ATHENS for First-Timers – Beyond the Acropolis

Yes, I’ve travelled the seven seas – at least metaphorically – yet never made it to Greece. Which is ironic since basically all of Greece is located on the seaside: with 13,676 kilometers of coastline – that’s roughly the little something of 8,498 miles – and 3054 islands and islets, Poseidon definitely is boss.

Not the only amazing facts: Next to Golgota and the Capitol, the Acropolis in Athens is one of the hills on which Europe was founded. Therefore, there is no excuse for having not yet visited the cradle of our civilization.

Cat at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Although Greece is basically sea-girt, besides lots of water, there are many rocks. As well as cats.

So as we got nearer to Christmas and the holy days became holidays, the question of where to spend them was quickly answered: Athens – for the first time.

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OSAKA – the commercial metropole; and a side trip to HIMEJI

Osaka has always been Japan’s economic hub – and keeps its status as the country’s major commercial center to this date: Major players like Sharp, Sanyo, and Panasonic have their headquarters in Osaka.

View of Osaka from the Umeda Building
One of the many options to see Osaka from above: At the gift shop of the Umeda Sky Building.

This busy metropole was not only briefly the imperial capital in the 7th and 8th centuries, it even outnumbered Tokyo in being Japan’s largest city in the 1930s.

Therefore, a visit to Osaka is rather about the cool’n’contemporary than the ancient’n’inherited and pulls its visitors into a whirlwind of skyscrapers, shopping malls, art exhibitions, and food….lots of food.

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HIROSHIMA – risen up from the ashes; and a side trip to MIYAJIMA

Hiroshima – one of the names inextricably connected to the first atomic attack in human history.

Dove in front of the Atomic Dome in Hiroshima Japan
A Dove of Peace spreading its wings in front of the Atom Bomb Dome.

Visiting Hiroshima, I wasn’t able to imagine an average Japanese city with a little over a million inhabitants plying their trades as if their city never had been practically erased and went down in history as one of the biggest humanitarian disasters.

What I found was a charming city – risen up from the atomic ashes of 1945.

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RIGA – a city break at Latvia’s entrancing capital

At this moment, the Baltic states are in some sort of touristy limbo: Certainly not an insider tip anymore, Latvia is still far from being overrun by large tourist groups.

Music Group at the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

After having been ethnically oppressed for the longest time, the Latvians happily and proudly rediscover their cultural heritage.

Although Riga is a modern and forward-looking metropolis, Latvia’s entrancing capital preserves proudly its cultural identity, traditions, and a melancholic charm.

 

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TALLINN – a small city with a great spirit

Estonia’s capital Tallinn cannot be described with a handful of corny attributes and some stock catchphrases.

Tallinn - Estonia: St. Michaels Church

Besides many lovely and alluring things, there is also a bit of creepy to see in Tallinn – which makes the city even more intriguing.

For the standard categories, this city is too diverse, its past too changeful, its faith too inconsistent, its present too dynamic, and its future too promising: A hub between the poles of history and creativity.

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LJUBLJANA mon amour

Ljubljana: Already the city’s name sounds like a tender song…and derives from ljubljena – beloved.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Ljubljana Dragon Bridge
Like in every decent fairy tale, you have to make it past the dragon to get to the beautiful princess. Ljubljana is no exception.

Albeit the city is not hidden anymore, it kept its sleeping beauty charm and is still a sparkling gem.

 

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MALMÖ – a city in search of 22 more nations

(Updated January 2020)

Malmö has 320,000 inhabitants who share 77 square km resp. less than 30 square miles – which makes it, believe it or not, Sweden’s third largest city (after Stockholm and Göteborg) and combines in a very intriguing way the cute, folksy charm of Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books like Pippi Longstocking and the hip atmosphere of a student city – which it actually is.

Västra Hamnen Malmö
View of the Västra Hamnen, Malmö’s “city of tomorrow” with the iconic “Turning Torso” from the city beach Ribersborgsstranden.

But Malmö is not only hospitable and homey to students.

 

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BERLIN guide: get the most for less on bus number 100

(Updated January 2020)

Who needs an expensive hop on hop off-bus when you get to see Berlin’s most important sights and sites right from the city bus number 100. Buy a cheap Welcome Card that allows you to explore Germany’s capital on your own and get the most for less.

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Pariser Platz on the Eastern side of the Brandenburger Tor – where the gate used to divide East and West Germany. Today it’s the busiest tourist spot in all Berlin.

Talking ’bout getting the most: If you actually get off at every attraction that I am introducing, you won’t be able to do the tour, that in one go actually doesn’t take much longer than half an hour, in one day – the Museum of German History alone is worth a visit of a couple of hours. But take it as a golden thread and follow the route in legs depending on how many days you have and what’s most interesting for you.

By the way – you’ll get important general info on visiting Berlin at the end of this post, so just scroll down.

But now: Come on, hop on! We are starting at the stop Alexanderplatz towards Zoologischer Garten.

 

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BERLIN – a complete guide to the Wild Wild East

(Updated December 2019)

A couple of weeks ago, I took you on a smooth ride across Berlin, Germany’s exciting capital, by bus #100. We started at the Alexanderplatz in the east and went westwards all the way to the former main train station Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Berlin Wild East
At the East Side Gallery, on this picture by street artist and wall painter Birgit Kinder you can see a Trabant – aka Trabi – one of two types of cars that were manufactured in the former GDR and everyone in the west made fun of. The Trabi is crashing through a wall – guess which one – and its license plate reads Nov 9, 89 – the date the gates to the west were open and the wall – and finally the GDR – came down.

In today’s post, let’s discover what you get to see and experience when you turn east at the Alexanderplatz – and walk right into the heart of the ex-capital of the former GDR – the German Democratic Republic.

You’ll see: It’s the Wild Wild East!

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BANGKOK – more than just one night

More than in any other Asian metropolis, tradition, and modernity in social graces, culture, and architecture are so balanced. A visit to Thailand’s vibrant capital is a must on every trip to Thailand.

Panoramic View of Bangkok from the Golden Mount

Panoramic View of Bangkok from the Golden Mount

Therefore it’s very convenient, that most individual travellers are landing in Bangkok, a  city certainly worth a visito of more than just one night.

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