A gorgeous, laid back small hostel in a lovely old building in the beautiful medieval town of Ulm in Southern Germany. The owner is charming and helpful, the common spaces such as the sweet kitchen, are warm and inviting with interesting retro furniture. The rooms are spacious and characterful with high ceilings and the shared bathrooms and loos are spotless. Ulm itself, a town built on the Danube river, is a few minutes walk and delights with narrow cobblestone streets with Hansel and Gretel houses and a huge choice of very good restaurants - definitely worth a few days of your time if you are in southern Germany. There's a great pop art exhibition - American Idols - on at the moment in Ulm's modernist art gallery with Andy Warhol et al. Oh yeah and I suppose you should know it has the highest church steeple in the world and Albert Einstein was born there! Visit the Museum of Bread Culture while there too - an adorable quirky museum that has lots of art works related to bread, including by Dali, Chagall and Banksy (!)... Enjoy!
The 'perfect' European cafe - I haven't found better. Beautiful garden, great food, the kind of service you always hope for, reasonably priced
The one place I always head for.
The site of the main remand prison for people detained by the former East German Ministry of State Security (MfS), or 'Stasi', has been a Memorial since 1994.
Since the vast majority of the buildings, equipment and furniture and fittings have survived intact, the Memorial provides a very authentic picture of prison conditions in the GDR. The Memorial's location in Germany's capital city makes it the key site in Germany for victims of communist tyranny.
Very interesting site and great guided tour, also in English available.
Genslerstraße 66, 13055 Berlin, Germany
+49 30 986082 ext. 30
Google map: bit.ly/16T3KGU
Tram M5 from the S-Bahn (City Railway) stations at Alexanderplatz or Landsberger Allee to the Freienwalder Strasse stop. The Memorial is then about a 10 minute walk down Freienwalder Strasse.
Tram M6 from the Hackescher Markt S-Bahn (City Railway) station to the Genslerstrasse stop. Genslerstrasse begins at the back of the Allee Center. The Memorial is then about a ten-minute walk, past the Hotel Kolumbus on the left. The former restricted area stretched to the north of the footpath; the Memorial is at the end on the right.
Tram 16 from the Frankfurter Allee U-Bahn (tube) and S-Bahn (City Railway) station to Genslerstrasse. Genslerstrasse begins at the back of the Allee Center. The Memorial is then about a ten-minute walk, past the Hotel Kolumbus on the left. The former restricted area stretched to the north of the footpath; the Memorial is at the end on the right.
From Lichtenberg U-Bahn (tube) and S-Bahn (City Railway) station, take the 256 bus to Liebenwalder Strasse/Genslerstrasse. It's then about a five-minute walk down Genslerstrasse past the Hotel Columbus.
Or for the Dutch by bike.
This bar is located on the 17th floor of a seventies apartment complex in Berlin. To get there you need to take a glass elevator which is on the outside of the building! At the top is a classy bar with panoramic views across this city. They take their music seriously and regularly host top international DJs. They also make the best martinis ever, a few of those should give you the courage to take the elevator back down again.
If you find yourself stuck in the culinary desert that is the glass and steel void of Potsdamer Platz, then a short stroll down Potsdamer Strasse leads to one of the cheeriest restaurants in town. Set in an unpromising commercial block almost opposite the Wintergarten Theatre, it's known as a book cafe but is also a terrific place to stop for an evening meal. Named after the 19th century Jewish author Joseph Roth Diele, who apparently wrote Radetzkymarsch in the locale, its calming, quirky decor is the work of the owner, film director Dieter Funk. The ludicrously good value menu is German with spatzle with cheese and bacon as well as a nicely cooked schnitzel all washed down by some terrific beer. On the downside, it's closed at weekends.
On the 14th floor of a recently built hotel, you can drink and eat, and gaze at two thirds of Berlin. Favoured seats are along the west facing windows for sunset. Stunning!
Bottom of the Ettelsberg gondola, bright, modern, fast service great basic fayre for families. Italian/German dishes that hungry children won't pull faces at. Very, very reasonable prices and open at 8.30am for early skiers and during the three nights they have floodlit skiing.
Bamberg is a beer drinkers heaven. It is also a UNESCO listed town on the banks of the Main that Bomber Harris failed to visit in WW2. Many German towns were rebuilt after the war, but Bamberg is the real McCoy. Of the nine or so breweries in town, Faessla is the best. Its bar is snug, to say the least, but all the better for it. Don't be afraid to snuggle up to the locals (or tourists) sitting at the benches. They definitely won't bite. The beers are also great and will be brought to your table by efficient bar staff who will mark your beermat every time you have a new drink so you can tot up how many you've had when you pay. The whole place oozes atmosphere and charm. You're not in Bavaria here, but Frankonia, where they are VERY proud of their brewing culture. Get thyself to Bamberg and while there get to Faessla. Should it be busy, the Spezial - opposite - will be a very good substitute!
It's one of (if not the only) smallish family-owned breweries in Cologne.
It's also home (thankfully) to probably the best Kolsch beer in this great city.
Kolsch is a curious hybrid beer style that drinks like a good lager but is technically an ale. But don't let that put you off, this delightful beer served by gravity from wooden barrels is delicate, yet has hidden depths of flavour that make it the perfect session-able beer.
And what's more it comes in cute little 21cl straight glasses called 'Stanges' which are delivered conveniently to your table by the local 'Kobes' (barmen) until you put your beer matt on top of your empty glass (or just say no).
Great fun, great traditional food, great old building, but make sure your go to the main brauhaus building not one of the bars that serve in town.
it's a little walk out from the cathedral, but it's worth it.
Excellent value for money and 30 minutes drive from Regensburg. Very comfortable with a range of rooms available. Good local fare served in restaurant. Also visit Kelheim and Weltenburg Monastery.
We went to this Italian restaurant with our seven-year-old, efficient German and Italian-speaking waiter, calm atmosphere, generous helpings, good pizza and just as good pasta dishes, would definitely go again. Child got lollipop at the end!
Sendlinger Str. 28, 80331 Munich
+49 89 2609377
Google map: bit.ly/TnSLPy
Café/restaurant. We went there with kids for a lovely Sunday brunch. It had a peaceful and colourful atmosphere, delicious pancakes and perfect cappuccinos.
Nice hotel, very helpful staff, no noise, spacious rooms, comfortable beds, very nice breakfast with homemade jams and lots of different types of bread.
It's a small but very down to earth ski resort just south of Munich. Has a few famous Olympic stars such as Michi Gerg who incidentally runs a fantastic ski school for kids. My kids learned there and now ski black runs.
There are a few gems from medieval Berlin if you're up to searching for them. Not much is left after the bombs and the DDR but enough for the city to be taken very seriously. This is old Berlin - the two settlements of Berlin and Colln.
Go west and south of the Fernsehturm, across the busy Muhlendamm/Grunerstrasse road from Nikolaivertel's reconstructed old squares (and the magnificent Nikolaikirsche, the oldest church in the city), you seem to be in a characterless quarter with nothing to recommend it. But search out Klostersrasse, then Waisenstrasse and you find Zur Letzen Instanz, an old, much repaired bar/eatery in a narrow leafy street, built in 1621 and with a fine reputation for German cuisine and a history of serving Napoleon and Beethoven among many others. Some say it's the oldest restaurant in Berlin. There's a small beer garden to the side and just beyond that a genuine stretch of old Berlin wall from the 13th Century. A bit further past two bronze sculptures to the left there's the magnificent Gothic ruin of a Francescan monastery from the 14th century set in trees, but not far from the roaring traffic where you'll find a number of circular exhibition spots celebrating the city's 775th anniversary, with detailed info on the Berlin beneath your feet (English translation). Great to find such quiet gems amid so much noise and ugliness, just across a six lane highway from Alexanderplatz.
Two superb places to eat and drink. Wood throughout and lots of brewing equipment on display. Lively atmosphere, very friendly staff, great range of German food at different prices (good quantities) and they brew some of their many beers (the 'Natural' is a really tasty semi-dark one) while having different guest beers each month. They had tasty Oktoberfest brews from Munich in October.
There are two of these in Berlin. We enjoyed one so much we searched out the other which was almost better than the first. One is just off Hackesher Markt up Dirksenstrasse under the S-Bahn. The other is opposite Schloss Charlottenburgh (side on in Luisenplatz)with a superb view. Strongly recommended.
This hostel is a really, really beautiful and incredibly stylish hostel in Lindau. If you travel to Lake Constance you should definitely stay at here. One of the best boutique hostels that I know. Absolute recommendation.
Like some other cities in Western Europe, Munich offers a reduced rate on public transport if you buy a one, two or three day travel ticket, issued at the main train station and other large train stations in the city. The public transport system is excellent in Munich and consists of overground and underground trains, buses and trams. Some of these lines, such as Tram 18, give a good tour of the many interesting parts of the city and are cheaper than the commercial tour buses.
However, unlike, say, Berlin, the Munich travel ticket offers few if any reductions on entry prices to museums and galleries. By contrast the Berlin "Welcome Card" is excellent in this regard. The Munich Travel Ticket is however well worth the cost because if you are planning to "do" as many of the sights in the city in a period of a few days, the 'hop on and off' nature of the freedom given by the ticket is both convenient and economical. By the way it only needs to be validated (by inserting it into the box at the entry to platforms) once, at the start of your first journey.
Hauptbahnhof, Munchen, and other large stations in the city.
The Asamkirche is a small and highly ornate church, alongside the original home of the two brothers who designed it, in Sendlingerstrasse, in the old centre of Munich. It was built initially as a private church between 1733 and 1746 by the Asam brothers who were obliged (quite rightly) by the church authorities to open it for public worship.
It's a short walk from Marienplatz, in the old city centre, and is an essential item on any visit to Munich. The interior of the church is an extreme example of late Baroque (or Rococo?) design, with curly columns, statues and carvings climbing up the walls and attempting to gain a foothold on the ceiling; painted decorations of all kinds and inscriptions. The high altar offers the climax to the entire extravaganza.
The church was carefully restored between 1975 and 1982. It is unique.
I attended a two-hour organ recital there on my first visit to Munich a few years ago. The pews naturally face forward, towards the altar; the organ however is at the back of the church. As a result of facing the altar for two hours I was obliged to study every detail of it. I think I can still draw the entire thing from memory.
Sendlinger Straße 32, 80331 München, Germany
Google map: bit.ly/PkW1M6
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