Tag Archives: Germany


Leipzig: the Next Berlin?

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Poor But Sexy: A Student Guide to Germany

Compared to other Western capitals such as London, New York and Paris, which are pretty much as synonymous with astronomical rents, social cleansing and insta-hipster blandness as they are with their respective iconic landmarks, Berlin still manages to retain its essence as a city where normal people can actually live. This is largely due to the unusual and genuinely cutting-edge lifestyle it offers, which deserves to be preserved at all costs.

However, change is in the air. With Berlin rapidly becoming Continue reading

Matthias Ripp

Drag, Disco and Dives: A Guide to Berlin’s Best (and Cheapest) Bars

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Poor But Sexy: A Student Guide to Germany

Given that one of Berlin’s main draws as a destination for both tourists and residents is its relaxed pace of life and almost unfathomable capacity for fun, it should come as no surprise that the city is home to some of the best watering holes in the world.

However, despite being the capital of Germany — the land famous for cosy cellars serving up alarmingly large steins of Bavarian beer alongside gut-busting portions of sausage — you’ll find none of that in this city (except for overpriced tourist traps designed to trick the uninitiated travellers searching for an ‘authentic’ German experience).

Ethan Prater

Beer, sausages, mustard…sure, these are all good, but there’s a lot more to Germany. Berlin doesn’t concern itself with you giving you stereotypes. (Photographer: Ethan Prater; Flickr)

Alternatively, Berlin’s unique history and position as a subcultural citadel and hipster paradise mean that there is an endless variety of cool, exciting and cheap places to drink the night (and following day) away, whatever your tastes/budget/identity. With that in mind, please enjoy this highly subjective guide to the best bars the city has to offer.

Barbie Deinhoff’s (Kreuzberg

It seems logical to start with my all-time favourite bar in the world, a place that I have frequented so much in the past year that the fact the staff haven’t begun charging me rent is a testament to their sweet nature. I could easily fill several articles’ worth of space simply composing a long overdue love letter to the place where I’ve had some of the most memorable (and forgettable) nights of my life, but I’ll leave it at “I love this bar”. A tiny establishment on the always-buzzing Schlesisches Str., I was first drawn in by the warm glow of the pink neon lights which never switch off, as well as the faint sound of electronica and disco from the excellently-curated playlist (everyone pays €1 to the DJ). Inside you’ll find a cosy space crammed with overstuffed sofas and garden furniture, the walls adorned with cute and sexy works from local artists which are often available for purchase, as well as an eclectic crowd of both tourists and locals.


Schlesisches Strasse is in the midst of the liveliest areas of Berlin in the old East Side. (Photographer: quapan; Flickr)

Whilst it would be difficult to describe the vibe of this legendary gay bar, a patron once aptly summarised it to me as “a working man’s pub for drag queens on their down time”, and I think that does it justice. Whilst the music and crowd are good reasons to come, the real reason to stay is the drinks prices. With cocktails costing €5 and a large glass of wine costing €3 on a normal night, if you show up for their weekly “Tu-Tu Tuesday” then all drinks are two for one, meaning that you can (and will) get hammered for under €10. It is therefore (I hope) entirely understandable that whenever my friends want to hang out on a Tuesday evening, they know to just head down to Barbie’s and they’ll be sure to see me in my usual spot.

Bei Schlawinchen (Neukölln)  Continue reading

David Schiersner

Breakdowns and Beers: Holland and Germany

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Three Months, Two Students, One Motorbike

Being a university student, and so tied to one place for most of the year, it’s easy to get itchy feet. After our last minute decision to ride our motorbike from Wales to Marrakech last summer, my girlfriend and I decided this year to be more prepared: more savings, more planning, and most importantly, more time. The question is, will three months really be enough?

Of course, on a motorbike adventure, being the master of your own destiny only works as long as the bike does, and in a wet and windy petrol station near the Belgian border with Holland, the bike stubbornly reminded us of this. I must admit that I am probably a bit biased when it comes to singing the praises of travel by motorbike, and if you were to ask me to list all the reasons why travelling on a motorbike is the best, you’d need an hour or two to get through them. Despite this, mechanical failures are definitely difficult to big-up.

As Charlotte lacks the finer mechanical knowledge I pretend to possess, she sat on the kerb and kept my temper from boiling over while I hunted for the problem. Tool roll spread out before me, it did not take long. Under a side panel that covered the battery, I found a wire broken clean in two, the metal underneath the plastic rotten through. The problem was infuriatingly small, but I didn’t have the tools to fix this simple problem. After a quick think I was out of ideas and just sat down on the floor, willing the wire back together with my eyes. Of course, the wire stared back at me, broken as ever and laughing at my incompetence. I could almost hear the bike saying “Ten thousand miles in three months? No chance, mate.” There’s nothing like a breakdown to remind you that that what you’re doing is foolhardy at best, downright stupid at worst.

vijay chennupati

Rain, wind and a breakdown: it’s hard not to lose hope when you’re on the road in these conditions! (Photographer: vijay chennupati; Flickr)

Accepting that we would need some expensive help, I went into the petrol station to borrow their phone.

“Bonjour, ça va, j’ai un probleme avec ma moto, parler vous Anglais?” I  said into the receiver when a breakdown company answered.

“Hello Sir, unfortunately I only speak a little English, I will put you through to an associate who will be able to deal with your problem,” came the calm, collected voice on the other end. Just a little English then!

When the mechanic arrived he too only spoke “a little English”, before launching himself into a tirade against Brexit and recommending us some roads to see in Italy. Still, he had the bike running in ten minutes. We rode away whooping and hollering, and it wasn’t until we reached a campsite over the Dutch border that we realised we’d lost our tent pegs somewhere during the day. We spent a shaky night with the tent tied between the bike and a tree, and hoped that we’d had all our bad luck in one go.


Dümmer See is a large lake in southen Lower Saxony, not far from Bielefeld and Münster. (Photographer: usteinmetz; Flickr)

After our breakdown, the next few days were spent making up for lost time. One night was spent in a wide open field ringed with caravans, our solitary tent in the middle. An old man and his dog braved the morning rain to come and say hello to us. When we told him of our plans his bushy eyebrows disappeared up and under his hood, and he hurried back to his caravan, returning a few minutes later with two cans of Fanta for us. At Dümmer See, a lake in northern Germany, a receptionist in the tourist information centre let us hide in her office from the rain for an hour, helpfully informing us that it was sunny now in Holland where we had just come from.

Spending whole days outside,  we slowly observed the landscape change from the flat panoramas of Holland to the forest lands of Northern Germany. Charlotte had lived in Germany for the past year however had never made it as far north as Hamburg, and so we planned on stopping there for the weekend. We pressed on now, aware that we were blessed with time but wanting to spend it elsewhere, further into the trip. Everywhere felt too familiar, too close to home, and we were eager for the adventure to begin properly.  Continue reading


Berlin’s Swimming Pools: How the ‘Stadtbad’ salvaged my health 

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Poor But Sexy: A Student Guide to Germany

I must admit that my time in Berlin has seen my personal fitness level fall to record lows, and all my plans to be more active (such as going jogging through any of the city’s spectacular parks, or living like the locals and getting a bike), have generally come to naught. I initially thought I’d counteract this lack of regular exercise with all the walking I’d be doing, however the efficiency and well-connected nature of public transport here has resulted in me opting to use my free travel pass and allowing the U-Bahn to carry me wherever I need to go.

Whilst I have never been much of a fitness enthusiast anyway (my gym membership in freshers’ barely lasted a month), I figured the best way for me to attempt a somewhat healthy lifestyle amid the sea of cheap beer and kebabs, would be for me to engage in a physical activity that I actually enjoyed doing and wouldn’t feel like a chore. Enter: the ‘Stadtbad’. I have always loved swimming and used to do it very frequently, however the expense and lack of facilities near me in recent years had put me off it for a while.


Had five too many kebabs? Go swimming! (Photographer: Jaysmark; Flickr)

Continue reading


5 Tips for Cheap Travelling

Have you noticed that there’s nearly always one person that seems to be relaxing on a different beach on a different continent every time you check Facebook while you’re all snuggled up with a cup of tea in your hands, trying to escape the rainy weather at home? Do you find yourself just sitting there wondering how they manage to travel so frequently while you’re about to head to sleep as your alarm will go off in 6 hours?

Well, here are some tips that’ll help you travel more for less money and help you to not even bother about that alarm going off soon, as you’ll be daydreaming about your next trip while working.


So you’re fed up of your alarm clock and checking social media, only to find everyone is having more fun than you. Do something about it: don’t be scared! (Photographer: murdelta; Flickr)

1. Stay up-to-date. Always.

Stay updated with travel deals, check the webpages of airlines, bus companies etc. regularly and you’ll find some mind-blowing deals. Figure out which companies/pages you like best and subscribe to their newsletters — that’s how I managed to fly from Germany to London and back for €1.98.

2. Don’t be picky

You found a great deal to go to Andorra next week? You might have no idea where exactly this place is, it might not impress your friends and you might have no idea what to expect, but the deal is amazing? Well then, go. Go and see it for yourself. If you’re trying too desperately to go to one specific place, you’ll find it hard to keep it cheap. Flying to Bangkok on the first day of your holiday might be super expensive whereas flying to Canada two days later might only cost a hundred bucks, and both would be an adventure. Besides, isn’t being surprised what travelling is all about? Continue reading