A Solo Female Traveler’s Guide to Berlin, Germany

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Hello! This week I did my first solo trip ever, 3 days 2 nights in Berlin, Germany. Safety and loneliness were definitely concerns when I decided to book this, but I found neither of these to be an issue and it was actually one of the most freeing and liberating things I’ve ever done.

For those curious, when I originally told my mom I was thinking of traveling alone she was definitely skeptical at first. I don’t know if she realized, but if she had really freaked out or tried to stop me, I wouldn’t have gone. I did quite a bit of research and found that Europe is actually quite safe for travelers. Most of the information I read said to follow a lot of the same precautions I would in the US: don’t go anywhere alone at night, don’t walk with headphones, be aware of your surroundings, and let people know where you’re going. After giving my pitch, she was actually quite encouraging of the whole thing. I definitely got my fair share of lectures to use common sense, be aware, and keep her updated. But she said she understood why I wanted to do it and since I was paying, she said she “couldn’t stop me” (I honestly didn’t have that attitude but I was glad she felt that way). And I promised her I was staying in an all girl dorm in the hostel, I wouldn’t walk by myself after dark, and every night I made sure to text her that I made it safety in bed.

Accommodations: St. Christopher’s Inns Berlin Mitte

I stayed in the St. Christopher Hostel in Berlin and absolutely LOVED it. I’m actually going to try to stay in hostels as often as I can based on this experience. My stay was about $40 a night, and the hostel had a bar and restaurant below that had drink specials and 25% off everything for hotel guests. The food was seriously delicious, three of the meals pictured below are from there and I didn’t have a complaint about one of them. I chose to stay in an all female dorm because I was worried about being by myself (sorry dudes), but honestly after my experience, I think staying in a mixed dorm would be fine too. Because of the bar/restaurant it was super easy to meet people as I hung out there a lot and made friends.

Pretty much everyone staying here is also young, on a budget, and looking for adventure so immediately we all have a bit in common. The bed itself was quite nice and there was an area for me to lock my belongings, I would DEFINITELY recommend bringing ear plugs as it was quite noisy with people coming in/out or below in the bar. On my last night here, I had a little liquid courage and walked up to three girls and in true “grade school trying to make friends” fashion, I asked if I could join them. They turned out to be some of the friendliest gals out there and I went out with them on my last night. It’s experiences like that that I don’t think you would get in a hotel/air bnb.

Schnitzel–A German staple and totally delicious

 

A falafel wrap

Things to D0

Berlin is packed with history, I didn’t really know what to expect but most of the city and attractions revolve around WWII. It was quite interesting and the architecture was beautiful. I was by myself and walked pretty much everywhere–about 20 miles in two days: partly because I’m cheap, partly for the exercise, and partly because its a better view of the city. The tram and trains were easy enough to figure out though if you prefer to do it that way. I was worried when I was by myself I would feel lonely but it was actually quite fun. I was able to go totally at my own pace, pop into shops and restaurants as I pleased, and do everything I wanted to do. In two and a half days I felt like I saw everything I wanted to so if you have a few days, Berlin would be a great city to cram a lot in. I didn’t go inside a lot of the museums/buildings but there was a lot of reading and sites on the streets and I felt that was enough for me. These are the things I did do, and I am listing them in order from my hostel if you are interested in walking a similar route:

Day 1

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin TV Tower-16 euros to go inside, 13 euros with a student ID, would definitely recommend

East Side Gallery 

Day 2

Museum Island

Brandenburg Gate

Memorial of the Murdered Jews

Postdamer Platz

Gendarmenmarkt

Checkpoint Charlie

Markthalle Neun– Street Food on Thursdays, Best Empanada of my life

Day 3

Jewish Museum Berlin-I went inside of this one, 3 euros with a student ID. Amazing art, artifacts, and storytelling of the Jewish culture and Holocaust. I would definitely recommend this one.

And while you’re in Berlin, try some of the chocolate!

Berlin Nightlife

Charolette, Ella, and Lizzie

My first night I stayed in the bar/restaurant here and just hung out with other people doing the same. I was EXTREMELY hesitant to go out and there was a 0% chance I was going by myself but it was actually quite nice conversing with some of the other travelers and getting their recommendations. The last night, my four British friends invited me out and boy was it an ~experience~. 212 most certainly did not prepare me for this, back in little St. Charles the bars close at 1am. Here they call 1am “early” and people literally go until 6am, the stamina of these people is incredible. We started at a bar, and it was so bizarre . When we walked in, there were DJs playing “music” but it sounded more like when your radio is staticky, and people were standing by themselves just swaying. After about 15 minutes we decided that was not our scene, so we Ubered to a bar across town and it was WILD. I swear people in Europe just don’t care–the outfits are crazy (in the best way possible), you can take drinks to go, the music doesn’t really have words, I literally watched someone whip out a fan and do choreography, and the clubs are so huge the individual rooms had different DJs so its a different experience everywhere you go!

I love it here! Thanks so much for reading, and if you get the chance to go, happy traveling!:)

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Visiting a Friend in Weiden and Nuremberg, Germany

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Hi, before I get into this post I gotta throw in a little explanation. I’ve been trying to write at events, on transit, and in hotels so I can remember what’s going on and give more details. I was writing on the train the other day when I thought I had almost reached my destination, just keep reading and see where it went wrong, hah. I almost edited it out but thought I’d share one of the many mistakes I’ve made this trip in real time! Thanks so much for reading, all the comments and support means the world!

9/15 Excerpt from the train:

Hallo from Germany! I have been up and traveling since 4am and successfully navigated the tube, Stansted airport, Munich airport, and three German train stations. To say I need a nap would be an understatement. I really thought that the adrenaline and excitement would make me immune to exhaustion and jet lag, but I got played. I finally managed to dose on a train when the poor conductor had to try and wake me for who knows how long and look at my ticket, sorry sir. Navigation in Germany has proven to be a bit more challenging then London because of the language barrier, and this is my first experience doing any kind of solo travel. But, I gotta admit I’m a little impressed that I was able to make so many transitions alone. Hopefully my good luck continues! Like in London, the people here are very kind and helpful. So with my limited experience, I would recommend to anyone traveling here to ask for help as the local people have been keeping me on track. I should be at my destination in the next hour and I cannot wait to get off public transit and relax for a bit with some familiar faces!

FRIENDS, I just got served a big slice of humble pie. Literally 30 minutes after I typed this I realized I was supposed to be at my stop and I wasn’t bc the train I got on SPLIT IN TWO at a Y and mine went the opposite direction. I’m never writing about good luck again until I actually get to the destination. In my defense though, how was I supposed to know the cars split?? Luckily I was within driving range to my destination so a quick pickup solved my problems.

I spent three days in Weiden and Nuremberg, Germany. My once English teacher now friend, Mrs. Jannings, just relocated to Weiden and invited me to come stay for a bit so I was so excited to take her up on the offer before starting school. The first night I was there, her and her family treated me to a delicious German meal where I got to sample some of the local cuisine and we were able to catch up. I quickly learned that meat and potatoes are the staple meal, the potato dumplings are a personal favorite. We then had an early night and I was able to finally catch up on some sleep. The second day was a much needed lounge day: I slept until 11, ate a delicious meal, and Mrs. Jannings explained a lot about what life in Germany is like and I caught her up on the bit of Cobden news I still know. The third and final day we took the train to Nuremberg, German. I had never even heard of the city but it is packed with a ton of history, shopping, and food. They took me on a walking tour around all the significant landmarks and explained that much of the city was lost in the WWII bombings, but they recreated it to look like the old city, her three kids are expert tour guides. I was able to sample a local pretzel with cheese (Annie Em’s you got nothing on Germany) and a Nuremberger, which is basically a sausage. I am so thankful I was able to stay for a bit and get a more authentic German experience and to Mrs. Jannings and her family for being such wonderful hosts.

 

A Nuremberger

Mrs. Jannings had these treats waiting on my bed and explained that the person who invented Gummy Bears is from Germany, and because of regulation, they don’t use the same dyes and preservatives here that they do in the US. These taste much better.

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London Fashion Week

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Hi friends! Today was a bucket list day: London Fashion Week. London is one of the four fashion capitals of the world and twice a year designers host a series of shows to showcase their line at what is called, Fashion Week. I’ve always dreamed of attending one of these events but usually they are extremely exclusive for celebrities, influencers, buyers, etc. This year London has become the first of the four fashion weeks to open up shows to the public and it just so happened to be the weekend of my arrival.

I planned my outfit weeks ago and many of the items are old, but I have linked some similar products below if you are interested in recreating the look. The suit is still available, and on sale, on Revolve, it was a bit of a splurge item for me but its fashion week so it felt necessary. The shoes are from Kohl’s Candies line, and the purse is a Bethany Mota for Aeropostale purchase, both from high school.

When I walked up there were paparazzi everywhere and a couple asked to take my picture, which was a total first and likely last. But, it was fun to pretend to be a celebrity for a couple minutes. I splurged on the VIP experience which provided me front row seats to a fashion show, cocktails and snacks in the lounge, a goodie bag, and access to several exhibits curated by designers. The theme was Positive Fashion and the event highlighted really prevalent topics like sustainability, inclusivity, and environmentalism. I had the opportunity to speak with many business owners/designers and it was so enlightening to hear how they are using fashion to spread good. I have found in my three days here that Europe is much more environmentally conscious than the United States. For example, it costs extra for plastic bags at the store and a lot of disposable items at restaurants are compostable or made from recycled materials. Fashion is a particularly harmful industry for the environment and there was a whole curation of designers dedicated to making pieces of recycled materials.

I am so grateful to have had this experience, not only to be exposed to the lovely European styles, but to also dip my toes in the culture here.

Tomorrow morning I catch a flight to Germany and I am off to the next adventure!

Cheers!

 

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Bringing 15 Pairs of Shoes Across the Pond: My Packing Hacks and First Few Days in London

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Hi friends! I am writing from my “flat” in London. I have been here for two days now and I seriously just keep walking around saying “I can’t believe I live here.”

I flew here on Wednesday, September 11. I didn’t think twice about flying that day until it was pointed out to me, but I did feel extremely safe, they were probably even more thorough at security because of the date. So thanks airport security for your excellent service, I didn’t mind waiting in line at all.

I was however anxious about navigating the Heathrow airport by myself with three suitcases, because naturally I was going to wayyyy overpack, but the English got it going on over here and getting through was a breeze. For anyone wondering what the packing situation looked like I brought: 15 pairs of shoes, at least 10 jackets, 10 pairs of pants, around 30 shirts, an entire bedding set and towel, and a bunch of other things I decided I couldn’t leave behind, ha. My mom and I were playing quite the game of Tetris as we managed to stuff everything in two 50 pound checked bags, a carry on suitcase, and a backpack. The secret to making it all work: vacuum seal bags, packing cubes, a luggage scale, and this 5ish pound suitcase.

The past two days have been a whirl of unpacking, locating the University, finding the nearest grocery store, and visiting Big Ben and the London Eye–just a casual Thursday/Friday. Traci, my friend I’m living with, and I (with the help of her dad) are getting the hang of the tube. The city is actually very accessible and relatively easy to navigate, and if all else fails the British seem to be as interested in American accents as we are with theirs so they can very immediately tell we are not from here and usually offer to help. It has been so fun exploring and the people here are incredibly nice.

Our flat is super nice and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had my own bathroom and a full sized bed instead of a twin, something about college I will not miss. There are five of us living together, Traci, who I went to school with, two girls from another school in the same study program, and a fifth girl we don’t know. We each have our own room/bathroom and a shared living space with a kitchen and seating area. The four of us in the program have been talking throughout the summer and have plans to travel together, I seriously can’t wait for everyone to get here.

Tomorrow I will be attending London Fashion Week (so excited), then I’m catching a flight to Germany to visit a friend on Sunday, and taking a train on my first solo trip later in the week. Stay tuned for the destination, and how my mom is handling it, ha. Here are some pictures of the week!

Thanks for reading!

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