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Last Day In Berlin!

April 19, 2016

So, here we are- last day of our vacation…. I so look forward to a trip once we book it, which is usually almost 11 months in advance as we usually have at least 2 seats on miles- so we try to do it ASAP…My favorite part is the anticipation of a trip- I love it… Of course I love the trip as well, but the anticipation lasts way longer than a trip. The other thing I love to do is go home… my daughter always asks me the last day of a vacation, “are you happy to go home”? and my answer is always, yes!! No matter where I am, how exotic or fun the place is, I love, love coming home…
Anyway, our last day started around 10 after we finished breakfast. We headed back to our hop on hop off bus and went to the museum island, where all the main museums are..what a smart idea..you can even buy a combination ticket for multiple museums. We wanted to visit one and I had done some research on the most popular and it was called Pergamon Museum that has artifacts from Mesopotamia, Syria and lots more.

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We got there and there was a bit of a line… so we decided to wait- turns out it took forever to get in…so if you are going, I would recommend you buy tickets in advance and make reservations so you can walk right in….although the wait for us was totally worth it… the museum was amazing – a must see, in my opinion. After spending a couple of hours in there, we got back on the bus and decided to go to a department store called, KaDeWe– a high end clothing store with the most amazing food hall on the top 2 floors… the choices of gourmet foods was mind boggling…

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We looked around and then went up to eat… I got the most yummy cheeseburger and my husband got a weiner schnitzel… his was okay… but mine was great!

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We had a delicious Rose wine with our meal and finished it with a delicious chocolate mousse… picked by my daughter… overall, it was a great experience. We came out after a while and decided to walk around a bit and do some shopping.
About an hour later, after visiting a grocery store- which is a must when I go to any city, we returned to our room. We bought a bunch of small wine bottles from the store as the wine here like other European cities is yummy and cheap!
So, that is it- time to wrap it up. As usual it was a very enjoyable and yummy trip. Of the 4 cities we visited, I would want to come back to Salzburg, although it doesn’t need a lot of days.. and I would come back to Berlin – as it is a very big city and one needs a while or many trips to explore…

More Berlin!

April 18, 2016

Day 2 began with a very sumptuous breakfast at the hotel- I ate fruit, yogurt, cheese, egg, sausage, bacon and amazing bread- I know what you are thinking- what a pig!! I know… I can’t help myself.. don’t worry, I will make up for it once I get home- exercise and portion control will be the theme of the week.
Anyway, after 2 cappuccinos and very full tummy, we made our way out of the hotel to figure out what to do… it was forecasted to rain in the afternoon, so we decided to do the hop on hop off bus for 2 days so we can be on the bus seeing the city while it rained.
We got on and got off periodically enjoying all the sights. What a huge city… wow!
We decided to take a break after a few hours and stopped at a cafe for some Prosecco and cake… there is delicious cake everywhere.. yum

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Also, in Berlin, for some reason they don’t take credit cards – mostly cash.. everywhere… it’s really bizarre.. so if you are planning on going, make sure you carry a lot of cash! After a delicious cake and drink, we came out and got back on the bus. It was raining hard and so we decided to get off and go to a very high end French department store called, Lafayette… We walked into the store and I gravitated towards the lovely shoe department.. as I was looking around, my husband suggested we head downstairs- turns out they had the most unbelievable food hall on the first floor filled with gourmet foods, wines, pastries, cold cuts, breads, cheeses.. plus places to sit and eat and drink… I was in heaven…

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We enjoyed a drink and a quick snack and went back on the bus to finish our tour. While on the bus, I continued to research a place for dinner… for some reason, I kept going back to a Syrian restaurant that was very highly rated- very modest but really good, said all the reviews. It was called Yarok…It turns out, it was a bit out of our way but we decided to try it out. We walked for a good 30 minutes as it had stopped raining and walked through some very interesting neighborhoods, filled with great restaurants, salons, cafes and bars. Finally we reached our destination and were welcomed by a very friendly guy who sat us down in a very small space, probably enough for just 20 people. We ordered 3 plates of different combinations of kebabs and falafel…. they all came as as platters filled with the meats, fritters, baba ganoush, hummus, tabouleh and lots of greens and some fried potatoes- overall, it was amazingly delicious!! Fresh and flavorful- we were so happy to have found this little gem!!

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It is amazing how having a great meal can end a good day on a great note! We were tired and decided to take an Uber back and relax in the room and get ready for one last day in Berlin!!

Berlin!

April 17, 2016

So, we caught a noon high speed train from Nuremberg to Berlin.  We had indulged in a huge breakfast at the hotel so we were not anticipating hunger..but I did buy some potato chips to enjoy with sekt(German sparkling wine), which I have discovered on this trip…it is delicious and best of all, it is very reasonably priced!
The journey was 5 hours, so I watched some shows I had downloaded from amazon…did you know, if you are a prime member, you can download a whole variety of shows on your device…all you need to do is download the prime app and you are all set..plus there are some really good original amazon shows…perfect for travel.
Anyway, after watching some shows, a nap, a glass of wine and some chips, we arrived in Berlin! My husband had described Berlin as a vast, well planned city….and it was very apparent as we came out.  What a contrast…with all the places we have been to in the past week….

Anyway, I digress…we got to our hotel, unpacked a bit and decided to venture out a bit before finding a place for dinner as it was already around 6 pm. Berlin has no city center as it is a very vast city and has a bunch of different neighborhoods… we were staying in the bitte neighborhood know for shops and restaurants- more of an up and coming area….As I mentioned, Berlin is huge and everything is farther away than it looks on the map- we walked around a bit and then decided we wanted a change and were in the mood for some Asian food. We found a great, highly rated Thai place and started to make our way there… it took us a bit to get there and when we did- it turns out, the eatery was closed permanently… what??.. we were quite disappointed.. we then decided to find the best place we could close to where we were and that was Otito, a Vietnamese and Japanese place- turns out, in Europe, a lot of Asian restaurants consolidate a bunch of Asian cuisines and serve it under one roof! Well, we figured out the owners are Vietnamese and not Japanese and decided to order Vietnamese dishes..
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The food was quite good.. we enjoyed it with some wine and made our way back as we were quite tired…

One Day In Nuremberg!

April 13, 2016

I woke up at 6:15 to get ready, have breakfast and walk over to the train station to catch a train to Nuremberg- sleep is over rated on vacation! We had to change in Munich and finally got in around noon.  Yet again my dear hubby had done amazing research and booked us in hotel Drei Raben which was literary ten minutes walking…right in the old part of town. 
Our room was not ready so we decided to drop our luggage off in the hotel and go to the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds….which was fascinating…it took us a few hours there as it is a vast museum.
We came back to the old town and decided to go for a snack as we were a bit hungry…opted for a cafe that served Prosecco and coffee and cake, of course…we opted for an apple cake and a pear cake…so good!

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We then came back to our hotel as it had started to rain….we took an hour break in the room and came back out once it stopped raining. We just walked around everywhere in the old city- it is an old historic city, quite small and not very populated. It kind of reminded me of Edinburgh… maybe because it was kind of chilly and rainy.. overall, a very nice place.
I had already started to do research about dinner. I noticed there were loads of Italian restaurants, cafes and restaurants… even the food markets we saw were all Italian… lots of gelato places as well- I guess everyone love Italian food… since we had a yummy Italian meal last night, I did not want to go to the another Italian place, so we found a very highly rated very traditional German place called, Zum
Albrecht Duerer Haus. It was a very traditional German, cozy space inside with very friendly owners. We ordered their popular potato and bacon soup, bratwurst lasagna and a perch (fish) dish. All the entrees were very delicious. We had beer and house wine which was excellent as well.

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Considering this was our only meal in Nuremberg, I think we did really well! I then ordered the rhubarb crumble with coconut ice cream… yum.. that was a really good choice as well…

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Overall, it was a great day- yet again… we walked back to the hotel where they were serving a welcome drink- a delicious glass of white wine for me. We sat in the lobby and relaxed a bit before making our way up to our room. We have a noon train to Berlin tomorrow, so we have a bit more time to walk around the city in the morning… Looking forward to Berlin!!

Salzburg, When Can I Come Back?

April 12, 2016

So here we are in Salzburg- believe it or not, I have never been here before. I was really looking forward to it as I am a huge Sound of Music fan and want to come back for a full tour- I don’t care how cheesy it sounds. Our day started at a decent hour as our train from Munich was around 11:30… we made our way to the station and go on the train. In about 2 hours we were in beautiful Salzburg..again, we are staying walking distance to the train station…definitely very convenient- Crowne Plaza… and we are a 10 minute walk to the old town. I think when I come back, I would like to stay on the other side of the river, closer to the old town, although this location is very good.
We dropped our luggage off and made our way to the old part.. we went through the Mirabell gardens where some of Sound of Music was filmed…I could just see Julie Andrews dancing and singing- boy, do I love that movie… anyway, we walked over to the old town and wanted to find a place to get a snack, well, precisely we wanted to find a place for some apple strudel and linzer torte- which is very well known in Vienna but I guess in all of this area… we found the Mozart Cafe and stopped in for a drink… and yummy dessert…

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I sooo.. love a good apple strudel- especially with a warm vanilla custard…
We were in Vienna a very long time ago- I think, at least 15 years ago… I never really had the urge to go back- it is a very nice city but there are so many others to see.. so somehow I never really thought about Austria whenever we talked about European destinations. I am so glad we decided to stop in Salzburg this time…. it is more of a teaser… as I would like to come back and spend more time in this very charming city. It is filled with cafes, wine bars and amazing restaurants… what a great place to come with girls friends or your spouse for a long weekend!! It reminds me of Zurich- which I thought was okay and Dublin- which I love!! It has the history and charming architecture but then lots of cool places to hang out…
We finished our snack and walked and walked and walked… stopped for another glass of Prosecco near the Mozart museum and then started again- what a charming city…
In the meantime, I started doing research for dinner on Trip Advisor and found a very highly rated Italian restaurant very close to our hotel- Wasserfall. We decided to go there early as we didn’t have reservations and we were not sure if we would get in since it was such a popular restaurant. We got in at 6 as it opened and managed to get a table… we ordered a bottle of Prosecco  ( I feel a theme coming  on….) and I got the wild garlic soup and the truffle, mushroom and crawfish pasta, my daughter got a pasta with shrimp and my husband got the pasta arrabiata…all the dishes were really, really yummy… we were really happy with the dinner, service and the ambiance… the hard part was to make our way back to the hotel as our legs were killing us from walking all afternoon…

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Overall, our short stay in Salzburg was amazing and I am definitely coming back… great city, yummy food and friendly people- what else does one want….off to Nuremberg tomorrow!!

Neuschwanstein Castle & Surroundings

April 11, 2016

The next morning started kind of early as we had to catch a train to the Neuschwanstein Castle which is a good 2-3 hours away from Munich. We got ready and walked over to the train station, picked up breakfast and cappuccinos and made our way to the train.
Turns out our hotel offers tours of the castle but we decided to do it ourselves. We got train and bus tickets from the train station. The train takes about 2 hours and brings you to a town called Fussen, from there you take a bus to the base of the castle from where you buy tickets for the guided tour. The tour itself is only about 30 minutes, so not very long. Overall the castle is majestic from the outside with amazing views, the inside is okay. I think it is recommended to reserve your tour time online 2 days earlier- that is a good idea in the high season, in the summer time. For us, it was not necessary as April is not considered high season.
We finished the tour and decided to sit for a snack in an outdoor cafe. I decided on an apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce- omg, it was the most delicious thing ever!
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We caught the train around 4 pm back to Munich….time to research restaurants for dinner!
So, I found this place called, Zum Straubinger… I found it on Trip Advisor- it was very highly rated- typical Bavarian cuisine in a very nice setting. We decided to go directly after getting back from the castle as it we needed to take a subway from the main train station to Marienplatz. We walked through a open food market with amazing foods and drinks…
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We looked around a bit and then made our way to the restaurant. We ordered an asparagus soup with basil and garlic pesto, a trout with potatoes, a weiner schnitzel and a goulash with spaetzle… all the food was yummy… we ordered a bottle of riesling, also yummy and then a plate of apple strudel with ice cream- also very yummy!!
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It’s our last night in Munich… we walked around a bit more and made our way back to our hotel- it was a lovely stay… off to Salzburg tomorrow!

Hallo From Munich

April 11, 2016

We are here after a quite comfortable flight… we flew Lufthansa, which is far superior than United. The service is way better and so is the coffee they serve in the morning before you get to your destination.
I had a conversation with an ex-flight attendant about how much she traveled all over the world and how she kept healthy while flying so much. Her secret– keep hydrated and don’t eat the food on the plane! Yup, that is what I try to do. We ate dinner before we left  home, and then had some snacks at the lounge… I did have a glass of wine and picked up two 1.5 litres bottles of water. On the plane, I had some crackers and cheese and finished one bottle of water during our journey- the result was quite good. I was tired but didn’t feel like crap once I got out of the plane. I was ready to go out and start the day. I didn’t feel dry and horrible as one often does after a long plane ride.
First thing I did was to buy a delicious pretzel and a cappuccino! I love the pretzels here- they slice them in half and serve them with butter or cream cheese and chives- yum!!! I had the one with cream cheese.

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It was a great way to start our vacation in Munich… yum! We made our way to the train to get to city center and hotel. After checking in, unpacking and resting a bit, we ventured out.
So we came out and took a train to Marienplatz which is a main plaza, walking area in Munich. We were really hungry and decided to do an early dinner at a Biergarten… so we went to a popular place called, Hofbrauhaus– a huge place to sit and drink beer and eat traditional German food. We got there and didn’t know what to do as it is not very clear how one sits down… turns out, you sit anywhere and someone comes to get your order. We got roasted pork sausages with saurkraut, Bavarian style suckling pig with potato dumpling and wiener shintzel with cranberry sauce and potato salad…. it was all good but the shintzel was absolutely delicious…
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So, I am not a beer drinker- not at all…. My husband, of course was very excited to drink one of his favorite beers- Bavarian! I, on the other hand, ordered a glass of champagne… I know… probably not the best thing to drink in a beer house but it was actually quite good. Our waiter wasn’t too happy with me but who cares… as far as I am convinced the best thing to eat with wiener shnitzel is bubbly!!
As I mentioned before, we took a train from the train station to the center of town. We are staying at Le Meridien– very conveniently located close to the main train station. We do quite a bit of research to find a hotel in a great location where we can catch public transportation easily or everything is walking distance. In this case, we are able to catch a train to the main plaza- Marienplatz… or we can walk- 15-20 minutes. Staying in the right location makes the stay a lot more easier.
We finished day 1 by taking an evening stroll in the main area and stopping at a cafe for some dessert. We chose a delicious vanilla cake covered with a layer of yummy berries. I ate it with a glass of Prosecco- I love how cafes in Europe serve alcohol and coffee.
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All in all it was a good day. Tomorrow will be a lot of walking and looking around.
We woke up around 9 am…walked out to get some breakfast and brought it back to the room…got dressed and ventured out. Turns out, one can buy an all day ticket that can be used for traveling on subways, buses and trams- it was very convenient as we went all around using different forms of transportation. We went to some museums, some cathedrals, walked to the top of a bell tower to get a view of the entire city. We then sat down for a light lunch/snack at Maelu, as breakfast was kind of late… I enjoyed a bit of a prawn sandwich and the most delicious passion fruit pastry- with a layer of coconut and hazelnuts at the bottom… yum! I washed it down with some Prosecco- yup.. it seems that is what I will be drinking on this trip and why not… life is too short not to enjoy bubbly everyday!!
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After some more walking and exploring, we came back to the room to rest a bit and buy tickets for tomorrow’s adventure- we will be visiting the famous castle- Neuschwanstein!
We walked out for dinner and decided to go to a place called Opatija which is a Balkan, German and Italian restaurant. We decided to give it a try as it had pretty high ratings on Trip Advisor. It was pretty good- they had big portions so we shared a few things including some salad and a combination platter that included a variety of traditional Balkan grilled meats, rice, coleslaw and some yummy sauces- overall, it was quite good.
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We finished the night off with a delicious gelato and took the tram back to our room.
Can’t wait to explore tomorrow!