by Zoë Noble
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It turns out we needn’t have worried, because our guide Rasmus brought to life the human history of the Cold War era, with anecdotes gathered from unique sources like his older colleagues, stories running from the tragic to the ironic. We were particularly fascinated by the city’s struggle to preserve a lasting legacy while balancing the interests of the people whose properties line the memorial site, and the broader population whose taxes are paying for it. True to the travel company’s name, we got context in spades, and learned a great deal more about the history of the Berlin Wall. Choose a day with guaranteed good weather (if that’s a thing), and book a “Walking the Wall” tour here.
Tis the season! While all the other bloggers are seeking out the quaintest, most traditionally festive Weihnachtsmarkts in Berlin, we thought we’d go to arguably the worst and take the best photos of it! Wintertraum, which stretches from Alexanderplatz to Jannowitzbrücke, bills itself as Berlin’s biggest Christmas market, but really it’s a funfair – complete with candy floss vendors, vomit-inducing rides to test the stomachs of adventurous candy floss eaters, and what seems like a billion flashing lights. So what better place to test out the steampunk-y Petzval lens I had on load from Lomography?
The Petzval comes in stunning gold, and apparently “is a stunning reinvention of the legendary Petzval Lens, which was first conceived of in Vienna, Austria, in 1840.” It works with both analogue and digital cameras, and allows you to take photos with a narrow depth of field, producing a trippy bokeh effect in the background. I really enjoyed using it to capture the insanity of the Wintertraum Christmas market, including the creepy clowns, retro rides like “BREAK DANCE”, the possibly-BER-inspired “Chaos Airport” … and James’ beard! A photo opportunity if ever there was one. ????
We wandered for hours, soaking it all up – around every corner a new era or object or mannequin to be terrified of. It just kept going, so I kept snapping. If you’re in the film industry or you need to build sets, then this place needs to be on your radar. I will most certainly be coming here when I need props for my next photo shoot, that’s for sure!
It feels like a lifetime ago that we got back from our trip to Rügen. The highlight of our island experience may have been the Nazi ruins of Prora, but every day was like a little adventure. Olive may have been happy rolling around in the grass around our holiday home, but somehow we managed to tear ourselves away and explore Rügen to the fullest.
If there’s one thing we learned on Rügen, it’s that Germans really believe that getting there is half the fun. All of the island’s landmarks are situated a good few kilometres from the nearest car park, just so visitors can fit in a decent hike while they’re sightseeing. Jagdschloss Granitz, a pretty pink confection of a hunting castle, is fine – but the walk up, through unspoiled fields and forests, is sublime.
We came to the port town of Sassnitz for the Fischbrötchen – the same reason we didn’t stay long! As North Sea natives, we thought we liked fish – until we sunk our teeth into Rügen’s local delicacy. Turns out we need our seafood to have at least been kissed by a grill before it enters our mouths, but don’t let that put you off. Get yourself to the wind-battered harbour of Sassnitz for taste of something super-fresh.
The next stop on our tour of Rügen’s seaside towns took us to Sellin, worth checking out for the longest pier on the island and the old-fashioned Strandkörbe (“beach baskets”), available to rent for pooped-out visitors. When we were there, a couple were taking wedding photos running through the south beach surf. Cute!
Jasmund National Park
This nature reserve on the Jasmund peninsula is Deutschland’s answer to Dover, home of the largest chalk cliffs in Germany. A peaceful hike through a beech forest brings you to Königsstühl (the King’s Chair), and a vertigo-testing climb 160m down rickety wooden stairs finds you on a rugged, undisturbed beach, with epic views out across the open sea. Unmissable.