Herzlich willkommen!

This is the personal webpage of Andie Gilmour.

I am a seasoned IT professional who together with my partner and cats upped sticks from the UK in 2008 and moved to live just north of Berlin.

Why did we make such a momentous move? Surely we must have been crazy? As the traditional song goes: Du Bist Verrückt, mein Kind, du musst nach Berlin, wo die Verrückten sind!

Well yes, we were crazy - crazy about Berlin. There is no city like it, and Land Brandenburg around it is also a beautiful thing.

On this page I have incorporated the most recent posts from my blog, which has chronicalled our move to Berlin and our lives and discoveries since. I hope you read it and can share with us our love for this crazy place.

Alternatively, you can subscribe to the Best of das Blog newsletter and get a periodic digest of the best monthly posts sent direct to your email box!

 

Mit freundliche Grüße!

Andie Gilmour

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1. Leipzig mit dem Bus

Leipzig is 'the new Berlin', apparently. It certainly has lots of building sites, that's for sure. It is also one of my favorite German cities, and every time we go back, new buildings have sprung up or old ones have been renovated.

Leipzig is around 190km SW of Berlin and we usually get there by Deutsche Bahn, taking either about 1hr 20mins direct with the ICE, or 2hrs 30mins with a Regional Express and a change at Dessau. However, the trains are getting expensive and not reliable to run on time, so we thought we would try the bus instead.

We took a Flixbus, picking us up at Berlin Alexander Platz and whizzing us to Leipzig in 2hrs 40mins. A bit longer, but the price was just 8€ each there (and same again return - 32€ total for the both of us). That compares with about 70€ for a standard return each (or 44€ with a Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket) on the RE.

We can report that the buses are clean and comfortable, not over-booked by any means, have free wi-fi, power connections for your laptop or tablet, and an on-board toilet. The view from the window is a bit boring as unlike the train you don't pass through towns and villages - it is Autobahn most of the way. Would we travel by bus again? Yes, at this price, I think we probably would!

There is a useful website called busradar.com which let's you find the best prices, in English, or busliniensuche.de for the same comparison engine in German.

Here are some photos of our day in Leipzig to give you an impression of this wonderful Saxony city:

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Leipzig by Andie Gilmour

Posted on 2 March 2015 | 7:12 am

2. Martin Luther Ring

I had to do a double-take when I saw this road-name sign in Leipzig:

Photo of Martin Luther Ring road-name sign, Leipzig

Of course, it isn't a misspelled homage to the famous black-rights non-violent activist Martin Luther King, but a ring-road named after the 16th century nailer of theses to church-doors priest, and founder of Lutheran Protestantism, Martin Luther.

Posted on 1 March 2015 | 4:57 am

3. Help the European Wild Cat!

There is a totally cute poster appearing on the S-Bahn platforms that brightens up my rail journeys, and it is an appeal by Friends of the Earth to help preserve the forest environment for European wild cats.

Helfen Sie unseren wilden Brüdern und Schwestern

"Help our wild brothers and sisters!" it says, and though it looks like someone's first attempt at using Photoshop from stock images found on Google it is no less effective at pulling on the hearts-strings of cat lovers for that.

If you want to find out more about helping wild cats, then follow this link to Friends of the Earth Germany.

Posted on 1 March 2015 | 4:48 am

4. Zinnowitz - Beside the Sea-Side on the Island of Usedom

I might have mentioned before that I love the sea. If there is one niggly regret about living in Germany rather than the UK, it is that wherever you are in the British Isles the sea is never more than an hour away. Still, better here in Berlin than München, say; at least there is a good train connection to the Baltic coast and islands from Berlin. It takes about three hours to reach the coast, which is endurable enough, especially as the train journey takes you through the beautiful, rolling countryside of Uckermark.

Zinnowitz is about the first seaside resort you reach by train on the Baltic island of Usedom. It is not very large, and like most of these resorts (in the UK as well as Germany), it grew up during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Zinnowitz still retains a feel of the Gründerzeit era, with grand Victorian-looking hotels, elaborate wood-framed villas, Strandkörbe (roofed wicker beach chairs), and a pier. It was also a resort much loved by the East Germans, and was particularly the most important seaside resort for workers in the SAG/SDAG Wismut uranium mining company, which has left Zinnowitz with rather incongruous 70's hotel like the Hotel Baltic, formerly the Roter Oktober.

February is probably not the best time to see it at its liveliest, but then instead you can get the beach and sand-dunes almost to yourself. Here are some photos to give you an impression of Zinnowitz in Winter.

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

At the end of the pier (the Vinetabrücke - named after the mythical sunken mediaeval town of Vineta) is a Tauchgondel or 'diving bell'. You can go on regular trips down to the sea bottom and, I dunno, look at the plaice and crabs down there I guess.

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

Here is the only Strandkorb we saw, and it is small enough for a cat to sit in! All the other Strandkörbe are stored away for the Winter.

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

The Hotel Baltic, formerly Roter Oktober.
photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

Visitors to Zinnowitz (and many Baltic resorts) should buy themselves a day-ticket here. It is like a tax on tourists that goes back into developing the resort.

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

Zinnowitz's USP aside from the pier seems to be its Lift-Cafe.

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

A cafe that goes up like a lift!

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

Pet pigs from the Hotel Vineta out for a walk!

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

The Zinnowitz have some gruesome customs!

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

Zinnowitz also boasts a 'crazy' museum devoted to everything about ironing:

photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour


photo from the collection Zinnowitz, Usedom  by Andie Gilmour

Posted on 23 February 2015 | 7:57 am

5. Berlin bei Nacht

A few images of Berlin-Mitte taken on a cold, February night.

Museumsinsel (Museum Island):

photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

View of the Fernsehturm across Friedrichsbrücke:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Berliner Dom:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

The DDR Museum:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

The Dali Ausstellung on Leipziger Platz:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

The Mall of Berlin from Leipziger Platz:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

The Mall of Berlin:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

The Mall of Berlin:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

The Mall of Berlin:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Museum für Kommunikation:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Deutscher Dom:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Das Konzerthaus:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Französischer Dom:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Statue of Friedrich Schiller, Gendarmenmarkt:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Kozerthaus, Gendarmenmarkt:
photo from the collection Berlin by Night  by Andie Gilmour

Posted on 23 February 2015 | 6:10 am

6. Dangerzone Because of Cat


What?!? How can anywhere with cats become a danger zone? Kuschelbereich (cuddle zone) more like!

Posted on 20 February 2015 | 3:47 pm