uberlin

Around Rügen: Exploring the Island

by James Glazebrook

James and Olive in Jasmund National Park

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.

Jagdschloss Granitz
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.

Cat resting in the sun Couple sitting waiting for the train Jagdschloss sign Jagdschloss forest Jagdschloss

Sassnitz
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.

Sassnitz pier Fischbrötchen Sassnitz harbour

Sellin
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!

Sellin pier

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.

Jasmund National Park forest

Jasmund National Park cliffs

Jasmund National Park reflection

Jasmund National Park

Boat in the ocean

Olive and James looking out at the ocean

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Prora: The Nazi’s Unfinished Holiday Resort

by James Glazebrook

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When we recently vacationed on the German island of Rügen, there was place we made sure to visit first: Prora. Earmarked by the Nazis as a holiday destination for some 20,000 worn-out workers, construction on the eight buildings of the “Colossus of Prora” was halted by World War Two, since which the huge complex has been used as a military base by the Soviets and East Germans, and later a youth hostel and, seemingly, a squat with its own nightclub.

We rocked up on what turned out to be an unseasonably beautiful September day, both wearing head-to-toe black and Dr. Martens, looking to our fellow holidaymakers like wannabe stormtroopers, or maybe just hipster-goths on vacation. Piling our winter coats on the sand, we rushed into the crystal clear sea with Olive, before climbing through the ruined walls and marvelling at the sheer scale and ambition of Hitler’s answer to Butlins. Construction work confirmed what we’d read about the buildings being redeveloped as vacation apartments, so we’d advise you to visit Prora while it remains one of Germany’s great abandoned relics. 

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Resting at Rügen

by James Glazebrook

Sunset in Rügen

We may not be too sentimental about our home on the northeastern shores of England, but we certainly miss the sea. Sure, Berlin has beautiful lakes, but they don’t quite fulfill our longing to feel the coastal winds whip against our faces, taste the salt in the air and gaze out towards the horizon where blue meets blue. That’s why we chose to spend our short summer break on Germany’s largest island, Rügen, which sits on the Baltic Sea (Ostsee), a mere three hours’ drive from Berlin.

For our first Oliday (holiday with Olive), we pointed our rental car due north and headed towards Trent. Here we arrived at our beautiful Airbnb with an ocean view and its very own sauna!  The location was stunning, with wild flowers dotted all around and the sea only a minutes walk away. On an evening we would sit in the garden with a glass of wine, watching sunset close in and the flashing beacon of Hiddensee lighthouse and feel a million miles away from Berlin.

Having set up camp, we started planning a week of wholesome outdoor activities, including visits to the white cliffs of Jasmund National Park, the tiny towns of Sassnitz and Sellin, and the Nazi’s half-built vacation resort of Prora. Check out the first of our holiday snaps, and stay tuned for more adventures of überlin on Rügen!

Trent Airbnb home

Bedroom with Olive on the bed
Olive relaxing in the sun
Wild Flowers in Rügen


Thistles in Rügen
Olive relaxing in the sun

 

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Thai Park

by James Glazebrook

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You know how you’re always complaining about the lack of real spicy Asian food in Berlin? And how you won’t venture past Schöneberg on the U-Bahn because West Berlin? Well these two things are not unrelated – and the fact is that you can spend a lovely day out and eat some of the best food you’ve had since moving here, by filling your face at Thai Park.

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You’re looking for the middle of the field at the centre of Preußenpark, situated on the U7, just behind the fleamarket at Fehrbelliner Platz (here’s a map). There you’ll find a cluster of colourful umbrellas, under which the local Thai community are frying up their freshest, finest, most affordable national dishes. Grab a Som Tam salad or something far less heathy, order yourself a caipirinha from the cocktails and shisha stall (multikulti, na?), and find yourself a patch of grass. Then sit back and watch the hustle and bustle of one of our new favourite spots in Berlin.

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The magical mini-gardens of Tempelhofer Feld

by James Glazebrook

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Should you not have a garden, but yearn for one, you can rent a small square of land called a Kleingarten (small garden). Here you can cultivate a garden and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours by resting in a little hut.

- Liv Hambrett, What I Know About Germans

The Kleingarten is a very German phenomenon, something like the “Pimp My Ride” versions of the allotments we have back in the UK, with sheds that more closely resemble small houses, featuring permanent grilling facilities, paddling pools and all manner of mod cons. And where better to find the most quintessentially Berlin Kleingärten than at Tempelhofer Feld?

Found sandwiched between the grilling area and dog run at the easterly end of the city’s biggest open space are a cluster of mini-gardens, overgrown with wild flowers and decorated in true random “only in Berlin” style. To find out more about the Gemeinschaftsgarten Allmende-Kontor, visit their Facebook community page (natürlich, auf Deutsch). For now, enjoy these pretty pictures!

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Grunewaldsee

by James Glazebrook

Grunewaldsee boat in lake

Our recipe for a perfect Berlin summer day:

1. Take 1 dog. We recommend a Bully, but any dog will do.

2. Add 1 blazing hot Berlin summer day.

3. Stew in a airtight S7 train. Time may vary, but our lump of dog took 50 minutes to cook through.

4. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes (or as long as it takes to walk from Grunewald to the “dog beach” at Grunewaldsee Hundestrand).

5. Arrange your other ingredients on a picnic blanket. We recommend wine (white or rosé), bite-sized chunks of fruit and veg and assorted dips.

6. Sprinkle your dogmeat with water to keep from drying out.

7. Mix well with other dogs.

8. Enjoy. Guten Appetit!

Grunewaldsee reflection of trees

Grunewaldsee path walkway

Grunewaldsee dog walking along lake

Grunewaldsee Olive walking along lake

Grunewaldsee dogs swimming in lake

Grunewaldsee dog sitting in front of lake

Grunewaldsee pug sitting on tree

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Pfaueninsel

by James Glazebrook

Pfaueninsel Island Peacocks Walking

Pfaueninsel on Wannsee is an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle (and broken bottles) of Ringbahn-bound Berlin. At the end of the S7, a short bus ride and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ferry trip transport visitors to a lush little island covered in flowers and stalked by brightly-feathered patrols of peacocks. This designated UNESCO World Heritage Site was originally created as a testament to Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II’s favoured mistress, and it seems the romance of the place is infectious – even my parents were caught holding hands as they strolled under a leafy canopy! As ever, Slow Travel Berlin have painstakingly record the history of Pfaueninsel, which means we can leave you with our impressions of the place – i.e. the pretty pictures!

Pfaueninsel Island Peacock Walking

Pfaueninsel Island Peacock Feather Closeup

Pfaueninsel Island Peacock

Pfaueninsel Island Couple Walking

Pfaueninsel Island Flowers Closeup

Pfaueninsel Island Wansee Boat

Pfaueninsel Island Schloss Closeup

Pfaueninsel Island Schloss

Photos by Zoë Noble Photography

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Olympus OM-D: Photography Playground 2014

by James Glazebrook

Olympus Photography Playground Visitor

The Olympus OM-D: Photography Playground is back! Compared to last year’s edition (see our review here), the new Playground is less edgy and more family-friendly, which is either good or bad news, depending on whether you have or hate kids. The exceptions are three exhibitions in stark monochrome that use light, sound and material to fantastic effect – whether by creating an HR Giger-esque organic/industrial sculpture, or a sonic strobe-scape with as much impact as Amon Tobin’s 3D live show.

My personal highlight was local artist Clemens Behr’s fragile, fractured installation, pieced together with the materials of the Opernwerkstätten site – a thoughtful work of impressive scale. We totally recommend a (free!) visit, at a time when the place is less likely to be crowded, when you can spend all the time you like immersed in disorientating, photogenic installations. Click here to get all the details.

[Edit: if you want to borrow a free Olympus camera, don't forget to take your passport and Anmeldebestätigung!]

Olympus Photography Playground Hanging Webs

Olympus Photography Playground Webs

Olympus Photography Playground Visitor Taking Photo

Olympus Photography Playground Lens Flare Exhibition

Olympus Photography Playground Light Beams and People

Olympus Photography Playground Light Beams

Olympus Photography Playground Exhibition

Olympus Photography Playground Zoë Noble Portrait Selfie

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Winter Wonderland

by Zoë Noble

As well as concealing countless drug dealers, Hasenheide Park contains many other hidden gems, such as… whatever this is. We suppose that, when temperatures reach positive Celsius, this turns into a fountain, but beyond that, your guess is as good as ours. What is clear though is that, during winter, it takes on an otherworldly aspect which makes for wonderful photos. Enjoy.

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25 Tourist Tricks to Rediscovering Berlin

by James and Zoe

Fucking tourists. Look at them – standing there in the bike lane, with a beer in each hand and a gormless grin on their face, oblivious to the bitter Berliners bearing down on them, piston legs powered by resentment and… is that… envy? They may be morons, but they seem so happy, like little children caught up in the wonderment of what is, for them, the biggest urban playground Europe has to offer.

Well, why should they have all the fun? After three years in the city, we figured we deserve a break from reality as much as any easyjetsetter. So we packed our tour guides into our “fanny packs” and set out to the city’s most obvious attractions, in order to pick up 25 tourist tricks to rediscovering Berlin.

1) Beer for breakfast. 

Beer for breakfast

2) Bratwurst for lunch.

3) Döner for dinner.

Döner for dinner

4) Speak only three words of German: “SPRECHEN. SIE. ENGLISCH?”

5) Rent the biggest bike imaginable…

Rent the biggest bike ever

6) …preferably, one powered by beer.

And make someone else pedal

7) Or go solo and rent a Segway! 

After all, no one wants to be seen with you on that thing.

8) Take the U-Bahn. 

One hour and three transfers later, you’ll have successfully made it across Unter den Linden. 

9) Get busted by BVG inspectors.

See how far you get with the line, “but I’m just a tourist…”

10) Get your photo taken with fake American soldiers…

Get your photo taken with fake American soldiers.

11) ..or THE PREDATOR?!!!

Or the Predator!!??

12) Spend all day in the Sony Center. 

There’s restaurants, a cinema AND DUNKIN’ DONUTS – why would you ever leave?
Spend all day in the Sony Center

13) Try to pay with a card. 

14) After resorting to withdrawing cash, treat your Euros like Monopoly money.

15) Start by tipping generously. 

Dead giveaway.

16) Drink a “beer” that looks like looks nuclear waste.  

17) Glühwein: Christmas in a cup.  

Drink Gluhwein

18) Queue.

For Burgermeister. For Berghain. For the bloody Reichstag.

19) Get knocked back from Berghain. Never understand why. 

20) Be disappointed by the Berlin Wall. 

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21) Marvel at street art as if it was the Sistine Chapel.

Like no one ever drew on a wall where you come from… 

Marvel at street art as if it was the Sistine Chapel.

22) Act like a tit and treat the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe like a jungle gym. 

 Treat the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe like a jungle gym

23) Follow the crowd. It’s going to Mauerpark.

24) Take this selfie.

Take this selfie

25) And finally… PHOTOAUTOMAT!

photautomat

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