We’re hiring

Poland In Your Pocket is hiring a new editor. We are looking for a native-English speaker who already lives in Poland – preferably Warsaw – or is ready to move to Warsaw for the job (and stay there for the next couple years…).

You should have a reasonable amount of writing experience, and know a thing or two about how publications are put together. You should enjoy travelling, and preferably know your way around Eastern Europe. You should be familiar with Polish culture and history, and ideally have at least some command of the language.

You will need to be incredibly well-organised and comfortable working to strict deadlines. You should be self-motivated and able to work independently. Your writing style should be witty, funny and informative. You will need an eye for details and be a vigilant proofreader.

Experience in social media, familiarity with Google analytics and graphic design are all bonuses. If you can also take decent photos, that’s a double-bonus.

If you are interested and want to take our editorial assessment, please contact the Editor-in-chief, Craig Turp, at editor@inyourpocket.com.

Book review: Berlin Notes

You can write endlessly about Berlin, but this city is so cool that it writes back.

Berlin’s citizens are true poets and artists when it comes to conveying a message to whoever delights or dares annoy them. All kinds of notes can be found posted all over town, many of them hilarious. Photos of these random street scribblings are what Joab Nist of the Notes of Berlin website has collected in this cool little book. Absurdly titled “Budgie escaped, any colour” it’s mainly suitable for German-speakers or for those learning the language, but makes for a great gift too.

Note highlights include a man looking for women who will hit him, curses directed at the thieves of bicycles and plants, apologetic notes – with sweets attached – aimed at neighbours who may have suffered from a noisy party, mean graffiti messages, and desperate requests for girlfriends to reconsider and come back. And little Casimir who promises a sweet for whoever can find his ball. There are also witty notes written on other notes; Berliners always want to have the last word.

The book launch last week was accompanied with this charming trailer that’s worth viewing for the city atmosphere and music alone:

Joab Nist, “Wellensittich entflogen, farbe egal”, €9,99, ISBN 978-3-548-37433-8.

Berlin city tour: exploring the Neukölln district

Berlin has dozens of tour companies showing residents and visitors around the city; many of them simply point out buildings and places and highlight historical facts. Others have a different approach, or very special topics. Berlin In Your Pocket has been on some unusual tours recently, and this time we’re exploring the Neukölln district with Finding Berlin.

Neukölln, a worker’s district south of Kreuzberg, has always been something of Berlin’s rotten apple. A century ago named Rixdorf it was home to dozens of dodgy taverns and theatres off ill repute, attracting thousands of party-goers every weekend, and they had to rename it to Neukölln just to polish its bad image. When the Berlin Wall strangled the district from 1961-1989 it became a poor immigrant area, and after 1990 has been infamous for all manner of immigration-related problems. But in recent years the district has gone through something of a revival, with young people moving into the attractive northern and western parts of the area (and thereby creating completely new kinds of problems), and renovations having effect on the look of Neukölln.

On Finding Berlin’s tour, you see Neukölln through the eyes of the locals. Over several hours, tour guide and Neukölln resident Adda Bullerdieck walks you around the Schillerkiez, Boddinstraße and Karl-Marx-Straße and introduces you to the locals, many of whom are children or grandchildren of the Turkish ‘guest workers’ that arrived in Germany from 1961.

You chat with the owner of a Turkish supermarket (which amazingly flies in most of its supplies); the proud third-generation immigrant owner of a travel agency tells you about his family’s life story. You duck into a messy electronics shop to hear the owner play beautiful music on his baglama lute, and visit a mosque. A bakery shop employee lets you taste various Turkish gözleme snacks and sweets, a late-night shop owner tells you about the community theatre and dance school that he runs next door to his business, and at a Turkish fashion shop the ladies get to try on trendy headscarf. The walk often ends with a delicious meal at a Turkish restaurant.

This tour doesn’t cover much history, remarkable buildings or kilometres, but it’s a fascinating way to get insight into the lives of ordinary Berliners in a multi-cultural district, and to freely chat about any topic that seems interesting; the locals are all very happy to interact with visitors and tell them something about their lives, livelihood and neighbourhood. Some of the locals speak English, but otherwise Adda translates.

Besides this ‘Little Istanbul’ tour, Finding Berlin has several themed walking and cycling tours, focusing on art, street art, Vietnamese Berlin and individual districts. For added glamour, the cycling tours are performed on unique vintage single-speed race bikes, which are also available for rent. Find out more about Finding Berlin, their tours and bike rental here.

In Your Pocket at Euro 2012

We have been very busy these past few months putting together a whole load of brand new content specially for the European football championships, which begin this Friday in Poland and Ukraine.

With over 20 years of experience in writing guides to the rapidly changing central European region we have all the most important information you might need to plan your trip.

More importantly, we have all the information you need as to what to do when you get here. We have produced special guides – designed with football fans in mind – to WarsawGdanskPoznan and Wroclaw.

What’s more, we have also produced content to all of these cities in the languages of the competing countries.

Warsaw In Your Pocket Euro 2012 is available in Russian and GreekWroclaw In Your Pocket Euro 2012 is available in RussianGreek and CzechGdansk In Your Pocket Euro 2012 is in CroatianItalianGerman and SpanishPoznan In Your Pocket Euro 2012 is available in Croatian and Italian.

Although no games will be played in Krakow, we have even put together a special guide to the city for fottball fans, as the England team – and many supporters – are likely to be based there.

For all cities, in all languages, there is a PDF to download, for free!

We even put together a video for fans in Warsaw

Over in Ukraine, we have unrivalled guides to both Kiev and Lviv. Both are available as PDFs, which you can download for free.

Our iPhone app, which includes six of the host cities (and Krakow) can be downloaded for free here. They all have special Euro 2012 content.

You should also make sure you follow us on Twitter. Each day throughout the tournament we will be available to answer all sorts of questions, as well as sharing news and information from our people on the ground.

The In Your Pocket Twitter accounts to follow are:

@PoznanIYP

@GdanskIYP

@WroclawIYP

@WarsawIYP

@KrakowIYP

@UkraineIYP

The tournament promises to be a landmark event in the history of both nations while the visiting fan is promised a fascinating experience quite different from those you may have had at previous tournaments. In Your Pocket knows these countries like no other travel guide publisher. We really hope that our guides will make your visit as simple to organise and as enjoyable as possible.

In Your Pocket 20

It was 20 years ago this week that the first In Your Pocket hit the streets of Vilnius, in Lithuania.

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Issue N°1 of Vilnius In Your Pocket rolled off the presses at a time when the Soviet Union was considerably more than just a memory and the height of sophistication was owning anything that didn’t have Made in CCCP written on it. How times have changed. Despite the current economic gloom, the Lithuanian capital is unrecognisable from how it appeared two decades ago. There’s food in the shops, galleries are bursting with art that’s no longer required to conform to the strangulating requirements of Socialist Realism and you don’t have to hand over your coat to a geriatric every time you visit a restaurant.

The brainchild of German Matthias Lufkens and Belgian brothers George, Oliver and Nicolas Ortiz, In Your Pocket was conceived over several beers on a cold December evening in 1991 in the famous Stikliai beer hall. At the time, Vilnius was a town that did not even have a telephone directory. The four set out to conquer the world armed only with a dream and a laptop: they still have the dream, and they still have the laptop.

Over the past 20 years In Your Pocket has grown to become Europe’s leading provider of urban information, supplying locally produced, practical information for over 100 cities all over the region, available at the travel portal inyourpocket.com and in more than 70 publication guide books, published in 23 countries.

In Your Pocket’s lively, honest style has received consistent praise from, among others, Le Monde, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Sunday Times, the BBC, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet. We are, indeed, the best. Take a look at our press clippings here.

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German theatre in English at the Schaubühne Berlin

Berlin has world-class theatre performances, but as most are in German these tend to go unnoticed by foreign visitors. Thankfully, the excellent Schaubühne Berlin on Kurfürstendamm in western Berlin regularly has English (and sometimes French) surtitles projected on a screen above the stage.

Especially the plays directed by Thomas Ostermeier are worth seeking out; his jaw-dropping version of Hamlet got excellent reviews (such as here and here in the Guardian), and when we saw it performed in January, the actors stunned a packed house, even humorously integrating the surtitle screen into the play at one point. Hamlet is next on stage several nights in late April.

Read our review and get the contact and ticketing details on our website. The theatre website lists which plays are surtitled.

On stage in Berlin

Most foreign visitors to Germany’s capital city limit their activities to sightseeing, eating, drinking and partying. Visiting theatre shows has always been difficult as German-language productions dominate. In recent years there has been something of a shift, and increasingly stage productions are suitable for casual visitors as well. In Berlin In Your Pocket we highlight the various mime and acrobatic dinner shows and the English Theatre, and we hope to review more performances here in future.

If you’re visiting Berlin this winter season, a great show to visit is Gayle Tufts’ Let it Show! at the Tipi dinner theatre in the central Tiergarten park. Gayle is an American Berliner, and an entertainer who presents a cockle-warming winter show with new versions of songs by artists like Madonna, Prince, Paul Simon, The Beatles, as well as her own work. The songs are interspersed by banter in her trademark ‘denglish’ language, which foreigners would have difficulty understanding, but the music makes up for that. This is no Christmas show although Wham does slip in at the end; Gayle uses her two hours on stage for a passionate plea to embrace the dark cold days of winter, and make the most of it. On our visit this week, the crowd loved the show and the artist, her backing vocalists and rocking band all visibly enjoyed performing.

Gayle Tufts performs Let it Show until 25 December, and from 2-15 January. For tickets and information see www.tipi-am-kanzleramt.de.