Our First Europe Trip: The Route Overview and Sneaky Tips Part 2

Planning a Europe Trip? Unsure whether you should buy a Eurail pass or use EasyJet as much as you can? Well, you have come to the right place. I am a self-admitted travel-rookie who is just trying to learn about travel, take cool photos and then write about it. I have learnt A LOT by making a tonne of mistakes. But hey, I get to share what I learnt with you so I can make your trip easier! Bonus for you. Before continuing on, please read Part 1 of our trip overview so this post makes sense to you. This is the second piece in my mini-series (series I guess, why do I keep calling it “mini”?) of travel tips and tricks in Europe. Without further ado, continuing on from our last stop in Vienna, now we are off to Munich, Germany.

From Vienna, Austria to Munich, Germany

4 hour train trip with DB (main railway company in Germany), spent a total of 3 days

 

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Everyday Munich

 

Germany really does have everything sorted out in terms of their public transport system. We didn’t experience a single delay and arrived in Munich safely. I would highly recommend this particular train route.

Travel “disclaimer”

So, we were really looking forward to Munich as you hear so many great things about South Germany and the wonderful wonderland of Bavaria. However, I must warn you: if you are coming from Vienna, Munich can be quite anti-climactic. Why? Well, Vienna was lucky enough not to suffer any noticeable damage in World War 2 but Munich, unfortunately did. This is not to say we didn’t enjoy Munich. In fact, it was our favourite city in Germany. The way they have rebuilt is a testament to their strength to overcome their past. After some exploring, we did discover a more picturesque, really German feeling side to Munich, of which I will talk about bellow.

 

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The beautiful canal that runs through Englischer Garten

 

Accommodation Tip:

If you want to find quaint German buildings, beautiful canals and parklands, stay near the Englischer Garten. If you are visiting Munich in winter, walk through the park until you find the Chinese Beer Garden. Here you will find the most adorable and perhaps the best Christmas markets in Munich. This seems to be a market only the locals know about as it isn’t as accessible as other markets so narky tourists seem to stay away. Trust me, you will be able to bear the cold for the beautiful walk.

 

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Christmas Markets found in the Englischer Garten

 

From Munich to Prague, Czech Republic

5 hour Bus trip with DB, 3 days spent

 

 

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Prague through the bushes

 

 

We had the absolute pleasure of spending Christmas in Prague. We rented the most amazing AirBnB and cooked up our own little feast. We ventured out to the Christmas Markets on Christmas day and of course, spent hours walking around the beautiful city.

 

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On a cloudy winter day, the city is still beautiful.

 

Travel Tip: Use Czech Currency and always carry cash

While Euros are sometimes accepted, usually retailers mark up the price when you pay in Euros. Why? Because they know the conversion to Czech currency is confusing and they tend to take advantage of tourists because of this. Also, the Czech Republic is a very cash-based society and ticket machines for transport tend to  require exact change. We got caught out a few times for not having enough coins for our tickets.

Travel Tip: Use the trams

In Prague, when you purchase a public transport ticket, it will allow you to use all metro trains, trams and busses within the city. Coming from Melbourne where we have the second slowest tram system in the world, I wanted to avoid the trams like the plague. However, there were no metro stations near where our apartment was located so we had to use the dreaded tram. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised and we used trams throughout our entire stay. They are fast, rarely get stuck in traffic and easy to navigate.

From Prague back to Berlin, Germany

5 hour bus trip with Student Agency, 6 days spent

This is the part of the post that I have been dreading to write all week. Why? Well, I will be honest- I have very few pleasant things to say about Berlin. But, I take solace in my European friends that too affirm how I feel about my experience in Berlin and mu opinion is not unjust. For any Berliners reading this, I apologise. Please know, I come from a different walk of life and Berlin is just not my cup of tea. Since I will not likely be writing a piece, down the track, about Berlin, I have incorporated a few highlights below.

 

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The sun shining on a Berlin Wall sculpture memorial

 

Berlin Highlights:

If you are vegetarian or vegan, you will have an absolute ball in Berlin. In particular, there is a very culturally strong population of Vietnamese expats living in Berlin and vegan Vietnamese food appears to be trending. Need a food-guide? Check it out here!

 

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Find out more in my Berlin Food Guide!

 

If you are a bit of a nerd (like me), you absolutely must visit the Berlin Natural History Museum. My home country, Australia, is not a big fan of natural history museums and tends to amalgamate mini-displays into their state museums and it really doesn’t give natural history in Australia any justice. Hence, I adore going to places where I can find a natural history of science museum. Rest assured, there are English signs, guides and displays everywhere. It is a lot of fun on a cloudy, rainy Berlin day!

 

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I love museums. Sorry not sorry. 

 

Travel Tip: Do not go to Berlin on New Years

We were too scared to leave our apartment over New Years and so we spent our the night watching Spirited Away and eating chocolate. Why? Because fireworks that would typically be illegal in many countries are legal in Germany. People throw fireworks out of buildings, out of cars and it is not fun. Having a firework go off, without any warning, a few centimetres away from you is bloody frightening.

Berlin to Frankfurt: A Must Read!

An absolute mess of a journey…

First things first- I would like to raise a few points. These points are what I learnt from the many mistakes I made in planning the leg of this journey.

  • There are two airports in Berlin. Berlin Tegal Airport and Berlin Schoenefeld Airport.
  • Use FlixBus bus lines when in Germany or DB busses, not City Bus Express.
  • If you need to get from Berlin to Frankfurt, just fly. Don’t bother with bus or train- trust me.

Addressing the first point- we flew from Berlin-Tegal airport to Dusseldorf because for some strange reason (well, my own error actually), I could not find any cheap direct flights to Frankfurt from Berlin. The few flights I did find were with Lufthansa, and being a university student, I was not willing to fork out a few hundred for this flight. In hind sight, I really should have just paid for that flight due to what unravels next. But rest assured, I have an even better solution to this problem later on.

From Dusseldorf, we were to get a bus with City Bus Express. However, the unfriendly bus terminal staff had not heard or ever seen any of these busses. And, it simply just did not show up in the bus terminal. So, we paid a bit extra to get on the next FlixBus bus and after a horrid day, we eventually got to Frankfurt.

The solution? EasyJet! They now have flights from Berlin-Tegal Airport and the ticket prices usually range from $60-90 AUD. This is the most cost-effective means and the most efficient way. Busses and trains are much too expensive and time consuming to outweigh flying to Frankfurt from Berlin. Save yourself the heartache, trust me.

Frankfurt back to Melbourne, Australia- Home

23 hour flight journey with Qatar.

Frankfurt is one of the cheapest places to fly out of back to Australia. But, that is if your journey makes sense and has a clear, cost-effective route. From the blunders we made, we have learnt to be much more flexible with our travels and have many tips and tricks to try next time we go to Europe. This is something I will be talking about down the track.

Please stay tuned for more to come with my series of posts about Our First Europe Trip. I am here to both inspire your travels, and make them easier!

 

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Melbourne, I love you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berlin Vegan Food Guide

Today, I bring you the long-awaited Berlin Vegan Food Guide! Hooray! But let’s be honest, being vegan in Berlin is easy. Happycow will be your best friend here, as Berlin seems to be one of those cities for which Happycow is super helpful. Vegans and vegetarians, you know what I mean. My list of recommended places for this guide, however, all have a common theme – and that is Vietnamese style and Asian-fusion vegan food. I’ve also chucked in one Indian spot for you. Berlin is a wonderfully international city and has opened its arms to many expats from all around the world. This food guide will focus on Vietnamese food primarily, as Vietnamese expats seem to be absolutely thriving in Berlin while cooking up some amazing vegan food. Furthermore, Vietnamese people are just some of the loveliest people I have ever met. This food guide is a tribute to my best friend, who is Vietnamese herself (and Sri-Lankan, and Indian, and a billion other things I am sure). I have her to thank for my love of Vietnamese food.

Cat Tuong

South Vietnamese, Kastanienallee 89, 10435 Berlin, Germany

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The amazing Mi Quang
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The most amazing fried dumplings

Cat Tuong deserves an award for being the best vegan Vietnamese restaurant. Wait, scratch that, it should win an award for being the best Vietnamese restaurant ever. Cat Tuong is just the perfect example of a restaurant that not only re-vamps traditional cuisine for vegans to enjoy, but has mastered the art and craft of true South-Vietnamese style cooking. My heart pangs when I think about this restaurant. Why? Because I live in Australia – halfway around the world – and it means if I want to go here again, I have to get on a plane and travel 24 hours (if I am lucky). We went here twice during our time in Berlin, and I got the Mi Quang both times. You simply MUST get the Mi Quang, trust me on this one. Or just trust me all the time – I know my food, I promise! We also had the best vegan fried dumplings, and Vietnamese coffee with a dash of vegan condensed milk. To top it off, the staff are incredibly hospitable and the aesthetic to the place is a nice fusion of traditional Vietnamese art, but with a modern twist. It’s just so cool!

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An amazing stir fry with rice noodles
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Banana sticky rice dessert

+84 Vegan Vietnamese Kitchen

Vietnamese with a Thai twist, Habersaathstr. 52 (rechts), 10115 Berlin, Germany

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The clay pot special

This restaurant is divided into two – one side vegan, the other omnivore (aka ‘traditional’ Vietnamese). We arrived right as it opened because we had not had breakfast that morning, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were more people sitting in the vegan half of the restaurant. This place really knows how to use their herbs and spices to make every dish taste fresh, wholesome and super delicious. You would never know that you are, apparently, ‘missing out’ on meat. I would describe this place’s cuisine as a mix of Vietnamese and Thai – as it features many Vietnamese classics, but also has a range of curries (such as the mock ‘duck’ curry) that you would generally see on a Thai menu. I had the Eggplant Clay-pot dish, which was a special, and it was absolutely delicious. The staff were lovely, spoke great English and have English menus if you cannot read German. If you want a vegan dish that satisfies your fussy omnivore friends, hit up +84!

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Red mock duck curry

Monsieur Vuong

Vietnamese and Asian Fusion, Alte Schönhauser Str. 46, 10119 Berlin, Germany

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Vegetable and glass noodle soup

Monsieur Vuong is a bustling, vibrant, family-run restaurant that has a rotating menu (it changes every four days). They pride themselves on their creativity and they use fresh, seasonal produce to churn out modern tributes to Vietnamese street food classics. The staff reassured me that they always have a vegan option, which was just music to my ears. I had the vegetable and glass noodle soup, based on a South-Vietnamese classic that I can’t seem to find/remember a reliable translation for. What I can tell you, however, is look out for the word “chay“, as this translates to “vegetarian”. Vegans do not fear, as these dishes will almost always be vegan as well. Vietnamese people hardly ever use dairy, except for condensed milk in their Vietnamese Iced Coffees. Anyhow, the food here was delicious. I advise, however, to book ahead, as we only just squeezed in for lunch.

Quy Nguyen Vegan Living

South Vietnamese, Oranienburger Str. 7, 10178 Berlin, Germany

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Aren’t those mushrooms just beautiful?

First up, the second you walk into this Restaurant, you are going to instantly feel warm and happy with all the chic, wooden decor everywhere. Soon enough, you will be greeted by warm and friendly staff again, which is a trend you will encounter if you hit up the places in this food guide. We ordered the Pho Chay, and the vegetable broth was quite good, which seems to be hard for a lot of Vietnamese places to master in Melbourne, (where I live). We also ordered a stir-fry with mock-chicken, which was the highlight for me. I forgot to get a snap of it, but we also ordered a Chinese bao (a soft fluffy bun with vegetables inside instead of traditional pork), and that was also very good.

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The Pho Chay

Hasina Eatery

Indian, Ofener Str. 2, 13349 Berlin, Germany

If you are looking for a healthier take on Indian food, with fully vegan alternatives, look no further than Hasina Eatery. If you are a vegan who lives a low-oil or an oil-free lifestyle, Hasina Eatery uses oil as sparingly as they can – they cook most of their dishes in water. Be warned, because of this you don’t get that indulgent, fat-filled hit on your taste buds, but everything is still super tasty, and your stomach will thank you later for not eating an oil-laden vegan korma. You can also bring your omnivore friends here if they are bugging you for butter chicken. You can kill two birds with one stone!

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