Berlin City Break

Berlin City Break

So this blog post is a bit late, I actually visited Berlin in November 2018 but haven’t got round to posting about it yet as I’ve been so busy with university. We travelled at the end of November flying with Easyjet from Newcastle and stayed at Frederics Berlin City Hackeschermarkt which are serviced apartments. The apartments were clean and close to both public transport and the main attractions in the area (unfortunately I did not take a picture of our room – sorry!).

Berliner Dom. Berlin Cathedral Church
Berlin Cathedral Church aka Berliner Dom
In front of the Berliner Dom

Day One – Sightseeing

We got there quite late at night so just went for a couple of drinks in the local area of Hackeschermarkt before beginning our first full day sightseeing and taking in all Berlin has to offer. I didn’t really have a clue where I was going so kind of drifted towards the Brandenburg Gate but we got to see the Berliner Dom on the way as the majority of landmarks were close together.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Our next destination was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe which is very sad as it commemorates up to six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. We then headed to Potsdamer Platz (and Cara’s coffee shop) to continue exploring. Unfortunately, we were a little early for all of the Christmas markets as they did not begin until the final week in November so we were a few days early but we still saw a small one there. I tried a Bratwurst which I didn’t think I would enjoy but it was actually delicious. Luke’s Currywurst, however, not so appetizing to look at.

Topography of Terror

After this, I had looked at the Topography of Terror online and thought it would be really interesting so we decided to go and have a look. Some of the content I found really upsetting and terrifying, it was difficult to come to terms with the fact it really happened. This is a free museum and well worth a look. We also saw the remaining part of the Berlin Wall before heading to Checkpoint Charlie. After the day’s sightseeing, we decided to head out for some food and drinks. We found one of the waiters in the restaurant we went to very helpful and he pointed us to an area to get drinks. I really liked the Vulcano Bar as the staff were so nice.

Checkpoint Charlie

Day Two – Stasi Prison

Our second day we visited the Stasi prison which was where political criminals were kept and interrogated. Our tour guide was very knowledgable and both English and German tours are provided throughout the day. We got there via the tram service which was straight forward and easy to use as well as being the quickest way of getting to the prison.

Stasi Prison

The tour took up quite a lot of our day but we still ventured out on an evening, got some food and had some drinks. We found it quite difficult to find busy bars in our area but it is so casual over there people literally walk around with bottles of beer in their hands.

East Side Gallery

Day three – East Side Gallery

Just before we caught our flight home we managed to squeeze in a visit to the East Side Gallery to look at all the graffiti artwork. It was so interesting and unusual we saw the famous “the kiss” along with so many others.

The Kiss

So that was a short diary of my time in Berlin. This post is fairly brief and I wish I had included a bit more about where I ate and drank and how much things were etc. but we only had a short space of time here so I really wanted to see as much as possible. I was also quite unwell after visiting the prison on our second day so wasn’t really up to much that evening. I hope this gives some ideas on what to do in Berlin but there was so much more I could have explored and I would love to go back in the future.

New York travel guide Day 3: The American Museum of National History and Central Park

Welcome to part three of my New York travel guide all about Central Park and The American Museum of National History! If you would like to revisit part one or part two of my New York travel guides please do so by clicking them! We decided to visit both of these locations in the same day because they were both very close to each other and both take a while to explore!

The American Museum of National History

Outside the American Museum of National History
Outside the American Museum of National History

This museum is gigantic so I’d thoroughly reccomend getting a map from the reception upon entry, it’s very easy to get lost. It covers animals from different countries, people from different countries, dinosaurs, historical figures along with biology and space. Most of the museum is included with a ticket but you may need to pay more for special exhibits. 

In front of the elephants in the African Mammals exhibit
In front of the elephants in the African Mammals exhibit

You could easily spend the whole day in this museum it’s so big but we decided just to pick out some of the exhibits we wanted to visit. The animal exhibits were definately a firm favourite as as well as the animals being so realistic, the settings and greenery were too which was a far cry from the New York city outside!

The huge whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
The huge whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

In the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life a huge 94 foot whale is suspended from the ceiling and 122 foot long skeleton of a Titanosaur stands in the dinosaur exhibit. There’s some really amazing things to look at and see and I can imagine this being the most amazing school trip for the kids that live in New York. I’m sure the class I work with would love to visit here!

The titanosaur
The titanosaur

You can also visit the famous Num Num from the movie Night At The Museum which was actually set in The American Museum of National History, in New York!

Num Num from Night at the Museum
Num Num from Night at the Museum

Another top tip for the museum is to pay what you want! Obviously there is a suggested donation amount but if you are only calling in for a particular exhibit or for a small amount of time it’s worth offering your own donation it also means you can avoid using your city pass and save it for another place. However, this does not apply to the special exhibits so you may need to pay more in order to visit those. If you would like to find out more about the museum, I have linked their website here.

The mammoths
The mammoths

Central Park

Bow Bridge at Central Park
Bow Bridge at Central Park

Central Park is a gigantic park in the middle of New York which has been regularly featured in different movies and TV shows. This particular part is Bow Bridge which was in one of my favourite teen movies, Uptown Girls.

Squirrel in Central Park
Squirrel in Central Park

The park featured a lot of squirrels which darted around and lots of different greenery. I also visited the John Lennon memorial and the statues of Alice and Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson. It was a great way to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There is also a zoo which I didn’t visit but apparently the other New York zoo’s are higher on reccomendations. 

Central Park
My sister and I in Central Park

Although I enjoyed Central Park it does take a WHILE to walk round, it’s so easy to get lost in here and the majority of it is just an actual park so I’m glad we were also able to fit something else into our day as a lot of people opt to spend the day here. 

Thank you so much for reading and check out my next post coming soon which is part 4!

Lots of love,

Cara x

New York travel guide Day 2: Brooklyn Bridge, DUMBO and 9/11 Memorial Museum

Welcome to part two of my New York travel guide, if you haven’t read part one yet then click here and you can read about getting there, my hotel and the sights I saw on day one of my trip.

Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO

The view of New York from Brooklyn
The view of New York from Brooklyn

To start our second day in New York, we got the subway over to Brooklyn heights and explored DUMBO which is the underpass. It was such a hot day and the view of all the skyscrapers was amazing from the other side of the water.

A photo of at the DUMBO underpass with a view of Manhattan Bridge
Photo spot at DUMBO with a view of Manhattan bridge

We walked around for a little while and found the place where a lot of people decide to take Instagram shots in the middle of the road with the Manhattan bridge behind them. I of course, had to join in and get mine took although the sun was very bright and in my eyes so it was hard to get a reasonable shot. I was also very boiling in that coat.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn bridge was very very busy when we walked over it. Although I can imagine you are able to get some great shots on the bridge it’s very difficult due to the number of people crossing and also the number of people stopping dead in front of you in the middle of the bridge to get a photo themselves. Be nice and find a spot to the side.

The view walking across Brooklyn Bridge
The view walking across Brooklyn Bridge

Staten Island Ferry and The Statue of Liberty

The view of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry
The view of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry

We then took another subway to get to the Staten Island ferry.  We weren’t too bothered about actually visiting Ellis Island, we just wanted to see the statue so we opted for the free ferry. It doesn’t take long and gives you a pretty good view of the statue but you need to be quick to get off the boat at Staten Island and then back on another boat to return.

The Statue Of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty

9/11 Memorial Museaum + Ground Zero New York

Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

This museum and general area of New York is really really upsetting and I can see why some people choose not to visit but it was probably one of the highlights of the trip as I found it absolutely fascinating. 

The 9/11 Memorial Pools
The 9/11 Memorial Pools

We first went to the memorial pools which were placed where the twin towers were and had the names of several people who had lost their lives during 9/11.

Fire engine at the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Fire engine at the 9/11 Memorial Museum

My dad and I then went into the museum which was so interesting and moving, it included lots of information about 9/11 and all of the people involved such as the fire service, police force, ambulance services, animals and all of those who worked in the building

Fire truck 9/11 Memorial Museum
Another fire truck 9/11 Memorial Museum

With my dad actually being  a firefighter we were so captured by the damaged fire trucks and stories of the firefighters that assisted during the fire and it was sad to think that everyone involved woke up to a normal day without any idea what was ahead.

Sirius the police dog, 9/11 memorial museum
Sirius the police dog, 9/11 Memorial Museum

I was also really touched by the story of the police dog, Sirius who was killed during 9/11 and they had a photo dedicated to him. The saddest part was definately the room filled with all the photo’s, items and stories of those who lost their lives which was an exhibition where photo’s were not permitted.

9/11 Memorial Museum
9/11 Memorial Museum

The above photo of the blue tiles also had a touching story behind it as each shade represents one persons memory of the colour of the sky that day. You can find more details on the 9/11 memorial museum here.

My top tips

Subway: A kind homeless man called Austin made us aware of not buying passes for everyone and this saved us a lot of money.  The passes are 40$ per person but buying one card that you can top up saves a lot of money. Up to 4 people can use a card and each journey is 2.75$ so you’re only really paying for what you need.

Free entry to 9/11 Memorial Museum: Visit the museum on a Tuesday just before 5pm and you are allowed to enter for free. They do suggest making a donation and every donation above 5$ you get a free wristband which is a nice thing to remember the place by.

I hope you all enjoyed the second edition of my New York travel guide. Please check out part three here which includes the Museum of Natural History, Central Park.

Thanks for reading,

Cara x

New York travel guide Day 1: Top of the Rock, Grand Central Station and Empire State Building

Recently I took a trip to the big apple with my family as an early gift for my mam’s 50th birthday. The trip lasted 5 days and was completely exhausting so this has took me a while to put together. When researching New York I found most of my help and recommendations came from online websites such as Pintrest, Instagram and other blogs so here is the first part of my five part travel guide to New York city!

Travelling to New York

Outside the Wyndham A New Yorker hotel

My family and I travelled to New York using Norweigan airlines on a direct flight from Edinburgh Airport to Stewart Airport. We travelled from Sunderland to Edinburgh by car and then from Stewart Airport to Manhattan we got the bus which was 20$ each. I will explain more about my flight experiences in a later post but my journey there was tolerable althought the aeroplane had no Wifi or entertainment which was very dissappointing as we were expecting it.

We stayed in the Wyndham A New Yorker hotel on 8th avenue which I was pleasantly surprised with. Although a 3* they were very accomodating, the kind lady at the front desk, Julia, upgraded us to a larger room the second night which had a fantastic view of the Empire State building. I also found the other front desk and security staff very friendly as well as the mail room staff who helped me with my Halloween costume order!

First day in New York

New York Public Library

View of the New York public library
Outside the New York public library

Firstly, we started the day mainly sightseeing and getting our bearings in mid-town which was the area we were staying in. One of our first photo stops was the New York public library which was featured in the popular film, Ghostbusters.

Top of the rock

Ice rink in Rockefeller plaza
Ice rink in Rockefeller plaza

We then headed over to Rockefeller plaza, home of the Rockerfellar centre along with NCB News and various shops and restaurants. We decided our first excursion would be the Top of the Rock, a fantasic view of the New York city skyline. 

View from Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller centre
Views from Top of the Rock

I took a lot of photo’s on Top of the Rock as the view was phenomenal. One side you could see how huge central park is and the other was mainly the large buildings including the Empire State building which you can see above. It’s best to get here early so expect to que both for the tickets and to get into the actual attraction as it’s super busy, I’d also recommend making sure you go on a clear day or you wont see a thing. My family used a New York explorer pass which you can find here on Expedia for 3,4,5 and 7 New York attractions.

Pumpkins in Rockefeller Plaza
Pumpkin decor in Rockefeller Plaza

After that we had a wander around Rockefeller Plaza and visited some cute shops, I really loved the Kawaii shop! My sisters firm favourite however, was definately the Nintendo shop as she went to New York with two soft toys and came back with eight!

Donkey Kong in the Nintendo Store
Statue of Donkey Kong in the Nintendo Store

My favourite meal in New York

Pizza burger from Black Tap New York city
Amazing pizza burger!

After stumbling upon them on their Instagram which is linked here, I could not come to New York and not try Black Tap on my first day. The food completely lived up to the hype and the que outside. I ordered the pizza burger which is above which arrived with the most amazing pizza sauce EVER. The two servers we had which were Daniel and Samantha were also very attentive and since it was so busy they regularly updated us with how long we were expecting to wait.

Cookies 'N' Cream milkshake from Black Tap NYC
This cookies’n’cream milkshake was the best!

I then finished off with this absolutely amazing cookies ‘n’ cream milkshake which had oreo pieces and a huge cookie sandwich on top. The milkshakes here were absolutely amazing and I was so torn whether to opt for this one of the standard cookie milkshake but I would have enjoyed both. My dad also opted for one of these but his was the fruity pebbles version and he also finished that. Although the bill was quite pricey here at 15$ for the milkshake alone it was well worth it and I’d highly recommend you visit if in New York. It also is enough to fill you for the full day as I couldn’t eat anything else!

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station

Our second photo stop was Grand Central Stations. Although not much to do here it’s worth a see and a photo due to it being so famous. There’s a few little shops inside too but they are rather pricey, typical for a train station.

Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station

Empire State building

At the Empire State Building view of New York at night
The view from the Empire State was amazing

We decided to visit the Empire State building by night which was amazing as it was a magical experience seeing the city all light up at night. We decided to go at night as I saw many blogs and Instagram posts recommending it and it was a great recommendation as there was barely any ques! We once again used our New York explorer pass for this and it was our second attraction.

New York at night from the Empire State building
New York at night from the Empire State building

First look around Times Square

Times Square at night
Times Square at night

We ended the evening by having a look around Times Square which was full of people shopping, dining and visiting the theatre. We sadly did not go and see a show because the tickets were very expensive and we couldn’t agree on which one we wanted.  Harry Potter and The Cursed Child would be my choice which was the most expensive (still looks amazing, I will see it one day).

M&M world
M&M world Statue Of Liberty

We did however, visit the M&M’s world which was similar to the one’s I’ve been to in London and Florida and we got bags of the one’s we couldn’t get in a standard pack as it wasn’t worth getting the standard M&M’s as it was around 7$ per half a pound! We also saw a gigantic teddy bear and some other cool shops around Times Square.

I hope you enjoyed the first of my four part travel guide and are looking forward to the next post. Next week I will tell you all about the 9/11 memorial museum and Brooklyn Bridge so keep watching! What’s your favourite place in New York?

You can find part two of the guide here.

I have also added part three here.

Thanks for reading,

Lots of love

Cara x