, you’re in the middle of nature in Krüger Naturecamping. 

Early morning deer sighting in Jasmund National Park - do you see the antlers?

Early morning deer sighting in Jasmund National Park – do you see the antlers?

If you’re staying in Krüger, then you’re not far from Königsstuhl. You don’t even have to get out of the camping area to go there. There is a path that goes from the inside of Krüger Naturecamping that will take you to the Königsstuhl and Victoria-Sicht.

Krüger has a restaurant, kitchen area, play area of children and really good toilets that are new. I did not use the restaurant because it was closed when we were there. 

Red Sky in Jasmund National Park near Krugar Nature Camping

Red Sky in Jasmund National Park near Krugar Nature Camping

There is a good sunset spot that’s right outside Krüger Naturecamping. In order to find it, you just have to get out of the camping area and move on the right side. There’s a very small hill with a bench where you can sit. This bench directly faces west, so it is a perfect spot for sunset.

Bench near Krugar Nature Camping in Jasmund National Park - ideal for sunsets

Bench near Krugar Nature Camping in Jasmund National Park – ideal for sunsets

Click here to read reviews about Krugar Naturecamping on Tripadvisor

Not interested in camping areas? No worries. Below are some more places inside Jasmund National Park. I haven’t stayed in these places personally but I have handpicked them for you based on the word of mouth and reviews by other travelers:

Have you ever visited Germany’s Baltic Coast?

We’d love your recommendations of other places to visit on Germany’s Baltic Coast. Leave a comment below and let us know.

Exploring the East Side Gallery, Berlin – Tips + Info + Photos + History

Exploring the East Side Gallery, Berlin – Tips + Info + Photos + History

Berlin – where the streets have a story to tell in the form of art. It is the city where the roadside paintings speak louder than the road signs.

There is something special about street art. It is an expression of rebellion, it spreads the message to the masses with or without words; it often portrays the truth.

Historically, art emerged at times that were perhaps the most troubled. That happened with Berlin too.

Just a Random Street in East Berlin with amazing artwork

Just a Random Street in East Berlin with amazing artwork

Berlin is the capital city of Germany, but it is better known for its intense history and it being within the Soviet zone post the World War II. There was once a wall within Berlin that divided the city and separated the East and the West. It was the Berlin Wall. Not much remains of the wall, but the graffiti covered East Side Gallery was once a part of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin isn’t the only place in Germany where you can see the street art. In fact most of the German cities have areas that are covered with graffiti. My favorite city so far is Hamburg – and I think it is one of the most interesting German cities.

History about the Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery

The historical gift of the World War II – the Berlin Wall is not functional anymore, but the graffiti on it will live for a long time.

The Berlin wall was built to restrict movement and emigration of people from East Europe to West Europe. Because of this, it was also called the Wall of Shame.

In 1989, there was a period of civil unrest in Berlin because of the revolutions in the nearby Hungry and Poland. Towards the end of 1989, the East German Government announced that the movement from East to West and vise versa would no longer be restricted. To celebrate, the people of Berlin climbed the wall and over the next days many of them cut away parts of the wall as a souvenir of the fall of the wall.

In 1990, artists from all over the world painted on the remaining east side of the Berlin Wall. These paintings express revolution, celebration of the change and a new hope for the future. More than everything else, the paintings celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall and collectively form the East Side Gallery of Berlin.

The above is a very quick snapshot of the history of the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery. If you want to know more, then go borrow your nephew or niece’s history book, or check out the information on Wikipedia.

Berlin is one of the most visited historical destination on a typical first timer’s itinerary for visiting Germany. It is also one of the most popular European street art city. 

Berlin Travel Video

This post is just about the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery, which by the way is one of the top things to do in Berlin. In case you want to catch a quick glimpse of what I did in Berlin alone, check out this video.

This video will also give you an idea about the Molecule Man statue and the Holocaust Memorial (a.k.a. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe). By the way, if you do visit the Holocaust Memorial, please don’t climb on top and click selfies like a “cool dude” – it is one of the top things that Berlin tourists should avoid.

 

Entry Price

Good news – there is no entry fee and you can view all the artwork at the East Side Gallery for free. If you’d like to get a little more out of your visit to the East Side gallery and around, then I suggest the below tours that are affordable (and I have handpicked them for you):

  • Berlin Alternative City Tour – 3.5 hours tour of Berlin’s coolest street art, districts, backstreets, urban conflict zones, visit the East Side Gallery, O2 World and Mediaspree.
  • Berlin Reunited and Revived – 4 hour alternative tour through Berlin’s neighborhoods – Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain. Visit the East Side Gallery and the Turkish Market.

The above two tours do not include the cost of public transport since most of the visitors buy a 5 day or 7 day public transport card that includes the S Bahn train, U Bahn train, tram and buses.

Alternatively, you can book a bicycle tour that will take you to the East Side Gallery AND also include the bike rental cost so that you can save money:

Please read all the details of the trip to know what’s included before you book.

Photos of the Street Art at the East Side Gallery

I’ll start with the most popular photo of the East Side Gallery – the Kiss. Even if you’re not into street art or have no idea about Berlin, I’m pretty sure you would have seen this picture at some point in your life. It is so famous; it is kind of like a landmark. Lonely Planet has put it on the number one spot in their article about top experiences in Berlin.

The Kiss - East Side Gallery in Berlin

The Kiss – East Side Gallery in Berlin

There was a long queue of people next to it who wanted their picture next to this famous work of art. Luckily, I bumped into my friend (the German Backpacker) who clicked my picture here.

The Kiss on the East Side Gallery may be the most famous painting, but in my opinion it is not the best. (Do you want to kill me now?). Here are some of the other artworks that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Faces of different colors - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Faces of different colors – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Faces of different colors - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Faces of different colors – East Side Gallery in Berlin

The above two are a part of a very large painting. The entire painting couldn’t  fir my frame but here is my attempt.

Faces of many colors and shapes in East Side Gallery, Berlin

Faces of many colors and shapes in East Side Gallery, Berlin

The below pictures were actually a part of just one massive painting. I think it was my favorite one out of all. Check it out.

Look how big it is - my favorite artwork at the East Side Gallery

Look how big it is – my favorite artwork at the East Side Gallery

Many people clicked their photos here - East Side Gallery

Many people clicked their photos here – East Side Gallery

I looked at this for a very long time - East Side Gallery

I looked at this for a very long time – East Side Gallery

Super psychedelic - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Super psychedelic – East Side Gallery in Berlin

So many details - East Side Gallery in Berlin

So many details – East Side Gallery in Berlin

How many faces and things do you see - East Side Gallery

How many faces and things do you see – East Side Gallery

I loved every inch of this - East Side Gallery in Berlin

I loved every inch of this – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Somewhere near this, was also a painting with just handprints of different colours. I also saw a man who was standing here and making music with plumbing pipes. Ever thought you could make music with them? Yes, Berlin gets more and more strange but I love it.

A man making music with plumbing pipes - East Side Gallery in Berlin

A man making music with plumbing pipes – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Handprints of many different colors - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Handprints of many different colors – East Side Gallery in Berlin

I loved this next one because there were many faces on a background of bright colors.

Faces on bright colors - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Faces on bright colors – East Side Gallery, Berlin

This was super long too - Faces on bright colors - East Side Gallery, Berlin

This was super long too – Faces on bright colors – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Faces on bright colors - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Faces on bright colors – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Here are some other paintings that I really enjoyed in no particular order.

Even more faces - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Even more faces – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Dreaming of fairies and elves - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Dreaming of fairies and elves – East Side Gallery, Berlin

There's so much happening in this painting - East Side Gallery, Berlin

There’s so much happening in this painting – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Doing it cool for the East Side - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Doing it cool for the East Side – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Dancing to Freedom - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Dancing to Freedom – East Side Gallery, Berlin

What all do you see in this - East Side Gallery, Berlin

What all do you see in this – East Side Gallery, Berlin

What do you make of this - East Side Gallery, Berlin

What do you make of this – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Breaking the wall and boundaries - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Breaking the wall and boundaries – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Dragon, galaxy and skyline - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Dragon, galaxy and skyline – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Are these supposed to be fashion models - East Side Gallery. Berlin

Are these supposed to be fashion models – East Side Gallery. Berlin

Einstein - East Side Gallery Berlin

Einstein – East Side Gallery Berlin

Faceless emperor - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Faceless emperor – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Climbing the wall - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Climbing the wall – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Boobies - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Boobies – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Oh look Batman - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Oh look Batman – East Side Gallery, Berlin

This was very crazy - East Side Gallery, Berlin

This was very crazy – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Loved this artwork - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Loved this artwork – East Side Gallery, Berlin

The struggle - East Side Gallery in Berlin

The struggle – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Get Human - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Get Human – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Stay Free - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Stay Free – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Save our Earth - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Save our Earth – East Side Gallery, Berlin

That face - East Side Gallery in Berlin

That face – East Side Gallery in Berlin

So many colors - East Side Gallery, Berlin

So many colors – East Side Gallery, Berlin

This was a popular photo spot too - East Side Gallery in Berlin

This was a popular photo spot too – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Moscow, China, Everywhere and Berlin - East Side Gallery

Moscow, China, Everywhere and Berlin – East Side Gallery

Chained thumbs up - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Chained thumbs up – East Side Gallery, Berlin

That looks sad - East Side Gallery, Berlin

That looks sad – East Side Gallery, Berlin

The full painting of God in space with rainbow colors - East Side Gallery

The full painting of God in space with rainbow colors – East Side Gallery

Is this some sort of Mandala - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Is this some sort of Mandala – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Three Girls posing for a picture at the East Side Gallery in Berlin

Three Girls posing for a picture at the East Side Gallery in Berlin

Globe - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Globe – East Side Gallery in Berlin

It seems to be damaged but I love this couple kissing with a pink umbrella - East Side Gallery Berlin

It seems to be damaged but I love this couple kissing with a pink umbrella – East Side Gallery Berlin

A battered car next to the East Side Gallery in Berlin

A battered car next to the East Side Gallery in Berlin

Fresh and Green Forest - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Fresh and Green Forest – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Fuck Wars - East Side Gallery Berlin

Fuck Wars – East Side Gallery Berlin

Aliens - East Side Gallery, Berlin

Aliens – East Side Gallery, Berlin

Caption it - East Side Gallery in Berlin

Caption it – East Side Gallery in Berlin

Artwork at East Side Gallery in Berlin

Artwork at East Side Gallery in Berlin

The East Side Gallery has an inner lane where most people don’t go. That that lane leads to this. There is an area where the walls are on both the sides, and it was my favorite part of the East Side Gallery. This spot is perfect for a panoramic or a 360-degree picture but sadly the battery for my 360-degree camera ran out.

The river side - Behind the East side gallery, Berlin

The inside lane of the East Side Gallery leads to this – the River side

The Inside lane of the East Side Gallery, Berlin

The Inside lane of the East Side Gallery, Berlin

Go Vegan, Eat Pussy - Berlin East Side Gallery

Go Vegan, Eat Pussy – Berlin East Side Gallery ( I think it was not the original part of the wall )

How's God, she's black - Behind the East Side Gallery in Berlin

How’s God, she’s black – Behind the East Side Gallery in Berlin

The inside lane of East Side Gallery, Berlin

The inside lane of East Side Gallery, Berlin

How to reach the East Side Gallery

Berlin is well connected with underground trains, metros, trams and buses. Like most of the German cities, the metro lines in Berlin are also called S Bahn and U Bahn.

To reach the East Side Gallery, you can take either S bahn or U Bahn. The nearest S Bahn station is Ostbahnoff, which is a big intersection. You can also arrive here by U Bahn at Oberbaumbrücke station. Oberbaumbrücke is the name of a double decker bridge that goes over Berlin’s river Spree and it is actually a historical landmark. If you have seen the movie Run Lola Run, you’d recognize this bridge.

Where to go after the East Side Gallery

Depending on how you arrive at the East Side Gallery, you can visit the below mentioned places that are nearby:

Oberbaumbrücke

Oberbaumbrücke - the historical Oberbaume Bridge near the East Side Gallery in Berlin

Oberbaumbrücke – the historical Oberbaume Bridge near the East Side Gallery in Berlin

If you reach the East Side Gallery by U Bahn, then you will surely pass this the Oberbaume Bridge. As mentioned in “how to reach” section, this bridge is a historical landmark and looks gorgeous.

Molecule Man Statue

Molecule Man Statue on River Spree near the East Side Gallery in Berlin

Molecule Man Statue on River Spree near the East Side Gallery in Berlin

If you stand in the walking pathway tunnel that’s under the Oberbaumbrücke, on one side there is the East Side Gallery and on the other side you will notice the molecule statue in the middle of the river Spree. There is a viewing platform that’s close to the Molecule Man statue, so that you can take a closer look and a good photo.

Treptower Park

Treptower Park is beyond the Molecule Man statue and you should consider visiting it if the weather is sunny. Yes, there is a lot of history associated with this park but for me the most interesting part about this park is that there is an abandoned amusement park inside it. That amusement park was once called Spreepark.

Where to Stay in East Berlin

While I was in Berlin, I stayed at my friend’s place near Schlesisches Tor U Bahn station and for me the location was perfect. It was close to everything interesting! In fact, I liked East Berlin so much better than the rest of the city. The middle part of Berlin (Mitte) was super fancy and looked very new. Here are some suggestions that are based on what I heard from other travelers and friends:

Hotel Eastern Comfort – Hotelschiff

Eastern Comfort Hotelschiff behind the East Side Gallery in Berlin

Eastern Comfort Hotelschiff behind the East Side Gallery in Berlin

This place is right behind the East Side Gallery and is pretty cool because it is a boat that’s permanently stationed on the river Spree. Looks pretty cool, no?

It didn’t appear to be a luxurious place, it had a hostel kind of a vibe. It has dorm room inside the cabins and they look pretty cool. I would have loved to stay here! The price per night is €16 for dorm and €58 – €68 for private cabins. You can click here to read the reviews about this place on TripAdvisor. 

Other Hostels in East Berlin

You can also check out OSTEL – GDR the hostel, Hostel BackpackerBerlin, and EastSeven Hostel – they’re all similarly priced between €40 – €50 and are rated good by travelers.

Budget Hotels in East Berlin

If hostels are not your thing, then you can check out these budget hotels in East Berlin which are rated good – Die Fabrik on Schlesische street, Arcadia Hotel on Frankfurter Allee, Junker’s Hotel on Gruenberger Street and Hotel Goldmarie on Warschauer Street. All these places are similarly priced between €60 – €80 per night.

Luxurious Stylish Hotels in East Berlin

East Berlin isn’t really about luxury but is so much about art. If you have a little more money, then you should totally check out the super arty MEININGER Hotel East Side Gallery. MEININGER is actually a hotel chain in Berlin but in this section I’m recommending the one that’s right next to the East Side Gallery.

My First German Christmas Market – Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

My First German Christmas Market – Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Confession time – San and I are living in an adorable little town called Rheda-Wiedenbrück but I never published even a single article about it. Why? My reasons are selfish. You see, this our little Rheda-Wiedenbrück is a pretty town with literally no tourists and I want to keep it that way.

Rheda-Wiedenbrück has its own castle, river, lakes, forest, sanctuary, old town area with beautifully preserved houses that are more than 300 years old! It’s in North Rhine-Westphalia state and comes under Gütersloh district.

Beautfully decorated houses for Christmas in Widenbrueck

Beautfully decorated houses for Christmas in Widenbrueck

That’s all the information that you will get from me about my town for now. I’m still not ready to talk more about Rheda-Wiedenbrück but I want to show you the pictures of the Christmas market here.

If you have been living on another planet and don’t know – German Christmas Markets are famous all over the world. These markets typically start towards the end of November and continue till the end of December. Whatever your travel goals may be, I urge you to experience a Christmas holiday in Germany and visit one of the markets.

PS: There is very little information about Rheda-Wiedenbrück on the internet. If you’re driving here from any of the nearby towns for the Christmas market, then you should book a room in old town Wiedenbrück near the market. I suggest a charming hotel called Romantik Hotel. Click here to read about it on TripAdvisor. Cheers!

Out of all the Christmas Markets in Germany, some of the most famous ones are in bigger towns like Frankfurt, Dresden, Cologne, etc. And of course, the Christmas Markets in Munich are spectacular. However, as per me, you don’t really have to visit a big city and experience a maddening crowd in a Christmas Market.

Try to find a small town that’s charming [like Rheda- Wiedenbrück] and most likely you will have an experience of a lifetime! Alternatively, you can try something different and head out to a pretty town in the nearby Netherlands. Look at the amazing pictures of Christmas Market in Maastricht.

Christmas Markets in Germany have many names – Weihnachtsmarkt, Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt and probably a few more. Every market has its own name. The bigger towns have multiple markets. This post is about a market called Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück.

Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück – Photos of Christmas Market in Rheda-Wiedenbrück

Decor, Shops and a Massive Christmas Tree

My First German Christmas Market - Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

My First German Christmas Market – Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Massive Christmas Tree at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück - Christmas Market in Germany

Massive Christmas Tree at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück – Christmas Market in Germany

Obviously the first thing that hit me as I entered this market was the lovely decoration. There was a massive christmas tree in the middle of the market and everything around was beautifully lit up. The shops look really good – not like temporary stalls that were set up just for the duration of this market.

Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück - My First German Christmas Market

Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück – My First German Christmas Market

Beautiful stalls and shops at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Beautiful stalls and shops at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Nativity scene outside church in Christmas Market

Nativity scene outside church in Christmas Market

Apart from food and beverage stalls, there were shops where they sold winter clothes, Christmas gifts and many interesting wood carved toys and christmas tree ornaments.

Lovely Decoration at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Lovely Decoration at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Decoration at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Decoration at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Glühwein in Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Planet Wiedenbrück Gluhwein Stall

Planet Wiedenbrück Gluhwein Stall

Judge me if you must but yes my favorite German Christmas Market experience was drinking glühwein! Glühwein literally means, “burning wine” and true to its name, it will make you feel like you’re sipping fire! It’s hot wine with herbs and spices like cinnamon, star anise, vanilla, lemon, etc.

Glühwein is sweet, delicious and will make you extremely happy and warm.

Germany is very cold and the only way you can survive an outdoor Christmas market is by layering up and drinking hot wine. To make it stronger, you can add rum, triple sec and many other things. Some like Planet Wiedenbrück shop serve spekulatius (speculaas) for free when you order glühwein. Spekulatius is cinnamon shortbread cookie that’s usually baked before Christmas.

1690 Wiedenbrück Gasthaus Gluhwein at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

1690 Wiedenbrück Gasthaus Gluhwein at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

I love these little mugs in which glühwein is served! Some of them are worth collecting. My favorite glühwein spots in Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück are Planet Wiedenbrück and 1690 Wiedenbrück Gasthaus. I love drinking Glühwein with Cointreau in the first and Heidelbeer Glühwein in the second.

Eierpunsch at Christmas Market in Germany

Eierpunsch at Christmas Market in Germany

By the way, Glühwein isn’t the only alcoholic beverage that you should try in Germany for christmas, there’s Eierpunsch as well, which is like an eggnog. I didn’t try it because I’m not so sure if I can handle drink something alcoholic with egg in it. Sounds eww!

Nikolaus Parade and Celebration in Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Nikolaus Parade at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Nikolaus Parade at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

“Hey that’s Santa Claus”

Yup that’s what I said too when I saw Nikolaus but I was informed that they’re not the same. They look and dress similar but their hats are different.

Nikolaus comes out to meet children on December 6th every year, while Santa delivers the gifts on Christmas eve! Santa Claus is called Weihnachtsmann in German. I won’t get into any religious history here but I will share my experience.

Nikolaus Parade toupe at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Nikolaus Parade toupe at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

I was lucky that I visited Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück on December 6th and I joined little children as they waited patiently for Nikolaus to show up. When he did, we walked around the town with him. It was magical!

Carousel or Merry go Round at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

“But it’s just a ride for kids!”

Lovely Carousel at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrueck

Lovely Carousel at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrueck

No it’s not. Grown ups ride it too. Not every grown up but people like me. To be honest, I can stand and look at this merry go round for hours. There are pretty lights, happy faces, bright colors and cute music!

Merry go round at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Merry go round at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

After looking at my Christmas Market pictures, I realized the ones that turned out the best are the Carousel ones.

Food and Desserts at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Like any other outdoor markets in Germany, you will find things like pretzels, wursts (German sausages), fries, Kartoffelpuffer (fried potato pancake with apple sauce) and many other things that will make you insanely fat. I tried fried apple with cinnamon and honey at Schneider Crepes and loved it.

Fried apples with cinnamon and honey - Christmas Market in Germany

Fried apples with cinnamon and honey – Christmas Market in Germany

It was for 3 euros and was delicious! This shop had many things and the next time I visit, I would like to try one of their crepes.

Desserts and food at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Schneider Crepes – Desserts and food at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

White Christmas Celebration – Snowfall at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

I was unbelievably lucky the third time I visited Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück as well because this time it was snowing. Sadly I couldn’t click as many pictures with my brand new camera as I would have liked but luckily I had my GoPro for a few quick shots.

Enjoying light snowfall at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Here’s a picture of me enjoying light snowfall at Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Where to Stay in Rheda-Wiedenbrück?

I will be honest – I have never had the need to ever find a hotel in Rheda-Wiedenbrück but in case you’re visiting, I suggest you check out Romantik Hotel. It is a charming old school hotel that’s near Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück in the old town area. To know more, read more about this hotel [and other hotels] here.

Romantik Hotel in Rheda-Wiedenbrück near Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Romantik Hotel in Rheda-Wiedenbrück near Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Germany is a beautiful country and I feel lucky to be living here. I’m a little ashamed about the fact that I have written very few travel blog posts about Germany but I hope to change that in the near future.

Pin any of the below few images to save this post with a friend. If you live in or around Rheda-Wiedenbrück, why don’t you share this post to show the beauty of this christmas market here.

Have you attended a christmas market in Germany? If so, I’d love to know where and how your experience was. Leave a comment below and share your story.

Bis bald. 🙂

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

5 Short Road Trips in Germany [and Around]

5 Short Road Trips in Germany [and Around]

One of the best ways to travel around in Germany is by road. If you like road trips and happen to be in Germany, then you are certainly in for a rewarding experience. Not only will you appreciate German roads, but also enjoy some of the most relaxing days cruising through quaint villages, medieval castles, and unspoiled countryside.

German highway system is called the Autobahn and they don’t really have a speed limit for most of the vehicles. The speed limit is enforced in areas that are accident prone, under construction or in a close proximity to the cities. Because of this, driving on Germany’s Autobahn is a bucket list worthy experience for many.

We have traveled extensively in Germany on our camper van but you can do this trip on a rented car too. If you’re planning on renting a car, then be sure to read these car rental hacks to help you save money.

Suggested: Travel the Balkans – itinerary for the most beautiful road trip in Europe

There are a number of scenic drives and themed roads to pick from and get a truly German experience. There is so little time and so many options to choose from. However, there are certain trips and roads that make a cut above the rest and the top picks to make short road trips in Germany.

Short Road Trips in Germany

1) Drive through Bavaria – Germany’s Romantic Road

Rothenburg (Bavaria) on Germany's Romantic Road

Rothenburg (Bavaria) on Germany’s Romantic Road – by Maxmann [CCO] via Pixabay

Perhaps the most famous road trip route in Germany, the Romantic Road was designed by travel agents back in the 1950s. This 350 kilometers long route starts in Würzburg and goes south through the beautiful Bavaria and ends in Füssen.

One of the prettiest German towns – Rothenburg is also on this route and so is Neuschwanstein Castle. You will love slow traveling through Bavaria on your car because you will get to witness some of the country’s most beautiful sights.

You can also make a stop in Munich, which is one of the capital of Bavaria and the location for the biggest Oktoberfest. Stay at a B&B or small hotels on the outskirts of the city and enjoy the scenic drive. Explore the sights and sounds of Munich and visit the Viktualienmarkt, a farmers’ market in the city Centre. Be sure to read this post about best places to visit in Bavaria. This is the best way to sample Bavarian treats such as Leberkase meat loaf or the Bratuwurst sausage. You will love Munich’s legendary beer hall, Hofbrauhaus and get a feel of a blue German drinking establishment.

Suggested Reading – Top Things to do in Hamburg – Germany’s Canal City

2) Mannheim to Prague – the German Castle Route

Heidelberg on Germany's castle route

Heidelberg on Germany’s castle route by Gaertringen [CCO] via Pixabay

One of the best things about driving in Germany is seeing some of the most beautiful castles on the way. One of the best routes for castle gazing is from Mannheim to Prague – also called the German Castle Road.

Suggested Post: Essential Travel Tips for visiting Prague, the Czech Republic

A road trip here will actually feel like entering a time machine because you will get to see more than 70 castles and palaces. Make sure you stop Heidelberg – one of the most beautiful towns on the German Castle Road. Explore those picture perfect castle museums or the romantic ruins on those winding back roads with easy to follow signs. It is suggested to pick just a few of the castles to explore in depth.

Suggested Reading – Essential Travel Tips for Amsterdam, Netherlands to help you save money while you’re there

 

3) Freudenstadt to Baden-Baden – the Black Forest Route

Scenes along the Black Forest route in Germany

Scenes along the Black Forest route in Germany by Hschmider [CCO] via Pixabay

This is perhaps the oldest themed route in Germany and it goes through the Black Forest. This route starts in Freudenstadt and goes north to Baden Baden. This road is also known as “the Black Forest High Road” because the road rises along two mountain ranges -Kniebis and Schliffkopf. The highest area on this route goes about 1000 meters above the sea level at Hornisgrinde and around. The road dramatically drops as it enters Baden-Baden.

 

4) Hanau to Bremen – the German Fairy Tale Road

Hanau - on Germany's fairytale route

Hanau – on Germany’s fairytale route by Lapping [CCO] via Pixabay

Enter a fairy tale world as you drive from Hanau to Bremen and explore Germany’s countryside. Stop by a few small towns on the way that resemble the setting for some of the most famous fairy tales. You can visit the castle of Sleeping Beauty or hike in Little Red Riding Hood’s forest, or even climb up the tower of Rapunzel. Start your trip in the town of Hanau which is the birthplace of Brothers Grimm. There are family-friendly activities in almost all the towns along the Fairy Tale Road such as concerts, parades, and puppet shows.

 

5) Bockenheim to Schweigen-Rechtenbach – the German Wine Route

Germany's wine route - der Weinstraße

Germany’s wine route – der Weinstraße by Hans [CCO] via Pixabay

Get ready for the country’s oldest scenic drive towards the southwest of Germany in the Rhineland Palatinate. This route is called der Weinstraße in German and it starts in Bockenheim, goes towards south and ends in Schweigen-Rechtenbach.

This 50-mile long route will take you across the second largest wine growing region in Germany and all the way towards Wissembourg at the French border. At the end of this route, you will find the German Wine Gate in Schweign. Visit old-world restaurants, quaint wine villages and picturesque vineyards on the way and participate in the local harvest festivals celebrated throughout spring and summer.

Bonus: River Elb to Lake Constance – German Timber-Frame Road (Deutsche Fachwerkstraße)

This route goes from extreme North of Germany at Stade (near Hamburg) to extreme south to Lake Constance in Meersburg. The special thing about this route is that one can see old school timber frame houses along this route. Here’s a map of this route. Click on this map for a bigger image.

German Timber-Frame Road - Deutsche Fachwerkstraße

German Timber-Frame Road – Deutsche Fachwerkstraße

If you’re planning on driving on any of the above mentioned routes, try to some basic German words so that you can read and understand the roadsigns. Oh and do check your spare tyres once on the road to avoid any last minute mess ups.

Disclaimer: This guest post has been written by Eva Green.

 

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

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