Sunday, August 28, 2016

Berliner Umland or the one in which Schlachtplatte works on making up for Vienna

Basically, there is one rule that I from now on shall stick to: Summer vacation must predominantly be spent by the sea, even better by the ocean. The good thing about living in Berlin is that the Baltic sea is only a day trip (if a long one) away! So I packed my tent and headed out of town.

On my way to the Baltics, I stopped in Kyritz an der Knatter (I swear I did not make up those names!). In the Knatter (?), there is a little island with a restaurant that apparently has been a local favorite Ausflugslokal for decades and after some years of closure, has recently been beautifully revived by someone who moved from Kreuzberg to Kyritz. 

The love put into die Insl is clearly visible. Staff are very friendly, even on a busy day, the sings and decorations are all very cute without being too much (as in: they are Hipster-friendly, but speak equally well to the people who have been coming there for decades). The burgers were yummy, the fries allright, and the cake really nice too. 
To get there, you have to knock on a frying-pan-turned-bell and then a friendly old ferryman will come and pick you up (the journey is 2 Euros for the round trip). Kyritz is a little over one hour from Berlin (if you're not stuck in traffic like your's truly... this vacation really tested me!), so well worth a day trip on the weekend.

I on the other hand did not head back to Berlin but continued to Rheinsberg where you should absolutely take a guided tour through the castle, so worth it! (plus, the Edeka supermarket in Rheinsberg!?!? It feels like you're in a posh neighborhood in Berlin and not somewhere in the middle of nowhere...). I put up my tent at lake Bikow with view of the lake!
Then I continued my track up to the Baltics with a stop in Waren an der Müritz, which is Germany's largest inland lake. If you see a pattern here, you're right: I slowly worked my way up with regards to size of water!

While Waren is really boring, you should definitely take a boatride on the lakes. Mine was about 3 hours and while the weather was as autumn-like as often this summer, it was well worth it! 

See you soon at the Baltics!

copyright of all photos j.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The one in which schlachtplatte back in early March decides that Vienna would be a great place to spend her summer vacation but of course would now have much rather gone to the ocean

So in March, I went to the movies and watched this documentary .

Now, the thing is: if you watch a documentary on "summer in *insert random country or city here*" in March in Berlin, it looks like a brilliant idea to immediately go and book a trip there because you are longing for summer. But that's exactly the problem - you are longing for summer and not necessarily for the place said documentary is about.  
But, I went ahead and booked a 5 day trip to Vienna in August. Parental advisory: don't try this at home kids, because, let's face it, when it's August, you want to be at the ocean.

But, having said all this, I made the best of a city trip for which I was no longer so enthusiastic, by calling it a beach holiday. The idea was: try at least 4 swimming pools or beaches with no pressure to tick off all the classic sights of Vienna. 

And so I did! 
On day one, I went to Neuwaldegger Bad, which is definitely on the pricier side (come after 3 pm when it's cheaper, and yes, 3 pm means 3 pm. If you arrive 7 minutes early, the Gnädige Frau at the entrance tells you you have to wait until the news are on the radio...). I didn't take any photos there, but it's a very sophisticated bath, beautiful pool, nice lawn and excellent Butterbrot at the small restaurant. And their Kästchen (which apparently are totally essential in pools in Vienna) are wooden gems of early 20th century craftmenship. 

Gänsehäufel is a true classic when it comes to Danube beaches in Vienna and all the above pictures were taken there. It takes a while to get there by public transportation, but it's worth the trip. There are several beaches plus a wave pool, which I did not try though.

The only day when it didn't look like I could go swimming, I decided to spend the afternoon in Bratislava, which I basically only did to have a new country on my list (and, on top of that, a country that my sister doesn't have on her list... ... yes, I know how childish this sounds).

At least on a Friday afternoon, Bratislava suffers from British stag party easy jetters, and the entire old town is an endless line of touristy restaurants. All in all, I wouldn't recommend going there. 

But of course, I did not only swim in Vienna, but also dived into Austrian cuisine. By far (honestly, by far, far) the best cakes and Mehlspeisen are served at Café Demel . Yes, it is expensive, but compared to other places (like, the Sacher café which is totally, totally overrated), it is very much worth every penny. The mouthwatering Marillenknödel pictured below with a humongous amount of Semmelbrösel for instance cost 7,80 Euros, which considering the fact that Demel is the number one Konditorei and former Hoflieferant, is a fair price. 

Considering Kaffehäuser, I went to Café Central, which is really disappointing, I'm sure it belongs to some big culinary chain. 
Café Sperl is a nice choice for breakfast and for reading the newspaper, it seems to be a Kaffehaus that is actually still frequented by locals, not just by tourists.
I didn't have time to eat or drink something at Café Prückel, only to peek inside, but it's definitely worth going there, maybe not for the cake, but definitely for a drink and the museum-like interior which teleports you back in time to the 1950s. 

Another beach I visited was one of the Strandbäder at Alte Donau. These are a lot easier to reach by public transport and also very very nice. All in all I was really surprised how clean and warm the Danube was.

An aboslute must see is the Eiscafé Tichy. Their Eismarillenknödel?!?! OMG! It's so so good that it's well worth the small detour to Reumannplatz. We are not talking haute cuisine icecream, but a truely authentic place where staff wear a funky uniform which again makes you feel like you travelled in time. I wish I had gone there hungrier to try even more of their ice creations, but I definitely would urge everyone to absolutely get an Eismarillenknödel.

On Sunday morning, I went to the last must-visit pool on my list, the Krapfenwaldbad, which is like almost outside of Vienna and it takes forever to get there, but it's so worth it! It's as meticulously clean and well kept as all the other pools, plus it comes with an absolutely stunning view of Vienna! I must say, people in Vienna are really good at this Bäderkultur!

But of course I also squeezed in one or two museums, of which I most definitely would recommend the Rotes Wien Museum im Waschsalon. Take the guided tour if possible and learn all about the impressive history of communal housing (which is omnipresent in Vienna), of which the Karl Marx Höfe are just one small part. It was highly fascinating how progressive social democrats used to be once upon a time! Free childcare, affordable housing for everyone, why are these things no longer at the center of politics these days?