My initial reaction going in to Berlin was that it was kind of dirty and grey. I feel like it is a little similar to New York, in the way that it appears to have little to do, and appears quite dirty, until I spent a couple of days here. I could feel that the city is fast moving and has a pulse that beats quicker than the other German cities. The people are quite friendly, but efficient, more stereotypically German. In fact, I think a lot of the stereotypes come from Berlin, as well as many assumptions. Before coming to Germany I read many blogs which spoke of the cheap and delicious middle eastern food as well as the large middle eastern populations in Germany. I haven’t found this true in other parts of the country, where I have been mainly eating at markets and European restaurants. In Berlin it is definitely true. I had a fantastic haloumi and tofu kebab for €3.50 and stayed in an area which has a huge middle eastern population.
Many famous sites and Nazi history occurred here as well, making it famous for this, where as other areas in Germany do not seem to recognise this so much. The Berlin Wall Memorial is very interesting, showing the area where many people tried to cross from East to West Germany, over three fences and between watch towers. The S-Bahn stop here also has a lot of history, being a stop between two West Germany stops. For this reason, it was closed up, and many people tried to escape through the station with varying success. The Berlin Wall – East Side Gallery is very beautiful, and is a graffiti art gallery on the wall for over a kilometre. Many activist messages are visible, although beautiful graffiti art has fallen victim to people randomly tagging their names over the top in some areas.
While I went to Museum Island I opted out of any paid museums and instead walked the street to view the architecture, and wander in to any museums which were free. I used to love museums, but have found I am not as interested as I used to be. The Humboldt Box museum gives a good view of the Altes Museum, Berliner Dome and the Lustgarten as well as some great history and future planning of the Berlin City Palace. I decided to walk to the Brandenburg gate from here, rather than catch the 100 bus. I was happy I did, as the Audi (VW, Lamborghini, Ducati, Bentley) centre and Mercedes centre were on the way. I like cars so enjoyed them, though they are nothing compared to BMW Welt in Münich. The only car that struck me as cool was the Bugatti Vision Grand Turismo, which is the car created for fans of the Grand Turismo video game. It is lucky there was something to do on the way, because the gate was not all that exciting considering it was the 3rd most popular attraction on trip advisor, although I wasn’t aware of the history at the time so it may have been more exciting had a known the context. The Tiergarten is nearby, and very interesting. A stroll around the park reveals a fair bit of information about the history of the area and its role in the war.
I really wanted to see the Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terror), a museum about the Nazi regime during WWII and the Cold War. I wish I went to this as the first thing I did in Berlin as it gives a great overview of the events at the time, as well as how they all finished up. I’m definitely not a history kind of person and paid little attention to German history in school, so needed the background that this museum provides. I also wanted to see the Memorial for the Jewish People of Europe, which is an abstract memorial, with pillars of concrete getting larger and larger as you enter the site. It was amazing in the way that you can feel the creepiness of other people walking around, it is kind of an eerie feeling of being trapped and occasionally seeing someone for a fleeting moment before they vanish.
The main thing I love about Berlin is the huge diversity of food and the many restaurants that I felt I must try. I could have had 6 meals a day and not get through half the food I wanted to try. A walk near the hostel I am staying at “The Cat’s Pajamas Hostel” bought me to many delicious Middle Eastern restaurants. I chose a small takeaway type place which has a great reputation. The haloumi they use is the best I have had in Germany so far; it was really squeaky. Yum. It was called Al-Andalos. It was delicious, but I heard there was a good Turkish Bäckerei (bakery) nearby at Sonnenalle 50, so had to get dessert as well. A selection of baklava set me back €2, and had about 8 different types. I ate them all before I got back to the hostel, they were so good.
All in all, I think Berlin is somewhere that I will need to go back to, not because of how much I like it, but more because it feels like I have discovered very little, like there will always be more to discover there.
All prices are in Euro and current at time of posting
Bus Dresden to Berlin – 9 ; Lipstick – 12; Dinner – 3.50; Feuerzangbowle – 3.50; Train ticket (72 hours) – 25; Accommodation – 17/night; Buffet vegan breakfast – 17; Sandwich at SC – 3.50; Haloumi wrap – 1.50; Baklava selection – 2; Sandwich at Bakery – 2.50; Bus Berlin to Hamburg – 8