Places to Visit in Berlin

Since Berlin is a special place, even the road signs there also special. Just pay attention at these crossing lights. Aren’t they cute?

To do a sight seeing of the city, you don’t even need to join any tour. There’re 2 busses that pass most of the major tourist places in the city. And what makes it perfect, the busses are double-decker ones so you can see the city from above. Many tourists also doing it and the drivers can speak English so they can help you if you need information.

As a part of marine community, my chosen places to be visited are not far from marine theme. There are 2 places related for this, one is the state aquarium and the other is private-sector aquarium called ‘Sea Life’.

In the (state) Aquarium, the place is nice but somewhat a bit stiff in design. The remark mostly in German. Only small part that also contain English.

In the Sea Life, the design is funkier. All the remarks are bilingual so this is really a nice place to visit. However, there’re times when the Sea Life’s staff make a presentation about the animals, and during this they present it in German. Another thing, there’re many warning signs here that forbid the visitors to take pictures with flash as it can make the fish stress. Hmmmm… why such a warning isn’t present in the Aquarium?

Anyway, also in this place you can see a giant aquarium tower in the middle of a hotel! To see the whole aquarium there’s special lift for it in the middle of the tank! So amazing!

Actually I still want to visit the Museuminsel or museum island but I have no time for it. I guess this would be a good reason for me to go back to Berlin :)

Weather in Berlin

Well this is just based on my experience. I didn’t measure or compare anything related to the weather. In Bremen, I get thirsty easily. And if I don’t drink much, my lips and skin will get dry easily. In Berlin, I don’t experience this. I don’t get thirsty easily although I have walked for some hours. And surprisingly my lips and skin are not dry because I drink less.

As I write before, the weather during New Year celebration was nice. It was warm and the sky is clear. But in the next day, there’s snow rain! And it keeps raining almost the whole day, covering everything to become white! What a drastic chance. But I guess, as we’re in Indonesia have rainmaker/ controller, in Germany they have snowmaker/ controller!

Places to Stay in Berlin

Actually there are many cheap places to stay in Berlin. If you google it, you can find hundreds (or even thousands) about it. But since I visit there during New Year celebration, it’s not easy to find a place to stay. They all fully booked.

But somehow I manage to get one nice accommodation. It comes from the lonely planet list. Although it supposes to be cheap but during New Year celebration, the price becomes irrational. But hey, what choice do I have? So I just take it. Beside, it is located strategically in the city centre area, so I guess the price is somehow rational now.

The vacant room is girl dormitory where you have to share one room with 6 persons. If you just need a place to sleep for awhile, then this kind of room is perfect. This room also have bathroom. But funnily, the toilet is outside! Isn’t that we use toilet more than shower…?

When I come to this hostel, everything is relatively clean and tidy. But when I left it, everything is a mess especially in the toilet. Trash of tissues is covering the floor and the mirrors are full with graffiti. Gosh, is that why the price is so high during New Year celebration, because people tend to do vandalism during that time?

New Year in Berlin

Berlin is a big city as I would imagine. It has big buildings, wide roads, many places to visit, and many stores that open almost 24 hours a day. When I visit there, tourists are everywhere. Group of people following one tour guide is common to see. Also, independent tourists like me, who walking around with map or lonely planet book, are everywhere. So you don’t have to be worried for getting lost here, you won’t!

For the New Year party, the celebration is at the Brandenburger Tor, the city landmark. There’s a huge stage and F&B stands around. This open air place is close guarded with the police who’ll check your bags and pockets. No glass bottles, weapons, and firecrackers allowed.

As in everywhere, the celebration is more or less the same. Many singers perform in one huge stage, broadcast live by one TV station. And 10 seconds before midnight, the countdown begins and then followed by the fireworks. What is nice about the celebration is that the weather is so friendly. It’s relatively warm and the sky is clear.

After this, I go back to my hostel. This time I have to walk for about 2 km as no more bus operated. In the streets, trash is everywhere, mostly from the pieces of glass bottles and firecrackers. I guess this is the perfect time for the Germans to litter. People still partying in the street, they are drunk and having firecrackers war. Police’s sirens keep screaming in every corner. To make it more thrilling, the winter night is pretty dark so the situation is really like a gang war or something. I never experience this kind of situation before. Although I am experienced in walking home from a stadium after rock concerts or football matches that end up in riots, but it’s rare to see many people drunk in the street in Indonesia. But somehow, I just don’t feel scared. In fact, I still can take many pictures although I am walking alone with a potential-attractive pink jacket.

When I go to bed at 2 AM the situation is still the same. But when I go out in the next day at around 9 AM, the situation is completely different. The roads are clear and no more drunk people in the streets!!! Well the roads are not all clear but at least most of them are clearer. And the streets are just filled with some tourists like before. Not so many but it’s just like nothing special happen before. Wooow…!!!

Trip to Berlin (Lift sharers part 3)

As it becomes a first choice, I use the lifting service (mitfahr) to go to Berlin. This time it’s so easy to find as many people also go there just to celebrate New Year and go back. But for some reasons, I end up use different traveler for going there and coming back. It turns out that the trip to go to Berlin is the nicest one so far in my lifting history. The main travelers are nice young couple and my travel mate is a guy, they all are native Bremen but they talk mostly in English so I don’t feel alienated. And even better, we talked about something that I am pretty good at: football!

In the end, they drop me in my hostel. This is really nice as usually this kind of service never provide this privilege. Usually they just travel from point to point as they want it and won’t bother to turn a bit just to drop one passenger. So yes, this one is the nice one.


The capital. The biggest city in Germany. It’s surely an interesting place to visit. Unlike other places that I visited in a ‘wrong time’, I surely visit Berlin in the right time. I went there to experience the New Year celebration in one of the important places in Europe. For this, I don’t need to have any people to be visited. I just go there, get lost and experiencing. (Visited at 31 Dec 2007-1 Jan 2008)

Things to Buy in Stuttgart

Yeah, actually not so many. I am just so impressed with the merchandise of VFB Stuttgart. The design is so varied and good. For my opinion, this is the coolest football merchandise designs that I found in Germany so far. If I live in Stuttgart, I am sure I’ll buy and collect many of these. But since I live in Bremen now, I have to be loyal with my city.

Places to Visit in Stuttgart

A day after Christmas, Thank God, many tourist places are open. So at least I didn’t just go there, taking pictures and go back.

First stop is Schlossplatz. In here you can find the old palace and new palace including some monuments in 1 area. In short, this is the best place to take pictures as evidence that you have been to Stuttgart.

TV Tower. This is the oldest TV Tower in Germany. It was built in 1956. Here, you can take a lift to the top of the tower and look at the city of Stuttgart from an open air.

VFB Stuttgart Stadium. It was closed when I visit there, so I just take a picture there. However, I can’t find any sign that stated this is a stadium in Stuttgart. So I don’t blame anybody if they don’t believe that I’ve been there.

Mercedes Benz Museum. What can I say, although I am not crazy about car, but still this museum is a cool one. It’s about the history of the Mercedes Benz from the scratch to the present time.

What makes it amazing, the museum is pretty hi-tech. Every visitor is equipped with a small device and earphone for audio guide. We can hear the explanation by pointing this device to the boards that have audio guide sign. So it feels like we have our own personal guide.

Traveling in Stuttgart

Surprisingly, traveling cost in Stuttgart is so expensive!!! A full day ticket can cost you € 4.50 and this is only covering 2 zones!!!

In Munich & Frankfurt, with about the same price you can travel to further zone. Hmmm I wonder how Stuttgart decides to have this cost…


This is also a big city although as not as big as Munich. The city is considered as new as it was bombed during the World War II and has to start everything all over again. The city has hilly sides and low land sides. So, it’s nice to take a tram or S-Bahn as a sight seeing activity cause you can see the low land from the high land and vice versa. (Visited at 25-27 Dec 2007)

Traveling in Munich

Munich is a big city, so traveling there should require a specific strategy. Well at least that’s what my friend does. In taking the transportation, she needs to figure out the destination station so she can jump out near the exit door!!!

She develops this strategy because she found out that her time is wasted for this kind of walk: walk from the station’s entry point to the platform and walk from the platform to the station’s exit way or to the next line for making connection. Hmmm… I know that the schedules are tight and the transportation infrastructure can reach 5 levels in Munich, but I never thought that will cause such a problem as the U-Bahn and S-Bahn always come in 5 minutes. I wonder what kind of strategy that she would develop if she has to live in Bremen ;)

Places to Visit in Munich

When I went there, it was a Christmas holiday time. So, not much to see as many places are closed. However, I managed to visit some of places that I found interesting.

First is the Allianz Arena. This is the newest stadium of Bayern München. Unfortunately this place was closed when I came, so I just take a picture in front of it.

Olympiapark. This is the area where the 1972 Olympic Games were held. The architectures are very fascinating and the whole complex is very comforting for outdoor activities. I think, during winter, walking around the park is a good strategy to make you warm.

BMW Museum. Of course it’s about BMW history, but since I came during Xmas holiday, it was closed and I only take a picture in front of the building.

Rathaus. Rathaus is a city council house. In Munich, this place has a big clock with dancing puppets. The puppet show only performs at noon daily.

Nymphenburg Schloss/Palace. This is the summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria. Since it’s projected for summer, the view in winter is not as fascinating as it would be in summer. No flowers in the gardens and all the statues are covered. Hmm, maybe the statues are feeling cold.

Odeonplatz. In this place, you can find many statues and buildings from 19th century.

People in Munich

During my early days in Germany, I’ve heard many stereotypes about Northern people and Southern people. The major thing is that people in the North are grumpier and cold while in the South is the other way around. But I guess this stereotype isn’t applied if you compare Bremen and Munich.

I found that people in Munich is colder and rather individualist. They don’t smile and don’t interact each other. I know I could be wrong as I only visit the city for a few days. But these are the impression that I got. For example, if you are in an escalator, you have to stand in the right side to let other people can pass you in the left side. (Just like cars in the roads). If you don’t do this and make other people can’t pass you, they will express their complain to you directly rather than to give you a friendly or polite warning. Another example is when I saw an old (senior) lady facing difficulties in opening the S-Bahn door. Nobody helps her!!!! I don’t think this would happen in Bremen. Even for me who always late to come to the tram stop and have to run from some meters away, there’s always somebody who will hold the tram or bus door for me so I can jump in…!!! See…??!!


This is the highest cost city to live in. So when I went there, I am ready to be amazed by the prices. Surprisingly, the prices for foods or merchandises are not shocking. But I am shocked to know that there’s no semester (student) ticket for city transportation! So my friends there have to buy monthly high price ticket for their local transportation. Other high price that I am not surprised to hear is the apartment rent. Although I know that it’ll be high, but still am surprised when I heard it. (Visited at 23-25 Dec 2007)

People in Frankfurt

Yeah, it’s not fair to judge people in Frankfurt as I haven’t exploring much of the city. However I was so impressed by one of the taxi driver there.

When I have to travel by using the lifting service, I have to go to a small station in the evening. When I arrived there, it turns out that my ride is late and there’s no warm place for waiting. No shops around and no station lobby. Just an open space. And in December, it surely not a nice place to wait.

In this situation, I did something unthinkable. Well actually it’s my friend’s idea. He told me to go to a taxi stand and ask the driver to allow me going inside the car, so I can have a warm place while waiting. At first, I have a doubt to do it. I mean, c’mon! Giving privilege to other people for free while actually you can gain money from it… That sounds so impossible. At least, that’s what my big-city-background thinking. But the taxi driver that I come to, a nice old man, really let me in for free! Although he can’t speak English but he can understand me. And he really doesn’t want to take anything from me…!!! I feel so touched. All I can do is just wishing him all the best. I hope he will get a good karma from what he has done to me.

Frankfurt am Main

Not much that I can say about this city as I have not exploring much about it. However, in this city, I learn much about traveling alone especially in using the city transportation such as U-Bahn (the underground one) and S-Bahn (the fast one). This can happened because in Frankfurt I visit my friend who is working, so he can’t take me around the city. Instead, he taught me how to travel alone in the city; which becomes a valuable lesson for me. And after this trip, I gain a lot of confidence to travel alone to other cities in Germany.

I know it sounds so silly that I have to learn about city transportation in other city, but in Bremen, there’re no U-Bahn and S-Bahn. So at first, I am so clueless with all the line codes, signs, and where to find the platform. More over, I am also clueless in buying the ticket from the machines. I don’t know which code that I should enter and what kind of ticket that I should buy. There’re too many types! In Bremen, I never find this kind of ticket machine. Tram and bus tickets are sold in the main train station and inside the vehicle. You just go to the driver and buy there, so you don’t have to be bothered by all the codes or ticket types.

But again, now I’ve learned it and I’ve done it in Frankfurt. (Visited at 21-23 Dec 2007)

Things to Do in Helgoland

Helgoland is famous as a tax free place. The main products that they sell here are liquors and perfumes. So either you want to get drunk cheaply or shopping for perfumes, Helgoland is the place.

Since it’s an island, of course the activities that you can do here are related to marine activities like sailing, diving, snorkeling, fishing, etc. But to tell you the truth, I never imagine doing such things in this cold weather island. I even couldn’t believe that I go to a beach with socks and jacket!!!

However, I manage to sail the North Sea in a cold weather before sunrise. Yeaaah, this tropical species can survive the cold north…!!!

For observing activities, bird watching and seal watching can be good choices. The hilly side of the island is the place for bird watching. And if you want to see seals, you have to go with boat to a dune nearby.

There’s also an aquarium that contains many collection from the nearby seas.

Helgoland Island

This is a small island in the North Sea. I wouldn’t go there if I don’t have any reason. It’s cold and windy, harsher than Bremen. However I have to go there as a part of my master program course. (Visited at 15-26 Oct 2007)

Places to Visit in Sankt Wendel

What can I say, there is no place to visit here. But the location is so strategic, so it’s easy to reach many places from here. It’s even near the country’s border so you can just jump out to Belgium, Luxemburg, or France easily.

When I visit there, I went to Trier, a city that has many Romans ruins. Just check out under the UNESCO’s World Heritage topics to see more pictures.

Other country that I visit from this point is Luxembourg. A nice small place where castles and modern buildings can be found together. Surprisingly, traffic jam is common to be found here.

Sankt Wendel

This is also a village. It is located in the Saarland State, Southwest of Germany. Why am I here? To visit a friend that I know from my work in Indonesia. Or else, I wouldn’t even know there’s a place named Sankt Wendel. (Visited at 3-6 Oct 2007)

Wedding in Hammelbach

This is my first German wedding that I attend. It was held in the groom’s house. I think the situation is more or less the same like in Indonesia where all the families gathered and helping each other for organizing the wedding.

The wedding started at 4 PM when the mayor came to legalize the wedding. After that, the newlywed makes a toast and cut the cake. The meals are ready at that time, so people just can have dinner whenever they wanted to.

In the evening I’ve got a chance to sing for the newlywed before they dance. The celebration then continued with dancing and firework show until midnight.

Where’s Hammelbach?

Hammelbach is about 50 minutes drive from Frankfurt. Well, of course this measurement only applies if you don’t get lost. As I told before, it doesn’t exist in the map so the destination should be directed to some kind of sub-district where this village is included under its administration. (In Indonesia, if Hammelbach is a desa then what exist in the map is the kelurahan).

I went there with a car so I have no idea how to get there with public transportation. And even with a car, me and my friend were lost and have to call our host to pick us up. We have to do it because it was already night and we even had a wrong turn and end up in a cow bar! (Actually, most of the road signs here are picture of cow crossing the street!)


Okay, this is not a name of a city. It’s more like a village. It’s even not exist in the regular map! So why I bother to go there? Because I have a colleague (and a good friend) who gets married there. (Visited at 14-16 Sept 2007)

Places to Visit in Köln

Of course the Köln Dom or Cologne Cathedral! This building is very huge and it’s so difficult to shoot it in one picture with simple pocket camera. However when I tried to look for UNESCO’s sign, I can’t find it :(

My friend said there’s permanent job in this Dom: as a cleaner! It is so big, so there’re always dirty part to be cleaned.

Actually I also visit another place, a tower where you can see the city of Köln from above. But I forget the name of it. If you see the heading picture of this blog, that’s the city of Köln that I photograph from this forgotten tower.


When I arrived at Germany, I only know few tourist destinations. And from these few, Köln Dom is in the top of my list because it’s so famous as an UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. This is why Köln becomes my first travel destination in Germany. (Visited at 25-26 Aug 2007)


As traveling within Germany is relatively easy, I try to visit major cities and experiencing the city. Since I live in a not-so-big city, I have to learn a lot about how to survive in traveling within big city.

Dating in Germany

Okay, it’s not like what you think. I haven’t date anyone so far. This is just what I have been observed about the social life here. I am sorry if I disappoint you all the readers, but maybe as the time goes by, and with luck, I’ll get my chance ;)

General Attitude of Guys
It’s common here to greet people although you don’t know them. It’s also easy to start a conversation with strangers. (Well of course if you can speak German) But generally, Germans are friendly.

However, although Germans are friendly, they are not flirty. They are warm and nice in welcoming strangers but they will keep behaving in polite manners. So for example, if a girl asking about an address or destination to a guy, he will answer it as it has asked. The guy might help her like taking her to the destination, but surely he won’t take a chance to flirt on her. In Indonesia, for the same situation, the guy will surely ask why the girl want to go there. And most likely, ask for the girl’s phone number as an excuse to make sure that the girl can reach to the destination safely.

If a guy meets an attractive girl in the street or public places, he will just look but won’t do anything further. So a girl here can walk alone peacefully. In Indonesia, if there’s a girl walking alone, then surely when she pass a group of man, she’ll be asked where to go or another kind of saying to attract the girl’s attention. Singing is also one of the ways in attracting the girl’s attention.

From the girl’s point of view: It’s nice that girl can walk alone peacefully, but then we don’t know how’s our rating to the guys here ;)

Regular Places to Find Somebody

Since Germans are not so flirty in the streets, so now you might be wondering when and where they can be flirty. Well, the answer is in the bars, pubs, clubs, and discos. These kinds of places. It seems that these places are designed to meet new people and to make new relationship, so once you go there, the chance to get phone number from attractive guys is bigger.


Although Germans are not flirty in the public places, and clubs etc. are the most common place to start a new relationship, of course there’re also some exceptions. If you are lucky, there’re some guys who willing to take a chance in giving their contact details to a stranger girl in the bus station or train. The later has happened to me. And as a part of my cultural learning program, I contact him to experience German social life. It turns out that he’s smart and a nice partner for discussion. We remain good friend up until now.

Christmas Time

In the 24th, people are still everywhere filling up the streets and stores. But after 2 PM, they become disappear. The stores are closed and people start to fade away from the streets. Only few stores are still open like in the central station or non-Christian shops like Turkish or Asian shops.

I experience this in Munich. My friend even feels surprise to find out for the first time that Munich looks like a ghost town. However when we go to Nymphenburg Schloss/ Palace, many people are visiting there for skating or taking a walk.

In the 25th, no stores are open except the ones in the central station and airport. Well at least, that’s what I saw. The streets are still relatively empty. Not many people there.

I experience this in Munich and Stuttgart. In both places, the public transportation operates rarely than usual.

In the 26th, although most of the stores are still closed but people start appear in the street. Few temporary food stands are open in the city center. Places like city centre and opened tourism objects are full with people.

I experience this in Stuttgart. Again, I remember the situation in tourism places in Indonesia during Idul Fitri. See, it’s not so different…

Christmas Craze

Again, I found the situation is just the same as Idul Fitri in Indonesia. Toward Christmas, every stores offer tons of discounts. And of course, stores are full with people. Really full. Long queuing in front of the cashier becomes regular thing to see. People with big shopping bags are also common to see in the streets. Surely, it’s just the same everywhere, no matter what kind of celebration that you have.

And just like in Idul Fitri, people also going home to celebrate Christmas with their family. Trains and flights are fully booked. What makes it different, people here don’t have to enter the train from the window to get a place.

Christmas Market

This is a temporary market that presents starting early December to the 24th. Things sold in here are mostly foods and beverages. In food section, many kinds of sweets, chocolates, peanuts, and cookies are waiting to shake your taste bud in your tongue. They are incredibly yummy!!! In beverages section there’s a typical drink for Christmas, it’s a special wine called the gluhwein. Other things that sold in here are Christmas decoration and winter accessories.

I think this temporary market is just the same like in Indonesia. Weeks before Idul Fitri, temporary markets are appearing everywhere. Mostly they sell clothes, but F&B is also flooding.