Christmas Markets in Hamburg

Ze Germans certainly know how to put on a good Christmas market. At least the Hamburgers do.

One of my best girlfriends, Jasmin, hails from Hamburg and has been wanting to show off her city to me for a while. I have a soft spot for the festive season (mostly thanks to the Christmas I spent in Scandinavia). So we decided the best time to check out Hamburg would be when the Christmas markets were on.

Thus ensued a weekend of huddling around Christmas markets with friends, eating all kinds of German goodies and drinking too much gluhwein.

Hamburg Hamburg Hamburg

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Oktoberfest in Munich

Since I moved to Europe, I told myself every year, “I’m gonna go to Oktoberfest this year.” But something came up and I didn’t go. Either I thought of it too late and flights were too expensive or I didn’t have a travel companion.

2014 was the year to stop making excuses, find a dirndl and get down to Munich for Oktoberfest.

Along with the dirndl, I managed to find a lovely travel companion as well – my trusted permanent plus one, Catherine.

We landed in Munich on a crisp Saturday morning, made our way to our airbnb, changed, took some shameless selfies and headed straight down to the festival.

I have to admit, I thought Oktoberfest was going to be a collection of beer gardens and tents in the middle-of-nowhere. I was bracing myself for a barren wasteland brimming with drunk tourists. Boy, oh boy was I pleasantly surprised to see a bustling, colourful carnival decked with rides, food trucks, games, shops and both tourists and locals rocking some sexy dirndls and lederhosen.

We indulged in the festive spirit for two days of the closing weekend of the festival and embraced everything German – from the dresses and hairstyles to the food and beverages.

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2013’s Favourite Travel Instagrams

I don’t get to blog as often as I would like to, but I tend to Instagram quite a bit. In 2013 I was lucky enough to visit so many stunning places that I didn’t get a chance to blog about all of them, but I was sure to capture them via my iPhone. Looking back on this amazing year of travel, here are my favourite Instagram photos that I took in 2013.

Follow along for the ride, if you don’t already: @RoopGill on Instagram

Street Art in Berlin

Anne Frank CenterYou don’t need to walk into a gallery in Berlin to see some of the best art this city has to offer. From murals and stencils to graffiti and paste-ups, Berlin is brimming with striking street art. Just stroll around Mitte, Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain to see works from popular artists. While some iconic works (like the Kreuzberg Spaceman and Blu’s murals) are now Berlin landmarks, the street art scene is constantly evolving, largely thanks to the short life span of paste-ups.

I joined an Alternative City Tour to check out the underground culture of Berlin (which I would highly recommend, especially if you don’t know the who’s who of the Berlin art scene).

One of the most popular street artists in Berlin is XOOOOX. His work usually draws inspiration from fashion, but he puts a social commentary spin. Look for his tag stencilled next to all his work.

XOOOOX XOOOOX Berlin

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Historic Berlin

If Rome is called an ‘open-air museum’, then Berlin is at least a powerfully gripping history lesson. Within half a day of walking around this edgy city, you can see some of the most important landmarks from the last century.

In 1871, Berlin became the capital of reunified Germany. After two horrific wars, the city was divided into East and West Berlin and became the battling grounds for ideological struggles of the Cold War era. Even though modern-day Berlin is precisely as old as I am, the city boasts of so much history, art and culture to make any traveller burst with enthusiasm.

I did a free walking tour with Sandemans (which I would highly recommend), but if you would rather grab a map and explore Berlin on your own, here are some of the must-visit sites to reflect on recent history.

Brandenburg Tor

This iconic German symbol is located in the pedestrian-friendly Pariser Platz. Now a bustling tourist hub, it was the site of many important historical events including Hitler’s selection as German chancellor and Kennedy’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech.

Brandenburg Gate

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