Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Matryeshka, Dec 29, 2016.
There's a great one in Prinzlauerberg called something like Eco Express I've used several times.
Can't speak for Berlin or other parts of Europe, but laundromats are extremely unusual in Ireland too. Practically all houses and apartments have their own washing machines.
In big French cities they're everywhere and there are a fair few in London too.
Whenever we worked in Dublin, we'd drop off our clothes to be laundered. It was done by weight and came back folkded much better than I ever could, and the prices were very reasonable. At Bewley's hotels, you could drop off the clothes bag at the front desk and pick up the next day for a small service charge (until corporate forced us into "approved" hotels).
First of all, thank you for all the advice! I probably won't take any of it, but it will be good to have my "I should have" list already done And I can also tell that many of you are in a WAY higher income bracket than I am. Rick Stevens is NOT for people on a budget, nor do I have multiple ATM cards/credit cards from multiple banks. I have one ATM card and one credit card and am lucky to have those (managing credit is not one of my strong suits). Nor am I collecting art (though I would love to--If I had the time, money, space, I do think that is a fantastic, meaningful souvenir. Unfortunately, I am more of the Eiffel Tower key chain class of tourist).
As fascinating as the laundry discussion is, even if they were on every single corner, I am NOT visiting a laundromat. We did get our final itinerary and we basically go 7am to 10pm everyday, with a maybe two hour break, and I'm not going to spend that time in a laundry. Though it looks like as a group we will be going to a grocery/convenience store thing (I'm sure the workers there will be thrilled) so I am not going to bring my beloved hair products, and I think I might splurge and get a Keratin hair treatment so I can leave my flat iron at home, or deal with my hair in its natural, kinky state
But there are some things I will be doing:
@Nomad , I will be making copies and emailing them to myself.
@balletmaus , thanks for the advice on Germany in general, especially the volts. It turns out my flat iron is NOT dual voltage, so I'm glad I checked!
@Aceon6 , @flyingsit , @Rob , I will be bringing leggings instead of jeans. I LOVE leggings, and my brother's gf has recently learned how to make them (she's a budding fashion designer). She's agreed to make me some at cost for the practice, so score. I'll probably still bring one pair but three does seem excessive. And I hadn't considered trying to wash them in a hostel.
Speaking of, @millyskate the girlfriend also gave me moisturizer and some make-up especially for this trip! She said that's the one thing she craves on a trip, and the air in south La is REALLY humid, so I feel like I'll need it in a dryer, colder climate.
@PrincessLeppard , there are five chaperones going and I'm not the main one. The group organizer likes for the parents to go, in fact, it's a requirement for all 8th and 9th graders going. As for the bathrooms, I don't know. We do get them in Switzerland, but to me, this is something worth a little bit extra. Although, we do have private travel from place to place (our own bus) so maybe costs had to be cut in other ways.
@vesperholly , I WILL be buying that booksack thing. Besides the Keratin treatment, it will be my pre-trip splurge. I'm also chaperoning Senior Grad Bash night trip, so it will come in handy. I have not bought new luggage in at least ten years, so I don't think it's an unreasonable expenditure. I did not even thing about hauling luggage up flights of stairs/lack of elevators.
I would love to buy that sash thing, it looks perfect for my needs, but I can only afford one, and I'll get more use out of the booksack/luggage/carry on deal.
@emilieh , good advice on the walking. I have already started parking farther when I go places and upped my Fitbit goal from 10K steps per day to 15K, and plan to up it again in February.
I own two ATM cards for the same account (not different banks). I don't recall being charged any fee for it (I live in Canada). I leave one in my hotel room, and bring the other one with me. I would think you could simply ask for one.
I do have another question--our group leader suggested we budget for the equivalent of $30/day (which is 28 Euro/day according to today's conversion rate), but that seems low to me. Our breakfast and dinner are taken care of, so we only need to buy lunch meal wise, and our excursions are taken care of. The second-in-command said plan for closer to $100, but that seems high.
The budget would depend on what you'll do, I think. Many of Berlin's sights have website (I would assume others do, too), so you could check admission fees if you have to pay for them individually. Many do have group tickets though, if I remember correctly.
For Berlin, I would think that $30 is a little on the low side. Of course, it depends on where you eat but if you eat in the more tourist-y areas then it can be more expensive. Depending on how much money you'll spend on souvenirs and snacks/drinks, I think $50 might be a good number for Berlin. If you end up spending less, money saved
Do you know what you'll do public transport wise in Berlin yet? As I said, there's a tourist ticket for 72 hours which would be perfect since you said you'll stay for three days. I think there are also group tickets available but I'm not sure. A day ticket (valid until 3 a.m. the following morning) is €7,70
Public transport cost is included in our costs so I don't have to worry about that.
As for food, my first time visiting a place, I tend to like to go for more street food, local places. I've found that fancy food is fancy food the world over. Tiny portions, rich sauces, waiters constantly filling your water whether you want them to or not, blah blah. Some people chase ambulances, I chase food trucks. I feel like that food is more unique and gives you the pulse of the city better. Germany might be difficult for me--I hate cabbage. I hate things that are pickled. I only like chicken or turkey sausage. Not a huge beer drinker. I've never met a schnitzel I've liked, but I am a fan of your spätzle. Yummy, spätzle. And Riesling. I have however heard that Berlin is where it's at for Turkish and Greek food, and I'm all about Turkish and Greek food.
I know that Germany is known for its bakers, and that's true in New Orleans as well--our most famous bakers/bakeries are German interpretations of French bread/cakes. (Or the Vietnamese. It's a toss up as to whose better at baking.) So I'm definitely looking to do some damage in the pastry department. I don't know where we're staying yet, but am hoping to pre-select some bakeries to hit before I leave. Bread and desserts are very, very, very important to me. I will stalk and murder a Black Forest cake. There will be no evidence of the crime. I will be completely unrepentant.
Well, I wasn't referring to fancy food but in the tourist-y areas even a regular pizza and something to drink can be rather expensive. Schnitzel is not traditional Berlin, and cabbage depends. We have Sauerkraut which is very different from kale or red cabbage. I never associate it with cabbage actually and have to remind myself that it is cabbage.
We have a lot of "Curry wurst" (Curry Sausage) which, I think, is very traditional Berlin. I think you can also find places which sell chicken or turkey sausage. Additionally, you can find a lot of small Döner, Gyros and Asian food places (often, they're small stores rather than actual food trucks) which all sell food to go. And pizza to go is pretty popular, too. That kind of food is rather inexpensive, so you might actually be able to get out of Berlin with a budget of $30 per day.
You can also find some food trucks which sell roasted chicken but I don't know how popular they are. I just see them every now and then.
You may want to look for the pastries in Munich, if that's still on the list. Traditional bakeries have become rare in Berlin as two or three big name companies took over. (Wiedemann and Thürmann, I think). Now most of them get deliveries from a central factory and don't bake themselves anymore. There are a few cafés spread throughout the city though and many of those still do the baking themselves. There's a tiny café in the Berlin Dom which has some great homemade cakes. Those are the places where you'll most likely to find Black Forest cake, too.
Finding bread should be no problem though. That you can find pretty much everywhere in all varieties.
What else do you imagine you'd spend money on? Asking honestly. Food and tickets are usually the costliest daily expense. Public transport? Souvenirs at every location? 28 euro seems like plenty for one meal unless perhaps you're planning to go to nice restaurants and drink alcohol.
Good gods, no to sauerkraut. Or pizza. Unless I'm in New York, I'm actually not a fan of pizza. I don't know why--I love cheese and tomatoes, but pizza to me is something I'll eat if it's there, but would never choose on my own.
What about seafood? I love seafood. Are there any seafood specialties Berlin or Munich are known for? Crabs, mussels, oysters, lobsters, white fish, red fish, ALL THE FISHES. I'm difficult, I know. I'm that horrible American who says, oh yes, I want to experience ALL THE LOCAL STUFF but...really doesn't. I just want my food that I like served by someone in lederhosen or a dirndl.
I want a dirndl. I'm kind of serious about that.
No to nice restaurants. I think the only place I'll buy souvenirs is Germany, and possibly chocolate in Switzerland, so the more I read here, the more I think 28 is reasonable. I have about 310 saved in change and hopefully can save up another $75 plus my tax return means that I should be good for money--I was really worried about money. I do plan on having a drink or two, but only on the days that I don't have chaperoning duties and I have no intention of getting stupid drunk because 1. I'm on a school trip and I don't want my students seeing me drunk (we are allowed to drink while not on duty), 2. I am aware that I am a representative of my country and want the Europeans I come into contact with to have a GOOD opinion of Americans, and 3. I'm going with colleagues with whom I don't hang out with on a regular basis and I want to have my wits (all three of them) about me. I don't want to be sucked into discussions about politics or religion or any other such things.
You can get fish rolls in Berlin. They, too, are often sold out of small stores. "Nordsee" is pretty popular. Herring is a pretty popular Berlin fish/dish and you can get herring rolls. (A traditional Berlin meal is marinated herring with peeled potatoes for example). But you also get a lot of other fish there. (The usual like salmon and shrimp and some other stuff)
Trout is pretty popular in Germany but you usually get that in restaurants and often times, it has bones in it.
I think if you come across a "Nordsee" restaurant (the downstairs foodcourt of the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden has one or at least used to the last time I was there) you might also be able to get fried Calamari (They're fried squid rings. When they're good quality, they're delicious).
Something called Zander in German (and the dictionary says is pike-perch in English) is a specialty in Austria, so it might be available in Munich. I think there are also some restaurants which sell it in Berlin but you need the more simple ones for that, I think.
Even if you see someone selling mussels, I wouldn't necessarily recommend eating them. I don't know what the rule is in the US but in Germany it's mussels are good when they're sold in months ending with the letter "r". For us, that's September until February.
In Berlin we have pretty much everything when it comes to food and everything is offered pretty much everywhere, so it's hard to know what is traditional and what is not. Usually, the simpler, the more traditional it is.
You'll have to wait until Munich for that but I'm sure you'll find it there (Unless you find a Bavarian restaurant in Berlin which you probably can if you looked)
I tell my kids $100 a day. Most don't spend anywhere near that, but it prevents me from buying their lunch on the last three days of the trip...
I'd say 40 a day with a 200 contingency fund for your whole trip. I always end up spending more than I plan when travelling because you see that one thing you'll never be able to see/do again. But 100 is OTT. You'll probably end up buying one item of clothing or artwork that you like at some stage. And hot drinks, if you're walking around a lot. They add up!
ETA: the trip is three weeks, right?
Nine days--I wish it was 3 weeks!! We leave on Easter Sunday (April 16) and come back on the 25th. We got our dates today. We--the chaperones--were actually dancing in the hallway. A senior had to tell us to get to class.
Is Berlin the first city you visit? 'Cause Easter Monday is a stores-closed kind of holiday. Not sure how much of a holiday it is in any of the other cities you'll visit.
If you're getting a real meal at dinner and you like the food (I took a student tour to the USSR in 1972--don't ask), you probably won't want a sit-down meal at lunch. I found Germany a good country for quick carry-out meals because there were lots of places where you could buy sandwiches with a variety of meats, cheeses, cucumber, and so on, prepared on different types of bread. And very often there were cups of cut-up fruit available as well. Both were available from breakfast time on, so I had a lot of sandwich breakfasts.
The Turkish/Middle Eastern places I encountered were all fast-food spots, which I didn't try, but I'm sure there must be restaurants as well. Berlin is a very good city for non-German food, though things were a bit under-spiced by my standards.
If you exceed the $30/day estimate I don't think it will be because of food costs unless you do something like eat lunch at museum cafes.
Believe me, I don't take Rick Steves' tours. Their daily cost is 2-1/2 or 3 times what I spend. I am seriously cheap.
With regards to shoes, I agree that Timberlands are too heavy. But if you are going to be doing activities that require something sturdier than a good walking shoe, you might look into getting a pair of Blundstone boots. They are pretty much indestructible and waterproof, and also amazingly lightweight compared to similar boots. I just had a pair of Blundies resoled that have been to five continents and worn for everything for city walking to climbing rocky hills. And their appearance is nice enough that you can wear them for slightly more formal occasions than hill climbing
It is also very rare in the Czech Republic. You may find some in Prague, but I have never seen any.
All households have their own washing machine, so people don't generally use laundromat. But you will find dry cleaners pretty easily.
The Czech Rep don't have sea, so forget sea food. It is imported, so it is far too expensive and made from frozen, not fresh.
Typical street food for Czech rep:
Bramborak (potato pancake, probably smilar to Latke)
Langos (originally Hungarian but became very popular)
Smazeny syr or Smazeny hermelin (cheese dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried)
Raznici (meat on skewers, similar to kebab)
Hot dogs (but different version than the weird thing people are eating in the UK)
Various grilled or fried sausages that you eat with mustard and bread (parek, burt, klobasa)
@hanca , besides the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, and St. Vitus Cathedral, what do you recommend I see/do in Prague?
Krizikova fontana is very good. They are closed in the winter, but in April they are open.
Dress up warmply though because you would be sitting outside for about 45 minutes.