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Lyon: It’s better than Paris

cover_back_curso_travel_writing_lyonWhat to do with a derelict district in the heart of a historical city? Go on a walking tour through the two different sides of Lyon and find out. A no man’s land on the tip of the peninsula between the Saône and Rhône rivers with nothing but factories and the harbour – that’s what Confluence used to be just a few years ago. Now, times are changing: witness the development of a whole new district with life, shopping and culture.
CONTRASTS – Meet the Confluence
Team CTR Lyon

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Madrid No Borders: Music

cover_curso_travel_writing_madridMusic pumps endlessly through the veins of Madrid, providing the atmosphere and cultural diversity that the capital is famous for. Bar the generic pop and dance you’ll suffer in most clubs, Madrid is bursting at the seams with alternative genres. Jazz bars, such as ‘Bogui’ (Chueca) and La Croquette (Opera) are welcome havens of raw goodness, but you could also head to live venues such as Charada and Zanzibar for a glimpse of Spain’s up and coming bands.

If you’re looking for music with a rather more recognisable title, try out ‘la Riviera’. Although it’s quite an intimate venue, it’s attracted big name bands from all over the world, such as Tame Impala and Nirvana, giving lucky Madrileños an opportunity to get so close to their favourite bands, they
could almost stroke them. I highly recommend you scour the gig dates, during your stay in the capital, but beware; the price of drinks here will empty your pockets quicker than Vegas.
Team Curso/CTR Madrid

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Beneath Berlin: A Beginner’s Guide to the German Capital

cover_reisejournalismus_bIt may be 10 times the size of Paris, but its key areas are pleasantly compact and the excellent public transport system makes it easy to get from A to B. The open
space and multiple parks make it one of the greenest cities in the world and you
can walk without fear during the night.

We have divided the city into smaller, more digestible areas to make your life easier. Take a stroll through the tranquil and elegant streets of CHARLOTTENBERG. Party hard in FRIEDRICHSHAIN, or hang with the hipsters in KREUZBERG. Sightsee in MITTE and bar-hop in NEUKOLLN. Explore the art scene in PRENZLAUER BERG or shop till you drop in SCHÖNEBERG.
Each one of these neighbourhoods has its own unique charm and atmosphere
and collectively they compose the Berlin that we know and love.

Team Curso/CTR Berlin

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Berlin Bearings

Arrived in Berlin and not sure where to go?
cover_curso_reisejournalismusDon’t worry, our Iconic Berlin section guides you around the many unmissable sights the German capital has to offer. Even if you’re restricted to a few days here, pick a couple of our suggestions and jump on the Ubahn. To make you feel like you’ve really arrived in Berlin, head to Brandenburg Tor, Checkpoint Charlie or Potsdamer Platz for the typical tourist experience. History buffs will enjoy the Victory Column and Soviet Memorial and if heights are your thing, see the best views of the city from the Reichstag or the Fernsehturm/TV tower. For fun photo opportunities, go to the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the former Berlin Wall. Team Curso/CTR

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Flavours of Berlin

curso_reisejournalismus_erfahrungsbericht_kulinarischBerlin’s culinary scene is one of the most variegated in Europe. Not only do German, Korean, Lebanese, Thai, French and Indian eateries sit alongside one another as Technicolor beacons of multiculturalism, but they are all exceptionally good too. You couldn’t be more spoilt for choice. In fact, sometimes choice becomes simply impossible. Here’s a low-down, therefore, of some of the more particular elements of the average Berliner eatable experiences.

Fast-food is fundamental to a Berliner’s culinary life, but not in the way any Anglophone visitor might understand it. The most common options divide roughly into German and Middle-Eastern classics. Sausage-based snacks such as Bratwurst (grilled sausage, often wedged in a bread-roll) or Currywurst (its sliced curry-speckled cousin) are mainstays of the more Germanic on-the-hoof diet. From Turkey has come the doner kebab, re-thought to fit German tastes and referred to simply as a Döner.

Distinguished from its eastern forebear by a swapping of meat from lamb to veal and chicken and a higher concentration of salad, this take is a lighter, crisper, more wholesome affair compared to its Britannic imitation. The best are by Mustafa’s in Mehringdamm and All In One in Hackescher Markt. Just follow the queues.

Sticking to the fast-food theme, Berlin enjoys a thriving Imbiß culture. Meaning simply ‘snack’, Imbiß refers to a smallish food outlet of any gastronomic denomination that dishes out deliciously simple dishes at pocket-friendly prices. Imbiße can vary from Schnitzel-serving German haunts or pokey Lebanese falafel cafes, to express street-side sushi bars or speedy Korean fried-chicken joints. It is possible therefore to sample from almost any culinary corner of the world at any time of day (most remain open well beyond midnight) spending very little indeed.

Any run-down of Germanic culinary customs would be regrettably incomplete without mention of Kaffee und Kuchen. Keep a careful eye on any coffee bar and you will observe that at around 4 in the afternoon, regular as clockwork, it fills with locals eager for a healthy slice of coffee-accompanied cake. With delectable cheesecakes, Sacher tortes, and crumbly streusel-topped cherry slices ubiquitously on offer, you’ll find that this favourite restorative past-time features regularly in your Berliner diet.

Coffee may be popular in Berlin, but certainly not more so than beer. And where better to sample the variations on offer – and they do get wacky with gooseberry-spiked green versions – than in a traditional biergarten (weather permitting!)? Warming centres of that most particular of German characteristics, Gemütlichkeit, or cosy conviviality, a good beer garden is the perfect setting for an afternoon or evening wiled away in the company of good friends and even better beer. Try out Prater in Prenzlauer Berg or Schleusenkrug in Tiergarten.

Team Curso/CTR, Ben Kendall

Berlin Berghain

curso_reisejournalismus_berlin_berghainÜber raw, dirty, hardcore techno pumps menacingly from the speakers, bounc­ing off black walls over a pulsating pit of party animals. Daylight has no place here. Instead, techno-worship­pers swing on huge beds suspended by ominously creaking chains; rows of black-clad clubbers knock back shots served by bartenders sporting dog col­lars, leather pants and little else.

Having hosted almost every big name in the genre, Berghain is a true tech­no Mecca. In Berlin’s nightlife hall of fame, Carl Craig’s legendary 3pm closing-time set sits alongside the fre­quent spins of resident DJs Nick Höp­pner and Norman Nodge. The techno is dark and twisted, reflecting the in­dustrial atmosphere in its purest form. Regardless of performance, once you pass through the formidable doors of this towering former power-station, get ready for the night – or usually day-and-a-half – of your life.

Hedonism knows no bounds in Berghain. Partiers openly indulge in sexual acts and invite the participation of total strangers. The infamous dark rooms are crawling with adventurous first-timers and promiscuous regulars alike. Inhibitions have no place here. If, however, you’re more on the reserved side and don’t fancy tripping over a ca­vorting couple in pitch darkness, fear not: there is no pressure to do any­thing you are not comfortable with and no shame if you simply want to dance for hours on end.

The door policy is famously tough; best advice is to look like you couldn’t care less about getting in. Don’t be intimi­dated by the tattooed, bearded, grizzly bears of bouncers policing the doors: they can smell fear. Go in by yourself. Don’t be wasted before you get inside. Don’t overdo it on the outfit front. And go early; queuing for at least an hour is all part of the experience.

The drinks prices are surprisingly rea­sonable (Jaeger shots are a mere €2.50, Berliner Pilsner only €3), so the biggest shock might perhaps come when, final­ly returned home, you glimpse your­self in a mirror. Cameras are forbidden and the club is completely mirrorless, which reflects how much Berghain is not about the right look but all about the right attitude.

curso_reisejournalismus_berlin_edinburgh_berghainCertainly not for the faint hearted it is little wonder that this club is so exclusive. It requires serious stamina and total commitment to partake in Berghain’s weekends of partying. For more chilled house and the occasional glimpse of sunlight, venture upstairs to the sister venue Panorama Bar. Be warned, however, it is only slightly more chilled.
Team Curso/CTR Berlin, Louise Gill
Wriezener Karree, 10243, Friedrichshain, berghain.de
Saturday 12am – as long as you can last on Monday!, €12, S-Bahn Ostbahnhof


Berlin Mitte

curso_reisejournalismus_sprachreise_edinburgh_berlinRight at the heart of the city, here is where you can find some of Berlin’s most cherished attractions in a modernised setting. One of the most war-damaged dis­tricts, Mitte is brimming with histo­rical sites such as the Brandenburger Tor and The Altes Museum. It also contains Alexanderplatz, where alongside the legendary Museum Island tourists can enjoy a selection of leafy parks and jazz clubs. Re­siding nearby are Nikolavier­tel, a quarter of some of Berlin’s oldest buildings, the famous Tier­garten and the River Spree. Mitte is also at the centre of the city’s politics and media. Walks down Unter den Linden and Friedrichs­trasse are necessary to experience the best of Berlin’s landmarks.

The proud home of the döner kebab, Kreuzberg is known for its sizeable Turkish population and working-class community. Yet its energy and ability to entertain is undisputed, the main streets per­manently awash with both locals, hipsters and students. Take a walk down busy Oraniens­trasse for a seemingly endless stream of bars, cafés and restau­rants of varied cuisine, serving up tasty grub at delightfully low prices.

Prenzlauer Berg
An area popcurso_eg_reisejournalismus_sprachreise_edinburgh_berlinular with students, this part of North-East Berlin is gentrified yet affordable, and full of trendy hangouts. Hip young mothers with prams roam the many boutiques, quaint cafés and second-hand shops on Kollwitz-platz, and artists mingle in the chic nightspots. Don’t miss the fleamarket at Mauerpark on Sundays!

Rebuilt in the 1950s after extensive war damage, Char­lottenburg in the present day is one of Berlin’s most affluent, thriving areas. Located to the west of the Tiergarten, it’s not the most accessible area but it is overflowing with tourist hotspots. Located within it is shopping mecca Kurfursten­damm, the boulevard is known to locals as ‘Ku-Damm’ but more widely as the ‘Champs-Elysees’ of Berlin.

curso_reisejournalismus_sprachreise_edinburgh_berlin_graffitiClosely connected with its neighbouring borough of Kreuz­berg, this former part of East Berlin has a complicated history and, consequently, has a range of interesting spots for tourists to visit. Famous for the East Side Gallery, it has a reputation for its young, vibrant population, and its less opulent atmosphere in comparison with the more central districts. It also accommodates many of the city’s squatters.

Located in former West Ber­lin, today this area is celebrated for its history of early 20th cen­tury cabacurso24_reisejournalismus_sprachreise_edinburgh_berlinret culture and influence. upon the city’s art scene. One of the districts to be affected the least by wartime bombing, many of the old Berlin buildings still stand to be admired. Take a walk around to enjoy the greenery and drop into one of Schöneberg’s many elegant boutiques.

Not only the name of Berlin’s most famous park, Tiergarten is a district in itself. Another part of the city to suffer extensively during the war, the huge park is home to seve­ral lakes, beer gardens, monuments and even clubs. A walk through the Tiergarten is a welcome escape from the constant hustle and bustle of the rest of the city.
Team Curso/CTR Berlin

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