Christina Sparkle

  1. Category Archive: Travel

  2. Little Lucy

    little-lucy

    On our various trips to Berlin I’ve built a little collection of Little Lucy photos. Little Lucy is a character by El Bocho who is on a mission to kill her cat in any way possible. I love El Bocho’s work, he also has a series of melancholy women and a series of Berlin tourist tips from a little character who has a similar style to Little Lucy.

    The tour we took on our most recent trip to Berlin showed us so much street art which was really inspiring. The artistic subculture of Berlin is really embraced by the city and that is really refreshing. It really makes me want to create, not necessarily street art, but anything at all.

     

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  3. Yet another week in Berlin

    berlin-map3

    DURATION: 5 days, 4 nights

    STAY: Apartment in Kreuzberg

    BREAKFAST:

    Barcomis Cafe – The menu here is focused on pastries and bagels so it’s great for a big breakfast. I went for the peanut butter and jam bagel, paired with a smoothie which was heavenly.

    Fleury Cafe – This cafe is probably the ultimate example of a great breakfast and brunch cafe in Berlin. The menu is great with small breakfasts, like Muesli any yoghurt, through to full brunch plates which include cheese, meats and fruit. We found this to be really busy all the time. On Sunday morning there were absolutely no tables, on Monday there were tables, but only outside. Well worth a short wait though, the breakfast here was my favourite.

    Fabisch – As the Fleury Hotel was so busy on Sunday we headed down the street to the Circus Hotel (which was actually the hotel we stayed in on our honeymoon), and their cafe Fabisch. They offer a full breakfast buffet, eat as much as you like. The prices are a few Euro more expensive for anyone who isn’t staying in the hotel but they do have a fantastic range. If you want to sit and graze all day this is a great venue for it. They also have teabags that you fill yourself which go down very well with hot drink lovers. The staff all wear Fred Perry so it must be an amazing place to work.

    DINNER:

    Freischwimmer – We first visited this restaurant last year and loved it so much we had to return to it’s unusual location down the side of a petrol station and alongside the canal. There are two menus, one for the grill and one for the pizza oven. We always seem to get the grill menu and love it but the pizzas do look really tasty too. The cocktails at Freischwimmer were the best of the trip I think.

    White Trash Fast Food – We visited this favourite of ours at their new location, just across the canal from Freischwimmer. The interior has been transported over from their old location and a huge outdoor space has been added too. We sat outside and ate huge burgers with amazing cocktails. You enter through a caravan and there is an entrance fee which seems a little strange, I’m not sure what this was for but it was only €1. They seem to get very busy, even though they have so much more space now but you can book online to secure a table.

    District MOT – Berlin is well known for its Vietnamese food and we love this restaurant for its great decor and fun atmosphere. The whole place is decorated with a Vietnamese street style. Lights and wires are pinned across the ceiling, Hello Kitty surgical masks decorate the front entrance, and barbed wire adorns the stairs. The menu is full of small dishes to share and it is all served very quickly so you have no chance of feeling hungry for long. There are larger dishes too but the sharers are the ones that attracted us. I definitely recommend the Strawberry Mojito cocktail, it goes with everything.

    SEE/DO:

    Knöpf – This shop has the most amazing selection of vintage buttons, more than you can ever imagine. They also stock vintage brooches and accessories alongside a few minatures.

    L’Astretti – I found this fabric shop while walking back to our apartment from the U-Bahn. They actually have two locations, one with jersey fabrics, and the other with quilting cottons. The range was great, prices weren’t cheap but it is really nice to find some interesting fabrics that I don’t usually find in the UK.

    Museum of Things – This is a really unusual museum with a massive collection of everyday objects from the 20th and 21st Centuries. The items are grouped in categories which really highlight the sheer number of things which have been mass produced and sold all over the world over the last 100 years.

    Alternative Berlin Tour – We took the tour in the morning on Saturday and were taken all over Berlin’s best street art sites. Starting at Alexanderplatz we took the tram over to Hakescher Markt to see an alley looked after by a street art collective and I got lots of shots of my favourite, Little Lucy. We also visited an old office building which now holds artist studios and has a Berlin wall exhibition collaborating with the latest street artists.

    Urban Spree – After a couple of hours on the tour we ended in Freidrichsehn at this old train depot. The depot now holds gallery space, a craft market and lots of street food stalls. We grabbed some Japanese curry and then I bought a tote bag from JIAB, a local artist who I’ve noticed every time I’ve been to Berlin. Her work is beautiful and haunting, I didn’t want to miss out on having something of hers if we don’t go back to Berlin for a few years. Other highlights of the market were the jewelry, baby clothes and art prints.

    Flea Market – We can’t get enough of the Mauer Park flea market. This time I spent most of my money on vinyl, apparently I’m a vinyl collector now! The weather had been rainy over night so there weren’t quite so many stalls and people out this time but was still not to be missed. I was drooling over all the of the mid-century furniture that I wanted to take back with me. I wish that I had bought a Mauer Park tote bag this time around.

    Photobooth – I won’t stop going on about these, a photo set from one of Berlin’s black and white photobooths is the ultimate souvenir from Berlin. We took ours outside Urban Spree on this trip.

    photobooth

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  4. Another week in berlin for two

    berlin-weekend2

    Last year’s trip wasn’t really a weekend city break, but more of a full week holiday. As we could only afford a short break for our honey moon we wanted to take an extended break on our next trip. We visited lots of the places we had visited previously, as well as some new…

    DURATION: 6 days, 5 nights

    STAY: Apartment in Mitte found on Owners Direct – our apartment was really well located, close to an U-Bahn station and local history spots. We were spitting distance from Mauer Park, where the flea market is held every Sunday. Having an apartment really made us imagine we were living there, the area was full of yummy mummys pushing prams to a local bakery and kids playing out on the streets.

    BREAKFAST:

    Du Bonheur – Just down the road from our apartment we found this lovely bakery for breakfast. They had beautiful french pasteries for any time of the day, my favourite was the almond croissant but the macarons looked absolutely amazing.

    Local bakeries – Every neighbourhood has local grocery shops and bakeries where you can pick up bread or pastries at excellent prices. We would often buy bread the night before to have with nutella in our apartment for breakfast, or pick up a pastry on our way to U-Bahn for a day out.

    Supermarket – Opposite Mauerpark we found an organic supermarket with some interesting and super tasty options for breakfast.

    DINNER:

    White Trash Fast Food – It looks like this has moved since we visited, it was on Schönhauser Allee when we visited, but now it is in Kreuzberg. The decor was chinese themed with murals and kitsch accessories. The food was amazing burger and dangerous cocktails. The staff and entertainment were distinctly rockabilly. Definitely one of the best eating experiences we’ve had. We hope to return to their new location this year.

    Tiki Heart (again!) – More burgers, more cocktails in a Tiki kitsch environment. Great music and atmosphere, a firm favourite of ours in Berlin.

    Freischwimmer – This is an awesome place at the side of the canal in Kreuzberg. It seem hard to find as most of the area looks abandoned but once you find the entrance down the side of the petrol station you will be transported into a restaurant with a fantastic atmosphere. We sat outside and ate pizza as it got dark. Best visited at night, they also have a BBQ which is supposed to be brilliant.

    Seerose Vegetarian Buffet – We visited the buffet for lunch, you queue up and choose one main dish and 3 salads for the side. The seating was big tables that you needed to share with whoever was there already and find enough seats for your party. Luckily there were only two of us but it might be tricky if your party is larger. The food was great and a nice fill for lunch, apparently they have also moved to Kreuzberg now so the seating arrangement may be different.

    SEE/DO:

    Technology Museum – We visited the museum one morning planning to pick up brunch when we got there but the cafe was quite basic selling just coffee and cake so we had to come back a bit later. There is such a mass of things to see in the museum it is hard to see it all. Andy’s favourite was the hall of trams and trains – they have trains from the 1800s right through to modern day. My favourite was 20th century trams, as well as the section of 50s televisions – this included a 1950s TV studio set up.

    Science Museum – The price for the Technology Museum also includes the adjoining Science museum which is extremely good value. The Science museum has a fantastic exhibition on sound and light, optical illusions and colour which was very engaging.

    Shopping – The main modern shopping area in Berlin is close by to Berlin Zoo. This is where you will find KaDeWe, the largest department store in Europe, as well as firm highstreet favourites. I enjoyed going to all of the shops that are rare in the UK including Uniqlo, as well as shops I see all the time, like Forever 21 and H&M, because the German collections can be quite different.

    Flea market (again!) – Andy picked up a Fred Perry Harrington Jacket for a bargain price last time we visited, and this time I got some earrings made by a local crafter as well as some tasty smoothies. If you ever move to Berlin this flea market is the prime place to pick up some bargain furniture to fill you apartment.

    Potsdam – As we had a couple of extra days in the city on this trip we decided to take a trip out on the train to Potsdam. The journey out was really easy, we caught a train from Treptower Park, it was a double decker train which we don’t get in the UK and Andy loved. When you get to Potsdam the best place to visit is the main shopping street and the Sanssouci Park. We hadn’t researched this trip very well so we just wandered round the Potsdam streets at first before we found the park. Unfortunately this meant we were quite tired by the time we got there, I hadn’t worn the right shoes for walking all day and therefore we didn’t take advantage of all there is to see. The park is on the opposite side of the city to the train station, there are lots of expensive tourist buses that will take you straight there, but if you walk directly to the park you will have plenty of time and energy to see it properly. On your way back you can stop off for ice cream on the main shopping street before catching another double decker train home.

    Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery – We had planned to see the galleries on Monday which was a mistake as most galleries are closed on Mondays! Luckily we managed to squeeze in the galleries on the morning of the day we flew back instead. The Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery is a small but perfectly formed space with several floors of modern art. It’s also free entry which is always nice!

    Walther König Bookshop – Close by to Contemporary Fine Arts and Museum Island is an amazing bookshop dedicated to Art and Design. They have such a wide range of books, everything that you could possibly dream of plus more.

    Art Gallery Courtyard – We found this courtyard down the side of a shop of designer home products on Orienenburger Strasse. The courtyard entrance is a tunnel that has street art saying “how soon was now”. Inside the courtyard we found a shop dedicated to shadow box art, the shadow boxes were filled with minature scenes and massive amounts of creativity. There was also a gallery dedicated to “Outsider Art”, or art created by untrained artists, when we visited they had a collection of art by residents at a local mental health hospital around an organic theme.

    Photobooth (again!) – We do this every time without fail, it’s a must!

    Here’s a Google Map that we created in advance of our trip, we didn’t go to everything on there, and we went to additional places too but I hope it’s helpful!

    berlin-photobooth-2013

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  5. A weekend in Berlin for Two

    berlin-weekend1

    This week we are headed to Berlin for the fourth time in three years, but it will probably be our last for a while so I wanted to do a little series of what we did on our city break trips to Berlin for old times sake.

    This is a summary of our second trip to Berlin (but first one without friends), and this time happened to be our honeymoon!

    DURATION: 4 days 3 nights

    STAY: Circus Hotel (or the Circus Hostel opposite for smaller budgets)

    BREAKFAST: Everyday, in the hotel, honey and fruit bread. Nom, nom, nom.

    DINNER:
    Tiki Heart – Grab a cocktail and burger with lots of sides. We have visited this restaurant every time we’ve been to Berlin, it’s probably our favourite.

    I Due Forni – Try and go on a quiet night because this place get very very busy. We had to grab someone in order to get seated, grab them again for drinks, and again to order the food. But the pizza is amazing, and the decor… the decor is all your favourite punk bands’ posters signed and graffitied on the wall.

    Hakescher Market – Go for lunch and try the awesome street food. We found a sandwich van with different sandwiches named after areas of Berlin, the Potsdam sandwich was a fave of mine with tofu, ginger and mango chutney.

    Drink lots and lots of German beer.

    DO:
    Tour Bus – This is super touristy, so it might not be to everyone’s taste but we have found this to be the best way to see the major sights and get your bearings quickly whenever we are in a new city. It also leaves more time for visiting the more unusual spots. The best place to pick up a tour is at Checkpoint Charlie.

    Flea Market – On a Sunday at Mauer Park. The best way to experience this is to sleep late, visit the Flea Market for vintage clothes, handmade goodies, home bargains, and fresh fruit smoothies. Then go for Brunch on the way back at any of the cafes you will find on the walk.

    DDR Museum – Probably one of the most interactive museums you might find, you can sit in a real Travi car, and see what it was like in an East German home during communist rule. This museum is dedicated to life and culture in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down.

    Berlin Aquarium – As well as seeing the vast array of sealife, insects and reptiles you can find out about the history of the aquarium. This includes the hall which housed a large number of crocodiles without barriers to protect the Victorian public, and the fact that the building was bombed during World War II.

    Photobooth – There lots of photobooths dotted around the city and these photos have been our favourite keep sakes from the trip. After this week we’ll have three, one from each year, in a beautiful frame with a Berlin map background. They all seem to be vintage style with black and white prints for only €2 a time.

    berlin-photobooth

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  6. ‘Mooning

    We visited Berlin in January for the European Roller Derby Organisers Conference and even though Andy and I only had two or so free days to explore the city it has already jumped to one of the best places we’ve been together which is why we decided to go back for a mini-moon straight after the wedding.

    It really is an fantastic city, it doesn’t feel as crowded as London but has all of the fascinating charm. We could easily see ourselves living there for a year or two! Here are some of the photos I snapped on our travels around the city.

    The first thing I wanted to do when we returned to Berlin was lots of shopping. We didn’t get to do much last time we went and this time we had booked a super-central hotel that was surrounded by great shopping places, from high-street chains to cute boutiques. I love snapping alphabets wherever I go and the German alphabet poster was a good find, you will notice that E is for Engel (Angel).

    We stayed in the Circus Hotel, a boutique hotel in Mitte which is stunningly designed and everything about the place was perfect for us.

    All over the city is some fascinating design – graffiti and street art is everywhere you look and some is so large scale that we are sure it must be commissioned. It’s fantastic to see a city that really embraces it’s organic and planned artworks. The shot on the right is bench in the street that is covered in tape.

    These photos together have striking similarities in colour and shapes, I’m hoping to use them as influence for a design project I have in mind that will hopefully launch in the new year.

    Berlin is well known for celebrating breakfast and last time we stayed in Berlin we made sure we went out for breakfast every morning, you can expect platters and cupcake stands filled with fruit, meat and cheeses wherever you go. This time we stuck to the hotel’s breakfast buffet because it was so nice; we had choice of the full range every day.

    We re-visited some of the restaurants we went to last time including the American diner and the Tiki Heart bar/restaurant. We also visited an Italian restaurant recommended to us by Simona, our friend who has lived in Berlin. The walls of the restaurant were covered in posters and signatures of punk bands who had visited there; Rancid, Pennywise, Coheed & Cambria, Manu Chao, Gossip and so many, many more.

    We also made sure to visit markets, patisseries and ice cream parlours wherever we could, and of course they were absolutely delicious. One of my favourites was a cute little ice cream and waffle café right next to Checkpoint Charlie.

    Last time we were in Berlin we visited the zoo which has a great collection of big cats. Because it was in January they were all inside keeping warm but that meant we could get quite close up to meet them all. This time we visited the aquarium which is attached to the zoo and boasts one of the largest collections of species in Europe.

    We also walked through the crocodile hall which in past years housed a number of large crocodiles that the public could walk over on a bridge! The hall was unfortunately bombed during World War II but it was rebuilt and now houses only one small crocodile that lives behind metal bars and a few tortoises.

    Overall a very happy honeymoon! We are now saving up to visit Hawaii which was our ideal honeymoon location. We plan to visit in a few years time after some hard saving and before we have any kiddies to suck away all of our money.

    Photo layouts by Pugly Pixel.

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