The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Long Weekend. What does one do?

This year Britain is celebrating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which marks 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II being on the throne. Further jubilation is due as the royal subjects all get an extra bank holiday! With four days off work and with an abundance of celebratory events taking place in the capital, be sure to make the most of the Jubilee weekend. For a quick guide, check out Time Out London for a few ideas.

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Get ready to rummage. Berlin’s best markets.

Berliners share some passions – a love of bargain hunting, being outdoors and recycling – and the city’s multitude of markets, with a hive of activity in every neighbourhood, fulfill all three. Not only are they the perfect way to dip into the unique aesthetic of cutesy-crafty, vintage-chic, but above all they are where to hang out for a feel of the city’s culture, past and present. Dorothy Fevear lists some faves at Time Out Berlin.

Walking is Stupid. Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin.

On my last visit to Berlin, which also happened to be my first visit, I looked at a fun way to orient myself to this amazing city. I took an All in one tour of Berlin with Fat Tire Bike Tours. The tour visits all the hotspots: Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker, Brandenburg Gate, Watchtower and Museum Island. You don’t have to be a regular biker, it cater’s for fitness levels and abilities. Our tour guide Sam, a New Zealander, was fun and informative and bought the history of Berlin to life with interesting anecdotes. My teenage children loved it because it was active and made the learning fun. My husband who got the coveted title of ‘arse man’, bought the t-shirt with Fat Tire’s mission statement: walking is stupid. The title of ‘arse man’ is the guy that volunteers to be at the back ensuring everyone else is in front and stays in the group. In the middle of the tour you stop at a beer garden in Tiergarten. Time for a few sausages and a beer. This tour is amazing. So much fun, so much history. Give it a try!

Sam our tour guide. Photo by The Travel Crew.

Checkpoint Charlie. Photo by The Travel Crew.

Cycling in Tiergarten. Photo by The Travel Crew

German Bundestag. Photo by The Travel Crew.

Fancy a pint? A look at pubs in old London Town.

One of my favourite pubs in London is the Founders Arms, Bankside London. Good pub meals on the river with an amazing view. But how to choose? The Independent Guide to Traditional English Pubs is a good place to start when wanting to visit a boozer near you. It also has great suggestions as to pub crawls, pub history, pubs with a view and a list of historic pubs.

Founders Arms, Bankside, London.

The Crown, London.

The Red Lion, London.

Why Paris is called the city of light. “Paris: La Ville-Lumière”

Paris was nicknamed the “City of Light” (not City of Lights) originally because it was a vast center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment. In 1828, Paris began lighting the Champs-Elysées with gas lamps. It was the first city in Europe to do so, and so earned the nickname “La VilleLumière” or The City of Light.

Champs Elysees

Le Tour Eiffel

Notre Dame

La Concergerie

Interesting:

  • City lights – There are over 296 illuminated sites in Paris covering hotels, churches, statues, fountains and national buildings and monuments. Furthermore, 33 of Paris’ 37 bridges are illuminated at nightfall.
  • The sparkling Eiffel Tower – It takes 40 km of illuminated garlands made up of 20,000 sparkling light bulbs to light up this famous Paris landmark.
  • Champs-Elysées – The world’s most beautiful and romantic boulevard lights up during the Christmas illuminations. This is truly a sight to behold!  There are over 2.4 km of lights from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, including 450 decorated trees – 330 trees sparkle along the avenue and 120 trees on the pavement.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof: Major train station and shopping hub.

Germany has a shopping problem — or, rather, a problem shopping. For decades, most stores closed in the evenings and on Sundays by law. A new law enacted last November lifted many of those restrictions in Berlin, but panicked off-hours shoppers still turn to the stores in the spanking-new main station in Berlin, which has 80 stores open until 10pm, even on Sundays. Trust me, for Germany, that’s radical. The new station is capped by a huge, 80-foot-high glass ceiling, with floors below staggered so that daylight makes it onto individual tracks. Yes, the architecture is similar to other big, glass stations you’ve seen in Europe, but it beats the cramped halls of many mid-century stations.

Canal Saint Martin. Float through the history of Paris.

In the spring and summer, locals flock in droves to the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin to picnic and strum guitars. Cafés and quirky boutiques flank the water and iron footbridges. On Sundays, two streets running parallel to the canal, Quai de Valmy and Quai de Jemmapes, are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists—perfect for renting a bike and seeing the city from a fresh angle.

Canal Saint Martin has inspired the arts.

  • The canal inspired painters such as Alfred Sisley.
  • The canal is shown in the 1938 film Hôtel du Nord, directed by Marcel Carné.
  • The canal appears in the 2001 film Amélie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, in which the title character enjoys skipping stones at the locks of the canal.
  • The canal was also the setting in part for Jean Vigo’s film L’Atalante in 1934.
  • In Les Malheurs d’Alfred (1972), Pierre Richard and Anny Duperey meet each other at the beginning of the film, thinking of committing suicide in the canal.
  • Édith Piaf sings about the canal in the song “Les mômes de la cloche”, written by Vincent Scotto and Decaye, music by Médinger, in 1936

View of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris (Alfred Sisley, Musee d’Orsay, 1870)