Vote for your favorite finalist in the Berlin dream trip giveaway!

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Berlin contest 2013

EuroCheapo and airberlin are sending one of the lucky contestants below on a memorable trip to Berlin this summer! Now, we need your help.

We posted our contest last month and more than 1,500 of you entered! Of the 25 finalists we randomly selected two weeks ago, the 14 contestants below responded. We asked them to answer one simple question: Why would you like to go to Berlin?

They responded with essays (long and short!), photographs, videos, illustrations and even a “Top 10″ list. It’s a fascinating and original set of answers, illustrating a very diverse group of Cheapos out there!

Next week our panel of celebrity judges (including Johnny Jet, Nomadic Matt and Gadling’s Grant Martin) will join me in selecting one of these finalists as the winner. We will send them (and a guest) on a free round-trip to Berlin from the United States on airberlin, along with five free nights at the A&O Hostel and Hotel and free sightseeing vouchers courtesy of Visit Berlin.

Question: Why would you like to go to Berlin?

Here are the 14 entries, in no particular order. After you’ve read them, help us out—vote for your favorite at the bottom of this post and let your voice be heard!

#1: Cheryl

Top Ten Reasons I Want a Trip to Berlin

10. I’m a fact checker for EPCOT, and I want to get clear on a few things.
9. In 1975 I drove a Volkswagen Beetle, and I have a bone to pick with the guy who designed the heater.
8. Like JFK I am a jelly doughnut.
7. I need to get a pin from Hard Rock Berlin to complete my collection.
6. I’m a huge fan of Black Forest Cake and want to do a pilgrimage to its birthplace.
5. I just love saying “schnitzel.”
4. It’s always Oktoberfest somewhere.
3. I want to drive 110 mph in the left lane and have someone flash their lights because I’m driving too slowly.
2. Someone needs to explain David Hasselhoff to me.
1. I’m pretty sure in my past life I was a German Shepherd and I want to find my way home.

#2: Valerie

airberlin-Valerie

#3: Richard

Thank you. Was born 79 years ago and am as active as many who are 49 (I run, bow hunt, canoe, do wilderness camping, etc.). Both my ancestors and my wife’s are from Germany, and we’ve never had the opportunity to visit “the Fatherland.” We want very much to go, and know that unless we win something like this we never will be able to go. Please keep us in consideration!

#4: Chelsea

#5: Cindy

“Your email was chosen as a finalist in the EuroCheapo / Airberlin “Summer in Berlin” giveaway that you entered.

Can you believe it!? You see, I have been to Berlin before! In fact, I was there in the dead of winter, when I could barely step outside to see the sights, sounds and smells that are Berlin. At that moment, I decided that I did not like Berlin! It was too industrial and cold for me. I said something along the lines of “What a cold, dark place Berlin is.  Dull grey is its color.”

Yes I said those words… gasp! I know, but there is more…

“Love and Berlin do not go in the same sentence for me.”  “I have heard there are some beautiful places in the countryside to visit in Germany, and even world renown traveler Rick Steves says that the most beautiful castle in Europe is in central Germany, so I haven’t given up on Berlin or Germany yet, but Berlin it is not my cup of tea.” And now karma is here to offer me a “Summer in Berlin”?!

How ironic! It could be the perfect test for me to see if I really do not like Berlin.

Could it have been the weather? Cold and bleak nights.

The mood? Stuck in my hotel room at night with spotty internet!

My company? Alone.

The architecture? Industrial and cranes/construction everywhere.

Even more irony is that while there, protestors were in full force to keep the Berlin Wall UP! That’s right, UP. Not DOWN! Oh, the complicated life of this unlikely tourist attraction. Since its fall in 1989, Berlin was in a hurry to get rid of The Wall.  After it came down, Berlin sent pieces of The Wall everywhere. Now, there are only sections of The Wall left standing. A luxury apartment building was trying to be built where one section of the wall stands today and that was just too much for Berliners to take.

Since it will be Summer and the weather warm, now I am ready to try a few things I missed in the dead of Winter:

• Eat al fresco on Potsdamer Platz at cafe PS-ZWO!
• Go biking around Berlin, for a fast and easy way to get around!
• Take in all the sites using my Berlin Welcome Card!
• Take a tour inside of Berlin’s secret abandoned sky station!
• Eat at this tiny eatery called W Der Imbiss, a favorite among the locals.
• Go dancing at a dance hall that survived the world war, maybe even do a little Swing, or Cha Cha Cha.

Thanks Berlin for giving me another chance! In the end, I know that I will be glad to go back to Berlin. I didn’t see what the fuss was about the first time I went, but after this visit in the Summer, I just know I will enjoy you!

#6. Arthur

It has always been a dream of my wife to visit the Olymplastadion in Berlin. Her father, Archie San Romani, competed there for the United States in the 1936 Olympics. He placed 4th in the 1,500 meter race. He spoke about the beauty of the German countryside and it’s people.

This is a dream that, with your and airberlin’s help, I can fulfill for her.

#7. Kris

Why would I like to visit Berlin? I have been a fan of history my whole life, and European history in particular, yet I have never been to Europe. I have visited Berlin in my mind through the pages of history books, yet I have never been able to walk its streets in person. I have seen photos and video of the Brandenburg Gate and the fall of the Berlin wall, yet never stood in its shadow and contemplated how it would have felt to be there at the time. The museums of Berlin hold historical treasures from all over the world. To be able to see the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of Babylon in the Pergamon museum would alone make the trip worthwhile. The Egyptian museum with its completely unique pieces that you cannot see elsewhere would be another highlight. Coming from western Canada, local recorded history does not go back much beyond one hundred years, so a city dating well over a thousand is something I long to see.

My beautiful wife is excited to see the modern, artistic, architectural side of Berlin. A stroll through the Tiergarten is definitely on her list as is a visit to fairy tale Pfaueninsel island and the Prenzlauer Berg with its funky shops and cafes. She is particularly intrigued by the unsicht-Bar where blind waiters serve you in the dark to give you a taste of what it feels like the be sightless.

We may be biting off more than we can chew in just 5 days, but this trip would fulfill life-long dreams for both of us. It would be a great first taste of Europe, a place we dream of seeing again and again.

#8. Anna

airberlin - anna

Hi! I’m Anna! Traveling to Berlin has always been a dream of mine. If I had the opportunity to go I would enthusiastically explore every inch of Berlin! From all of the history that has taken place in the city to the incredible street art. I love how Berlin has transformed to a place where a diversity of people come to enjoy life. I’ve imagined taking a cruise down the river Spree, the stunning architecture of Sanssouci Palace, the many museums, the magnificent elephants at Tierpark Zoo and trying the best bratwurst from a local street vendor. I not only want experience everything Berlin has to offer but I want to share this great city with the world through my photography on my travel page The Legendary Adventures of Anna!

#9. Lynn

Nothing particularly original here, but like most people, I’ve waited my whole life to do things (like go visit Berlin and other parts of Europe) thinking “I’ll go later when it’s more convenient”. I’m now 66 years old and running out of all that time I thought I had so much of. This is a “Cheapo” way to get there, but I’ll take any way I can at this point.

#10: Ken

I’ve always wanted to visit Germany in general and Berlin in particular! My aunt was a Berliner and met my uncle during WW II. My aunt, as well as her mother who moved to the US, were great cooks and I loved visiting them. I’m an avid reader of WWII spy novels, and would love to see the remains of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, and other sites that feature prominently in those novels.

Berlin will be a great place to eat, drink, people watch, and take in some gay clubs. I might even become a temporary Freikörperkultur. That’s something you don’t get in the US! And I promise to tell you all about it!

#11: Julie

#12: Melinda

The Whispers of Berlin

What drives me to want to travel to Berlin? I don’t have family, or lineage from there. I am not exceedingly connected to German culture. I don’t speak German, watch German films, or know much German music.

But as an observer of people, a cultural artist and travel writer, I am fascinated by the possibilities that Berlin holds. It brings up questions for me; some of which are uncomfortable and provocative. As I travel around the world, and certainly since my relocation to South America, I seek out the answer to the question of culture? What makes community? What encourages loyalty? What supports feelings of unity within a group. Berlin is ripe for this kind of questioning!

Identified as a hub for culture, art, and fashion, Berlin is becoming the “go to” place in Europe. But I wonder what kind of whisperings are going unheard under these louder, albeit true, pronouncements? More than twenty years after the destruction of the wall and the reunification of a country and a city, I want to pay attention to the subtleties of this place. I want to hear the music, witness the art, wander along the line where the wall once stood and see what I can learn from this remarkable experiment of a once strong culture divided and reunited.

Has it healed? Is it still in process? Is Berlin transformed? Five days of getting to know Berlin as a curious tourist, I may be lucky enough to hear the whispers.

#13: John

A dozen years ago, I began my love affair with European travel. Teaching high school in my early 20s, I escaped to Europe and traveled on the cheap for 4 consecutive years. I spent most of my time in Italy, but also went through Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany. And then I met that special someone and life became more complicated. I’m sure that she was drawn in my by air of well-traveled sophistication, and we planned to travel together, but as our lives became more and more entwined, we were never able to go abroad. Now, my wife is not the jealous type, she’s never batted an eye when I’ve spoken of past girlfriends, but she has obviously always been jealous of my travels abroad. She’s seen me give postcards of curvaceous Italian hill-towns a knowing look that lingered just a little too long, and her jealousy has been palpable. Our first child seemed to spell the doom of our travel hopes, and our second put the nail in the coffin, which has only caused the jealousy to fester.

But then, just this spring, we resolved to perfect our marriage by getting this contentious subject behind us, planning a trip to Italy. As we are not only parents but also recently took on a mortgage, it went without saying that they only way this would happen would be on the cheap, and it turned out that a flight from Chicago to Rome could actually be had quite inexpensively… as long as you didn’t mind flying one airline from Chicago to Detroit to Paris to Istanbul, and then pausing for 11 hours before taking a different airline to Rome. The price was right, so we booked it.

My in-laws graciously took their grandkids for the 11 days we would be gone and off we went. As we exited our Chicago to Detroit flight, the bag we’d had to gate-check was the first one brought up and I thought “This must be our lucky day!” Which, of course, meant that it wasn’t.

The shortest version I can manage is this: a woman on our flight had a heart attack over the Atlantic, so we had to fly 40 minutes back to a remote outpost in Newfoundland, sit there for two hours while they got her to medical treatment, rummaged through the cargo for her bags, refueled, and, since all that took so long, de-iced the plane (we heard later that the woman, who was traveling alone with an infant, was okay). Hours later, as we approached the mainland of Europe, perhaps another 40 minutes out from Paris, our flight crew told us that there was “good news and bad news.” The latter was that, as they were over their allowed flying time, we would be landing in Brest rather than Paris, and getting a new flight crew. I can only guess that the good news was that they were getting the hell off the plane, but that was never made explicit. We never heard anything that sounded like good news. Two hours and no further communication later, we were allowed to get back on the plane and head to Paris, where they had an exhaustingly-long queue formed up just for us to receive hotel rooms and meal tickets for the night, served up by Air France employees who seemed to understand neither our language nor our country’s work ethic—I’m not making this up: with no explanation, when their shift was over, the entire group of what I hesitate to call customer service representatives got up and left without a word, while their replacements took 10-15 minutes to filter in. Realizing that night that we couldn’t possibly get to Istanbul in time for our flight, we contacted our other airline with great difficulty and, with no sympathy for our situation, were allowed to pay $350 to change our ticket to something we actually could, theoretically, catch. When we got to the gate in Istanbul, however, we were informed that we did not have tickets. Boarding passes, yes. Tickets, no. Because our credit card, representatives of which we had informed that we were traveling abroad, had flagged the ticket purchase as possibly fraudulent and declined the charge. So now we would have to pay in Turkish lire instead of US dollars, which would incur a foreign transaction fee. Also, the travel rep we spoke with had misinformed us: it would be $350 each. But hey, it was either that or spend our entire trip in Istanbul. Despite the appeal of, perhaps, finding out why they changed the name (ignoring, of course, the advice that it’s nobody’s business but the Turks’), we decided to pay up and head out. In case you’re curious, the flight was still cheaper than a direct flight would have been, but only just barely. When you factor in the headaches, not so much.

You’re probably also curious at this point why I’ve chosen to tell this long story, when I’m supposed to be writing about why I want to visit Berlin. Here’s the thing: I’ve been to Berlin, once, in a whirlwind day of sightseeing, in which our 70-year-old tour guide ran my 23-year-old self to exhaustion. But that means that Berlin is still one of the travel destinations I’ve been with that my wife has not. It’s still one of those places. At the same time, and perhaps contradictorily, I’m starting to fear that after our preposterously difficult trip, my wife may be starting to disbelieve the luster that always gilded my stories. To curb both the jealousy and the possibility that my wife doesn’t really believe that European travel is all it’s cracked up to be, it is more or less necessary for the sake of preserving our marriage that we get to Berlin, pronto. Sorry, schnell. And if we could do it without heart attacks, labor stoppages, or change fees, that would be sehr gut.

14: Greg & Emily

Tom - Greg Emily

In our eight years as a couple, Greg and I have never gotten to really travel together. We’ve driven to our native Ohio for family visits many times – but that doesn’t count, does it? I used to be quite the world traveler. I loved meeting people from around the world, trying new foods, and soaking up the scenery of foreign lands. I was happy to work three jobs at a time in various restaurants to make that happen. These days, though, I have grown quite attached to my day job. I work at an international nonprofit that does HIV and AIDS education in Malawi. My job rocks but it doesn’t pay me enough to even consider international trips.

Greg moved to Asheville, NC with me last fall – for my awesome job. He took a big chance for the good of our relationship. And it’s paid off; just not financially. To help me pursue my dream, Greg left a great job that allowed him to illustrate for a living. That’s Greg’s dream.

Greg loves German culture. He took German in high school, had a close friend in a German exchange student, and had another really good friend who married a darling fräulein from the Black Forest. I would love to be able to offer this trip to Greg as a thank you: a thank you for taking the big leap that’s kept us together but separated him from his career. I would also like to share the experience of traveling abroad with Greg. Traveling offers opportunities for such profound growth and I would love to share those experiences with him.

Vote!

Although our judges will ultimately select our winner, they can be influenced! Vote below to tell them which of these finalists you think should win!

About the author

Tom Meyers

About the author: Tom Meyers created and launched EuroCheapo from his Berlin apartment in 2001. He returned to New York in 2002, set up office, and has led the EuroCheapo team from the Big Apple ever since. He travels to Europe several times a year to update EuroCheapo's hotel reviews. Tom is also a co-host of the New York City history podcast, The Bowery Boys. Email Tom. [Find Tom on Google Plus]

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34 thoughts on “Vote for your favorite finalist in the Berlin dream trip giveaway!”

  1. Pingback: My Karma and Travel with Berlin, Germany | Pointsandtravel.com

  2. I am voting for Kris and his wife. I am friends with the parents. From what I know about and what I know of them, they are very deserving of this trip. Best to you both and hope you win!

    Reply

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