Girl in Florence aka Georgette Jupe

I started this blog as a writing outlet for me to share what it is I adore about the beautiful city of Florence and Italy also sharing travel tips and stories along the way. Now 'Girl in Florence' includes advice for Florence, artisan features, interviews with locals, tips for life in Italy and travel posts from all over Europe. I'd love to think of myself as a fearless badass but If I am keeping it 100% real on this blog a quote that I sort of live by is"I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

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Why you should visit….Berlin

04.02.2012 No Comments

Why you should visit….Berlin

04.02.2012 No Comments

Its cheap, its dynamic, there is tons of things to do, Christmas markets, surprisingly fabulous food, great nightlife and full of sordid history that is fascinating to any history buff like myself. I warn in advance this is a long blog post but I couldn’t help myself on this one..

This last November, me and t-man finally decided to visit his cousin’s German girlfriend in Berlin. To be perfectly frank, I never thought much of the city, I had already been to Frankfurt, Munich, the castles in Neuschwanstein, Freiburg and for some reason I kept thinking that Berlin was a bit like New York, a little gritty, modern and full of people much cooler than me.

How naive I was, Berlin is a city for anyone. We got a cheap Easyjet flight from Pisa which was very convenient considering it only costs about 6 euros or so to get to Pisa from Florence and the flight itself was an easy hour and a half. We spent about 80 euros roundtrip with taxes and luggage (we shared a checked bag) and both took carry-ons.

We rented an apartment for our stay through a company called Air-Bnb.com, which is a vacation rental site that I actually trust.  There were three of us including a friend from America who was visiting that we coerced into going with us. Each of us only spent about 140 euros for one entire week at this place (taxes included) .It was a one bedroom, retro apartment, with a nice balcony and an impressive kitchen in a great neighborhood with good public transport options (the rail system in Berlin is extraordinary, think 24 hour service) and after touching down, we were super happy to discover that the apartment was even nicer in person.. how often does that happen?

our kitchen in Berlin.. perfetto!
relaxing tea after a long day touring the city

Luckily for us, we had an Indian restaurant on our same street which was the best thing to happen to me since video streaming, along with Radlers (the German word for beer mixed with lemonade ) and voila!  Perfect beginning to a great week.

We also discovered a supermarket close by which saved us a lot of money, not to mention the abundance of pretzel bread and cheddar cheese.. yum!

Butter chicken and veggies…yes please!

Some highlights during our trip including visiting the historic Reichstag building , the architecture is absolutely amazing, especially since the average tourist or German can look down at the parliament below (I am sure there was some symbolism there) . It’s FREE to visit, open daily from 8am until 11pm, but need to make reservations in advance, which you can do online here , expect some great views!

Reichstag

We also did a free tour with New Berliners tours around Berlin, you normally just meet up at a Starbuck’s near the Brandenburg gate at the appointed hour, sign up and go onwards with your entertaining guide (note to self, November is very cold, bring gloves and a hat) . Our tour leader was a hilarious and sarcastic English bloke who’s opening speech started off with how he was covering his friends shift that morning and was still drunk from the night before.. classy! Nonetheless, he was quite informed and the tour was perfect for getting to know the history of the city and layout before exploring on our own.

One of the most memorable spots he took us was the Holocaust memorial  memorial to the murdered jews of europe designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000 square metres (4.7 acres) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae”, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. According to Eisenman’s project text, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason (wiki). For me, seeing this in person was truly an emotional experience. We ended up visiting the museum below the slabs the next day.

Memorial to the murdered Jews in Europe.. such a sad yet beautiful photo

Next on the list was the Berlin wall, a must-see for any traveler coming to Germany’s capital.

Berlin wall

There are still stretches of the wall remaining and we were able to see it from this angle. The history surrounding east and west Berlin for me is especially fascinating; it’s extremely hard to imagine how divided the city really was until you see it in person. Some interesting stories we heard about the wall included the different clever ways people used to escape from the east, the wiki page with the attempts is here.  I also recommend checking out the DDR museum to see what life was like during that period.

Also take some time to walk along the east-side gallery ; an international memorial for freedom. It is a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg painted by 150 artists in 1990 on the east side of the wall.

one of the works     

On a lighter note. Keep in mind that the Christmas markets start around November 21 and we specifically planned it so that we could enjoy some magical Gluhwein aka hot spiced wine and browse the markets, (my favorite flavor of spiced heaven was apple-cinnamon, only €2,50 in a cool cup.

view of the Alexanderplatz christmas market
Gluhwein magical nectar of the christmas gods

The great thing about Christmas markets in Berlin is that there are the sheer variety! Of course in Alexanderplatz there was a huge one including a Malibu “beach’ and a snow sled, as well as an additional market around museum island; and everywhere in between. A lot of the lesser known ones had more affordable handicrafts. After visiting a few markets in Austria and Germany, I have to say, even the most touristy markets in Berlin were still cheaper.

beautiful handmade gifts at the markets

At museum island we checked out the Pergamom Museum,  which was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann and was constructed in twenty years, from 1910 to 1930. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey. There is controversy over the legitimacy of the acquisition of the collection. It was suggested that the collection should be returned to Turkey (original country of the excavations).

Pergamon Museum in Berlin

Back to my favorite subject in the world, food. You don’t normally associate Germany with fantastic food (sorry my German friends) but its all about what you order, a little research goes a long way. Breakfast or “Frühstück” is on every corner at every caffe and our street was no exception. Ours was less than 5 euros each morning and looked like this.

Frühstück aka breakfast in Berlin..less than 5 euros with coffee, also not pictured is fresh bread

A must-see for a nice afternoon is the famous Turkish Market on Maybachufer street , take the U8 to Schönleinstrasse and its an easy 5 minute walk. Open Tue & Fri, 11:00-18:30pm. Eat lunch there or rather snack your way through the market. It’s a sight to see and honestly might have been the highlight of the whole trip besides the historical stops. Words are nothing, so check out the pictures..

scarves.. I am kinda obsessed
gorgeous hand painted furniture knobs
food stalls at the market
delicious dips..turkish style. they were heavenly
fresh flowers

Check out the jewelry while you are there. I got some great necklaces with clocks for Christmas gifts and everyone loved them (including myself) and they also have beautiful drawer knobs for putting your pinterest ideas to the test. We also had some type of salt-crepe filled with spinach and cheese which was delicious and a steal at less than 2 euros.

As for nightlife. we found some really neat bars. Including a famous chain called Weinerie featured in the Telegraph here which boasts a concept of “honest paying” or paying what you think is right. We walked in one on a Monday and it was packed, we paid our 2 euros , got a wine glass and started sampling. The wine was decent , the atmosphere cozy and lively. It was a really nice night and we had about 3 glasses a piece and left paying about 10 euros each. Highly recommend a stop here if you are a wine lover and don’t want to spend too much. Link here to the different locations..

wine happy

We also went to a really cool bar in the Turkish area that had an English-language music quiz going on to the delight of some friends of mine. The cool thing about this bar is that they had furniture glued to the ceiling (don’t ask me how they did that). I got the feeling that Berlin is full of really nice bars for every type of personality so whether you want to dance the night away or sip a beer in front of some live music; you have your pick of various places.

Also if like me, you miss delights such as good Mexican food. I highly recommend having lunch one day at Maria Bonita, I am always skeptical of Mexican cuisine in Europe but this was truly amazing. Tiny hole in the wall kind of place, they serve really nice mexican food, enjoy!

my enchildas rojas.. i want them NOW

To finalize your fabulous week or weekend in Berlin, I suggest, making a fancy dinner with some friends in your rented apartment.

yes its italian.. what can i say ..t-mans choice!

and act like the hipster you always wanted to be, for 5 minutes at least,

whos the hipster, the monkey or him?

and remember that every time you come back, chances are there will be many new things to experience. In my opinion, this trip really is worth a week and maybe even more. Soon to come will be a post about our day trip to Potsdam from Berlin. Below are some funny random photos we found in our temporary apartment.

random Merkel shot..is this autograph real?

man of the house?

apt art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, my favourite symbol of Berlin is the “Apfel-Man”  , the symbolic person shown on traffic lights at pedestrian crossings in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR – East Germany). The Ampelmännchen is a beloved symbol in Eastern Germany, enjoying the privileged status of being one of the few features of communist East Germany to have survived the end of the Iron Curtain with his popularity unscathed. ( wiki )

Ampelmännchen can you say that?
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GirlInFlorence

Georgette Jupe is a 'Tuscan Texan' digital social media marketing maven based in Florence, Italy. When she's not at her day job as social media manager and content editor at ITALY Magazine, she's creating social strategies for international clients and providing travel, foodie & life tips via her blog 'Girl in Florence'. Hobbies include plenty of reading, hiking, beagle cuddles, the hunt for the 'perfect' Moscow mule and laughs with the girls.

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  • Avatar
    Hayley 16.01.2013 at 15:17

    Sounds like a great trip, I’m really looking forward to going now! : )

    • Avatar
      ggnitaly84 16.01.2013 at 16:16

      thanks its was so great this blog post never seemed to end! have a wonderful time!

  • Avatar
    Jittery Cook 23.01.2013 at 4:22

    Great photos. Lively description. Berlin should thank you.

    • Avatar
      ggnitaly84 23.01.2013 at 10:44

      thank you jittery, maybe I need to go back in person for that thank you 😉

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    About Me

    About Me

    Hi There!

    Ciao, I'm a curious American "Tuscan Texan" who calls Florence, Italy home for the past 11 years. I am the editor at Italy Magazine and I also work as an established digital social media marketing strategist (5+ years) as well as a freelance writer. My bylines have appeared in Lonely Planet, Luxos Magazine, and International Living. This blog is my way to share what life is like living and working abroad, as well as provide up-to-date true advice on traveling and living in Italy, weekend trips around Europe, and a monthly roundup of interesting events. I'm married to a wonderful Frenchman and we have a Florentine beagle who rules the household. Keep in touch with our adventures with your favorite glass of franciacorta or espresso!

    Georgette

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