Best gifts to bring from a UK trip

There is certainly no denying that travelers are always on the lookout for gifts and souvenirs to bring home. A certain something that will help to remind them of their exciting trip. However, many travelers can often become caught up in buying cheap knick knacks and gifts from tourist traps. It can be considerably difficult to put together a list of top souvenirs and gifts to bring from a UK trip. Simply because there are just so many amazing things that you can shop for. To avoid purchasing something you may only decide to throw away in a matter of months. We have put together a short lift of some authentic items that you may wish to consider when travelling to the United Kingdom.

tea cupTea from Whittard and British Tea.

If you are visiting the capital of England, London comes with its very own Whittard tea shop which is a very popular chain tea shop that sells exquisite teas, both hot and iced. They provide a lovely selection of quality teas from across the globe. From fruit infusions and flowering teas to oolong and flavored green. Why not sample a few of their teas from their house blends? If you are not a big tea drinker, they also have a wide selection of coffee and hot chocolate for you to choose from. Not only that, they have incredibly creative flavours such as strawberry, tiramisu, and even salted caramel! If you miss out on shopping in London and are perhaps visiting somewhere further afield, there are plenty of tea shops hidden around most towns and cities. It’s certainly well worth a visit.

Chocolate and Sweetscadbury chocolate

It’s no secret that British, are absolutely in love with sweets. The British are certainly well-known for making some of the most delicious sweets (candy) and chocolate that is often craved across the globe. The famous British Cadbury chocolate bars taste so much better. Compared to the reformulated ones that you can easily find in your local supermarket. Some fantastic favourites to try are Dairy Milk, Wispa and Aero. For travellers coming from the United States of America, the Hershey Company has banned the sale of Cadbury’s chocolate in the US. Which means bringing back a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate will certainly be an extra special treat.

museum shopMuseum Gifts

There are plenty of museums dotted around the United Kingdom, but for travellers heading to London, you should take some time out to visit The British Museum and V&A Museum which offer more than your regular museum souvenir shop. Admission to most museums in London is free. So you might be able to plan some more money in for a visit to the museum shops. Both museums are known to commission special pieces and gifts for their own lines of accessories, homeware, and jewelry which are based on their exhibits. Not only are some of the most commissioned artists based in the United Kingdom. But the collections are typically only available for purchase at museums. How’s that for a unique gift?

Vintage pieces

Vintage Treasures

England is a treasure trove of gifts and unique antiques that range from small simple trinkets to extravagant historic artifacts. With so many different shops for you to visit and what seems to be an endless selection of vintage goods for you to choose from. You are bound to discover something that will catch your eye. If you are spending enough time in London, you should definitely focus your treasure hunt on the numerous market places. Such as Camden, Brick Lane or the Old Spitalfields Market.
Especially on weekends there are markets popping up everywhere in London. In East London you can easily visit Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Market and Greenwich Market to fill your bags up with authentic vintage gifts.

union jack souvenirsUnion Jack Souvenirs

For travellers visiting London, a simple short walk along the streets of Central London will unearth a world of ubiquitous souvenir shops. Which sell key chains, hats and t-shirts that are emblazoned with the union jack. There are plenty of fantastic places around the London capital. You can discover incredibly interesting keepsakes that will certainly commemorate your trip to the United Kingdom!
If you are one of those, who start to think about gifts just when you stand at the airport and realize that your trip is nearly over. Union Jack Souvenirs are obviously the option for you. As you can easily literally get anything labeled with an Union Jack at any British Airport 🙂

Bear Pit Karaoke at Mauerpark Fleamarket

Wombat’s Top 4 Favourite Markets in Berlin

Spring has almost sprung in Berlin and what better way to celebrate the sun than to spend a hungover Sunday afternoon roaming around buying second hand goodies.  And let me tell you, there is no better way to cure a throbbing headache than walking back to the hostel with a freshly squeezed orange juice in one hand and a broken accordian in the other.

Berlin has quite a few markets on offer depending on what you’re in to.  This is a list of our favourites here at Wombat’s.

1) Mauerpark Flohmarkt (Sundays 8am –  6pm)

Located an easy 15minute walk from Wombat’s, ‚Mauerpark‘ (literally translating to ‚Wall Park‘ – it runs along one of the few remaining sections of the wall in the city) is easily one of the biggest and most famous fleamarkets in the city.  You can spend hours wandering through endless stalls selling all kinds of things from locally manufactured clothing to second hand watches to organic produce.

It can get pretty packed and busy though…so when the crowds are too much for you, grab a beer, have a lie down on the grass and listen to some of Berlins most eccentric street musicians doing their thing.  If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to see the ‚Bearpit Karaoke‘ in full swing.  If you’ve ever wanted to butcher your favourite popsong outdoors in front of 400 people. Mauerpark is the place for you.

 

2) Flohmarkt am Boxhagener Platz (Sundays 10am – 6pm)

Smack bang in the middle of hipster suburb ‚Friedrichshain‘ is the small but extremely popular fleamarket on Boxhagener Platz.  Join the 20-somethings on their way back from the club. Parents with their children and some of Berlin’s most stylish residents trawling through a huge amount of second hand books, records, furniture, clothing and other knick-knacks.

 

3) Turkish Market at Maybachufer (Tuesdays and Fridays 11am – 6.30pm)

‘Angebot angebot angebooooot!’  Every Tuesday and Friday, Kreuzbergs Maybach Canal comes alive with the sights and sounds of Turkish produce sellers offering visitors to the market the best deals on kilos of oranges/tomatoes/apples etc. etc. etc. It is not for the faint hearted – usually a huge bustling swarm of tourists, locals and families bargaining with shop-owners.  Towards the end of the market though, one can relax with a crowd of other exhausted market-goers. Sitting along the banks of the canal eating Turkish breads and dips and listening to street musicians.

 

4) Fleamarket at Rathaus Schöneberg (Saturday & Sunday 8am – 4pm)

Held in front of the Town Hall in district ‘Schöneberg’ (where John F Kennedy made his famous Ich bin ein Berliner speech) this fleamarket has more of a local character where Berliners come to buy and sell their Bric-a-Brac.  Sellers sit under tarpaulins and sell all kinds of random things out of cardboard boxes.  If you have the time to trawl through all the rubbish, it can be totally worth it.  But don’t forget…haggle!!

Brick Lane Street Sign

What to Do in East London

East London

Touring around London, you will likely find yourself checking out all that East London has to offer. It is a popular location for all ages, but especially for anyone in their 20s. This is an area of the city built around the interests and needs of early 20s individuals. You have the shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and activities that appeal to youth in a way that you cannot find elsewhere. In East London, two of the most popular stops are Brick Lane and Shoreditch. Both offer some exceptional dining, shopping, and sightseeing, giving visitors a memorable experience that opens their minds up to all types of new things.

Brick Lane

Brick Lane was once a rundown area of London. It is covered in slums and known for its proximity to the Jack the Ripper killings. It recently began to bounce back, however, and see an improvement. Brick Lane is on the rise. The crowds flock to this part of the city to have fun and shop in the numerous vintage stores. Mostly full of pubs and shops. This area is a great place to hang out with friends or to stock up on items that you need. You can check out Blitz, Rokit, and East Gallery, as a few options for shopping and galleries. For food and drink, head over to Cinnamon, The Brickhouse, Big Chill or visit the Brick Lane Food Market on Sundays. Plenty more places are around Brick Lane, too. They brighten and liven up the streets. Even during the day, the streets are alive with musicians, entertainers, and creativity. It brings these streets to life at all times of the day and night.

Shoreditch

Shoreditch has even more to offer. This location is a trendy place for younger individuals to grab a bite to eat, go shopping, go partying, and live life. You have everything from Golden Heart. A tavern that will capture your heart from the moment that you walk in, to Cereal Killer Café, a café where you can enjoy cereals from across the globe. Whether you want to party or you want to sit for a quiet meal, there is always something right up your alley.

The huge variety of locations means that it is near impossible to list everything here. You can go have fun in places like Queen of Hoxton or you can go find food stalls and view the beautiful architecture and street art around the city. You can even check out the lively individuals that take to the streets in these locations.

Oktoberfest

O´zapft is! How to Oktoberfest 2017

The Oktoberfest runs from Sept 16th – October 3rd 2017

What do hostel workers need most after an exhausting summer season? A sixteen-day beerfest, along with a hostel full of intoxicated guests. NOT, you would think, but we actually still enjoy this.

OK, we could do with less puke in the elevators, but there are the bizarre moments making up for the downsides. Like the guest we only saw wearing a helmet (“to avoid injuries when passing out”) or the guy wearing a zebra costume for breakfast. I asked him where he got that one from, to which he replied: “I don’t remember, I woke up in it”. Or the guy who returned at 3am with nothing but his underpants (he couldn’t tell how that happened, but we know it). We have seen it all, and whatever you do, we won’t tell your girlfriend. Here’s how to Oktoberfest:

Avoid the weekends.

Especially avoid Saturdays. Especially the Saturday on the second weekend, when FC Bayern has a home match. Do yourself a favour and go on a weekday. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s still the biggest party on earth. It’s easier to find accommodation. You”ll have to line up less than an hour for the rollercoasters, you’ll get inside the tents without lining up for hours and a free spot at a table will be much easier to find as well.

Don’t try to reserve a table

Because they don’t accept table reservations when the tent is likely to be full anyway. You just enter the tent of your choice. Scan it for empty spots and ask the other people on the table “ist hier frei?” – that’s it, and it’s also a good conversation starter.

First eat, then drink!

Oktoberfest beer is stronger than the regular stuff. It can get quite warm in the tents, so you will be thirsty and might drink more than you intended. The salt on the pretzels will do the rest. Start your day with a hearty lunch – I recommend one of the many beer halls. Augustiner Bräustuben (http://www.braeustuben.de/) serves excellent pork knuckle for just € 9,20. The alcohol will hit you in a much more enjoyable way when you have some lardy food in your stomach.

Leave your stuff at the hostel

The Oktoberfest throng is a pickpocket’s paradise. You won’t want to be paranoid all the time about the contents of your pockets. Also leave your eyeglasses at home, you know, drunk people sometimes throw around their arms in a somewhat uncontrolled manner…

First rollercoaster, then binge drinking

Have mercy with me. I don’t want the contents of your digestive system raining down on me when I queue up. Please!
Still, if you are not yet completely wasted, sneaking out of the tent after the first Maß and go for a ride on the giant carousel or one of the rollercosters is definitely worth the experience.

Which tent?

There are 14 big ones and 20 small ones altogether with seats for 100,000. The first one you’ll see at the main entrance is the Hippodrom, well known for its champagne bar (WTF?) and the occasional celebrity visitor. Schottenhamel is a large one (it seats 10,000) and the tent where it all starts when the mayor taps the first keg. The biggest one is Paulaner Festzelt (capacity 10,900). The best about it is the large outdoor area on its southern side, so you can enjoy the autumn sun. The locals’ favourite is still Augustiner, the only one left tapping the beer from traditional wooden kegs. The tent where the shit really hits the fan is Hofbräu – like the Hofbräuhaus beer hall it’s very popular with tourists who intend to party hard. Mind that the waitresses will ask you to leave when you have an empty stein in front of you and refuse to replace it with a full one immediately. All the tents come with very cheesy oompah-style brass music playing traditional Bavarian songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Country Roads”. You will certainly hate it until you finished your fifth stein, then you’ll love it.

Don’t go to the wine tent

This is a BEERfest, for chrissake! Don’t be a nerd and drink wine. You just don’t!!!

Try not to pass out

The tents close just before midnight and those who can’t make it on their own legs any more will be brought to the slope under the “Bavaria” statue by the security guys. There are hundreds of “Bierleichen” lined up there every evening and the pickpockets will leave you with nothing but your underpants. You have been warned!

 

All in all the most important thing is to have fun. Go out and party hard!

 

If you visit Munich for the Oktoberfest, you can have free breakfast for the whole stay. Just click here to book, with the promotion code: YUMMYBEERINMYTUMMY

Vienna in One Day: a Sightseeing Quickie

One day of Vienna sightseeingVienna is full of great sights and things to see. BUT: if you are on a short trip, time might be scarce… SOLUTION: just take this list of our personal recommendations to explore the Austrian capital in just one day.

However, you will either have to get up early or be really quick. If you start at our wombats CITY Hostel “The Naschmarkt” and visit the items in the order listed here, than it shouldn’t be a problem. Go for it – Vienna is waitin’ for ya!

1. Naschmarkt


Head out of the hostel and enjoy the food stalls (and fleamarkets on weekends) of Vienna’s most popular market.

2. Secession
At the end (or the beginning) of the Naschmarkt you will find the Vienna Secession, an outstanding historic art centre and a masterpiece of architecture.

3. Karlsplatz and Karlskirche
Next to the Secession, have a look at the Charles’ Square (ger.: Karlsplatz) and the St. Charles’s Church (ger.: Karlskirche), one of the most outstanding baroque churches.

4. Vienna State Opera
After that, head over the Ring Street and see the Vienna State Opera (ger.: Wiener Staatsoper), one of the most important parts of the Austrian cultural heritage.

5. Kärntner Straße
Directly from the opera, have a walk along the Kärnter Straße, Austrias most famous shopping street, which leads you to the heart of the city.

6. Stephansplatz, St. Stephens’ Cathedral
This square is the geographical and touristy centre of Vienna. Here you find the St. Stephen’s Cathedral (German: Stephansdom), the most popular sight.

7. Graben and Kohlmarkt
These are two historic promenades and shopping streets, leading from Stephansplatz to the Hofburg Palace.

8. Hofburg, Heldenplatz
At the end of the Kohlmarkt you’ll enter the Hofburg Palace and the Heldenplatz. This is the place where you can immerse yourself in Austrian history: The palace used to be the centre of the Austro-Hungarian empire (k.u.k. monarchy), today it houses the President of Austrian. But beware: tourist factor 1.000!

9. Albertina
At the end of the Hofburg, you can find the Albertina, one of the most famous art museums of Austria (and the world).

10. Ringstraße
From the Albertina, have a decent 20 minutes walk along the famous Ringstraße boulevard, which leads you along the Austrian Parliament, the Burgtheater and the Vienna Town Hall.

WELL DONE – now you are through with the most important stuff in the centre. If you still have some time left, we would recommend you to take the U4 metro line to Schönbrunn Palace (German: Schloss Schönbrunn), one of the most important cultural monuments of Austria. You can either quickly have a look at the Palace or even spend hours in the beautiful gardens parks or visit the oldest zoo in the world.

If you have more time, don’t hesitate to ask our reception staff about more things to see in Vienna.

Discover Vienna with our free womwalk!

The free walking tour Vienna

You want to get some spectacular views of the Austrian capital Vienna, see heaps of great historical sights and meet nice people for good drinks and food? No problem, our womwalk has it all for you – for free!

The walk starts at our wombats CITY HOSTEL “The Naschmarkt”, where you meet up with other travellers taking part. Our certified city guide Charles takes you on a tour along famous Viennese sights like the Naschmarkt, the Opera or the St. Stephen’s Cathetral, giving you first class background information. For time schedules, please ask at the reception! The walk also includes stops at the legendary “Würstlstände” (traditional food stalls) and ends at the “12 Apostel Keller” (“Twelve-apostle’s cellar”), a really old wine cellar in the heart of Vienna – so plenty of typical Austrian food and excellent wines are at your delight! The participation in the womwalk is free and an exclusive service to travellers staying at wombat’s CITY HOSTELs; you just pay for your food and drinks.

All guests taking part so far were excited. The womwalk proofed to be a great opportunity to get a first impression of the city and meet other travellers from around the world. A perfect start for a good stay, for your wombats experience!

For more information don’t hesitate to contact our reception staff in the hostels. We are looking forward to walk with you!

 

Skiing - Day Trip from Vienna

Skiing – Day Trip from Vienna

Do you love Skiing and really don’t give a damn about our environment?

Well, then here’s the perfect daytrip from Vienna for you.
Austrian Airlines, American Express and Ski Region Hochzillertal-Kaltenbach partnered up for a tempting offer.

You could go to neraby Ski Regions from Vienna by train or bus within 2 hours, but you could also do this:
Catch a flight in Vienna at 6.35am, fly out to Innsbruck/Tyrol enjoy a day of skiing and get back to Vienna by 19.55pm.
Sounds crazy? Indeed it is, but the weird thing about it is, it’s actually offered as an affordable package.

The package includes in detail
Flights including taxes (Carry on Luggage max. 8 kg)
Transfer to and from the Ski Region
Ski- or Snowboard hire on site
Ski-Pass
Drink Voucher €20,–
BestSecret Voucher

The whole package is available from €163,-
This is probably the best deal you can get for a ski trip from Vienna. The Region is spectacular and compares to the ski regions near Vienna (Semmering mainly) like a Dodge Viper compares to a Buick. The Drink Voucher is even valid in the award-winning Kristallhütte, well worth a visit.
Just to give you an idea, the day pass alone is worth around 50 Bucks. So, pricewise this is a ridiculous offer, really.

When is it available?
Between December 19th 2016 and March 2017 only on Mondays and Fridays due to availability.

How can you book it?
You can try to book via http://www.abzumschnee.at/home/flugzumschnee/angebote/33, the website is only in German though.

You could ask our receptionists to book for you, but we will talk you into another day trip, as we do care about our environment and flying from Vienna to Tyrol is just sick.

Seriously, this offer is as good as it is sick and it will leave you with the ecological footprint of a chain smoking, truck driving Tyrannosaurus Rex. So, please, spend 50 Bucks less and catch a train to Semmering. That might be less spectacular, but way better for your Kharma.

Szilveszter in Budapest

New Year´s Eve in Budapest

If you are celebrating New Year´s Eve in Budapest you won’t be bored. You can pick from plenty of events like concerts, upscale balls, street parties, local house parties and last but not least a party crowd in wombat´s wombar. With its centric location wombat´s CITY Hostel also gives you a variety of options where to watch the spectacular fireworks at midnight! A variety of specials, happy hours and a DJ will keep the party going in our wombar. Hungarians are very good at partying, especially on these special occasions like the last day of the year, or Szilveszter in hungarian.
New Year´s Eve in Budapest is something special, so you could also check out one of the three major places of outdoor festivities.
  • on Vörösmarty Square a three-day celebration awaits you, on 30th-31st December and on 1st January.
    Live bands from different countries will perform.
  • Nyugati Square (M3 metro line, trams No 4, 6).
    Hungarian pop-rock bands will entertain people.
  • Oktogon (trams  No 4, 6)
    Disco till dawn with popular Hungarian DJs.

Some Hungarian New Year’s Tradition

Most Hungarian New Years traditions are related to food. Having lentil or bean dishes on New Year’s Day makes you wealthy. Eat roast pork on New Year’s Eve and you’ll be lucky throughout the year. For hangover we eat a special soup (korhely leves) made from sour cabbage and sour cream. Washing and hanging out the washing is forbidden, because someone will die. According to common belief, the whole year will be like the way you behave on 1st January. You’d better be happy to drive away gloominess in the New Year!

Vienna Christmas Markets

Christmas market at Vienna city hallIn Austria Christmas starts in November somehow. That´s when the first Christmas markets open. Vienna has an enormous variety of Christmas Markets to offer. Actually it seems there´s one around the corner no matter where you are and in deed you don´t have to walk far from one to another in Vienna´s city center. You can either follow the sweet fragrance of chestnut, gingerbread and punch or you ask the receptionist at your wombat´s CITY Hostel for directions and recommendations. Normally Christmas markets are more expensive and touristy, the nearer they are to Vienna´s main site, like the city hall or Schönbrunn palace. Which is not necessarily a bad thing if you visit Vienna as a tourist and carry enough cash 🙂  Those locations also give really nice snapshots, with the sites and monuments all up in Christmas decoration.

The slightly hidden markets, like the one Spittelberg are normally populated by locals. Especially at Museumsquartier and Altes AKH you´ll meet students and young locals. It is actually a habit among austrians to visit a Christmas market to drink some Punch or Glühwein before you go out. In some places you have many different versions of Glühwein or Punch, but the main concept is always the same: Hot alcohol (in case of Glühwein hopefully wine) and spices mixed with more spirits.  Just to give you an idea we´ll name the most important Christmas markets with directions and opening hours here:

Vienna Christmas World at the Christmas Market

12 November – 26 December 2016
Su-Th 10.00 am – 9.30 pm, Fr & Sa 10.00 am – 10.00 pm
24 December 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna
wienerweihnachtstraum.at

Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz

16 November -26 December 2016
Su-Th 11.00 am – 9.00 pm, Fr & Sa 11.00 am – 10.00 pm
24 December 11.00 am – 4.00 pm
25+26 December 11.00 am – 7.30 pm
New Year’s Village 27 December – 31 December 2016
11.00 am – 7.30 pm, 31 December 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna
www.weihnachtsdorf.at

Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace

18 November – 23 December 2016
Daily from 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
Prinz-Eugen-Strasse 27, 1030 Vienna
www.weihnachtsdorf.at

Christmas Village in the Altes AKH

12 November – 23 December 2016
Mo-Sa 2.00 pm – 10.00 pm
Su, hols. 11.00 am – 10.00 pm
Alserstrasse/Spitalgasse, Hof 1, 1090 Vienna
www.weihnachtsdorf.at

Old Viennese Christmas Market

18 November – 23 December 2016
Daily from 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
Freyung, 1010 Vienna
www.altwiener-markt.at

Am Hof Advent Market

11 November – 23 December 2016
Mo-Th 11.00 am – 9.00 pm, Fr-Su & hols. 10.00 am – 9.00 pm, food until 10.00 pm
Am Hof, 1010 Vienna
www.weihnachtsmarkt-hof.at

Cultural and Christmas Market & New Year’s Market, Schönbrunn Palace

19 November – 26 December 2016
Daily from 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
24 December 10.00 am – 4.00 pm, 25-26 December 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
New Year’s Market 27 December 2016 – 1 January 2017
Daily from 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Schönbrunn Palace, 1130 Vienna
www.weihnachtsmarkt.co.at

Art Advent – Art & Crafts on Karlsplatz

18 November – 23 December 2016
Daily from 12.00 noon – 8.00 pm, food until 9.00 pm
Karlsplatz, 1010 Vienna
www.artadvent.at

Christmas Market on Spittelberg

12 November – 23 December 2016
Mo-Th 3.00 pm – 9.00 pm, Fr 3.00 pm – 9.30 pm
Sa 12.00 noon – 9.30 pm, Su & hols. 12.00 noon – 9.00 pm
Spittelberggasse, Schrankgasse, Gutenberggasse, 1070 Vienna
www.spittelberg.at

Winter Market on Riesenradplatz

19 November 2016 – 8 January 2017
Mo-Fr 12.00 noon – 10.00 pm
Sa, Su & hols. 11.00 am – 10.00 pm
24 December 10.00 am – 5.00 pm, 31 December 12.00 noon – 2.00 am
Riesenradplatz, 1020 Vienna
www.wintermarkt.at/wintermarkt

Christmas Market on Stephansplatz

11 November – 26 December 2016
Daily from 11.00 am – 9.00 pm
24 December 110.00 am – 4.00 pm, 25-26 December 11.00 am – 7.00 pm
Stephansplatz/towards Churhausgasse, 1010 Vienna
www.weihnachtsmarkt-stephansplatz.at

source: wien.info

Hostel Staff Meeting

5th International Hostel Staff Meeting

 

Ain’t it great to work at a Hostel? All the crazy shit you experience and the funny stories, but yet again there’s so much stuff you can’t share with people outside the Hostel bubble.

Good News! Wombat’s brings the bubble together on the 5th international Hostel Staff Meeting.

If you can make it 25th until 27th November.

Wombat’s Budapest will be hosting this Event and supplies a limited number of free beds available only for Hostel Staff.

If you work at a Hostel or run one yourself, feel free to send an e-mail from your hostel account over to events[a]wombats.eu and we’ll do our best to squeeze you in.
It is going to be a beautiful opportunity network and share the stories and experiences of hostelling. Obviously this will turn into a crazy party weekend at some point, but we’ll try to let it appear as professional as possible.
Our lovely Staff at wombat’s Budapest already arranged a Walking Tour, a Hungarian Cooking Session, a Pub Crawl and some other specials.
You’re definitely going to enjoy Budapest to the fullest, join us!

Check out the Facebook event!