Berlin, short and sweet.
What happens when you live in Germany but work Monday-Friday? Weekend trips. After only living in Germany for two months now I've been able to see a fair amount of the beautiful country, within reason. Last weekend two co-wokers and I decided to take a long awaited weekend trip to Berlin. The only planning we had done before jumping on a 3+ hour bus ride was our hotel room, and bus tickets. Beyond these two things we were going to “wing it.”
Hours 1-2: Settling In
After rolling off the flexbus, (we paid about 40 Euros for a round trip from Hannover) we decided that taking a taxi to our hotel was the best bet. Unfortunately, we visited on a very popular weekend, Lallapalozza goers had filled up most of the hostels. Fortunately, we found a room for one night at the Wyndham Excelsior for 50 Euros each. The hotel was overbooked which was a positive for us because we got two rooms with two single beds in each room, and free breakfast for not giving us the room we originally booked. Once we arrived at the hotel we took advantage of the bathroom, washed our faces, changed, and checked our bag behind the front desk. Over all the hotel was fairly nice, a little disorganized, understaffed, but worth what we paid. I wouldn't mind staying again, however I'd be open to staying somewhere else for the next visit.
Hours 3-8: Exploration
Wanting to make the most of our time we grabbed three maps from the hotel and tried to locate ourselves. After wondering out we found a kiosk to rent bikes, 12 Euros each, with a 50 Euro deposit for the three of us. The bikes were far from spectacular, but they did the job. Renting bikes was probably the best decision we made on our trip.Biking allowed us to go where we wanted without being stuck underground, it also doubled as a great excuse to indulge in whatever food or drink available to us.
Places we explored:
- The Traditional – Flea Market on Straße des 17. Juni. After five minutes of biking we ran into one of Berlin's oldest flea markets. I bought wool socks from the Ukraine, an old steel moon shaped hanger for the wall, and a leather backpack from Italy. If you like flea markets this was a total score.
- Berlin Victory Column. Easily accessible, clean, and pretty quiet for a touristy location.We didn't make our way to the top but we did walk around it making friends with other tourist.
- On our way to Brandenburg Gate we luckily stumbled upon the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.” The memorial is huge and looks like a maze from the outside. They had free guided tours that we did not take part in because of our lack of time and the line.
- Brandenburg Gate.
- The Wall at the Sophien Parish Cemetery. This was one of my favorite spots. You could feel the history in this place. They have different spots you can walk up to, read or listen to stories of people who died trying to get to the other side.
- Humana. After getting lost and biking out way further than we should have we asked some locals where the closest second hand shop was. She pointed us to Humana, which is a four or five story building of second hand clothing. My favorite floor was the top floor with the vintage apparel. I easily found about six pieces to purchase.
Hours 9-15. Night Life.
I am not much of a club person, but Berlin is known for their night life. We ended up going to a club called Pearl, simply because we asked two girls on the street where they were going and if we could join. The club was having an event with a big Berlin DJ, so we had to pay a cover fee of six Euros, which was half priced because we signed up for the “White Membership” before entering. The club was nice, but packed, if you aren't interested in clubs I wouldn't suggest this for one night in Berlin.
Hours 15-20. Sleep.
Hours 21-24. Last Minute Stops.
For our last day we decided to stay close to the hotel and our bike kiosk. We visited the Museum für Fotografie, which featured the memorial for Helmut Newton, as well as, Bernard Larsson's, Leaving is Entering. Both exhibits were interesting, though I enjoyed Bernard Larsson's more because of the historical content. If you are not into seeing many nude photos I would not suggest the Helmut Newton museum, it is two floors of his nude photography. After biked to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was open from 12-2pm.
Last Thoughts and Impressions.
Overall, I loved Berlin. For me I don't want to go to a city to walk inside five museums all day long. We had the perfect forecast for biking around and exploring Berlin. We got a mix of history, culture, shopping, and eating/drinking. I felt simply blissful when biking around pretending like I was a local. The one thing I would change is to map out plans a little better. I am not one to plan out minute by minute, but it would have been nice to know where the second hand shop was before biking over 40 minutes to get there. The locals and other tourist were more than friendly. When looking for places to shop the woman who suggested Humana let us follow her on her bike then stopped to show us where to go. English is very common in Berlin, you hear it on the street, in restaurants, and mostly everyone you come in contact with can speak a little English, and is willing to help you out in some way. After visiting Berlin I have a stronger desire to learn more about the history. The city is really full of it, and you can really learn something about many different time periods, and yourself if you stay to listen long enough. I will definitely be visiting again soon, but maybe I'll be making a 48 hour trip instead.