Category Archives: travel

Suggested Itinerary for Berlin 3 Day Museum Pass

Following up with my 10 Tips for Using and Maximizing a 3 Day Berlin Museum Pass, here is a suggested itinerary for those who want to see Berlin’s world famous museums, contemporary art, and photography in a packed 3 days.

Day 1

Altes Museum

Pergamon Altar at Pergamon MuseumTake the U-Bahn to Friedrichsstrasse or Oranienburgerstrasse and walk to the Museuminsel. Spend the day wandering the Lustgarten, visiting the Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum, and Bode Museum. The recently reopened Neues Museum is a spectacular building in and of itself. Make sure to observe the carefully reconstructed rooms, in addition to the priceless artifacts. The “Bust of Nefertiti”, the most beautiful woman in Berlin, is the reason everyone goes. Though not the largest museum, the Pergamon Museum was the highlight for me and worth at least 1.5 hours to see the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Take a break in the cafe of the Bode Museum (note that the Pergamon Museum does not have a cafe). You can also visit the Berliner Dom and Neue Synagoge, which are very close by Museuminsel but neither is included on the Museum Pass.

Day 2

Mao Warhol Hamburger Bahnhof

Malle Babbe GemaldegalerieTake the U-Bahn to Hauptbahnhof and walk to Hamburger Bahnhof to see contemporary art in a former railway station. Then take the U-Bahn to Potsdamerplatz to visit the museums of the Kulturforum, including the Gemäldegalerie and Neue Nationalgalerie. You could pop around the Sony Center at the station exit, before you head to the museums. It’s not my favorite place but the roof is worth a look and the CineStar is where English-language movies show, in case you want to come back later. Take a lunch break at the Neue Nationalgalerie. A 15 minute walk along the canal takes you to the Bauhaus Archiv, but if you have time, take a side trip though the Tiergarten and make it a full hour. Don’t forget Bauhaus Archive closes at 17:00. You may want to do this day in reverse.

Day 3

Bauhaus Archiv

Void Jewish Museum Jewish Museum

Take the U-Bahn to Zoologisher Garten and visit the Museum für Fotografie, just alongside the station. See the amazing work of provocative photographer Helmut Newton. Then take the U-Bahn to Nollendorferplatz for the Bauhaus Archiv, if you didn’t manage it the day before. Don’t forget to check out the small museum shop and cafe. Take the U-Bahn to Hallesches Tor and take the 10 minute walk, cutting through Mehringplatz, to Daniel Liebskind’s Jüdisches Museum. Give at least 2 hours to this massive museum, then continue walking to the Berlinische Galerie, which is among many artists’ favorite Berlin museums.

There are many more amazing museums on offer in Berlin.  This suggested itinerary highlights some of the best that are covered on the 3 Day Berlin Museum Pass but are not normally free without the pass.

For free Berlin museums, check out Topographie des Terrors Museum and this list.

10 Tips for Using and Maximizing a 3 Day Berlin Museum Pass

3 Day Berlin Museum Pass

If you are planning to visit Berlin and want to visit more than 1 major museum, I highly recommend getting a 3 day Berlin Museum Pass.  The 3 day Berlin Museum Pass includes free regular admission to the permanent exhibitions of around 60 Berlin museums, on three consecutive days.

10 tips for using and maximizing a 3 day Berlin Museum Pass:

  • Concessions.  The 3 day Berlin Museum Pass costs €19. However, this reduces 50% to €9.50 if you are a student with a valid student id.  You will only pay half price.  Please note this should not be confused with the Berlin WelcomeCard. These are different passes that cover different museums, activities, transportation, etc.
  • Plan your itinerary. Some of the museums covered with the pass are always free admission, with or without the pass. So I you can eliminate those museums for a future date. I wanted to visit as many museums as I could a day, spending about 1-2 hours at each. In order to do so, I generally grouped the museums by proximity, using public transportation and walking. 
  • Check websites for updated museum times. Most museums open around 10:00 and close around 18:00 but not all.  I made the mistake of showing up to the Bauhaus Archiv at 17:00 only to learn it closed at 17:00 and I had to return the next day. When I spent some effort  to double checking the times, I learned the Neues Museum was going to close for 3 consecutive days, close to when I wanted to use the pass. That could be annoying to miss. My last day of the pass, a Friday, I learned that the Schloss Friedrechsfelde is only open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00-17:00, not on Fridays, so I had to miss it. That same day, I learned that Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg was closing early at 15:00 and Museum Berggruen was closed the entire day. I ended up entirely eliminating the Schloss Charlottenburg area museums for another time. The national museum websites are at http://www.smb.museum and seem to keep their websites fairly updated with closures. Check it before you head out.
  • Include a Thursday, avoid a Monday.  The pass is used for 3 consecutive days.  On Thursdays, some museums like the Neues Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Pergamon Museum, Altes Museum, Altes Nationalgalerie and the Museum für Fotografie have extended hours until 20:00 or even 22:00, so you will have more time to see more museums. Many museums close on Mondays, so this is not the best day to use the pass.
  • Buy your pass through alternative means. You can purchase your museum pass online at Visit Berlin before you arrive. If you plan to purchase a pass at the Pergamon Museum’s ticket kiosk, the line may be long (30 minutes or more). You can generally get the pass without waiting by going to a less popular museum nearby like the Altes Museum (where I went) or Altes Nationalgalerie on Museuminsel. You can also get the pass at a Berlin Tourist Info center, like one at Brandenburger Tor (Brandenberg Gate).
  • Get your time stamped ticket first. At the time of writing, the Neues Museum was the only museum I visited which required a time stamped ticket. I was able to get this at the same time I purchased my 3 day pass at the Altes Museum just by asking and I chose the time I wanted to visit. You might be able to get your time stamped ticket where you buy your 3 day pass.
  • Special exhibitions cost extra and maybe required for some museums. You are not always allowed to visit a museum’s permanent exhibition without paying for any special exhibitions also going on. For example, I visited the Neues Museum where I had to pay an extra €4 for the special exhibition or I could not enter the museum at all. The “Bust of Nefertiti”, the highlight of the museum and normally part of the permanent collection, was in this special exhibition at this time.  I was able to pay for the Neues Museum special exhibit at the same time as my museum pass so I saved some time and did it all at once. At Hamburger Bahnhof, I was admitted without paying extra on the 3 day pass, but only saw the permanent exhibitions and not the individual special exhibitions.
  • Get a paper day ticket. Generally, you can use your pass to go right on in but some museums may make you get a day ticket. It’s no big deal, just an extra step to go to the ticket counter, let them check your pass, and get a paper ticket day ticket.
  • Check in coats and any bags that are even slightly large. This is required for entry but it is a complimentary service. Often, there are also lockers where you deposit a €1 coin, to receive back when you retrieve your belongings at the end.
  • Audio guides are free and included with your ticket price at most national museums.  They are highly recommended, especially at museums where there are limited English descriptions.

I paid €19 for the 3 day pass and €4 for the special exhibition at Neues Museum, for €23 total. It would have cost €103 to visit all the museums individually, essentially saving  €80. Note that you can visit all five (5) museums on Museum Island on one day without the pass for €14 but you would still need to pay the extra €4 for any special exhibitions.

For a list of museums included on the 3 day Berlin Museum Pass, go to the Visit Berlin factsheet.

rough itinerary

Here’s me so far…

1. November 9-17: Samoa (7 days, free stopover to NZ)
2. November 18-22: Tonga (4 days, free stopover to NZ)
3. November 22-January 11, 2011: New Zealand (50 days, North and South Island. Bought a ticket to Rhythm and Vines Music Festival in Gisborne over New Year’s for December 29-January 1, 2010. Then around the East Cape January 2-7, 2010? My friend D is coming with for 3 weeks!)
4. January 11-17: Australia (6 days, Perth)
5. January 17 – February ?: Indonesia (3-4 weeks, Bali, Java, and Lombok, stay at least 3 weeks…I want even more time)

After this I have not booked anything else but think I will very shortly book Indonesia to Singapore to Malaysia to Sri Lanka to India.  A possible side trip to the Maldives if I can find cheap accommodation…wistful thinking…actually Male has budget accommodation and would be interesting to visit a less touristy part of the Maldives.  This TIME article says,  “Some 40% of the Maldives’ population still earns less than $2 a day.” and  “An estimated 30,000 Maldivian youths are addicts, almost 10% of the country’s population.”  That is insanity, especially when you compare that with the money spent at Maldivian all-inclusive resorts.  I didn’t want to plan so much of the trip but I do want to take advantage of some cheap sales and still entertain the possibility of making Oktoberfest 2011.  Reaching Germany in November or December 2011 seems much more likely.

After India, I’m thinking Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan (?), South East Asia, contemplating Bangladesh and Burma, probably skipping the Philippines (I really want to go but may have to save for another time if I want to attempt Oktoberfest 2011 and miss the Trans-Siberian in the dead of winter), China, Mongolia, Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany, roughly in that order.

My brother is also kind of blowing up in Shanghai and I want to spend more time there. He’s throwing parties with his company, The Ice Cream Truck, and seems like a bit of a wunderkind.  You can see what he does here: http://the-ice-cream-truck.com/. His most recent work includes curating a dance stage at the MIDI Music Festival this month.  It’s been a long time since I was last in Shanghai and wish I were there already.

I’m also interested in living in Berlin for a few months.  Need to figure out how to deal with Schengen visa restrictions (limited to 3 months).

I am looking at 1-2 years away, possibly more if I go to Africa and the Middle East.  Seriously looking at going overlanding for 10 months after this first leg.

Let me know if you have been to these places and have anything to recommend!

first 2 months…

I’ve booked the first 2 months of my RTW!!!

Talofa Samoa!

Photo by whl.travel on Flickr

Photo by YXO on Flickr

Malo e lelei Tonga!

Photo by fabvirge on Flickr

Photo by kalevkevad on Flickr

Kia ora New Zealand!

Photo by WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com) on Flickr

Photo by Stuck in Customs on Flickr

This leg of my adventure takes me through January 2011, when I head for Perth.

a travelers wet dream…getting bumped

On June 10, 2008 on this blog, I wrote, “I keep hoping one day I will get bumped and reap the rewards” and published my popular post on “Airline bumping

It finally happened to me January 2009!  *happy dance*

How I did I manage this coup?  When the US Airways Charlotte – Los Angeles leg of my flight back from President Obama’s inauguration in DC.  Did I forget to mention that I had seated tickets in YELLOW for that amazing event?

The flight was totally overbooked.  They asked for 4 volunteers, I happened to be sitting close to the boarding gate desk.  You really should always be close to the desk.  Want to know why?  Because after the announcement, I stood up and started walking towards the desk (about 10 feet away), and this 60 year-old man (guessing) ran in front of me to be the first one at the desk!!!  Like stopped me in my tracks!  Apparently all daily niceties are thrown out the window when free flights come into play.  There is no chivalry in the airline bumping game, ladies!  Keep that in mind and be alert.  Everyone is out for themselves, even when people know that more than 1 volunteer is needed.

I digress.

They offered a free round trip anywhere in the 48 contiguous U.S. states that U.S. Airways flies and the next flight was only 1.5 hours later.  Score!

I became the proud bearer of a free round trip anywhere in the 48 contiguous United States that U.S. Airways flies.

I was almost, almost was able to implement a 2nd bump by going to the boarding gate desk for my next flight.  But I think 60 Year-Old Unchivalrous Guy beat me again.  You win this time!  *shakes fist*

Where did I go?  I originally wanted to use it for New England in the fall but there were complications coordinating with A’s Southwest free flight so we used Southwest to New York Islip for the fall foliage trip.  I used the US Airways free flight this past February 2010 to go to Seattle for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics!

traveler’s dilemma

Nazca Lines: Astronaut
Photo by zug55 on Flickr

Geoff from Itinerant Londoner once posed an interesting question on his post on his adventures at the Nazca Lines in Peru

Basically, he agreed to pay a price but forgot to pay part of it and no one asked him for it.   He had a moral dilemma.

Some thoughts…though perhaps unpopular…

While you should always do the right thing, I’m going to say that the tour operators were the ones taking advantage of him and even if he had held onto the money, he would have been okay.

I was at the Nazca Lines this in July 2009 and I too paid $50 per person for the flight. I thought it was expensive for a short flight, but we had been gotten off the bus at 3:30am, it was dark, we were tired, this guy was at the train station looking for tourists and was going to take us to his “office” (ended up being a hostel), had limited time, didn’t have any other offers to compare it to, and the price had been negotiated down from $75.

Only after some time in the city did we realize that some paid the $75 and one girl only paid $30 (disclaimers: she was an amazing negotiator and almost always got the lowest prices). That was a difference of $45 on one person! Imagine how much they are making off everyone every day! All the passengers got on the same flights to see about 10-12 figures, even though the people selling the flights said that cheaper flights would see fewer figures.

Nazca is pretty much a tourist town and the people who work in tourism are doing fairly well, even when tourism is down a bit. Tourist prices are almost always overpriced to begin with and the industry can make up the money on the next unsuspecting tourist. Sometimes I think that since I come from a developed country (US) and can generally afford to pay more, it’s not that bad if I get ripped off here or there. I think that’s why sometimes people overpay/overtip (I’m talking to you, fellow Statesiders) too. However, the problem is not just that we paid too much but that it only lines the pockets of those middle men and people involved in tourism. It doesn’t seem to help the people in Peru who seem really need the money and it also doesn’t help the country in general because we (developed nations) start pricing out that country’s residents and people from countries that don’t have the good fortune of have that kind of money.

I do kind of regret paying for a $50 per person for the flight, even if I don’t regret the flight itself.  I paid too much and at the same time perpetuated the cycle. It is best if I try not to overpay and I should not feel guilty if I get a good deal though in the end, your word is your word and you should have a clear conscience.  So do what is right!

nomadic matt’s how to make money with your travel blog

I just bought  Nomadic Matt’s How To Make Money With Your Travel Blog.   After thinking about it for forever, he’s making a sale offer I couldn’t pass up. Until June 27, 2010, it’s only $10.  I’m looking forward to getting it and start improving this site!

In his own words:

I make over $3,000 dollars a month from my travel website. That is enough to keep anybody traveling and being a digital nomad for a long time. Even if you don’t want to be a digital nomad, it’s still a nice side income that can help pay for your trip. This ebook has all of my tips, tricks, secrets, and advice on how to build a successful blog, rank high in Google search results, and make money through advertising.

The ebook is split into 6 sections:

  1. Starting a Blog– Basic but necessary information about picking a niche (what are you an expert in?), choosing what kind of travel blog to have (there is more than one), and the number of websites to run.
  2. Installing Your Blog– All about choosing the right website name, picking a WordPress theme, and installing SEO plugins.
  3. Getting Traffic- How to use sites like Stumble Upon, gain followers, find other bloggers, and use Twitter and Facebook to your advantage to build a community around your blog.
  4. Search Engine Optimization– Detailed information about SEO, how it works, site optimization, link building, and where to find those valuable links to rank high in Google.
  5. Monetizing Your Blog– Covers the main types of advertising, which work best for different sites, how much to charge, and where to find willing advertisers.
  6. Putting it All Together– What to expect from all of this and how to best utilize your time.

The ebook takes you through the whole process of blogging, SEO, and monetizing your website. There is information in the book for beginners as well as those with a little more knowledge.

Right now I’m really just interested in what drives a travel site, not really the financial aspect.  This and the free ebook that comes with this on how to build a travel blog should be quite helpful though.

If you do decide you want to also develop your travel blog, click here to view more details and buy though that link before Monday, September 6, 2010 at 12pm US eastern time.  You’ll help me as an affiliate!  After Monday, September 6th at 12pm US eastern time, Matt will be switching out the links so starting then, and then only, please buy at this link:  http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?af=1239245