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Posts in ‘Things to do in Berlin’

Christmas Time Throughout the World

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Christmas is the best time of the year for many. Spirits are lifted, a chill is in the air, variety of foods are cooked and shared… but most importantly, this is the best season to travel! Whether you’re going simply to meet up with family members or wanting the whole tourist experience, different major cities across the world have different Christmas traditions that are celebrated every year. Why not try and experience them all! Get ready to hear how cities such as New York, London, Berlin, Miami, Melbourne and Paris celebrate the Christmas season. You’ll be booking your trip before you know it!

Christmas around the world

New York

New York City is one of the most Christmas-like feeling cities during the November-December period. It tops the list for one of the liveliest places to visit, considering it’s always a touristy destination to begin with. The crowds are worth the experience. Here, you will see Rockefeller Center- where the biggest Christmas tree you’ll ever see will come to life on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving with its thousands of multi-coloured lights and a star on top. Right beside it, sits the skating rink. It’s small, but if you’ve made it this far, you have to say you’ve done a lap or two. Throw on some skates and enjoy the view; it is the most spacious square you’ll ever be in, in this crowded city. Glide around the rink and enjoy the views. Christmas time in the Big Apple is one of the most wonderful things to experience.

Miami

Moving your way right on down the east coast, down to the very tip of Florida, you will find that if you spend your holidays in Miami, life truly is a beach! Being a huge tourist destination round the year, Miami celebrates and takes the Christmas season to the next level every year as the crowds draw up to be bigger and bigger. Every holiday season, “Santa’s Enchanted Forest” takes over the Miami area filled with lights, rides, fried foods and the best yet, fake snow! Typical Florida. You’re going to want to do it all, but remember to dress lightly. No scarves and gloves will be needed for this trip. Bringing in the Christmas Season wearing a bathing suit on the beach sounds like a pretty good idea, doesn’t it?

London

Christmas in London

Now, hopping on over to the other side of the pond, there are an incredible amount of cities to celebrate the season. Starting with London, you’ll really see Christmas everywhere you go here. Even the tube stations go all out with different holiday lights and trees. Something special that London does, is create a “Winter Wonderland” in its very own Hyde Park, with free admission to walk through the ultimate transformation of the greenery to a never ending light site. Here they have the ultimate combination of skating rinks to rides to photo ops and more. Lines here are so long that they recommend you ordering your tickets online before actually arriving on site. By doing this, you’ll get a fast pass! This park is one of the most magical places in all of London. Nothing beats it when it comes to Christmas!

Paris

If you’ve seen London, you have to see France! Paris is another great destination to spend your holidays in. Disneyland Paris is a popular tourist attraction during the holiday season. The park is bursting with Christmas colours and you get to meet Father Christmas at the Santa Claus Village!

Berlin

Christmas in Berlin

Next, we move on to Berlin. If you’re not entirely over the Christmas season when December 26th hits the calendar, head on over to this city! In many parts of Germany, they continue to celebrate Christmas until January 6th, as this is the day of the arrival of the Three Kings. Also, you’ll find that it’s the best place to do all of your Christmas shopping! Belgium is known for its Christmas markets all over the World, allowing you to buy the most original presents for your friends and family.

Melbourne

Finally, if you’re in the crowd that likes to escape the snow during the holidays, Melbourne might just be your one stop to a beautiful, warm Christmas time. Melbourne has something called “Candles by Candlelight”. A strong Aussie tradition since 1938. Essentially, people gather outside in a park or other outdoor spaces to sing together a song called “Carlos”, a Christmas carol, by candlelight. This is normally accompanied by a band. Although many cultures have adopted this tradition around the world, the biggest and best place to experience this, is in the country that it started in. Every year, this event is located right in Melbourne at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

There are so many cool places to experience around this Christmas season. Experiencing different Christmas cultures and celebrations around the globe makes for a more diverse you. So get out there and see the world during the holidays! Create your own Santa’s Sleigh and travel till your heart feels content.

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What’s New On isango! – August 2014

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Well, the travel season has really taken off and isango! has some fine offerings for you to check out.  So pack up your travel bags and come fly with us to a variety of destinations around the world.

Vienna Evening Bike Tour
Vienna has managed to preserve its architectural landmarks that make it such a charming city.  One is swept away to an older elegant time after walking or cycling down its unsullied boulevards.  The beauty of the Ringstrasse, flanked by an unbroken stretch of magnificent buildings including the Burgtheater, is matched by the unhurried flow of water in the Donaukanal or the soaring spires of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

The Historic Centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Once, the capital of the Hapsburg dynasty, Vienna retains much of the cultural cross pollination of its heyday.  Its imperial past is there for all to see, especially in such fine buildings as the Oper and the Börse.  All these are illuminated in the evening adding to their appeal.

The Singapore Flyer with Free Hop-On Hop-Off ticket
Getting on the Singapore Flyer is really going for the heights.  Till just a short while ago, it was the tallest observation wheel in the world.  It has now achieved the status of a Singapore icon.  With 28 air-conditioned capsules mounted outboard, you enjoy unobstructed views on the entire 32 minute ride.

Singapore Flyer 1

The best time to ride the Flyer is probably around sunset when the light gives the skyscrapers a mystic feel.  The Flyer is the best place to see and get a feel for the beauty of Singapore.  As a bonus you get views of Malaysia and Indonesia. Also, you get a free Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing pass with this tour!

Sydney Harbour Tall Ship “Convict” Cruise
This tour is not what it sounds like.  You don’t sweat it out in the galley.  You get to do it in style with a glass of champagne, wine or beer and a grand buffet lunch while sailing past Sydney’s magnificent skyline in a genuine 1850s tall ship.

Sydney harbour convict cruise

The journey around beautiful Sydney harbour also includes a tour of Goat Island, which witnessed important events in Sydney’s history.  Your guide will give you very entertaining and interesting facts about the history of the convicts.

At the Top: Burj Khalifa
The view of Dubai and the surrounding area is simply spectacular from the 124th floor of the world’s tallest man-made structure.  In conjunction with the other attractions, the Burj Khalifa has put Dubai on the world tourism map.  Even the journey to the top of the building is an adventure.  From the reception you get on to a ‘travelator.’  This 65 metre trip is a history lesson of Dubai.  The ascent to the observation deck is via a high-speed elevator that does funny things to your tummy.

burj khalifa day 1

The Burj is an engineering and urban masterpiece.  Once you are on the observation deck and looking at the vista spread out, you get a real understanding of Dubai’s remarkable vision and achievements.

Lunch at the Berlin TV Tower
One of the really great places to see all of Berlin is from the TV Tower.  The tower (also known as the Berliner Fernsehturm) is the city’s tallest structure at 368 metres.  There is a panoramic viewing level at 203 metres that gives you a fabulous view of Berlin.

Another great and unforgettable experience is to sit down and have a meal at the elegant revolving restaurant.  Located just above the viewing area, the restaurant revolves once every hour – just the right amount of time for you to have your meal and admire Berlin from your table.

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Brrrrr-lin in the Winter

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Berlin is certainly one of the most beautiful cities to explore, but once winter hits, you might find that walking and bike tours are more fitting for the warmer months.  Don’t rule out winter as a time to visit, as Berlin’s charm is still visible, if not accentuated by freshly fallen snow, Christmas decorations, and multiple activities reminding you that wintertime isn’t just for hibernating.

Christmas Markets

With over 50 different Christmas markets spread over the large squares and smaller allys, Berlin really captures the spirit of the holiday season wherever you run into them.  And you won’t be running into the same products over and over again, each market seems to specialize in different areas offering you a wide variety of gifts, gadgets, and goodies to browse through.

christmas-market You can go to the Gendarmenmarkt which features not only local embroidery, woodwork, stonemasonry, and food, but also there are shows which include performances by acrobatics, jugglers, musicians, and artists.  Or if you’re looking for something more low-key (relatively speaking to the glitz and glamour that can take over these markets), you can try the international Market of the Continents which supports social and structural projects from around the world.  When the native, handmade products are purchased from these traders it goes to their community to help their development.  Even better, this market is held indoors so even the snow can’t stop you.

Shows and Ballets

Outside may be snowy, dark, and cold, but what better way to capture the spirit of the holidays than a show by a world-renowned ballet, soothing orchestra, or fantastical entertainment?

candlelight-dinner I’ll be the first to admit that anything with the word “palace” sparks my interest, and this experience wouldn’t fall short of any expectations.  Enjoying a sumptuous dinner by candlelight in the Charlottenburg Palace Orangery, followed by what feels like a personal performance from the Berlin Palace Orchestra couldn’t make me feel better about escaping the cold in the warm and cozy comforts of this palace.

stage-show The Friedrichstadt Palast Stage Show is another alternative, less emphasis on the romance and instead, a complete focus on putting the audience in awe.  It’s safe to say that goal is always accomplished at the state-of-the-art theater where the stage is a show in itself.  With the addition of talented dancers, acrobatics, singers, and musicians, you’re mind will be in disbelief at what is presented in front of you.  Just call it a Christmas miracle.

Who could forget the Nutcracker?  Follow the classic story of a young girl and her doll on a Christmas Eve adventure.  Music by the infamous Tchaikovsky, and performed by the internationally acclaimed Russian National Ballet, this is one show that is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!

Pubs

berlin-pub Finally, there is no better way to warm up than having a drink at a local pub.  With authentic taverns and numerous choices of drinks at the cocktail lounges, live music and even rooftop gardens over looking the city, there is no shortage to your options.  Berlin is filled with a wide variety of relaxing pubs and lively clubs, but they all give you a taste of the nightlife culture.

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Friday Facts: The Berlin Wall

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This year it’s been 50 years since the Berlin Wall was build. The Berlin Wall separated East Berlin from West Berlin for nearly three decades until it finally came down in 1989.

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courtesy of E. Liparova

This picture was taken last Saturday during the 50th anniversary commemorations, from the Bernauer Strasse where there’s still a section of the Berlin Wall standing.

Quick History

After WWII Germany was divided between America, France, Great Britain and the USSR; Berlin too was divided in four. Soon Germany became a pawn between two world ideologies (Capitalism vs Communism) and the Berlin Wall became a symbol of the Cold War. West Germany’s economy bloomed and many East Germans tried to flee West. The easiest way to this was by reaching West-Berlin, a capitalist island in the communist East.  To prevent a complete exodus the communists erected the Berlin Wall, practically overnight on the 12th and 13th of August 1961.

Facts on the Berlin Wall:

  • After the 1961 wall was built, another one was erected parallel to it but 100 yards further. The space in between was  known as the Death Strip. It was covered with gravel to spot footprints and filled with tripwire booby traps and mines. Guards were also ordered to shoot anyone crossing.
  • Checkpoint Charlie was the third and most famous checkpoint opened by the US; it got its name from the phonetic alphabet. It was the scene of a dramatic stand-off between American and Soviet tanks in 1961 and from 1962 it was the only place where foreigners visiting Berlin could cross from West to East and back again.
  • The first version of the wall was no more than a barbed wire fence. The 1975 incarnation of the Berlin Wall would be the most memorable:  45000 separate sections of reinforced concrete, 3.6m high and 1.5 wide. It had barbed wire, mesh fencing, signal fencing and watch towers.
  • The Fall of the Berlin Wall happened in 1989 when communism already started the crumble. After a new law was made to allow East Germans to travel freely on the 9th of November 1989 thousands East Germans flocked to the Berlin Wall and people were seen hugging and dancing on top of the wall.

bebelplatz_6462_3Berlin has since become a very popular place to visit and is renowned for its art and culture scene. Take a tour in Berlin on a segway and zoom through the beautiful city visiting all the key places of Berlin’s rich history, like the Berlin Wall.

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A-to-Z of Places to See!

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Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland - conner395

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland - conner395

A is for Athens, Greece: Not only is Athens the largest city in Greece, but it’s one of the oldest in the world, with plenty of ancient monuments to show for it. An afternoon of sightseeing will undoubtedly take you to the Parthenon on the Acropolis; just don’t forget that there are canals, tombs, sanctuaries, and beaches to explore too!

B is for Berlin, Germany: Though once thought to be home to little more than war ruins, Berlin has become a thriving cultural city. Festivals take place throughout the year, and the city is home to the original technicolour Love Parade. Visit one of the many art museums or galleries around the city, take a historical tour, or see the famous Blue Man Group.

C is for Cádiz, Spain: Located at the very southernmost tip of Spain, Cádiz is home to some of Spain’s most beautiful beaches. Come for the Carnival of Cádiz, one of the world’s most famous fiestas, and once you’ve had enough song, music, and dance, it’s easy to take a day trip to Morocco via ferry or bus! continue reading

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Berlin gets into carnival mood

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The German capital will let it all hang out at the Berlin Carnival Parade once again this year on February 22nd.

This cavalcade of dancing, music, entertainment and weird and wonderful costumes has become a firm favourite for locals and visitors on Berlin tours alike.

With its family-friendly atmosphere, this event has grown in scale every year and in 2009 it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Its route takes the parade from its starting point in Ernst-Reuter Platz and past some of the most famous sights of this fascinating metropolis ending up on Kundaam, which is a key spot for sightseeing and shopping in the city.

In the two decades since the fall of the infamous wall, Berlin has become known as something of European party capital, with renowned nightclubs and world-famous outdoor events.

The Berlin Carnival Parade is certainly one of the year’s highlights and is sure to provide fun for all ages.

Why not book the Super Berlin Tour before you travel?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19037358-ADNFCR

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Berlin welcomes the summer with famous concert

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Visitors on Berlin tours are invited to enjoy a fantastic summer’s evening in the beautiful forests surrounding the city later this year.

On June 27th the famous Waldbuhne wooded area on the outskirts of the city becomes a magical open-air concert venue as the Berliner Philharmoniker brings its season of concerts to a close.

Whole families make the journey to this enchanting spot for the occasion and many bring bountiful picnics of champagne and other gourmet nibbles as they settle down for an unmissable programme of classic music.

The concert usually ends with a performance of the traditional favourite Berliner Luft, prompting much singing-along and swellings of pride among the audience.

This yearly highlight of the city’s cultural calendar stands on a similar footing to the world-famous Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London and is held is very high regard by not only the audience but people all across Germany.

Why not book The Original Berlin by Bike tour in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19032028-ADNFCR

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Berlin comes over a little queer at the Verzaubert Film Festival

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The very best in gay and lesbian cinema and short films will be showcased once again this year at the Verzaubert International Queer Film Festival in Berlin.

From March 18th to 25th this event will see the scene’s best-known acting, directing and writing talent descend on the German capital, along with a host of the most promising up-and-comers.

The festival is now in its 18th year and since its inception in 1991 has grown from strength to strength, which included a name change to include the word ‘queer’ to reflect the gay community’s reclamation of a word formerly used as a means of denigration.

This year’s event promises to be as big and as bold as ever and with a host of screenings, premieres, events and parties on offer, visitors on Berlin tours should stop by during the event for a unique insight into the world of gay and lesbian cinema.

Why not book the Wintergarten Variete Theater tour in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19030657-ADNFCR

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Shopaholics on high alert for Berlin’s long night

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Some cities offer late nights of gallery openings or midnight film screenings and while this kind of high-brow cultural activity is very much a part of Berlin tours, the Late Night of Shopping usually attracts just as many visitors.

On selected dates every March and October, the German capital’s famous retail strip of Kurfurstendamm and the surrounding area opens far later than usual, coinciding with the altering of the clocks and the change of the seasons.

Many stores open until around midnight and there are several fairs and street parties to make the event even more special.

Live music and other entertainment is on offer at a number of specially-erected stages around the city centre, so even after all the credit cards have been maxed visitors to the city can still have a good time without spending a single Euro.

Why not book the Famous Insider Walk Tour in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19029583-ADNFCR

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Berlin welcomes spring with contemporary music festival

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Berlin will herald the coming of the spring with one of the highlights of its cultural calendar from March 20th to 29th.

The Maerz Musik festival will include a busy schedule of performances of works by some of the world’s leading contemporary composers.

A number of the most famous and promising performers in this field will be in the German capital as part of this innovative and forward-looking event, which will also include a number of lectures and talks, as well as experimental attractions including sound installations and workshops.

Notable elements of the programme include the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble’s performance at the Jewish Museum on Sunday 22nd and Nieuw Ensemble Amsterdam at Radialsystem V on Monday 23rd.

Whether lovers of the contemporary classic scene or curious newcomers to this challenging and fascinating cultural world, visitors should make a point of including Maerz Musik in their Berlin tours this spring.

Why not book the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Tour in advance?ADNFCR-1652-ID-19029463-ADNFCR

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