Well, I could make up hundreds of excuses for why it’s taken me over two weeks to write this post (real world got in the way, still didn’t have working internet until recently, busy with friends, tired, too much work, too little work) I could go on and on. I did, in fact, intend to write it on the plane right home (there’s another one, I fell asleep).
Perhaps it was just too hard to put my thoughts on Berlin into words, so I decided to wait till I could sit down and think properly on it, so as to do it justice. Then time passed, other things happened, and I began to feel like it was just too late, or there were other things I should write about. But then I felt bad for not doing Berlin first. So I didn’t write about those other things either… See where this is going?
So yeah. I finally sucked it up and decided to just do it. Late or not.
Now for the actual point of this post. Berlin. Beautiful Berlin. Yes, I loved Berlin. I still can’t quite put my finger on what it was that made me like the city so much, but I truly did. Maybe it was that it has such a different feel from the other European cities I’ve visited over the years. Although Stockholm and Copenhagen were both unique from others Berlin felt especially so. I think this is partially because the history it has to impart on us is so much more recent. Travelling Europe you usually see and learn about things from centuries ago, but almost all of the sites and museums that we saw in Berlin were from only decades ago. Many areas were still being built up into historical sites.
First off, our hostel was amazing (Grand Berlin Hostel). It felt almost like a hotel. Super comfortable, great rooms, and great location. Plus the staff was super nice. Another great thing about Berlin is that it is super cheap to eat out. There was no kitchen in the hostel (or most if any of the others I had considered) because it is so easy to just eat out, even at a restaurant, without breaking the bank. So this was a very nice change from Stockholm and Copenhagen.
We started our visit in Berlin again with a free walking tour, which was very interesting. There were a couple other paid ones that I would have really liked to do but, unfortunately, didn’t have time. We got to see the Holocaust Memorial, which was a very powerful memorial I thought. The site where Hitler’s bunker once was (now a car park surrounded by apartment buildings). Checkpoint Charlie (now mostly a tourist trap). And more. Afterwards, we visited a couple free museums (somehow I think I went to more museums in Berlin than on the rest of the trip combined!) on World War II and the Cold War.
The next day Jenny and I parted ways, her to go visit the concentration camp just outside the city and me to visit the Jewish Museum and New Synagogue. I had planned to buy the hostel’s discounted day-long metro pass, but they were all out. So I decided to walk as much as I could before I had to take the metro. I walked A LOT that day. I started at the Jewish Museum, which was a great museum. Definitely recommended. After I walked all the way to the other side of town to visit the New Synagogue (it’s not actually new, that’s just the name) stopping for some delicious and unique hot chocolate on the way. While far it was a nice walk as I got to see a lot of the city on my way. The synagogue was also very interesting and worthwhile. From there it was a short distance to the Berlin Wall Memorial (worth it if you have a bit of extra time but not super necessary as there are other parts of the wall still standing closer to the city center). My goal was to then make my way down to the East Side Gallery, a part of the wall that has been turned into a memorial by painters from around the world. Unfortunately I only got as far as the TV Tower (and wow, it certainly hurts your neck looking all the way to the top of that!) before it started getting dark and I had to catch the metro back to the hostel.
So, sadly I did not get everything on my list for Berlin, but I still think I got a lot done. Could have done more if I’d taken the train instead of walking. But I think it was nice to get to walk around the city and just take it in that way too. It’s always something I like to do when travelling. You can only do so much of museums and famous sites. I like to feel like I get a real sense of where I am too, which I find comes best from relaxing in a cafe with a drink, or strolling the streets aimlessly.
I definitely did like Berlin. A lot more than I expected too. It was originally added to the trip just because it was nearby the other places and I’d never been to Germany. But I am super glad I went. I still don’t feel like this post has done it even a small bit of justice. So I guess you’ll just have to go visit it for yourself. And if you do, tell me what you think!