When I woke up on the day I was supposed to do my Alternative Berlin tour, the forecast was rain, rain and more rain. And the day after wasn’t looking any better. This tour had come highly recommend from one of my coolest friends and the internet, so I knew I had to suck it up. The Alternative Berlin tour departs at 11am and 1pm daily. It’s a three-hour walking tour, so be prepared! The tour is free, but that being said, you are expected to tip. (trust me, you’ll want to!)
Our tour guide was a super knowledgeable guy with a thick Scottish accent (no complaints here!). We started off at the Berlin Wall gallery and explored both East and West Berlin. Our tour guide took us to cultural hubs, unique spaces and of course, we got to see lots of graffiti.
We heard to story and saw YAAM, a Jamaican cultural center and man made beach in the summer months. We saw a small piece of land that an early immigrant claimed as his own. We saw a bridge where every summer, East meets West and has a huge food fight. The bridge actually shuts down for this event! We learned about the small engraved golden squares that can be seen in some neighbourhoods mixed in with the cobblestones. (It shows you were a Jewish person lived or worked before the Holocaust) We learned about graffiti artists and our last stop was a courtyard that was filled with graffiti, and gets changed almost daily. (I was tempted to add my own art!)
The tour was engaging, and super interesting. Even though it was pouring rain (and I hate rain) I stuck around because it was just so awesome. We did get one break for lunch (I had a falafel). Our guide was also there to offer us tips and encouraged us to ask him any questions and was able to make recommendations. I give this tour a 9 out of 10. It’s a must do if you are into art, interesting spaces and getting to know a city.
While we were in Florence, we took a day out to visit Pisa! We took a local train, and it was only half an hour away. It was about a 10 minute walk (in blazing, blazing heat!) from the station. We were prepared and had ordered our tickets online months in advance. This way, we got to avoid the (long) lines!
Climbing the tower was a little tricky because it was so narrow! The higher you got, the more narrow it became. Luckily, it was pretty cool in the tower with its stone walls, so it wasn’t that hot. The view was worth it!!
Ahhh. Florence’s leather market. I still have dreams about this market, and I deeply regret not buying a portfolio case in candy coloured hues. But that’s a discussion for another time….
This market is AMAZING. Rows and rows of leather belts, bags, purses, wallets and more in every hue imaginable. The vendors mostly only accept cash, and few accept credit cards. You can haggle here, and you should to get the best price. I paid 50 euros for that teal tote up there, and about 15 Euros for the bright yellow purse I have below. You can also buy leather jackets, gloves and other non leather items, such as jewelry. One thing that was missing for me was shoes. They don’t really sell shoes here, only one or two stalls.
The Mercato di San Lorenzo is open from 10am-7pm in the Piazza San Lorenzo, Florence. If you go to Florence, I strongly recommend you don’t miss this market!
The Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt is quite possibly one of the most chaotic, random, awesome places that you can go in Paris.
The name translates literally to, Market of Fleas, and is thought to be the oldest flea market in the world. It’s also largest flea market in the world, totaling nearly 11 million visitors annually! Get off at the Metro stop, “Porte de Clignancourt” (the longest subway ride ever.) and walk a bit. You’ll start out seeing typical flea market wares. Cheap clothing, shoes, a little bling. Vendors trying to sell you knock off Chanel purses and watches. Keep going. Mixed in, you will find some great places to buy souvenirs to take home with you. I picked up some Art Nouveau magnets, compact mirrors and coasters for a nominal fee. I also bought berets, scarves and a I <3 Paris shirt.
But I digress. Keep walking and you will eventually get to rue des Rosiers. Here you will start to find antiques, furniture, art prints, vintage clothing, letterpress type, old mirrors…everything. It’s a huge, exhausting, exhilarating jumble of everything.
Yes, everything. Go early and take your time. There are about 2500 stalls! The Market opens on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 9am to about 6pm. Happy exploring!
In Montmartre, Paris, there is a wall of love. The wall is covered in “I love you,”s in hundreds of languages. The I love you wall is the brainchild of Frederic Baron. He went around collecting over a thousand I love yous by asking people to write it down. When they did, he would note where they were from and what language it was in.
The wall of love is in beautiful Montmartre, Paris. During my brief visit there, I saw couples from around the world posing with the wall. I myself am guilty of taking a few cheesy shots. What’s not to love about a wall of love? The wall is located in the Jehan Rictus garden, on the place des Abbesses in Montmartre.
Forgive me if I’ve been a bit scattered, readers. My head has been in the clouds, because I’m taking a dream trip in May to France and Italy! I’ve been stressing out over choosing the right hotel, and saving up! I’m also going to New York in a couple of weeks! Expect lots of travel posts!