If the city of Berlin was a person, it would be that eclectic hipster friend you have that wears ironically ugly shirts, reads obscure poetry and drinks too much. He is the friend who outwardly loathes the Sunday brunch ritual but partakes in it every week nonetheless. His other favourite activities include drinking beer in the park, attending the occasional art exhibit and casually spitting on tourists who dare enter his neighbourhood (yes, this did happen to us).
In case I lost you with that complicated analogy, Berlin is a too-cool-for-school city. At times when I was walking through the eccentric neighbourhood of Kreuzberg or rummaging in the flea market at Mauer Park, I simply forgot where I was. Turkey? London? The city was just so different from everywhere else I had been in Germany. Berlin is covered in graffiti, the parks strewn with trash and not a single pretzel was spotted. And guess what, I loved it!
The trip started with the discovery of 5 euro bus tickets from Dresden to Berlin with the company Flexibus. My three closest girl friends and I were itching to get out of our tiny town for some big city adventure.This company drives all over Germany and it’s buses are equipped with toilets, comfy seats and Wi-Fi. In Australia, you’re lucky if your coach seat isn’t damp or your neighbour isn’t drinking wine out of a bag, so this was pretty flash.
After arriving in Berlin after midnight, we stumbled sleepily through the train station, got on the wrong train, got on the the right train and fell into bed at our Meininger Hostel in Berlin Mitte. The hostel was clean, central and had building wide Wi-Fi. Our room had three tier bunk beds, each with there own light, outlet and shelf.
Awaking early the next day, we hired bicycles from our hostel and set off eager to see as much of the city as possible. Bicycles turned out to be a great idea. If you’re heading to Berlin I highly suggests hiring one for the day. There are places all over the city and the going rate seems to be 8-10 Euros.
After getting lost three of four times we cruised past Checkpoint Charlie (the old crossing between East and West Berlin), had a moment of reflection at the Memorial of the Burnt Books and then rolled into the trendy neighbourhood of Kreuzberg. With help from a kindly American, we sat down for a Berlin bunch at the Fraulein Wilde. Sitting down at the cafe, we noticed a graffiti behind us that said “BURN TOURISTS”. Thinking nothing of it, we ordered, ate and instagrammed to our hearts content. Then the incident occurred. My dear friend Emily, on the receiving end of the mans spit, recoiled in horror as if struck by a bullet.
It’s not everyday that your french-toast croissant, bacon and scrambled eggs comes with a side of getting spat on by a strange man.
You sure know how to greet visitors Berlin.
From Kreuzberg, we hopped on those bikes again, crossed the river and headed over to the East Side Gallery which is a remaining section of the Berlin wall that has been turned into an outdoor art gallery. I was inspired by the messages of hope, freedom, and acceptance that had been painted on this symbol of oppression.
We rolled through museum island with it’s impressive architecture, stopped at Bradenburg gate for pictures, got lost in the Tiergarten park and ended the day at the memorial to the Murdered Jews Of Europe. From eavesdropping on a tour guide I learnt that the memorial, made from 2711 cement blocks of all different sizes, was created in way that didn’t manipulate the viewer into feeling a particular way. This meant that everybody took something different from the memorial.
At this point, tiredness from the day took over and a plan to go see Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in the cinema was formulated. We ended up sneaking a dozen donuts into the cinema, making for the best cinema experience ever (with queazy consequences).
Just like hanging out with that eclectic hipster friend, the day exploring Berlin left me feeling dazed, delighted and more than a little exhausted. From getting spat on in crazy Kreuzberg, to the hope of the East-side Gallery, the sombreness of the memorial and everything in between, it will be a day that I will never forget. It will be the day we biked around Berlin.
We stayed at the Meininger Berlin Mitte-http://www.meininger-hotels.com
I mention a couple of companies in this article but was not sponsored or paid by any of them. All opinions are my own.
Have you ever been to Berlin? Did you love it or loathe it? Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.