Category Archives: Travel Tips

How to get into Berghain in Berlin, Germany

There are a few things I would say Berlin is known for: the currywurst, a pork sausage served with curry ketchup; the wegbier, like a beer ‘to go’, directly translated to “away beer”; and of course, the extreme techno scene. I love sausages and I love beer, but I have never really given techno a chance. So, when I heard about Berghain, a techno club in Berlin, I desperately wanted to go and “do” techno right.

Berghain is an institution in the Berlin techno scene that opens its doors on Friday evening and doesn’t close until Monday morning. People say stepping into Berghain is like stepping into another world, and if you believe all the rumours, at Berghain, anything goes. There is no guest list, no bottle service, no VIP area. The other thing you should know about Berghain is that it’s said to be near impossible to get in! People recount evenings they stood in the line outside for 2 hours, just to be politely told that no, in fact, they would not get in. With one flick of the wrist, the doorman decides your fate, right means yes, left means no. There seem to be no rules, no dress code, no reasoning! So how do you get in?!

This is how we did it:

We woke up on Sunday morning and started our day with a lovely breakfast. I had a tomato, mozzarella, and pesto panini and a chai latte. The chai latte was so frothy and creamy, it was actually really good. We sat outside and watched as the clouds prepared to drop some rain. We took the S-bahn through the city, past the TV tower, and arrived at Ostbahnhof station.

We ended up walking behind some kids that looked like they might be going to Berghain too. They were all dressed in black, and one of them had his phone in his hand, playing techno music. “To get in the mood,” I thought to myself. They looked pretty cool, like they knew and understood the techno scene.

We turned a corner on the path and could hear the booming bass from the club. I began shaking in my boots. Oh man, I just knew we weren’t going to get in. I just don’t think I am cool enough for this place! Everyone talks about how exclusive this place is, and here I am, little Where the F is Beth going to try to get in? Ha!

The cool looking kids were in front of us in line. The doorman knew as soon as he looked at people whether or not they were Berghain material, so the line moved quite quickly. Out of the four or so groups of people I saw at the door, two people got in, and their friends were told to leave. Phew! I was really shaking now. The cool looking kids got to the front of the line. The doorman looked at all four of them and shook his head no, wrist flick to the left. Then, one of the kids opened his wallet and offered the man a bribe. It, of course, didn’t work. We stepped up. The doorman looked straight into my soul through his blacked out sunglasses.

And then we got in.


For more things to do in Germany, read stories of other adventures here!

How to get a Youth Mobility Visa while in Germany

I began traveling around Europe with big dreams and plans of where to go and how long I wanted to stay. Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal… I had plans to stay for at least a year and just travel around to my hearts content! I would be hopping countries every 30 days or so, so I didn’t even think it was a possibility I would need a visa. Then someone mentioned the Schengen area.

The what?!

The Schengen Area is made up of the following 26 countries:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

The Schengen countries have a border-free agreement that allows the residents to move and work freely throughout the entire area. Great, right? Except for citizens who are not from the Schengen. We are allowed entry into the Area for 90 days within any 180-day period. The days don’t need to be consecutive, the clock begins the day you arrive and doesn’t reset until day 181.

For example, if I enter the Schengen for 30 days in May, then come back for 30 days in July, it is 60 days in 180 days.

If you’re like me and have big dreams of plans of where to go and how long you want to stay, how do you stay in Europe longer???

1) You can sort your trip out to move in and out of the Schengen while you are traveling.
You could begin your trip in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, for 90 days, and then move over to the Balkans and take another 90 days to see Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and up through Serbia. Then back into the Schengen for 90 days, then out (maybe to Morocco?), etc. It is totally possible, it just requires a bit of planning and counting days on a calendar.

2) You can get a visa for a country in the Schengen. If you take a language course in a country, for example Spain, you can apply for a student visa in that country, and with that visa, you can travel freely within the Schengen. Many countries have agreements between them to allow citizens to apply for working holiday visas. A working holiday visa allows visitors to live and work in the country, and again, travel freely within the Schengen. Every country has a different agreement, the best place to look is on your country’s government website.

I am Canadian, I am under the age of 35, and I decided to apply for a Youth Mobility Visa in Germany. This would allow me to work in Germany, if I want to, and to travel freely in all the Schengen countries.

This blog post is about how I registered, got my residence permit, and received my Youth Mobility Visa in Germany.

What the Canadian government website tells you is that you have to apply for your Youth Mobility Visa while in Canada, BEFORE you arrive in Germany. This is not the case anymore. You CAN apply for this visa while in Germany. I repeat, you CAN apply for the Youth Mobility Visa while already in Germany. Apparently some of the aliens authorities are not familiar with the process, as it is new, but the one in Berlin knows about it.

This is how you can get your visa in Berlin, Germany:

Step 1)
You must register at a Bürgeramt
You can make an appointment three weeks in advance, at this website (Make an appointment here). You can also walk in, take a number, and wait. (Some of the Bürgeramts are by appointment only, so make sure if you are going to test your luck with a number, you don’t go to these ones. Check out the list here).
To register, you can bring a rental agreement and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord
Some hotels and hostels will allow you to register as a resident there.
This step is mostly so they see you aren’t going to sleep on a park bench.

Once you have the certificate of registration, make a photocopy of it!

If you plan to drive in Germany, you will need to get a German driver’s license at the Bürgeramt also. But you will need a second appointment for that. (Read a bit about driving in Germany, and around Europe in general, here).


Step 2)
Go to the Ausländerbehörde a few hours before it opens (the hours are Monday and Tuesday at 7am, and Thursday at 10am). Straight up, we arrived on Monday morning at 6am, and there were already 60 people ahead of us in the queue. We took our number and waited about an hour and a half until we were seen.

What you need to bring with you:

  1. A valid passport
  2. 1 current biometric photo
    35mm x 45mm, frontal shot with neutral facial expression and closed mouth, looking straight into the camera, light background
    You can have this taken at a photography studio OR go to one of the PassPhoto booths in any main train station in Germany and take them there.
  3. Foreign travellers’ health insurance that is valid for one year
  4. Proof of funds in the amount of at least 2000 Euros
    you can print off a bank statement
  5. The Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit (The form in English, German, French, and Italian: download it here)
  6. The photocopy of the certificate of registration from the Bürgeramt

This is how I did it! It took just one day. They granted my visa in the moment. It was a bit of paperwork and running around to different offices, but now, I can stay in the Schengen for the entire year, move freely around, and even work in Germany if I so choose!


And once you’re in Germany, here are some things to do!


If you have any questions or comments about the process, please send me a message or comment below! Do you have a different experience? Or tips for visas in another country? Let me know!

Getting to the Löschenpass Hütte

You can begin in Kandersteg or in Wiler. Kandersteg is easier to get to by train from Interlaken. If you have a car, you can take it through the mountain on the car train (a train you drive onto that takes you through a tunnel to the other side of the mountain for 25 CHF), and drive to Wiler. The hike from Kandersteg is definitely steeper going up, whereas the hike up from Wiler is a bit more gradual.

We began in Wiler! From Wiler, there is a gondola that takes you up to Lauchernalp. You can buy the round trip, but of course, if you’re planning to do the whole pass hike, buy just the one way. In Lauchernalp, you can stop for a snack before your hike. Berghaus is a delicious little restaurant with an amazing view. Try the rosti!


The path up to the hut is super well marked, and really hard to lose. Crossroads and intersections are marked with signs, and the rest of the trail is marked with red and white paint. There may be snow, so prepare for that. There were a few little glacial run off creeks we had to cross, some were more like waterfalls. All the other hikers we passed had hiking poles with them — not a bad idea.


A bed at the Löschenpass Hütte is available for reservation by phone. Their standard rate is 70 CHF per person, but that includes dinner and breakfast. The rooms are big dorms with bunk beds and lockers. We were lucky to be there on a slow night, and had a room to ourselves.

The beginning of the hike towards Kandersteg is a bit treacherous, down what felt like a sheer rock face, through numerous snow drifts, and over countless glacial run off creeks. All I could think was how happy I was to not be hiking up this side. The valley was totally beautiful. It was huge, carved away from a melting glacier over probably millions of years. The mountains on either side were tall, steep, and craggy. We were surrounded by waterfalls and wild flowers. It was breathtaking. (You can read the story about my experience on this hike here).


Once you arrive at the road, you are in Selden. From here, you can take a shuttle bus to Kandersteg, or you can hike. The hike is very beautiful, super flat, and all around very pleasant. It does add another 2 or 3 hours onto the day. I am sure the drive through the valley would be just as beautiful.

Once you arrive in Kandersteg, the train will bring you back to Goppenstein, and from there, a bus will take you to Wiler. The train runs at the 42 minutes of every hour (1:42pm, 2:42pm, etc.) and the bus is timed perfectly, so you should not have to worry about missing it.

For more information about the Löschenpass Hütte, the pass itself, and the hike, look to the Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC). They are a great resource for information about the shuttle, and if you book through them, they may be able to get you a cheaper rate at the hut! Check their website for more info.

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Wiler to the hut (starred), the hut to where the shuttle picks you up, and then to Kandersteg

Hiking to the Löschenpass Hütte in the Swiss Alps

Today we would hike to the Löschenpass Hütte! After a lovely few days at an Airbnb in Blatten, we were ready to get back on the road. We drove to Wiler, a town near Blatten, and parked our car. We bought a round trip on the gondola and excitedly clambered on. Our first gondola in Switzerland! Going up the Alps! How exciting! It began and whisked us up the mountain. Too fast. It was super anticlimactic. We were both somewhat disappointed when we arrived at the next stop after only one minute.


The hike to the Löschenpass Hütte was beautiful. Straight across and up the side of a mountain towards the mountain pass. The rocks were beautiful, and covered with lichen! We crossed a few little creeks, and found ourselves so high up we were in snow! The snow crossings weren’t too bad, because it was pretty rock solid. A few times we took a step and went right through, knee deep, and once Michael went hip deep, into the snow. It was so adventurous! And so hilarious!


We ate our peanut butter and honey sandwich in the sun, on top of a mountain.

We arrived at the hut, positioned right in the middle of the mountain pass, and checked in. We enjoyed a beer and a bag of peanuts sitting outside. We introduced ourselves to the only other guests of the hut this evening, Christine and Marlon from Washington, and their two year old son, Chess. Together, the five of us enjoyed dinner of salad, soup, and a traditional Swiss style macaroni dish. After dinner, we all retired to bed. We were in our own rooms, amidst the empty bunk beds. Almost immediately, we were asleep.

During dinner last night, Christine and Marlon raved about the hike they did up to the pass. They came up from the other side. They started in Kandersteg. The valley, they said, was spectacular. If there’s one thing I know about Michael it’s that he suffers from FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. We had originally planned to hike back down to Wiler, but what if this valley is as spectacular as Christine and Marlon say? What if we don’t get to see it? We decided to do it.

The beginning of the hike was treacherous, down what felt like a sheer rock face, through numerous snow drifts, and over countless glacial run off creeks. It was crazy. I just kept wondering why we did this. Especially when every sign we saw appeared to have a longer time than it should. “Kandersteg: 5h,” then an hour later, “Kandersteg: 4h 30min.” It was crazy! We hiked in a cloud for the beginning of the trail too, so we really couldn’t see much.

But, right when I started to question our decision, the clouds disappeared and revealed the most remarkable valley. It was endless, carved away from a melting glacier over millions of years. The mountains on either side were tall, steep, and craggy. We were surrounded by waterfalls and wild flowers. It was breathtaking.


The hike down became a lot easier when we were back in the alpine meadows and then down further in the tree line. The shade from the trees was a welcome change. Damn, this Swiss sun! She hot! And still, the signs seemed to lie, “Kandersteg: 3h,” an hour later, “Kandersteg: 2h 45min.” We found the river at the bottom of the valley, and found a shuttle bus stop near the bridge. We weren’t interested in paying for the bus, and decided to walk, the signs all said it was only 2 hours more, and we figured because it was a river valley, it would be somewhat flat.


We were right, the path was so pleasant. It weaved around the river bed, in and out of trees, and through really lovely nature. We stopped for lunch on the river, in the sun, looking up at a towering waterfall. I collected perfect skipping stones and Michael skipped them. It was bliss. We continue our walk, “Kandersteg: 1h 30min,” an hour later, “Kandersteg: 1h.” Wtf?!

It became comical as we walked. We finally arrived in Kandersteg, but had another 30 minutes to walk to the train station. We were exhausted, our feet were tired, we were SO ready to just be there, we were goofy. We walked through the town, arrived at the train station, bought our tickets and found our platform. The train took us to Goppenstein station, and from there, the bus took us back to Wiler where our car patiently waited for us. Phew! What a day!!

Interested in this hike? Click here to read some more information!



Ten things to do in Florence for under €10

Before travelling to Italy, people often warned me about how expensive it is. They prepared me to be spending ludicrous amounts of money at every turn, that money would just flow from my bank account. These people are not wrong, but they aren’t entirely right either. No matter where you go in Italy, you can find inexpensive things to do. Take Florence for example, here are ten things to do in Florence for under €10:

1. Free walking tour!

One of the first things I like to do in a new city is a free walking tour. There are many tour companies that all host amazing tours (Sandeman’s is often the company I choose), but in Florence we went with Florence Free Tour (their website). The tour guide is often in love with the city— that’s why they became a tour guide— and know so many little details about the place. Wear good walking shoes and bring water. You’ll spend a few hours on your feet! It is called a free walking tour, but the guide works on a tip basis, so you pay what you think the tour was worth!

Cost: €5-€10

2. Bardini Giardini

The line to get to the top of the Duomo was enough to deter us, but when we caught wind it was €15 to climb to the top*, we lost interest entirely. So, we went to the Bardini Giardini instead. It lies on the south side of the river, and has only been open to the public for a few years. The gardens are beautiful, and what’s more, you will find a panoramic view of Florence, including the Duomo. Wander through the rose bushes, nap in the shade of a tree, and enjoy some grass— there isn’t much of it in the city centre.

Cost: €7.50.

*€15 gets you a ticket to the top of both the Duomo and the tower, but you can’t buy just one or the other, you have to buy the bundle.


3. Eat some street food!

If you like people-watching and a cheap dinner, Via dei Neri in the city centre is the place to do it. Locals and tourists alike gather on this street to buy food and  then enjoy it, while sitting on the sidewalk. The people-watching is amazing, and this street is the home of La Fettunta, maker of the best sandwich I have ever eaten (so good, I wrote a whole story about it! You can read it here). So grab your libation of choice and have a seat on the street!

Cost: Free

Cost if you buy a sandwich at La Fettunta: €5


4. Walk down the river and have a beer at Il Tempio

The river in Florence is lovely. With picturesque bridges and beautiful buildings lining the streets, it makes for a lovely walk. A little ways out of the city centre, 20 pleasant minutes walking east along the river, you will find Il Tempio. This little bar sits on the edge of the river, with tables and chairs set up under the trees. It’s pop-up feel gives this bar a hip vibe. Live music plays on the weekends (and maybe more often? I didn’t go on a weekday), people gather to have a beer and watch the street lights reflect off the river.

Cost: ~€3 for a 750ml beer.

5. Mercato Centrale

Another cheap place to eat is Mercato Centrale. The food prices here range, so keep your eye out for the cheap stuff. We had the most delicious pizza for €8! You can also bring your own €3 bottle of wine from the supermarket, and ask one of the vendors for wine glasses.

Cost: Ranges between €5-€20

6. Drink a beer on the steps of a friggin’ old building, and people watch!

I am from Canada where drinking in public is not as widely accepted as it is in Italy. I think people sometimes forget that— you can drink in public here! Now, you can’t get drunk in public here, be civil about it, but a glass of wine, or a cheeky beer is not a crime. Florence is chalk full of beautiful, old buildings. Find one with some steps, or a bench across the street, and crack open a cold one!

Cost: €3 for a beer from the supermarket!

7. Eat Gelato.

Duh. Gelato is the perfect snack for any time of day (there was a day in Italy in which gelato was the first thing I ate)! There are SO many Gelaterias sprinkled through the city centre, you won’t have a hard time finding a cone. Remember though, gelato is meant to be served ice cold, so if in the display case the gelato is mounded up in great big heaps it’s not going to be as good! (you can read more about why). Best gelato I had? A cone of dulce de leche and Straciatella at Venchi, mostly because of the chocolate melted into the bottom of the cone!

Cost: €2

Cost if you go to Venchi and have them put chocolate in the bottom of the cone: €3.50


8. Visit the Duomo

While it costs €15 to go to the top of the Duomo, it costs nothing to go inside and check the ceiling. There may be a line, but it is only there to organize the people, and it is fairly fast moving. The inside of the building, while not nearly as ornate as the outside, is stunning. The frescoes on the ceiling are divine (literally) and the stained glass windows are gorgeous. Definitely worth a wander through.

Cost: Free!

9. Have an Aperol spritz somewhere, but don’t pay more than €4…

Before dinner, Italians partake in an apertivo. Apertivo is usually an alcoholic beverage of some sort, typically an Aperol spritz, and a snack. Aperol is a bitter liquor, but when mixed with Prosecco and splashed with orange, it’s a lovely, light fizzy drink, perfect for 5pm. In the city centre, we were shocked to find Aperol spritz for €9. When you see Aperol spritz for €9 keep walking. As you move away from the Duomo, the prices drop. We wandered closer to the Galleria Dell Academia and found a place just across the street from it pouring these orange lovelies for €4 each. That meant we could have four for almost the same price as two at the other place!

Cost: €4


10. See David!

I’m just going to say it: Michelangelo was one crazy Italian. He was a genius, a jack of all  trades, and a master of all trades. He was a true Renaissance man. When in Florence, I implore you to see Michelangelo’s David. I am no art buff, but this thing is breathtaking and totally worth seeing. The line up to get inside can be overwhelming, but we went at about 5 and it was much shorter than earlier in the day. We stood in line for about 15 minutes. The last entrance into the museum is at 6, and they close at 6:30, so we had ample time to check the art.

Cost: €12. Ok, this one isn’t under €10, but for a little extra, you can see a little extra… if you know what I mean.

Enjoy Florence! For more travel tips about countries all over the world, head here!

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The Bethst of: Beaches in Favignana

Favignana is a gem off the coast of Sicily. It is one of the three, and the most populated of the Aegadian islands. Favignana is a thirty minute ferry ride west of Sicily and is among my favourite islands to adventure. Once off the boat, head over to Noleggio Ginevra di Catalan Amadeo (their website) and rent yourself a hog for the duration of your stay. It’s the best way to get around.

Lido Burrone

Lido Burrone is a beautiful sandy beach. It is also the only beach with facilities. Here, you can rent a beach chair and an umbrella, and you can head up to the bar to order a drink or buy a snack. You can also use their toilets. It’s nice to be on a sandy beach, but this one can get quite crowded. It’s not good for incognito topless tanning, but it is great for people watching!

Sandy: yes

Crowded: definitely

Swimmable: yes

Speedos: too many to count

Cala Azzure

Cala Azzure

Named after the colour of the water, Cala Azzure is a total stunner! The water is so crystal clear, it’s almost unreal. As for lounging by the water, there are a few sandy parts for lounging, but there wasn’t much room when we arrived. We walked along the beach, over the rocks and found a more secluded area to set up camp. This place can get super busy too, I am sure, but feels a bit less so because of the way the rocks are located around the water. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only ones there.

Sandy: somewhat

Crowded: not if you walk to the other side

Swimmable: yes and it’s refreshing AF

Instagrammable: #youbetterbelieveit

Bue Marino

Bue Marino

This is less of a beach, and more just a really cool place to hang out and not swim. There is a little path down towards the water that opens up over a huge, flat area. The cliffs down to the water are jagged and beautiful, and the water is, again, crystal clear. Here, you can find all sorts of caves in the rock. It’s a fun place to adventure, hang out in the sun, and drink fresh orange juice from the huge, orange-shaped bar at the top of the hill (if it’s parked there).

Sandy: no

Crowded: not a soul in sight

Swimmable: not if you want to live

Adventurous: totally!!

Cala Graziosa

Cala Graziosa

Yes, you will park in a big, empty parking lot, yes you will be across the street from a big factory looking thing, no, there won’t be any other cars in the parking lot. You’ve found the place! This is such a lovely swimming hole. The quality of your experience will be determined by the wind. If it’s coming from the north, skip this place. If it’s coming from any other direction, this place is heavenly. The water is still, deep, and super clear. There are rocks around the edges perfect for jumping into the deep watering hole. Don’t feel like swimming? That’s fine! Go explore the rocks, you’ll find an abundance of tide pools around!

Sandy: no… it’s rocks

Crowded: not when we went! We were the only ones there!

Swimmable: if you’re prepared to jump!

Life in the tidepools: crabs and urchins galore!

Italy: Five things to know before you go!

You’re going to Italy?! Buonissimo! Italy is the birthplace of some of the best things in the world: pizza, pasta, gelato, aqua-ducts! And, it is a country with something for everyone: beaches, mountains, old stuff, lots of wine… It’s an easy country to travel. That being said, there are some things I wish someone had told me before I arrived. Here are five things to know about Italy before you get there

1. Know some Italian!

There are a few places you may travel in Europe where English is commonly spoken. I have gotten by in many European countries knowing none of the native language. Italy is not one of those countries. The first thing we did when we landed in Rome was go for a piece of pizza and a beer, and neither of us knew how to order it. The woman working didn’t speak a lick of English, either, so it was an awkward exchange! Know some basic Italian before you arrive. Here are some key words and incredibly important phrases:

Ciao (chow): hello AND goodbye!

Grazie (grat-see-uh): thank you. people will respond by saying, “prego!”

Per Favore (pear fahv-or-ay): please

Uno (oo-no): one

Due (doo-way): two

Tre (tray): three

Possiamo avere due bichierri di Prosecco per favore: Can we have two glasses of Prosecco please?


2. Carry Euros, credit/debit cards are not used universally

Italy is a place where you will want to bring cash. Supermarkets, most hotels, and most tourist places (museums, etc.), will accept credit card, but as you travel out of city centres, out of tourist areas, and into more local spots, cash is the name of the game.

3. It is expensive, but you can do it on a shoestring.

Italy is an expensive place, there is no doubt about it. In July and August, prices skyrocket! That being said, you can find cheap stuff. A few tips to save some Euros. Make your own lunch! Having a picnic is the best. Pack some prosciutto, pecorino, bakery fresh bread, and a small bottle of wine, and find a bench to sit on! Some of my favourite Italians were the ones we met working at the deli counter, they often give you free samples! Stay in an AirBnB with a kitchen. It will absolutely have a little coffee pot and you can make your own cup. Even when an espresso is only €2, if you plan to be in Italy for two weeks, it can really add up! And when looking for inexpensive restaurants and cheaper eats, go outside the city centre. Use apps like Foursquare, Tripadvisor, or Google to filter restaurants by top rating AND cheap eats.

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The perfect picnic! Read a story about it here

4. On that note, don’t eat at a place that has pictures of the food on the menu.

Chances are, you have stumbled into a tourist trap! These are the places that have stereotypical Italian food, but also serve things like “American breakfast” or “British fish and chips.” Unless you are really hankering for an egg and bacon breakfast (which you could cook up in your Airbnb kitchen for a third of the price), steer clear of these places. The experience you will have will probably not be authentic, and you will pay far more than it is worth. When you arrive at a restaurant, stick your head in and listen. Are the patrons speaking Italian? Grab a table and enjoy! (I wrote a story about the best meal I had in Florence! Read it here).


5. Don’t eat mounded gelato!

This is probably the most important piece of information there is. I thank my mother for this tidbit of info. Don’t eat mounded gelato. In the display case of a Gelateria, you will see ice cream piled high, drizzled with syrup, adorned with fruits and chocolates. These mountains of gelato will be enticing— they look beautiful!— but that ice cream is not cold enough. Real gelato is meant to be served super duper cold, and when it is displayed in big mounds, the ice cream is not being kept as cold as it should be. When you see mounded gelato, keep walking and wait until you see the stuff that is flat in the container.