If you follow my Instagram you’ll know this but a few weeks back seven of my friends and I booked four nights in Berlin and left the following week, all as a result of boredom and a loathing for the Scottish Summer. While a couple of them craved another trip in the sunshine, I’m a big fan of a good city break and so favoured the latter. Why Berlin? I don’t really know. For me anyway, it’s a city you really don’t hear much about. I knew about the Berlin Wall obviously, but that was as far as my knowledge of the city went.
I was clueless on all the districts and we weren’t really sure on where the best place to stay was, so we took to Air BnB and after reading through a mountain of reviews we picked an apartment in Mitte that fit all eight of us, and had a couple of balconies we could relax on if the weather got good. Obviously you have all the usual worries when you book a place in a foreign country from a website you’ve never used before- what if it’s not legit? what if it’s not like the pictures? etc. etc. The list goes on. But my biggest worry when traveling in such a big group was personal space, I’m known to get a bit flustered when I can’t get some me time but I needn’t have worried because the apartment was huge, just like the photos, and as it turns out, a five minute walk from The Alexanderplatz, home of the Fernsehturm Tower, which is prime location.
When we first arrived, craving the authentic German experience, we headed straight for Lidl. Not so much caring about the food side of things, we went to the alcohol aisle (I can’t hide it anymore, the main plan for this flat was to have it as our own personal party flat, sightseeing was a separate matter entirely) and were thrilled to find that a liter of vodka went for five euro. I think overall in the trip we got through about thirteen of those, never mind the boxes of wine and liters of Jägermeister, so that should give you a quick insight into the kind of trip we had.
Pumped from the hangover on our first morning, we left a few members of the clan in bed while the rest of us headed over to The Alexanderplatz for a not so authentic Subway- which can I add was almost double the price of what it is at home, not fair. Later, with some calories in us we decided to take the hour or so walk to the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial Site. Along the way we stopped in at The Bebelplatz which is where the famous Book Burning took place in the Second World War. I don’t have a lot to say about the sights really, the Brandenburg Gate, while stunning architecturally, was the usual inner-city tourist trap, but I what I will say is that I found the memorial and the Bebelplatz very cold and almost uncomfortable? It felt strange to be somewhere with such awful history, not dissimilar to the 9/11 Memorial in New York.
Anyway, on a more uplifting note, we finished off the day with curry wurst- which I highly recommend, and for myself there was a quick look in the Mall of Berlin while the rest hit up the drink aisle in yet another supermarket.
Day two was the only day we had really planned out, and our sights were set on Berlin Zoo and after a breakfast of leftover hotdogs, we were ready to take on the subway. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure how it works. From buying tickets to stamping them, but then there being no scanners or a conducter? Doesn’t make that much sense if you ask me. But nevertheless, we managed to navigate it fairly easily, arriving right on schedule. I’m not the biggest fan of Zoo’s, I’m not a massive animal lover but I really don’t agree with them being held in such captivity, however I’d heard good things about Berlin Zoo and was willing to give it a try for the fourteen euro entry fee.
I can weirdly speak more for the Zoo than the sights seen on the first day, but that may just be because the groups mood seemed lighter, the sun was shining a lot more and it was a hell of a lot warmer than the day before. It was really open planned, no tall fences between you and the animals or anything- except for the ones which could do some serious damage, instead between the animals and yourself there was a dug out. I know this isn’t better for the animals, they get the same amount of space, but it did give a sense of freedom for them. There was a lot of feedings and stuff happening all over the place, sea lion shows etc. but as they were all presented in German I can’t say they were very interesting to me personally. Even still, we managed to pass a good few hours before having various arguments with Siri for sending us in the wrong direction of the Hard Rock Cafe. In their Florence restaurant back in February this year I’d had their Twisted Mac n’ Cheese and have since not been able to get it anywhere else, so I was highly satisfied with my meal. And once again, it was time for another supermarket drinks aisle and on to the next day.
Our final full day was a little bit of a let down for me, there was so much of Berlin I still wanted to see and very limited time to see it. The East Side Gallery was one of the main sights I wanted to see while we were there, however, it lay over an hour and a half walk away and there was no subway that ran that way that we could find. Without a far more extensive knowledge of public transport, there was no way we could all get there. Luckily, I caught a snippet of it on the drive to the airport the next day. So we ended up having a pretty chilled day. I headed to a Starbucks to pick up a souvenir mug to add to the collection, and then the hunt for another supermarket for the final night turned into a long walk which gave me a much greater feel for the city than the tourist traps did.
With a lot of cute small boutiques, coffee houses and independent eateries, I could really being to imagine myself in Berlin outside of the situation I was in. I can say I would definitely go back, and if my life allows it I would highly consider living there. I loved the feel and the atmosphere of it all, and I think it could very easily make it up there with my favourite places.
The very last thing we did, after seeing it from every angle for days on end, was head up the Fernsehturm Tower. We decided to go up at night, really because by the time we got their it was dark, and while it was incredibly beautiful if I were to choose again I would go up during the day. You can see for miles and miles, however, the lighting in Bar 203 which is located in the observation tower means that your photos turn out horrendous because of the glare and reflections on the windows. The picture here of the Brandenburg Gate was actually taken through the lens of one of the telescopes, and believe me when I say its the best I got.
And that concludes the roundup of my Berlin trip. Due to how last minute this trip was, there was a lot of things we didn’t get to do, such as tour the Reichstag Building and anything else that had to be prebooked, but that just meant that it was a really laid back trip and I’m not complaining. I’ll get all that next time…