Historic Berlin

After checking out the bang up to date street art of the Mitte district we head out to see a whistle stop tour of some of the older sights of Berlin.


First up is Berlin Cathedral AKA Berliner Dom AKA the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church which is located on Museum Island in the Mitte borough.

The current building was finished in 1905 but suffered heavy damage during the Second World War.

Another iconic sight on the Berlin skyline is the TV Tower, the Berliner Fernsehturm.

The tower was built by the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was intended to be both a symbol of Communist power and of Berlin and sat close to the wall.

It is 368 metres high and is the tallest structure in Germany, and the second-tallest structure in the European Union. More of this later as naturally we will be heading up!

Next up our Berlin by night tour takes us by the iconic Brandenburg Gate. This impressive 18th-century neoclassical monument was built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II.

 

Vehicles and pedestrians could travel freely through the gate, located in East Berlin, until the Berlin Wall was built and the border crossing was closed on 14 August 1961.

More heavyweight history can be found at the imposing Reichstag building just around the corner from the gate.

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The Reichstag was opened in 1894 and housed the Imperial Diet (the highest representative assembly in an empire) until 1933.

It was then severely damaged after being set on fire – an act that was used by the Nazi party as an excuse to crack down on communism. This event is seen as being pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany.

After this brief foray into the wealth of Berlin’s history we head onwards to do a bit more street art spotting. We’ll dig deeper into the chequered past of the city during a walking tour later on.

We finish off the evening with a HUGE burger from the tasty Krauts Burger joint in Mitte.

We’ve got a packed itinerary to get through so stick with us! We’ll head back to see the sights in the daylight tomorrow!

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Battered yet beautiful

Finally I’m getting around to documenting our first ever trip to Germany for the man’s birthday last November.

We plumped for the hip capital city of Berlin for our first ever trip to Deutschland and a fab choice it was too.

We stayed in the Ibis Mitte hotel, perfectly placed to explore the city with a tram stop just around the corner.

There’s a bewildering choice of cafes, bars and restaurants all within a stones throw of the hotel, not surprising for a city that has 100s of choices from filling quick burgers to Vietnamese, sushi and Italian to traditional German sausage and beer halls !

Once we’d settled in, the stomach on legs was keen to sample his first ever currywurst and naturally there was a little shop and cafe just around the corner for him to get his fix!

We then take one of those fortuitous turns down a little dark alleyway that leads us to the quirky Cafe Cinema.

This electic cafe / bar has an intriguing open air courtyard splashed in colourful street art.

Whether it’s cute kittens or political satire, the walls are a vivid and mind boggling mas of murals and mayhem!

I force the man to spend a good half an hour here as I meticulously detail every little scrap of paint.

 

There is no escape once I spot painted walls!! I have a particular fetish for spraypaint..

It is also home to the Anne Frank Zentrum which houses a permanent exhibition about the young girl and the world she inhabited. The Zentrum is the German partner organisation of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

The exhibition focuses on the diary and the story of the life of Anne Frank. But also looks at contemporary life via the young people of Berlin.

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Next up we’re heading to see Berlin by night including the Berliner Dom and the Brandenburg gate.

Beach bums

Having been dropped off on the delightful little Cala Mariolu beach we’re left for a few hours to enjoy this pebbly cove.

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Along with the simply stunning water there is a cliff that attracts children and the foolhardy like lemmings . .

Obviously the dare devil scales it straight away like a frenzied, suicidal mountain goat.

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Then proceeds to hurl himself off it repeatedly almost as if it is some sort of fun…

Yeap, looking like endless amounts of terrifying, vertigo inducing “fun”

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However, determined not to be outdone on this particular occasion, I make the (foolhardy) decision to jump off too . . .  instant regret! The cliff is really sharp and feels amount a million miles high from up here (notice the grimace on face)
 

I must have faffed around up there for about 40 minutes.. tottering to the edge only to discover that my body has a very strong “hell no” reflex and a surprisingly strong desire to live.

It was literally as if there was a glass wall preventing me from stepping over the edge and no amount of constructive help (just step out / shall I push you etc) was going to help.

It actually took a boat load of strangers floating into the cove and staring at me to make me jump! I was not going to be a coward in front of people I would never see again . .

Enough dare devilry for me. Back to paddling in the warm shallows and posing.

The photos just don’t do justice to how beautiful this part of the world is.

And then that’s it, the boat comes to collect us and we head back, salt encrusted and sated.

On-route back we enjoy more views of the stunning limestone cliffs tumbling to the sea.

This little beach is a dead ringer for parts of Ao Nang in Krabi, Thailand. Makes me nostalgic!

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And that’s your lot for Sardinia fellow travel lovers. All in all an unexpected, fantastical treat of an island.

An unspoilt (for now) gem of a place with everything you could want for an amazing get away.

Next stop, my first ever trip to Germany with the achingly hip capital city – Berlin!

Jewel bright waters

We’re coming to the end of our Sardinian adventure but on the last day we see possibly the very best of this stunning island.

Hopping on a boat tour around the coastline from Cala Gonone we’re treated to some truly spectacular rugged cliffs and the most beautiful water yet!

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I can honestly say that I have not seen water this clear or this blue outside of Thailand.

In fact this is probably even better as it’s just a few hours from home and nowhere near as overrun!

Even swimsuit phobic old me can’t keep out of this gorgeous blue water.

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The lesser spotted smiling Marples is testament to just how invigorating and joyous it is!

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The limestone cliffs dramatically plunge into the turquoise sea, often erosion has created weird and wonderful sculptures such as the archway and Cala luna caves below.

It’s hard to believe that this gorgeous sight is only a short haul flight from the UK!

Then the boat drops us off on the lovely Cala Mariolu beach for a few hours of soaking up the sun and swimming.

 

Cosy Cala Gonone

Hairpin bends bring us ever closer to our final stop on the Sardinian adventure – Cala Gonone.

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It has a sheltered town beach, a pretty crescent of shingle lapped by navy and turquoise seas.

 

Once unpacked we’re celebrating our 11th anniversary in traditional style – with pizza! 🙂

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Cala Gonone is a jumping off base for exploring the craggy limestone cliffs and ravines.

But before we hop on a floaty boat to explore the glorious seascapes, we enjoy a leisurely breakfast complete with epic view from our hotel’s rooftop restaurant.

During October the amount of accommodation on offer is very limited so we opted for Hotel Ristorante Bue Marino 

Room wise it is very basic but you can’t argue with its location, overlooking the beach with stunning views out across the sea.

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Next up we’re taking to the seas to enjoy a tour around the cliffs and waters of Cala Gonone.

 

Plethora of paint

There’s a last lingering look at the amazing murals of Orgosolo now before we head onwards.

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I love the combination of faded pastel portraits of people with the flaking, peeling paint of old doors and metal work.

Below Mahatma Gandhi ministers to the poor and dwells on the plight of the impoverished.

This colourful house is so delightful it deserves a double whammy of photos!

Musicians line the walls of this ochre coloured building hidden in a backstreet.

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It is thought that the mural as a form of genuine political expression and dialogue  is dwindling because, although more appear, often councils invite artists to paint to attract visitors.

Therefore sanitising and professionalising a once wild art form.

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Whatever the motivations behind the murals of Orgosolo, and other bandit hill towns, they are an undeniable draw for art lovers and photographers alike.

So if you fancy an out of the way, mountain top detour to visit a former den of iniquity and banditry, you’ll love Orgosolo and its colourful art.

Multitude of murals

As we continue our exploration of Orgosolo’s outdoor art gallery we come across everything from political and historical paintings to cubist style works.

Below is a painted reproduction of a movie poster for the famous Bandits of Orgosolo, a 1960 Italian film drama directed by Vittorio De Seta that featured local shepherds as some of the lead characters.

Other murals reflect more recent world events such as the 9/11 terror attacks.

This trio of modernist works depict local women carrying out traditional crafts.

The man is dwarfed by this ornate and detailed mural that takes up an entire house facade.

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While below a window is surrounded by colourful depictions of local life.

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I took so many pictures of Orgosolo that I might manage to stretch to a third post about it!

Ogling Orgosolo

Moving away from beaches for a while we’re heading to the isolated town of Orgosolo.

Hidden in the midst of 1,000-metre-high mountains, surrounded by wild pine forests and a byword for lawlessness and kidnappers, Orgosolo is also an open air art gallery thanks to hundreds of murals that cover every wall, house and shop.

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Paintings can be found on walls all over Orgosolo. Above the many roles of women are celebrated – workers, mothers and lovers.

 

Whether it is pointing out the hypocrisy of giving charity without supporting countries to develop themselves or advocating for women’s rights, each picture tells a very charged story.

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The first mural in Orgosolo was signed by Dioniso in 1969: Dioniso was the collective name of a group of anarchists.

Since then they have reflected Sardinia’s political struggles but also deal with international issues as well as portraying the traditional island ways of life.

Orgosolo and the surrounding villages are infamous due to its lawless past full of bandits and kidnappers.

It is based in the central region known as Barbagia and, fittingly enough, the name comes from Cicero who described it as a land of barbarians.

At one time Orgosolo was known as the village of the murderers due to its high crime rate!

Given the rather reckless driving of some of the locals, it could still claim a fair few unwitting tourist scalps!

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More to come from this rough and ready open air art gallery . . .

Captivating Capriccioli

We’re heading to the last of the stunning Costa S’meralda beaches now – the lovely Capriccioli.

It’s a small beach with a length of 200 meters is surrounded by an abundance of lush Mediterranean brush, with olive and pine trees.

The beach is divided into two parts by enormous granite rocks and is a gorgeous stretch of white sand and gently shelving waters.

The waters are very shallow and so very safe for children and other water babies!

As is common with the Costa Smeralda beaches there are lots of weird, weather beaten rocks that seem to have fallen from an alien planet.

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The waters are as close to the Caribbean as you can get just three hours from the UK.

But luckily Sardinia doesn’t seem to have registered on the tourist hit list so far, so rampant development hasn’t happen and it retains a low key, laid back vibe.

With beaches this amazing though, I doubt it will be long before people looking for alternative, cheap holiday destinations start to wise up to this amazing island.

 

 

 

Spiaggia del Principe

Next on our coastal trip around the Costa S’meralda is the gorgeous little sandy spot of Spiaggia del Principe.

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Spiaggia del Principe, also known as Portu Li Coggi, is one of the best beaches of Costa Smeralda.

The Prince’s Beach is aptly named as it was the favourite beach of Karim Aga Khan IV, the playboy prince who fell in love with the stunning Sardianian coastline and founded the Costa S’meralda.

The beach is located near the small village of Cala di Volpe, between Romazzino beach and Capriccioli.

It will take you a good ten-minute walk along a rocky path before you’ll get rewarded with an arc of stunning white sand, lovely clear water and ever-changing hues of turquoise.

Principe Beach is about 250 meters long in total and is divided by rocks in the middle that stretch out into the ocean.

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White, pink, green, emerald green, blue, turquoise and sky blue colours all combine to make this little beach pack a huge punch!

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There’s a small bar that serves lunch, ice cream and cold drinks. Much needed refreshments in the baking heat of the Sardinian sun.

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It’s a definite must for the avid beach lover and a lovely little spot for watching the waves. It gets chock a block in high season though so visiting in October is perfect.