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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Berlin: European Adventure

Berlin

(Psst, if you haven't read my last post, have a read through it here!)

For our summer holiday this year, Tom and I decided to embark on a mini European adventure. After a few wonderful days in Amsterdam, we caught an evening flight to Berlin, Germany. This was both mine and Tom's first time not only to Berlin, but to Germany itself. When I had interrailed through Europe two years before, everyone that I met raved about Berlin's beauty and nightlife. I knew then that I had to go to experience it for myself.







Our easyjet flight was a smooth process, assisted yet again by their fabulous app. We landed at 10:30pm, collected our bags and hopped on a bus outside the airport that took us on to the underground train line we needed to reach our hotel. We paid for a ticket for both when we got on the bus, and it was just €5.40 for both of us so super cheap as well as being convenient. I had emailed our hotel in advance to warn that we would not be arriving until after midnight, and they were gracious and accommodating - a real relief when you are tired from travelling!

The hotel we stayed at was the Novum Select Berlin Hotel - The Wall (they have 3 locations in Berlin) and it was honestly such a convenient place to stay, I could not recommend it enough. All of the main attractions are within walking distance, there are two U-Bahn (Underground train) stations to pick from extremely nearby, and both the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie are within eyesight of the hotel. We arrived exhausted after a long day and were welcomed by smiling, friendly and welcoming hotel staff who had even kept the bar open in case we needed a drink after our journey. We sat there and chatted with the staff for 20 minutes before they began to clean up for the night, and when we went to head up to our room they sent us off with complimentary snacks. Really great service.

I booked our room through Agoda, where we got a great price; they also have a handy app where you can manage your bookings at the swipe of your thumb - a really useful service if you are staying in multiple locations. The hotel itself is stylish and clean with some interesting art everywhere, and that location really can not be beaten. I will definitely be back when visiting Berlin again.

Day 4

Day 4 of our European adventure had us slowly waking up in a new country that we had yet to experience - a feeling I just adore. We had not got up to our room until about 1am so we lazed around in the comfort of our bed until nearly midday the next day. Pulling back the curtains, we realised it was a) a beautiful day and b) we were starving.

Outside of the lovely Novum hotel we blinked into the sunlight at a steady trail of tourists come to visit The Wall and Checkpoint Charlie. The streets had been eerily quiet at midnight so it was somewhat a contrast. Tummies grumbling, we ducked into the first place we saw - a little cafe down a side street called The Wallflower that served salads, soups and coffee. Embarrassingly lacking in German, the helpful staff recommended their homemade chilli for our "lunch" (breakfast time had been and gone) so we asked for a hot bowl each and tucked in.






Appetites sated, we went for a stroll in the glorious sunshine, window shopping as we went. We ended up at the Jewish memorial - a sombre place that seemed bizarre to visit in the sunlight - and spent some time reflecting on who was being remembered there and why. Coach-loads of tourists were arriving regularly, so we moved on, passing a series of cheap and cheerful cafes, and even a Banksy art exhibition. Interesting art seems to be everywhere in Berlin; even down to the vintage cars in the street.




The memorial backs on to Tiergarten - a sprawling green park that can take you up to the Reichstag and even on to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium if you don't mind a bit of a walk. There are some wonderful memorials scattered throughout; the plaque nearest the Jewish memorial celebrates the LGBTQ community who perished and were persecuted by the Nazis, and the path opens out to a small wooden hut with a spy hole; if you peer through you see a film roll playing images of lesbian and gay couples kissing, laughing and being truly happy together. I thought this was a lovely show of defiance to the past.

Tom and I settled down on the grass with our books (well, his Kindle) for half an hour in the early afternoon sun; it was bliss.






Feet itching to explore further, we quickly googled what activities we should do next. It was a toss up between the Spy Museum and the Topography of Terror - the latter won purely as it was rated slightly higher on TripAdvisor as well as being free!

A 10 minute walk and we were there. The Topography of Terror is a center that remembers some of the terrible events of the Second World War. Fittingly, it is built on the ground site of the headquarters of the Secret State Police, the SS and the Reich Security Main Office. A short film starts off your visit in the cool, clinical building, leading you on to a timeline of events alongside images, documents, personal stories and facts documenting from 1933 - 1945. There is also an outside section which has an area of the Berlin Wall and further details about both the significance of the Wall and the events leading up to its creation. The Topography of Terror is both important and moving and a must visit whilst you are in Berlin. It was our favourite activity of the trip.

A few hours later, we emerged. Tom was determined to try a currywurst, and luckily there was a little food stop right nearby. We shared a currywurst and chips and were joined by a group of intruiged little birds, desperate for a snack.


 As the sun began to go down, we decided to head back to the hotel to change and plan our evening. We discovered that our hotel was just a short walk away so were back in just 5 minutes - again, that location cannot be beaten!

After a shower and a quick google search, we decided to treat ourselves to a steak dinner from a place just 15 minutes walk away. Berlin is so easy to get around, with the S-Bahn and U-Bahn services particularly straight forward to use if travelling further afield or if you don't feel like walking.

Over our delicious steaks we decided to try out a Backpacker's Pub Crawl. We wanted to both test out that famous Berlin night life and meet some interesting new people who were also travelling. We hopped on a U-Bahn to Warschauer Stra├če after dinner and from there walked to the meeting point. The pub crawl starts at 9:30pm and is either €12 on the spot or €10 if booked online in advance. Our "guide", Grace, was friendly and personable and we met some great people, visited a load of bars we never would have visited otherwise, and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. We met travellers from Brazil, Canada, America, Scotland, Austria and England. Everyone was so unique and interesting and we had such a laugh - even ending up in a club, which is something I was convinced I'm far too old for. We ended up getting back to the hotel at 5am just as it began bucketing it down with rain! The hotel worker on reception at the Novum kindly let us arrange a late check out (11am was NOT happening after we got in at that hour!) and we stumbled up to our room for a blissful drunken sleep.




Day 5

Groggy and hungover, we checked out at 1pm the next day, dreading carrying our large travelling rucksack around all day and the painful night sleeping in the airport we had to look forward to.

We began by heading back to the Tiergarten to relax and gather ourselves after our heavy night. We decided that heading to the Zoo and Aquarium would be a good idea as they were likely to have bag storage and we'd be able to lose ourselves in site-seeing for a few more hours.

The (long) walk through the Tiergarten was peaceful and green, but painful on a hangover. When we finally arrived at the Aquarium they told us that they had no cloakroom; the Zoo was the same. We instead settled for coffee and a milkshake at a restaurant nearby; it is a lovely area of shops, cafes and restaurants, although in hindsight we should have caught a U-Bahn there instead of suffering!

Time was ticking and plans were going awry, so we decided to make our way to the airport ready for our long wait for our flight home.









Our main regret of our visit to Berlin is that we did not plan to spend long enough there. We would both be back in a heartbeat.

If you'd like to read about the first leg of our adventure, in Amsterdam, please do check out my other post here. I am already planning our next escapade for October half term...where would you recommend we explore?




x.





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2 comments

  1. They are just amazing photos! It's made me really want to travel aha. Lovely blog!

    A x | www.meandmybeautyblog.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much! Berlin is a place I would 100% recommend if you get the chance.

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