About Megan McDonough

Megan McDonough

Megan Eileen McDonough is writer, blogger and social media specialist based in New York City. She also runs Bohemian Trails, a lifestyle blog designed for the savvy and stylish traveler. Bohemian Trails aims to feature must-see places around the world, covering everything from revamped neighborhoods and vibrant street art to innovative tech hubs and everything in between. Her cultural escapades have taken her to Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Megan is also a freelance writer and social media specialist based in New York City. She contributes to various online and print publications in the travel and fashion industries and is an international correspondent for both Jetsetter and Northstar Travel Media.


Latest Posts by Megan McDonough

Milan Italy for Food, Culture and Lodging

July 1, 2014 by  

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When you think of Italy, what do you think of? When you think of Milan, where does your mind take you? For most, it is bound to be fashion, as this glamorous city located in northern Italy is home to internationally known designers and prominent retailers. Others might be more concerned with football, owing to the fact that both Internazionale and AC Milan are two of the world’s most famous teams.
An Offbeat Guide to Milan

Photo: Flickr/Maurizio

But those who choose to delve a little deeper on city breaks to Milan will be rewarded with a profusion of historical and cultural delights. By taking things slowly, getting off the beaten track and approaching this city like a local, you’ll truly appreciate the Milanese’s love of art and food together with fashion and football.

Millennials Travel Guide to Milan

Photo: Flickr/ilClaudione

Where to stay

Arco della Pace and Corso Sempione – Situated behind the Castello Sforzesco and Parco Sempione, Corso Sempione with its Arco della Pace area is a vibrant neighbourhood where bright orange trams make their way through tree-lined streets. Due to its aperitivo bars and late-night dining options, travellers that want a good night’s sleep should probably look elsewhere. However, its cosmopolitan and energetic vibe makes it an appealing place to soak up authentic Milan.

Città Studi – For something completely different, consider staying in this decidedly residential area of the city. Although public transport links aren’t the greatest, you’ll be able to experience a slice of typical Milanese life against a backdrop of quite parks and green spaces.What to do

Try some classic cuisine – It should be considered a crime not to try some traditional Italian dishes while in Milan. Signature meals in this particular city include risotto alla Milanese (saffron flavoured risotto with bone marrow), cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded veal cutlet that is fried) and cassoeula (a dish made up of pork and green vegetables typically served in winter).

Learn about the residents’ affection for art – The Bagatti Valsecchi museum celebrates and gives its name to the remarkable tastes of art collectors Fausto and Giuseppe, who used to live in this late 19th-century neo-Renaissance palazzo. Seeing as these two brothers wanted to be surrounded by the trappings of 15th century life, the museum is filled with Murano glass, Flemish tapestries and Renaissance art.

Go on a bike tour – Even if you’d prefer to visit unusual attractions, a tour of the city’s biggest landmarks is still an enjoyable experience. A relaxed and easy-going bike ride of Milan’s most intriguing and enthralling areas will typically only take a few hours too. From Palestro and Manzoni to Ticinese and San Babila, you’ll be able to go back and explore your favourite places at another time as well.

Milan Travel Tips

Photo: Flickr/Nick Grosoli

Where to go

Brera – Home to the famous Pinacoteca di Brera art gallery, Brera is just a stone’s throw away from the beating heart of Milan – the Duomo. This area has plenty of quaint and quintessentially Italian cafes, bars, restaurants and shops, which can be found down Brera’s charming narrow streets.

Navigli – Similar to the other bohemian neighborhoods in major cities, the Navigli area has gone from a place where cash-strapped creatives previously dwelled to a more gentrified and privileged district. Even so, the beautiful canals perfectly compliment the area’s small art studios and thriving nightlife.

Things to do in Milan

Photo: Flickr/Bjørn Giesenbauer

Although Milan conjures up thoughts of catwalk models and passionate football fans, this city is a hotbed for art, culture and cuisine. So to get the most out of this fascinating place, act like a local and go at your own pace.

This is a guest post by Christopher Harvey.

 

Sweden in June: Artsy Stockholm by Day & Night

June 30, 2014 by  

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I love Sweden and its flagship city and capital Stockholm, is one of the most design-oriented and fashionable cities I have ever visited. Artistic expression is seen through the clothes people wear, the food they eat and the galleries they frequent.

Södermalm For the Vintage & Quirky

Södermalm, or “Söder” as it’s more commonly called by locals, is the southern island in Stockholm. The bohemian vibe has become the prime location for independent shops ranging from quirky design stores to vintage shops. Within the island of Södermalm, the SoFo (South of Folkungagatan) area is the most lively. I slipped into a few coffee shops, one of which hat allows patrons to purchase the second-hand furniture they’re sitting on. For a little bit of everything, wander down the streets surrounding Nytorget city square and playground.

Head to Grandpa or Brandstationen for 50-70s design, Retro.etc for 60s ad 70s fashion or Wigerdals Värld for nostalgia. Just above Folkungagatan Street is Monica Förster (Östgötagatan 18), one of the most famous contemporary designers and also nearby is 10-Gruppen (Götgatan 25) features colorful, uncompromising designs that never go out of style.

Neighborhood Guide to Stockholm

Hornsgaten for Artisan Crafts

There are a few different areas to purchase the best crafts Stockholm has to offer and Hornsgaten is one of them. The neighborhood is also located on Södermalm in the north western tip of the island. This is one of the prettiest areas in my opinion, partly because parts of the neighborhood are located on top of a hill overlooking the Old Town. Formerly nicknamed “Knife Söder, this neighborhood has undergone a complete revamp over the years. Now a popular spot for flea markets, locally brewed beer and top-notch restaurants, some people have started calling Hornsgaten “Knife and Fork Söder.”

Hornsgaten, between Slusen and Mariatorget, is home to several ceramics and art galleries. There’s literally a hump in this area so that’s a clear indicator that you’ve reached the right spot. There are plenty of stores here, with Konsthantverkarna, Blås & Knåda, Kaolin and The Glassery among the most renowned. For traditional Swedish crafts, Östermalm may be a slightly better bet.

Fashion and Design Guide to Stockholm

Östermalm for Great Sweden Design

I spent three hours walking through Östermalm, if that gives you any indication of how much there is to discover here. Located in Central Stockholm, this is one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods, at least when it comes to interior design. Asplund is Swedish minimalism at its best. Shop for everything from high-quality furniture to rugs and lamps or just look around like I did. Skultana Concept Store (Grev Turegatan 18) is a 17th century brass factory store that somehow manages to feel contemporary and even a little modern.

Östermalm is also a great place to shop for high-end antiques. Most of the auction houses and antique shops are located along Arsenalsgatan, Sibyllegatan and Nybrogatan. I slipped into a few, including Rehns Antikhandel (Sibyllegatan 26) and was blown away by all the items up for grabs. Also in this area is an indoor food market where people can stock up on groceries or just enjoy a leisurely lunch with friends.

Stockholm's Design District

Norrmalm for Fashion & Shopping

Norrmalm is a great area to shop for clothing. Besides global brands like H&M, there are plenty of other options like NK, Ströms and MOOD Stockholm. Åhléns is a popular department store selling many of Sweden’s most popular brands, so this might be a good starting point if you want an overview of current fashion trends.

Don’t skip town without strolling through Biblioteksgatan, one of Stockholm’s most famous streets and home to Sweden’s premier fashion brands. Here you will find the original flag ship store for Acne, one of Sweden’s biggest success stores. There’s also a mix of established and up and coming Swedish labels, with styles ranging from preppy to glam. Filippa K for great for simple yet stylish pieces with timeless appeal while Hope focusses on tailored outerwear, purses and shoes. WeSC, or We Are The Superlative Conspiracy, promotes diversity and human rights.

Stockholm Fashion

Gamla Stan for Architecture and Conscience Crafts

The Old Town may feel a bit touristy, but that’s hardly a reason to skip it entirely. In fact, thanks to a few helpful readers who suggested I walk through Gamla Stan in the early morning before most people are awake, I was able to enjoy the historic buildings and quiet streets all to myself. In terms of design, stores range from typical souvenir stores to conscience crafts. Kalikå (Österlånggatan 18) sells Fair Trade toys while Iris Hantverk sells crafts made my blind artists. There’s really something for everyone in Gamla Stan so take your time.

In terms of architecture, The Old Town is simply stunning. The Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral and The Nobel Museum are all located in this area and feature various styles of architecture. Dating back to the 13th century, the medieval alleyways and romantic cobblestone streets are reminiscent of North German architecture and give visitors a glimpse into what life was like hundreds of years ago.

Stockholm Architecture

If you have time I’d also recommend visiting both Kungsholmen and Vasastan. Also primarily a residential island, Kungsholmen has tons of restaurants, bars and cafes especially along Hantverkargatan and Fleminggatan. If visiting during the summer, there are a few places on the island to swim. Vasastan, another residential area, also has a slew of restaurants. Most of them are concentrated around Odenplan and St. Eriksplan. There are also several vintage stores here and when you need a breather from all that shopping, stop for a picnic in Vasaparken.

This trip was hosted by Visit Sweden and Visit Stockholm. All opinions are my own.

Going All Green in Urban Spaces Throughout Berlin

June 24, 2014 by  

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Having just returned from Berlin for the second time in less than two years, I’m even more determined to make this fabulous city my home one day. In many ways, Berlin reminds me a lot of New York. It has the same contagious energy that lures people (like me) back time after time. Yet, Berlin has a few things that New York lacks and its these differences that makes the biggest impact. Firstly, the variety of green spaces really help to balance out the more urban areas. Secondly, there are also far fewer people here, but that’s true of almost any city.

The most fascinating aspect about Berlin, at least in my opinion, is that it is in constant flux. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and you can feel the excitement in the air. Furthermore, new developments like Bikini Berlin in City West are revolutionizing the way travelers interact with the city. Regardless of your travel style, here are five urban and green spaces to find inspiration during your visit.

For creative writing inspiration, go to the Fairy Tale Fountain

The Fairy Tale Fountain (or Märchenbrunnen) is something that feels like it’s literally out of…well, a fairy tale. Located in the Volkspark Friedrichshain park, this hardly your typical watering hole. For anyone who is remotely interested in creative writing, stumbling upon this fountain may very well become the highlight of your trip. See if you can guess what fairy tales are represented in stone sculptures. A few, like Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood are fairly obvious but there are a few that aren’t as well-known, at least by American standards so take your time. Our group passed through this area on our bikes but I could have easily stayed here all afternoon. If you’re ever looking for a peaceful spot to read a new book of perhaps write one of your own, this is the perfect place.

Insider's Guide to Berlin

For innovation inspiration, go to St. Oberholz

I’ve worked with a few companies based in Germany so naturally, I was curious to see what the start-up scene is like in Berlin. While there are a few co-working spaces throughout the city, St. Oberholz seems to be the “it” hub for innovative tech companies. Conveniently located in the trendy Mitte neighborhood, this joint serves multiple purposes. On the ground floor is a restaurant and cafe, with tables and desks lining the walls. Upstairs is where the real co-working area begins. The space is open 24/7 and there’s even a conference room for weekly meetings. Finally, in the event that you are super lazy or simply too smitten with Mitte to leave, you can live in the building as well. I’m sure this is rather appealing to start-ups because they really do work round the clock.

Inspiring Urban and Green Spaces in Berlin

For introspective inspiration, go to the nearest courtyard

Berlin is a city filled with courtyards so if you’re ever needing a few minutes of solitude, just slip into the nearest one. Sure, courtyards are technically designated for residents who live in the apartments surrounding them but it’s completely fine to pass through and wander around. From my experience, Berliners are generally friendly and won’t mind you stepping on their turf. This particular courtyard is in the revamped Kreuzberg neighborhood and it is one of my favorites. Another way to experience one of Berlin’s courtyards is to make a meal of it. I recommend heading to Katz Orange because the food is delicious and they have outdoor seating. Perhaps the most famous cluster of courtyards are The Hackesche Höfe in the center of Berlin. Here you can walk through eight interconnected courtyards.

courtyards in Berlin

For alternative inspiration, go to Görlitzer Park

Kreuzberg is easily one of Berlin’s most beloved neighborhoods and it deserves every and all praise. So many things intrigue me about this area – everything from the architecture to the street art screams creativity and there’s always form of art taking form. Görlitzer Park has something for everyone. There is a children’s farm and playgrounds for kids and hip bars and outdoor seating areas for adults. Plan to come here on a warm day and pack a picnic to share with friends. Like many popular public parks in cities around the world, this might not be the best place to hangout after dark. The park was once an old railway station so it’s thrilling to see how much it has changed over the years. That being said, it has a gritty appeal, thanks to the graffiti-covered walls.

Berlin's hippest neighborhoods

For design inspiration, browse through Bikini Berlin

Exploring City West was a mostly new experience for me and at times, I didn’t even feel like I was in Berlin. Unlike the hipster neighborhoods of Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg, City West caters to a more upscale crowd. Our hotel overlooked Bikini Berlin on one side and Tiergarten park and Berlin Zoo on the other, providing quite the view. I thought people were joking when they said that you can see the monkeys from the hotel but that’s completely true and undeniably awesome. Anyway, Bikini Berlin is situated right beside the hotel and houses some of Europe’s top design brands. On the top floor is an outdoor bar and meeting space, which also overlooks the monkeys and on the lower floors there are galleries and shops selling designer duds and items for the home.

Bikini Berlin

For anything else, head to Prenzlaur Berg’s secret garden

If you’ve read even a few posts from my adventures abroad, you’d know that I find cemeteries to be extremely peaceful places. So technically this is a cemetery and not a garden but it sure feels like one. This particular cemetery, which is actually three packed into one: Georgen-Parochialgemeinde, St. Nikolai and St. Marien, was closed in 1970 and reopened in 1991. Many of the graves have since been restored yet it still feels frozen in time, almost as if you’ve stumbled upon something secret. I spent a few minutes walking through the area and could have easily gotten lost not only in direction but in thought. This is a great retreat right in the middle of the city center. It’s also very close to the Fairy Tale Fountain so try to squeeze them both in while you’re in the area, either on foot or by bike.

cemeteries in Berlin

This trip was hosted by Visit Berlin. All opinions are my own. I stayed at 25hours Hotel Berlin during my stay and toured many of these spots with Berlin on Bike. I reached Berlin from Hamburg via Rail Europe‘s German Rail Pass.

3 Stunning Cruise Ports in Europe for Sailing This Summer

June 18, 2014 by  

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Since summer is in full swing, we decided to take a look at some of Europe’s most captivating and compelling port cities. Whether you choose to visit the beautiful and balmy Mediterranean or the colder yet equally attractive Baltic Sea, there are plenty of opportunities to discover what life next to the coast is really like. Three of the most scenic coastal cities are Hamburg, Barcelona and Dubrovnik but even if you don’t get the chance to see them by boat, they are just as impressive by land.

So if you fancy joining these masses, or simply feel like getting away from it all for a spell, why not check out some of Europe’s most ports.

Hamburg

Despite going toe-to-toe with Berlin and Munich, Germany’s other economic powerhouses, the country’s largest port has a more cosmopolitan and hedonistic feel to it. Two thirds of the evergreen Hamburg is dedicated to parks or lakes while time-honored buildings and modern architecture overlook the city’s canals and quaysides.

As you’d expect from a water-rich city, numerous activities and attractions make the most of Hamburg’s lakes and canals. You can sail across the Alster Lake, paddle a canoe along winding waterways or just unwind at the Holthusen Baths.

Learning about Hamburg’s commercial side with a tour of its port is an educational experience, but for more cultural encounters be sure to check out the Kunsthalle art museum.

Top Cruise Destinations in Europe

Photo: Flickr/Giuseppe Bognanni

Barcelona

Even if this is one of Europe’s most popular cruise ports, the remarkably beautiful city of Barcelona simply cannot be ignored. Catalonia’s capital is an eclectic mix of Gothic architecture, modern skyscrapers, beaches to die for and a vibrant nightlife.

Barcelona is known as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, so put the ‘green ring’ of cycle paths that surround the city’s metropolitan area to good use and explore the sights with pedal power. Alternatively, the Costa Brava coastline is the perfect spot for surfing, wakeboarding and jet-skiing.

The work of renowned architect Antoni Gaudí is visible throughout the city, but La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell and Casa Milà are particular highlights. For a quintessential Barcelona experience, take a stroll down La Rambla (the city’s most famous street) and let the various street performers and human statues entertain you, or visit the harbor side promenade La Ribera.

Cruising to Europe’s Prettiest Ports

Photo: Flickr/Miquel González Page

Dubrovnik

According to George Bernard Shaw, “those who seek paradise on Earth should seek it in Dubrovnik.” Encircled by the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is referred to as “the Pearl of the Adriatic” and the old city sits comfortably on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

If you like adventure sports, you’ll like Dubrovnik. Sea kayaking, mountain biking, scuba diving and rock climbing are all here in plentiful supply, thanks to the surrounding waters and Dalmatian mountains. More traditional Croatian encounters include hunting small game like mouflon and fishing for bluefin tuna.

Historical attractions are the order of the day here. Dubrovnik Cathedral, the Franciscan Monastery, Sponza Palace, Rector’s Palace and the Church of St Blaise should be on the bucket list if you’re looking to come away with a sense of Dubrovnik’s history and culture.

You have bohemian Hamburg, cultural Barcelona and historic Dubrovnik. The time on the seas… the adventure… the discovery… visiting ports like these is what makes cruises fun.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Photo: Flickr/Jonathan Tweed

This is a guest post by Christopher Harvey.

 

Cycling Your Way Through Hamburg Germany

June 11, 2014 by  

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Next time you head to Germany, think beyond Berlin and Munich. Hamburg is a great neighborhood city so as expected, I had a field day biking through them all. For the most part, Hamburg is already pretty established yet there are many changes in the works to drastically modernize the city as a whole. Many of the neighborhoods have or are currently experiencing gentrification, with HafenCity undergoing a complete revamp. There are a lot of neighborhoods in Hamburg but these fie are my favorites and in my opinion, the most appealing to any bohemian traveler looking to experience the city’s more alternative side.

Old Town / City Center

Like many European cities, the Old Town (Altstadt) serves as the Hamburg’s City Center. There’s technically a New Town (Neustadt) as well but if you look at a map, you’ll notice that these are somewhat meshed together. The newer side has more parks while the older side houses many of Hamburg’s historic buildings, pedestrian walkways and monuments. This is probably the most traditional-looking district in Hamburg but it’s not to be overlooked. I suggest heading to the harbor for a picturesque view of the city or shopping for local spices at the market. Rathausmarket (pictured below) is the center of all the action and is located next to City Hall. This is a good starting or ending point.

Neighborhood Guide to Hamburg

Sternschanze

By far Hamburg’s most bohemian neighborhood, Sternschanze, or simply “Schanze,” is where all the hipsters live, work and play. There are also cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs to keep people entertained at all hours of the day and night. If you’ve ever visited Berlin, this neighborhood might feel a bit familiar. It’s gone through gentrification but there’s still a gritty appeal to the streets and a feeling of creativity in the air, as seen through the colorful street art lining the walls, weekend flea markets and a mixture of rundown and renovated buildings.

Schanze belongs to the borough of Altona, an up-and-coming area that boasts a bohemian and multicultural culture. Ottensen high street is the go-to place for shopping and clubbing and for live music, go to Fabrik.

Hamburg's Hippest Neighborhoods

HafenCity

There are lots of exciting changes happening in Hamburg and many of them are taking place in HafenCity, the city’s newest quarter. This mostly upscale residential area has been revamping abandoned warehouses into fancy offices, hotels, shops and cultural museums. As our tour guide explained, right now most of HafenCity is occupied by the wealthiest inhabitants who own several homes, which might explain why the neighborhood feels much quiet than most. The HafenCity project master plan covers ten different neighborhoods of different sizes so we can expect a lot of new developments in this part of Hamburg.

Just north of HafenCity is the Speicherstadt, the largest imber-pile warehouse in the world and also formerly part of the free zone. The Hamburg Dungeon, the Miniaturwunderland or the Deutsches Zollmuseum are all located here.

HafenCity, Hamburg

St. Georg

I spent my last morning in town walking through the St. Georg neighborhood. Just a short walk from the city center, St. Georg is Hamburg’s gay district and in my opinion, one of the most architecturally stunning. I wandered along Lange Reihe on a Saturday morning and things were already starting to pick up. Along the streets are cafes where locals get together for brunch, fashion and accessories stores and on this particular day, a street fair was about to take over the neighborhood. I saw several pop-up bars, a few rather impressive food stands with mobile ovens and even a few interactive games for children. All in all, this family-friendly area is one of Hamburg’s most frequented areas.

Hamburg's Gay District

Karolinenviertel

Located in the northern part of St. Pauli is the tiny neighborhood of Karolinenviertel. The main street is Marktstraße and while the area is mostly gentrified, there still plenty of hints of what the streets looked like before. Despite its quaint appearnce, the shops are surprisingly innovative.

Head to Maison Suneve, a Hamburg-based fashion label that designs womenswear, for pieces blending French and German minimalism and elegance. Their work is mostly inspired by digital prints and abstract shapes and if you look closely at some of their dresses from last season, you’ll see that the prints are actually based on some of the world’s most famous architectural buildings and landmarks.Similarly, Lockengeloet sells unique handmade items made from recyclable materials. Everything, from the oil barrels that become cupboards to the vinyl records that turn into wall lamps or books, are produced locally in St. Pauli

street art in Hamburg

St. Pauli

Also known as “Kiez,” St. Pauli is a avant-garde blend of culture, grittiness and entertainment. It’s Hamburg’s Red Light District but don’t let that deter you. The streets north of the Reeperbahn are more appropriate for day activities, as there are many cafes, restaurants and art galleries to visit. The streets south of the Reeperbahn are more nightlife-centric, so plan on hitting up a few bars and clubs in this part of town. Beatles’ fans should visit INDRA (Große Freiheit 64), where they band first performed. You can also stop by the apartment where they used to live, which is about a two minute walk from the infamous venue. To catch some of the after parties, head to the fish market on Landungsbruecken.

Hamburg's Red Light District

This trip was hosted by Hamburg Tourism. All opinions are my own.

 

Behind the Scenes of Musement and Life in Berlin

June 9, 2014 by  

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I have traveled through Europe quite a bit over the past few years and over that time, I have probably visited close to a hundred museums. During my semester living and studying in London, I made it a point to see all that the city had to offer and museums were definitely on my list. That was in 2008 and there wasn’t a great method for purchasing entrance tickets ahead of time, or at least, I didn’t know of any. I usually bought tickets the day of and hoped that my student discount would save me a few pounds.

That was then and this is now. A few weeks ago I discovered Musement, a site that allows you to find and book handpicked tours, tickets to local attractions, museums, art exhibits and city passes around the world. Right now, their main markets are in big cities throughout Europe like Berlin, London, Madrid, Barcelona but also right here in New York. Besides a clean interface that is easy to navigate, I found the images inspiring and it really got me pumped for my trip to Hamburg and Berlin, which I just came back from.

I’m often on a budget when I travel and the fact that Musement guarantees the lowest prices is a major selling point. The packages also go beyond the typical tourism attractions and deep into the heart of the city. For example, for travelers heading to Berlin, Museument offers the Berlin Welcome Card for Museum Island but they also have an interactive walking tour, a pub crawl and an alternative tour for those who aren’t really the museum type. Another major perk for booking with Musement is that you get to skip the lines and if you’ve ever vacationed during the busy summer months, you know that is is invaluable.

Top Museums to Visit in Berlin

When I arrived in Berlin I opted for the general Berlin Welcome Tour because I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do this time around. Sure, I could have tailored my experience a bit more but this was my second trip to Berlin and I wanted more flexibility in terms of activities and cultural excursions. That’s my preferred travel style, but there’s something for everyone so take your time looking at the different options on their website to see which option is the best fit.

As it turns out, The Berlin Welcome Card Museum Island was a good choice. It offers free travel on all public transportation services, including the Berlin Tegel Airport and free entry to the museums on Museum Island (Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum, Bodemuseum, Neues Museum and Pergamonmuseum) for three consecutive days (excluding special exhibitions). Since the museums are all located within walking distance, you can either visit them all on a rainy day or space them out throughout your stay.

The pass also offers discounts to 27 other museums and attractions in addition to discounts on guided bicycle tours, boat trips, theatre shows, restaurants and clubs. Personally, I took the U-Bahn and S-Bahn a lot over the course of three days, so that really came in handy. Berlin is definitely a biking city but for longer distances, the underground and overground are great options for saving time.

Lastly, the pass comes with a small guide with tips and tour suggestions, a map of subway system and a city map. The booklet is small enough to fit in your purse or your back pockets so I recommend bringing it along with you in case your iPhone runs out of battery or you aren’t sure where exactly to eat dinner one night. It was surprisingly useful during my stay.

Exploring Berlin with Musement

Similar to my last trip, much of my time in Berlin was spent wandering through the city’s revamped neighborhoods. In the end, I only went to one museum while in Berlin and it was the DDR Museum. Technically it’s not on Museum Island but the pass does grant a discounted fee. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall so I was curious for a glimpse into what life was like for residents in East Germany during these 28 years.

The museum is relatively small in terms of size but one can easily spend two hours here. I finished in just over an hour but I was on somewhat of a time crunch. Through a series of interactive exhibits, ranging from a hands-on Trabi and childhood propaganda to a recreation of a living room, guests are introduced to a much different Berlin than the one we know today. Photos, documentaries, furniture and sliding drawers showcasing everything from women’s fashion to politically charged children’s toys, show rather than tell guests how it was to live in the GDR.

What is the best museum you’ve ever visited? Tell me in the comments below!

This trip was hosted by Visit Berlin. All opinions are my own.

Exploring Bushwick Street Art in Brooklyn

May 30, 2014 by  

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In April, I moved to Brooklyn and it didn’t take me long to discover just how alive the street art scene is here. My new neighborhood is Bushwick, which seems to be the main hub for graffiti artists. A few weeks ago I wrote about how I discovered the existence of the Bushwick Collective and shared a few images.

I first stumbled upon this outdoor gallery while on my way to drop off my first month’s rent check. It’s safe to say that I found a treasure trove of inspiring murals. Basically, the Bushwick Collective is just what it’s name suggests. It’s a collection of street art from local artists, all showcasing different styles and aesthetics.

According to Business Insider, the leader of the pack so to speak is Joseph Ficalora, a long-time Bushwick resident. While Bushwick is still one of the grittier neighborhoods in Brooklyn, it’s interesting to see it emerge as an up-and-coming area. As I wandered along Troutman Street I noticed quite a few bars and restaurants that have opened up shop. I’m sure that in a few more years, the same transformation that happened to Williamsburg will happen here.

Most of the murals are set up along Troutman Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue but if you wander down a few of the side streets, there are more to see. While I’m not positive that all of the images included in this post are part of the Bushwick collective, I have a hunch that they are. I’ve included a few of my favorites below along with captions of my own creation.

Introducing the Bushwick Collective
Brooklyn's Most Impressive Street Art

The Best Street Art in Brooklyn New York
Becoming One with Nature
The Bushwick Collective
Dabbling in the graffiti arts
Street Art in Brooklyn
A bunch of nonsense that somehow makes sense
Guide to Street Art in Bushwick
Family love
Street Art Gallery in Brooklyn
Circles and triangles
Urban Art Scene in Brooklyn
Biggie Smalls on the wall
Street Art Culture in New York

What is your favorite city or neighborhood for street art? Tell me in the comments below!

 

All Things Stockholm on the Edge of Summer

May 28, 2014 by  

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If you head to Sweden, Stockholm will inevitably be on the list. It’s the London of Sweden except that it is a little less hectic. Stockholm is one of those cities that appeals to just about every type of traveler. Culture enthusiasts have a slew of museums to choose from while foodies can indulge in traditional cuisine with a modern twist at every meal. While Stockholm has somewhat of a bad reputation when it comes to the exchange rate, it’s still a destination that I highly recommend adding to your wanderlust list.

Take a Boat to Vaxholm, a Main Archipelago Hub

Sure, there are plenty of other things to see and do in Stockholm but some of my favorite moments actually happened on the humble island of Vaxholm. Based on what my guide explained, Vaxholm is to Stockholmers what The Hamptons are to New Yorkers, except a little more “down to earth.”

While in the archipelago, I sampled local cheeses from Ostmakeriet including one infused with juniper and another with schnapps from the island of Möja. Besides the typical Swedish architecture you find in Vaxholm, many artists and musicians settle here because it’s so quiet and peaceful. I opted to spend a night in town at a local bed and breakfast and it was really comforting to feel like I had a home away from home. Many people commute between Stockholm and Vaxholm and boats depart daily.

Vaxholm Sweden

Looking for more Stockholm fun? Visit The Vasa Museum to see a larger-than-life ship, feast your eyes on Sweden’s best design brands in Östermalm or stroll through Gamla Stan in the early mornings to feel like you’ve time traveled.

Meander Through Södermalm to Shop & People Watch

I’m a neighborhood-obsessed traveler, so Södermalm quickly became my favorite artistic hub in Stockholm. Technically, Södermalm is an island (roughly translates to south isle) and within this island there are a few different areas. The most hipster-centric is SoFo, which is essentially a bohemian’s paradise. Short for “south of Folkungagatan,” this is where trendsetters go to eat, shop and gossip. The main activity takes place near Nytorget Square so that’s a good starting point.

SoFo is filled with shops selling everything from vintage jewelry and second-hand housewares to records and random knick knacks and it deserves a few hours if you can spare. Tjallamalla (Bondegatan 46), Kinglily (Södermannagatan 11) and Aplace (Brunogallerian) are great examples of how Stockholmers like to dress.

Hipster Guide to Stockholm

Taste Organic Food at Rosendals Trädgård (Rosendal’s Garden)

This was easily my favorite spot in Stockholm and I almost gave up trying to find it. For those of you who are less directionally challenged than me, just head to Djurgården, which is another island in Stockholm and one primarily comprised of parkland and museums. At first glance, Rosendals Trädgård might look like a spacious patch of grass but there’s a lot going on here. Firstly, this is a popular locale for family picnics and scenic walks around the grounds.

There is also a cafe selling fresh local produce food from local vendors, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. In fact, you could stop by everyday of your trip if you wanted to because there’s a new dish served daily. If you’re in town for awhile, why not buy one of the plants and start a garden of your own? Bike rentals are also available at the tourist information center.

Boho Guide to Stockholm

Brush up on Alcohol History at the Spirits Museum

Also located on Djurgården is the Spirits Museum, which also happens to have a lovely view of the water. Unlike huge museums that can seem overwhelming, the Spirits Museum will probably only take you an hour, maybe two if you’re really interested in the exhibit. Right now the exhibit is “Sweden: Spirits of a Nation” but while I was in town I caught the end of the “Art Pop” exhibit that showcased how music and alcohol are often intertwined.

Through a series of interactive installations and a collection of vinyl record cover art, I traveled through music history from the mid-1950s through today. Anyone interested in music and art should definitely squeeze this into their itinerary. Wine enthusiasts will appreciate their variety of tastings, including “flavors of Sweden,” Swedish whiskey,” and “flavor your own snaps.”

Spirits Museum Stockholm

Gallery Hop for Arts & Craftsmanship in Mariatorget

The Mariatorget are of Södermalm has a lot to offer cultural travelers. The area is somewhat hilly and if you walk on the street closest to the water (Söder Mälarstrand) you’ll have a spectacular and elevated view of the city. There’s even a little walking path there offering a few different views of the city skyline.

This area is also quite picturesque in terms of architecture and many locals artists choose this upscale neighborhood to showcase their best work. Kaolin (ceramics) and The Glassery (glass) are both located along Hornsgatan. In between popping in and out of the craft stores, reserve a few minutes to yourself. Either take a breather on one of the benches shown below or dip into one of the local coffee shops. I also saw lots of families here so I’m guessing this is a coveted place to live.

residential neighborhoods in Stockholm

This trip was hosted by the Visit Sweden and Visit Stockholm. All opinions are my own.

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