Rome is generally known for its ancient monuments such as the Colosseum, Castel Sant Angelo and the Imperial Fora, and is less famous for its nightlife. Nevertheless, Continue reading
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
If someone had said to me 12 months ago that I would be going to Africa with a group of people I had never met before, to do voluntary work with International Service and live with a host family for 3 months, I would have most likely laughed them right out of the room.
Travelling to West Africa, essentially on my own, really pushed my comfort zone. Yet here I am, 12 months down the line, having recently returned from Ghana. Although it was one of the most daunting experiences my life, I am so glad that I went. It has been one of the best things I have ever done, if not one of the best things I’ll ever do.
I made the decision to volunteer with International Service when I stumbled across their website while randomly searching for ‘free overseas voluntary work’ (emphasis on the ‘free’ bit). I knew immediately that it was something that I should do. Not only did it satisfy my desire to travel with minimal expense, but I also strongly believed in their mission statement. Unfortunately, not many people have heard of International Service so for any readers who do not know, International Service is a human rights-based charity, working to protect and promote the rights of some of the most marginalised people across the world.
Not really sure of what to expect or what I would be doing, I got to work with my application. Within a week I had received a response and an invitation to an assessment day. And that was it, I was at the beginning of my International Service journey. Initially I had some difficulty in explaining to people what I would actually be doing. When asked I would always respond with a vague ‘Oh you know, teaching I guess.’ Not knowing really fuelled my anxiety about going, but as time wore on and the departure date approached, it became more apparent: I was to be working on a project which aimed to get more girls into school. This would involve teaching English in schools, running sexual health classes, going into communities to educate the local people on the importance of school, and various other activities.
Ghana truly surprised me and exceeded all of my expectations. First I must dispel any pre-existing stereotypes people may have of Africa. The image portrayed in the media sometimes presents Africa as a harsh, desolate place full of sadness, and while my experience of Africa is limited, Ghana certainly challenges these images. A country full of colour, dance, music and vibrancy, Ghana and its people enamoured me. Continue reading
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).
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.
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
Most people go on holiday to snorkel, ski, and catch some sun. This summer, we were not that family — ‘we’ being myself, my mum, and my dad. Oh no, we were the family who travelled all the way to Cornwall… to see a tribute act.
In our defense, and before you judge, it was a Fleetwood Mac tribute act, so I think we can be forgiven! The act in question, Fleetwood Bac (I wanted to make a joke about how witty this was, but I couldn’t bring myself to — they made enough of a joke picking that as a name anyway!) were performing at The Minack Theatre. Now that’s the main reason we were going — for the gorgeous, rocky, sea-salty theatre that is the dramatic heart of Cornwall. This may be turning slightly ‘Shakespeare’ in its romantic declarations, but it is a truly beautiful place.
The epitome of a British Colosseum, if such a thing existed, it flows in great stone circles — stone, grass, stone, grass — until it reaches a sandstone stage surrounded by arches and clear blue water. When the sun goes down they light the arch, giving it an angelic look, like some sort of three-dimensional stained glass window: a doorway to heaven if you will.
Before that though, and as I’ve briefly mentioned already, there was daylight, in which the theatre was just as spectacular. Flowers and trees, exotic and exciting, were planted around the entrance, hiding the winding flagstone paths so it looked like something out of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (if the book The Secret Garden was set on a tropical island somewhere far away from the real world). Continue reading