Friday, January 17, 2020

Aveeno Positively Radiant MaxGlow Skincare Review

The city of Toronto has issued an extreme cold warning for tonight and snow is in the forecast. Temperatures have fluctuated between unseasonably warm and downright frigid. When you combine indoor heating with cold wind and dry air you get a recipe for dull, dehydrated skin.

Many people are recovering from cold and flu season while juggling a hectic schedule so today I’m reviewing a few products that will fit into your daily routine and protect your skin from winter’s wrath.

Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Collection is formulated with natural soy used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is rich in proteins, lipids and vitamins that even skin tone, enhance your natural glow, hydrate, smooth, nourish, protect and improve the look of dark spots and blemishes.

These products are paraben-free, Dermatologist recommended, non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic and phthalate free.


Before I get into face care I want to share a few body products that moisturize, soothe and soften from head-to-toe. Aveeno makes some of the best shower gel for sensitive skin and the Yogurt formula ($7.47 - $11.99) gently cleanses with a rich creamy lather infused with oat. The Vanilla scent smells amazing and Apricot Honey renews dry, flaky skin.


After enjoying a relaxing shower, slather on The Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Yogurt ($9.49 - $13.99). The lush formula absorbs quickly with no greasiness so skin feels supple, hydrated, smooth and healthy. These jars are convenient for travel because they don’t spill and the lightweight finish is also great for warm climates.


The MaxGlow Micellar Gel Cleanser ($12.99 - $14.99) works like a magnet to draw out impurities and wash away makeup, oil, dirt and bacteria. I love the milky lather, mild fragrance and frothy bubbles. It works wonders on a cleansing brush and never leaves my skin tight or dry.


The MaxGlow Peel Off ($12.97 - $14.99) exfoliates, smooths, brightens and extracts impurities while locking in moisture. The formula contains kiwi extract and alpha hydroxyl acid to rejuvenate and brighten. Apply a generous amount to coat your face evenly and wait until the gel is completely dry (about 20 minutes). Peeling it off is not painful and my complexion looks clear and refreshed after each treatment.


Before bed apply the MaxGlow No-Mess Sleep Mask ($24.99 - $32.99) to revive and invigorate dull skin. Use the paddle to spread and blend the hydrating formula. As you get your beauty rest, the cream forms a supple, moisturizing layer that rejuvenates and corrects. In the morning my face looks luminous, plump and youthful – great way to start the day.

The MaxGlow Infusion Drops ($24.99 - $32.99) can be used morning and night but it works wonders under makeup and mixed into moisturizer. The effects last up to 48 hours with a glowing sheen and no greasiness. You’ll love how soft, dewy and even your skin appears with or without foundation.


Before I head out for the day, I usually apply serum, moisturizer and primer but with the MaxGlow Serum + Primer ($24.99 - $32.99) you only need one step. The finish is very similar to the Infusion Drops (you don’t need both) and it efficiently smooths and preps the skin to create a bright, even canvass.


Aveeno is available at drugstores nationwide

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

iPhone 11 Pro Max Review - Tips, Tricks and Useful Features

For my birthday on December 24th my husband got me the iPhone 11 Pro Max. I know most of people can’t survive a day without their smart phone but this two thousand dollar device cost more than any of the other gifts I received including a 65” Samsung Smart TV, tickets to a Broadway show and a gorgeous new dresser (Christmas Eve birthday’s aren’t so bad).


It took me a long time to decide between Android and Apple but it came down to functionality, camera quality and being able to sync files and photos between my phone and 2 iPads using DropBox. I am not a tech expert but photography and social media is part of my job so I use my devices a lot.

Battery Life
A durable battery is important to me because my Samsung phone barely held a charge towards the end. Of course battery life depends on how much screen time you rack up and the applications you have running but usually I only recharge every other day.

The Pro Max has the best battery in the 11 series. It charges quickly but the adapter is large and the outlet prongs don’t fold in like previous models.

Face Recognition
In an attempt to improve security, Apple has integrated Face Recognition to unlock the phone. Personally I think the fingerprint scan was good enough but this works too.

The phone will not open if your eyes are closed which prevents people from using it if you are unconscious or sleeping. It also fails to unlock when I am wearing a sheet mask (obviously).

Occasionally you will be required to enter a numerical pass code which functions as backup security and you can disable Face Recognition at any time. 

If you’d like someone else to be able to unlock your phone in case of an emergency, go to SettingsFace IDPasscode and select Set up Alternative Appearance. You can also configure what Face Recognition should be used for, e.g. - downloading apps, Apple pay, and password auto fill. 

Basics

The features on this phone are quite standard. Apple does not usually incorporate the bells and whistles Samsung and other brands promote but I never really used them. For example – swiping your hand over the screen (without touching it) to scroll or automatic page adjustments in response to how your eyes move down the page.  

With the removal of the home button, transitioning between apps and closing programs requires some getting used to, especially if you’ve just made the switch from Android. For example – to close an app swipe up normally and to show all open applications swipe up slowly with a bit of a drag.

Swiping down from the top right corner brings up the Control Center with your music, WiFi, Bluetooth, Screen Mirroring, Brightness, Volume and other shortcuts. Press and hold the boxes or icons to display even more options including Airdrop. I like using the mirroring tool to project the screen onto my Smart TV.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max is simple to use but the first thing I noticed was its weight. The phone is quite heavy and the screen is not edgeless. It can be cumbersome to hold while typing and with a case it feels a tad bulky. 

If you like the large screen but have trouble navigating, activate Reachability via SettingsAccessibility→Touch. To use it, swipe down at the bottom of the screen and all the apps at the top will slide down within reach.

Typing
For writing long messages you can press and hold the first letter of the word you are typing and quickly drag your finger to the next few letters to automatically bring up the word.

Note: Some of the functions I've listed are updates for iOS 13 and higher.

Useful Call Features
I like that I can easily block unwanted calls from the recent callers list. You can also reject
telemarketers before their calls come through by going to SettingsPhone and turning on Silence Unknown Callers.

Siri
I don't use Siri very much on my iPad but on the phone she is actually quite helpful. You can read more about her functions and responses on Apple’s website but I mostly ask her to text, set alarms, relay the time, read messages get weather updates, answer random questions and call people hands free via speaker phone while I’m driving, cooking or applying makeup.

Screen Recording
I’ve tested Screen Recording but never had to use it. For quick access to this tool go to SettingsControl CenterCustomize Controls. Scroll down and press the + next to Screen Recording so the button shows up in your shortcut menu. You can also use this method to add more useful icons including voice notes, flashlight, calculator and magnifier.

-To use Screen Recording simply swipe down from the top right corner to bring up your customized Control Center and press the screen record button.
-To record your voice/sound as well, press and hold the record button to access microphone options.
-Stop recording by pressing the red time bar on the top left corner of the screen.

Dark Mode
Since Apple introduced Dark Mode it has become one of the most popular features. Turning it on will make the background black and the text white which is supposed to be easy on the eyes and ideal for people who spend a lot of time on their devices.

Hands-Free
To access more hands-free commands you can turn on Voice Control in the Accessibility Menu. This basically allows you to use your phone without touching it.

My Case
I purchased the Case-Mate Twinkle Stardust from my provider (Bell Canada) for $40.00. If you like this design I suggest shopping around. It retails for $50.00 + shipping on the brand's website and may also be available at Target for less than half the price.

Make sure to keep your receipt because Case-Mate offers a lifetime warranty with proof of purchase from reputable suppliers (this may not include Amazon vendors).


I haven’t tested its durability but the one piece seamless design is shock absorbing with cushioned corners for 10 foot drop protection. If you aren’t concerned about aesthetics, Otterbox cases are supposed to be some of the best on the market for complete protection.

Camera

The most popular feature on the iPhone 11 Pro and Max is the camera. Some people find 3 lenses odd and confusing but I like it.

Night Mode
The best thing about the camera (in my opinion) is the Night Mode setting. It turns on automatically in low light and has greatly improved.

Even in a dark room with minimal light I am able to take photos that appear sharp and detailed instead of fuzzy and out of focus. Just make sure to hold the phone very still or use a tripod for best results. The camera may take a few seconds to capture the image depending on how dark it is.

If the night mode does not come on and you would like to use it, simply press the circle next to the flash symbol on the top left corner (it looks like a crescent moon with lines beside it).

iPad Pro 10.5 Camera Comparison
Professional photographers often message me on social media to ask what lens I use (assuming I shoot with an expensive DSLR camera) but I take most photos with the iPad Pro 10.5. 

Photo of Prague taken with my iPad

The zoom on the iPad isn’t great, in fact it's terrible but the large screen makes images appear closer and allows me to see things much clearer. Whether you have a top of the line camera or an expensive phone, the screen is still much smaller than an iPad so you may not notice out of focus details until the images are uploaded to a computer. On the iPad I can immediately tell if a shot is good even though the lens is not as high-tech.

Unfortunately the iPad also falls short in low light settings and images appear fuzzy. I never publish pictures without making them look their best but I want to show you a drastic comparison.

Quick low light photo on the iPad - no editing

Same photo taken with the iPhone 11 Pro Max in night mode - low light no editing.

In natural light/sunlight the difference is less noticeable with slight discrepancies in illumination and definition.

Photo taken in a sunny room using the iPad 

Same photo taken in sunny room with iPhone 11 Pro Max 

Telephoto Lens and Zoom Features
At the bottom of your photo screen (in the middle) you will see 3 numbers: 0.5 (makes images appear further away), 1x (normal) and 2 (makes images appear closer). Switching between these settings allows you to customize depth, perspective and angle.

Note: If you select 0.5x the night mode will not function.

Press and hold any of the numbers to bring up the zoom wheel. The closer you zoom, the lower the picture quality becomes but the telephoto lens is quite good so don’t be afraid to test its limits, especially on clear sunny days.


The lens can also capture ultra wide photos to include details outside of the frame but you must enable this feature in camera settings. This comes in handy when editing and cropping because you don't have to cut out much of the background. In Settings you can also turn on the photo grid to align your shots.

In Photo Mode you will notice an upward arrow at the very top of the screen. Clicking it will bring up more functions.

Selfies
The front facing camera on the iPhone 11 Pro and Max is probably one of the best on the market but despite the rave reviews I still don’t think it is comparable to the back lens. In good lighting it works efficiently but but in dim settings Night Mode will not activate so you don’t get the same level of illumination in low light. There is a flash on the front camera but it doesn't seem to improve the outcome.

Portrait Mode
I use this setting when taking photos of people because it brings them to the forefront and blurs background noise. Unlike previous iPhones, this mode now has a 1x option which allows you to zoom further out. You can also adjust the blur by clicking on the f icon in the top right corner of the screen

The light filters in Portrait Mode come in handy for changing tone, adding cool effects and focusing on one object to enhance its presence. They appear as circles at the bottom of the screen.



Editing Tools and Filters
I use several photo editing apps but for quick uploads, the new camera comes with useful tools. You can adjust the exposure, brilliance, highlights, shadow, contrast, brightness, blank point, saturation, vibrancy, warmth, tint, sharpness, definition, noise reduction, and vignette. There are a range of filters and you can rotate from vertical to square while altering the size ratio.

For some reason when I edit a photo it never looks exactly the same when uploaded to social media (Twitter, Instagram etc) or messaging apps. The tone always appears warmer which is annoying when trying to achieve a specific look.

Video

While driving along the Icefields Parkway in Banff, a black bear emerged from the underbrush and started walking alongside the car. I wanted to take a photo and record video at the same time but my Samsung phone couldn’t do it.

Captured with the iPad Pro 10.5

With the 11 Pro and Max you can record without holding the button. Simply tap and slide the shutter to the right so it locks in place. To take a photo while recording video, tap the white shutter button off to the side. I never thought this feature would come in handy until I actually needed it.

Burst Photos
If you tap the shutter and slide it to the left, the camera shoots a burst of photos. This is great for capturing action and moving objects. To edit - tap the burst photo in your gallery, click select at the bottom of the screen and choose which photos you want to keep or delete.

I wish there was a way to pause and resume video recording without having to start an entirely new clip but from my understanding the only way to do this is by downloading an app.

Settings
The 11 Pro Max can shoot 4K video at 24, 30 or 60 fps (frames per second). Most movies are filmed at 24 fps for cinematic flicker. For vlogs and personal use 30 fps is fine and 60 fps works best for action and sports. To change the fps setting in Video Mode, simply click on the number beside 4K in the top right corner of the screen. If you tap 4K it will change to HD which shoots at 30 and 60. Keep in mind that higher settings take up more space on your phone.

Audio Zoom
This feature allows you to zoom in and isolate sound. For example, you can pan into a building and hear the sound/music coming from inside even if you aren’t within earshot. This seems a bit like spyware since it also works on people and their conversations but it does improve sound quality.

Slo-mo
During Toronto's last snow fall I tested the slow motion feature and was able to capture large fluffy flakes fluttering down in my backyard. The quality of the video wasn’t great but this mode only shoots in HD.

Live Photos
Live Photo can be turned on in Photo Mode and the effects are pretty cool. Simply press the circle symbol with the dots and line through it on the top right corner of the screen. The photo will appear normal but when you scroll through your gallery, it will show any movement that occurred when the picture was taken - like a short clip.

To reveal special editing tools for live photos, select the image and swipe up. You now have the option of looping the action like a GIF, bouncing it and applying long exposure which works well for waterfalls and flowing rivers. Many people don’t know about these extra features so have fun testing them.

Editing
Apple has made it easier than ever to edit videos on your phone. Now you can rotate, add audio, crop, change color, apply filters, trim and tweak exposure, shadow, highlight, contrast, saturation and more.

These are a few of my favorite features but there are many others. The iPhone 11 Pro Max is great for amateur and professional photographers, bloggers, vloggers and anyone who enjoys capturing special moments with crispness and clarity. There may be room for improvement but I like this phone and look forward to discovering what else it can do.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Catrice x Eman Makeup Collection – Review and Swatches

Last fall Catrice Cosmetics invited me to a media event celebrating their collaboration with YouTube Influencer – Eman.


This budget-friendly German brand is well known for their high quality, luxury-inspired makeup but teaming up with a well known trend expert and releasing the collection at Canada’s leading beauty boutique is a fantastic idea!


There are only 3 palettes in the line but they all contain vivid must-have shades that look amazing on all complexions. To complete your look, locate the Catrice display at Shoppers Drug Mart and stock-up on creamy matte lipstick, skin perfecting primers and long-lasting setting spray.


The Bronzed AF Eye Shadow Palette ($14.99) is currently in my travel bag because it has all the colors I usually wear for work and a night out. Vibrant gold, deep copper, rich brown and beige-y caramel are perfect for any occasion and the buttery texture is easy to work with. You’ll love how the smooth mattes balance the radiant shimmers to create beautiful contrast, highlight and definition. Creasing is not a problem but there may be some fallout.

When I’m running late or only have a few minutes to do my makeup in the morning, this is the palette I reach for.  


I’m obsessed with the Ultimate Matte Lipsticks ($9.99). They glide on effortlessly and deliver velvety, lightweight pigment with bold saturation. For the price, these may be some of the best matte lipsticks you can get at the drugstore. The formula is not fade-proof or super long-lasting but I did get a few hours of wear before needing a touch-up and the finish is quite moisturizing. If you purchase the eye palette I highly recommend pairing it with 030 - classic bombshell red or 040 – deep plum (depending on your outfit and mood).


Swatches left to right: 030, 040, 060 and 050

The Cheeky Blush Palette ($14.99) has everything you need to take your complexion from dull to fabulous! I love the bright orange, shimmery coral and soft brown but I usually mix the pink with another shade to tone it down. The smooth, silky powders apply consistently with buildable color payoff.


Goodbye Pores ($9.99) provides a lovely soft focus effect that refines uneven skin texture by blurring lines, roughness and blemishes. It also prevents transfer and prolongs wear so your makeup looks fresh for hours. Keep Me Matte ($9.99) is a moisturizing base that smooths and minimizes shine. Use the Prime and Fine Finishing Spray ($9.99) to lock in your look and keep foundation in place all day.


Highlighter is a great way to achieve a healthy glow even on bad skin days and the Lit Palette ($14.00) is iridescent and dreamy. You get 4 pretty shades – silver, yellow gold, champagne and bronze. The shimmer applies evenly and radiant with no chunky glitter. Sweep them on lightly for a natural glow or layer for more drama. You can also use them as eye shadow.



Catrice is available at shoppers Drug Mart and online at beauty.shoppersdrugmart.ca

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Berlin Travel Guide: Best Attractions, Food, Tours and Day Trips

Five years have passed since my first trip to Germany. Munich was (and probably still is) a shopper’s paradise. There are scrumptious pastry shops on almost every corner, the architecture is magnificent, and I have fond memories of munching giant pretzels while people watching in the beer gardens.

This year Berlin was my destination of choice. The multicultural metropolis has a hip urban vibe, shiny new skyscrapers and trendy cafes, but technological advancement does little to mask the city’s traumatic past.


Berlin is moving forward while attempting to rebuild what was lost. Among the diversity, culinary delights and intoxicating nightlife you will find historical monuments, museums and galleries dedicated to WWII and the city's devastating division. 

We stayed at the Hyperion Hotel conveniently located around the corner from a metro station and small shopping mall. If you’re looking for a quiet neighborhood just outside the city center, this hotel offers newly renovated rooms with modern decor.


Starting Your Tour
A good place to begin your tour is the Brandenburg Gate – a symbol of separation between East and West Berlin. The gate is one of the most significant landmarks in the city so it was the perfect spot to meet up with my blogging pal Luchessa – a local and former tour guide.


After snapping a few photos we had brunch at Cafe Einstein - one of Berlin’s oldest coffee shops. The decor is stylish and the menu features an impressive selection of delectable desserts and beverages. Reservations are recommended but we were able to get a table right away.


After enjoying fresh mint tea and tart plum pie, we made our way to The Memorial for Murdered Jews, walking distance from Brandenburg Gate.


This impressive monument took 17 years to complete and there are 2,711 rectangular blocks of concrete. The columns are strategically placed in a maze-like formation that gradually slopes downward to create the illusion of total immersion. The experience is intense, humbling and impressive.

While in the area, stop by the Victory Column – designed to commemorate Prussian victory over the Danish.


Berlin is quite large and has three city centers. In Potsdamer Platz one of the most distinguishable buildings is the large Sony Center topped with a domed roof designed to look like the Japanese volcano Mount Fujiyama. Inside you will find restaurants, a large movie theater, shops, offices, hotel rooms, condominiums and Legoland. Throughout the year many festivals and concerts are hosted here.


Transportation
An awesome way to see the main attractions without exhausting your legs is by taking the City Circle Bus Tour. There are 2 main lines and the price includes a map, earphones and historical audio guide. For more information head to visitberlin.de/en or city-tour-berlin.de/en/

Hop on and off anywhere you like or sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of Berlin. I captured great photos from the top deck and we used it as one of our main methods of transportation.

Photo by: City Circle Sighseein: © Photo: Gundi Adamski

Berlin also has an impressive public transportation system and the transit pass covers buses, trams, U-Bhan (mostly operates underground in the city center), S-Bhan (hybrid of local train and metro that runs from the city center to suburbs) and train.

Ticket kiosks are located at every underground station and there are various ride options. A one-way ticket cost 2.80, a full day 24 hr unlimited pass is 7 and a seven day pass is 30.00.

Pro Tip: To avoid being fined remember to validate your ticket before riding.

One of my favorite things to do in Europe is learn about the royal families and visit glamorous castles filled with ancient artifacts and paintings.

Charlottenburg Palace is easily accessible via metro and tickets cost 10.00 with audio guide.


Pro Tip: I was given a special photography pass which enabled me to take photos inside the palace so inquire about this prior to starting your tour.

Admittedly, Charlottenburg was not the most outstanding royal residence I’ve visited. The tour was a bit sparse (many rooms were closed) but the historical commentary was a nice touch.


Best Doner Kebab in Berlin
According to many of the travel videos I binge watched while preparing for this trip, many locals in Berlin grow up eating Doner Kebabs – similar to the North American version of shwarma. Turkish culture is evident throughout the city and you can find a kebab restaurant on almost every major street.

After much research and a few recommendations, the two most popular places for kebab seem to be Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebap and Ruyam Gemuse Kebab.

Mustafa’s offers a simple menu with just 3 meal options. The line is almost as famous as the food because it always stretches down the block with an average wait time of 45 minutes. It took an hour before we were able to order and things got more chaotic as the night wore on.


Although the toppings are flavorful, I don't think the food is worth the wait. The meat was chewy, fatty, stringy and greasy (probably because they didn’t have time to cook it long enough) so I discarded most of the chicken. Standing on the busy street to eat dinner was not enjoyable, especially with mosquitoes buzzing around.

Ruyam has both indoor and outdoor seating. We didn’t have to wait and the service was much better. The kebab was large and loaded with a combination of fresh veggies, saut√©ed veggies, savory sauces and well seasoned chicken. The bread was tastier and they offer free Turkish tea with your meal. Overall it was much better quality and just 4 per doner but the restaurant is not conveniently located.


When gazing at the skyline you can’t miss the iconic TV Tower standing at 360 m. At the top there is a panoramic viewing deck, bar and restaurant but reservations are required for dining.


Pro Tip: To avoid long lines book tickets to the TV Tower online for 19.50.

Many people visit Berlin during Oktoberfest and we were lucky enough to catch the beginning of the festival in Alexanderplatz – the largest of the three city centers. There was a small fair, beer garden and tents selling arts, crafts, food and local goods.



I tried the potato pancakes called Kartoffelkeller / Kartoffelpuffer because they look like giant hash browns. Unfortunately they tasted awful – bitter, dense and way too greasy. Maybe this batch wasn't a true reflection of the traditional recipe so I might try them again. 


You might have better luck with the Schneeballen – a crunchy pastry filled with sweet creamy filling.


Expect to see a lot of curry wurst stalls. This popular street food consists of sausage topped with curried ketchup sauce and sometimes an order of fries. I don’t like pork, beef or fatty meat so I decided to skip this dish. A few places offer vegetarian/beyond meat alternatives but by the time I discovered them, I was too full to eat another morsel.

Kaider Wilhelm Ged√§chtniskirche / Emperor William Memorial Church is located in Berlin’s commercial center. We didn’t go inside but it is a popular attraction and landmark.


Another thing I enjoy while traveling is grocery shopping at local markets and trying unique snacks. Erdnub Locken is basically peanut butter flavored Cheetos. When you open the bag it smells exactly like a jar of peanut butter and as you eat the light puffs, they are crunchy and salty - unusual but quite good.


You can’t visit Berlin without stopping at the Berlin Wall. Small segments can still be found in their original location but the most famous piece is East Side Gallery - known for its bright graffiti art.


The paintings below are my favorite.


Schedule at least half a day for Museum Island if you plan to explore the beautiful galleries.



Some of the most popular museums include the Pergamom, Neues featuring ancient Egyptian artifacts and the Bode Museum. Most of the buildings don’t open until 10 am and tend to be closed on Mondays. Purchase tickets online to save time.  


The largest, most beautiful structure on the Island is the Berlin Cathedral. The interior is almost as impressive as the facade and tickets are just 7 per person. Audio guides can be purchased for an additional 4.


Backpacks and large bags are not permitted inside the church but storage lockers are available just outside the main entrance for a refundable fee of 1.




Pro Tip: If you have the stamina, I recommend climbing the hundreds of steep steps to the domed roof observatory for an amazing view of the city.


Visiting the Reichstag
The Reichstag is one of the only parliament buildings in the world that is open to the public but make sure to plan ahead. Entrance is free but reservations are required and depending on your travel dates, you may have to complete the request form before your departure to Berlin.

It is much easier to book an appointment online but you can also register across the street from the Reichstag. Submit the names of everyone in your party and wait to receive a confirmation letter.


On the day of your visit, remember to bring your passport and confirmation letter (digital or printed) to gain entry. Everyone is required to go through security screening so arrive early before the line gets long. To make an appointment online visit the website HERE.

Checkpoint Charlie is another popular landmark along the City Tour Bus Route. It is on Friedrichstrasse – a street closely related to the rich history of Berlin and the Second World War. Snap a photo at the guard station and check out the free outdoor museum nearby.


Day Trip to Sanssouci Palace
If you love visiting elegant castles as much as I do, a day trip to Sancssouci is a must! It is located on the outskirts of Berlin in a town called Potsdam - easily accessible by train.



The bus stop across the street from the Postdam Train Station goes directly to the palace and tickets can be purchased on-board for 4.20.

Entrance to Sanssouci is 12.00 and an additional €3.00 for a photography pass. You also have the option of visiting all the palaces in Potsdam for about €19.00 but make sure to inquire about this pass specifically because they probably won’t offer it.

The palace's best feature is the sprawling back garden (free entry) and the magnificent Photo Gallery which is not included in the ticket price. Entrance to this area cost an additional €6.00 and last admission to around 5:30 pm.


Photo Gallery 

Pro Tip: If you plan to see more than one palace, wear comfortable shoes, arrive very early and bring food. You will need a full day and this trip requires a lot of walking.

Traveling from Berlin to Prague
After enjoying the culture and sights in Berlin, my husband and I made our way to Prague. If you are planning a similar route, I highly recommend Side Trip ToursThe company takes small groups on one-way trips between cities so you don’t have to waste a whole day in transit. I love this idea because instead of idly watching the world go by from a plane, train or bus, you can explore the sights along the way with a knowledgeable guide. Tours from Berlin to Prague take 10.5 hours and start at €65 - €75  per person. For more information visit the website HERE.

After meeting with the tour operator, we made our way through the German countryside to Moritzburg Palace in the state of Saxony


This bright yellow castle was a filming location for the 1973 version of Cinderella and her shoe can still be found on the steps leading to the back terrace. Originally, the baroque building was used as the king’s hunting lodge and inside there is an interesting museum.


We also stopped at the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxon Switzerland Germany. The terrain is wild and rugged with undeveloped forest, unique rock formations and a winding river.




My favorite stop was the colorful little city of Dresden which has an interesting past.

Most of the stonework looks ancient and discolored but many of the buildings are no older than fifty. Builders purposely aged the bricks to represent the original town – the way things would have looked if everything hadn’t been completely destroyed in the war. 



Bombings leveled the entire town except for one memorial wall. Most structures in the city are replicas so many people describe Dresden as “fake” or “artificial” – almost too perfect to be real.



I think it is both - a beautiful fairytale city with Disney-like charm and a stunning historical remodel. They’ve even tried to incorporate tourism by offering global cuisine including a restaurant inspired by my home province - Ontario.



If you stop in Dresden, make time to visit the Frauenkirche Church. The inside is designed in soft pastel tones to create a heavenly ambiance. (Entrance is free and photos are allowed).


Before heading to your next destination, stroll around town, have lunch (the desserts are amazing) and relax by the river.

If you like this article stay tuned for my Prague Travel Guide and visit my Travel Page for more vacation inspiration.

Special thanks to Visit Berlin Tourism for sponsoring my bus tour throughout the city.
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