The fact this post is live means I’ve been to Berlin, explored the city and now I’m home. Sad times! Last week I travelled to Berlin with two of my closest friends to explore what Germany had to offer. Part of the reason we chose Berlin was simply because I’ve always wanted to go, and partly because the flights and accommodation were so cheap (see my post here on how I managed to travel for £225).
Our long weekend started on Thursday and ended on Sunday. We tried to pack in as much as possible, while saving space for a long lie after a recommended pub crawl and a night watching the Germany vs Italy in the Euro 2016 competition. We arrived late afternoon on Thursday, and after getting settled into our jamming new apartment in Kreuzberg, we went out to explore what our little street had to offer and to get stocked up on breakfast supplies, water and snacks for our stay.
East Side Gallery
We woke up early on our first full day in this vibrant city, and after a failed attempt at cooking french toast in our apartment (we used vinegar instead of oil in the pan!), we had a quick bowl of cereal and grabbed a muffin at the train station before heading to the East Side Gallery.
The East Side Gallery is a section of the historic Berlin Wall that has been transformed into an informative, moving and emotional gallery of art – making it the longest open air gallery in the world! Unfortunately one of the most iconic images named “The Kiss” was partially covered due to restoration works.
How to get there: Catch the U-Bahn to Warschauer Strasse which will take you a two-minute walk away.
Top Tip: Be vigilant of scammers and pick pockets! There are people who walk alongside the wall playing a pop-up betting game that you will never win, and while you are losing your money that way, others could be trying to get into your bag/pockets.
After getting back on to the U-Bahn, we jumped off at Kochstraße station and walked north for 2 minutes before coming across Checkpoint Charlie. This site is now a major tourist attraction and is the exact border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. And yes, we paid the 3 Euros for the photo with guards! Hey, when in Berlin!
Top Tip: Between Checkpoint Charlie and the Kochstraße station, there is a 1 Euro store, this is a great place to get any touristy memorabilia or souvenirs of the city. Trust me, you will pay a lot more elsewhere!
Fortunately our next few destinations were just a few metres apart and we decided to walk there (after grabbing a Currywurst at a local cafe near Checkpoint Charlie.
Topography of Terrors
Next on the list to see and do is the Topography of Terrors. Germany and Berlin in particular is steeped in history, some of which is particularly heartbreaking and unforgivable. The Topography of Terrors is an outdoor and indoor museum and exhibition depicting almost every aspect of the Nazi regime in the city. It was also the site of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters during the Nazi era of repression. The museum is a very informative and moving site, and I think the whole openness of the site only adds to the emotion behind the history.
The holocaust memorial is an outdoor site dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and consists of 2,711 concrete slabs stretching almost 5 acres. The slabs vary in height and as you travel north to south, east to west, the slabs slightly increase in size and skew. Vary rarely do memorials make you feel. Yes you can read the stories, engage with the history and sympathise with victims, but the Holocaust Memorial alters you from the inside out. Only one other place in the world has had the same affect, and that was the Killing Fields in Cambodia.
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Germany’s most iconic landmarks and is located in the west side of Berlin in the neighborhood of Mitte. Although once is represented the division of West and East Germany, it not stands as a symbol of unity for the city. Unfortunately because of the fan zone set up for Germany’s Euro 2016 match against Italy, the gate was blocked off.
How to get there: Use the S-Bahn to Brandenburger Tor station
The Fernsehturm (TV Tower)
The TV Tower is located just a few minutes walk from Alexander Platz, and standing at 368 metres high, it is the tallest publicly accessible building in Europe. I would highly recommend booking tickets beforehand as the wait to go up the tower can be quite long on weekends.
If you are happy walking, Checkpoint Charlie, The Topography of Terrors and the Brandenburg Gate can all be reached from each other by walking. (We stopped for a snack and a little refreshment before moving on from the holocaust memorial to the Gate!).
Have you ever been to Berlin? What do you recommend going to see?
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