I’ve always wanted to visit Germany; it has always been at the top of my list. Berlin seemed like a logical place to go since there is so much history. We were only going to have about a day and a half and we wanted to make the most of it. We had a free walking tour lined up, as well as a private beer tour.
We landed in Berlin at about 10:30am and then we needed to figure out how to get to our hostel. I had read online that we should take be airport express and then the U-Bahn, but after walking around the airport a bit and chatting with some people who spoke English, we ended up just taking the U-Bahn… unfortunately, we still ended up walking about 30 minutes to host hostel. There was a station right across the street that would have been a much better place to get off at, but we really didn’t understand much about how the underground worked at this point, and we were happy just to make it to our home for the next two nights.
We weren’t able to check in at this point, but there were plenty of places to eat nearby, and I was hungry, so we took our bags and had a bite to eat. It was a place called Bistro Street Food and I had the Turkish pizza with meat and salad… basically a pizza rolled up with beef and veggies inside. Honestly – it was so good. This was one of those places that had pictures of all the foods they served, and was pretty cheap, but it hit the spot. We also snagged a couple of beers before heading back to the hostel. We were staying at the Circus Hostel, a pretty bumpin’ place. There is a cafe connected to it, and a microbrewery below. We were staying in a private room with a double bed and we had a shared bathroom. Our bed was in the middle of the room which was a bit different, but kind of cool. We also had a pretty neat view and a window that opened up, it was open pretty much the whole time because of the lack of air conditioning. This also made our room a quite a bit loud because of the tram that went by, and it was also a busy area.
Our walking tour was that evening and after taking us the wrong way for about five minutes, Nic revoked my map privileges, and he took over the role of navigator. We still made it to the spot where our tour began in time! Did I mention this tour was free!? It was great too; we loved our guide, Duarte. He took us to Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Memorial (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), Hitler’s bunker, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, where the book burning took place… I’m sure there is more I am forgetting. The Jewish Memorial was one of the best memorials I think I have ever seen. It was various blocks of concrete, all at different heights, in rows and columns. Our guide told us we would have to walk through it to truly feel it, and he was right. It is somber and mysterious. It was a sunny day when we went through, I can only imagine how grim it would be in the cold of winter. There is a museum beneath it, but we didn’t get a chance to go through it.Learning about the Berlin Wall was truly fascinating. There is so much to it, and it is kind of complicated, I’m not even going to try and explain what I learned about East and West Berlin. I’ve definitely got new interest in WWII and the Cold War.Our tour lasted about 2.5 hours and I felt like it barely scratched the surface. Berlin is huge and it’s history is immense, and it plays a role in the character of the city today. Berlin is still recovering from WWII and the Cold War… it all feels so much more recent and has such a stronger presence than at home. It was mentally and physically draining – we thought we deserved a good meal and a beer! Duarte recommended a place to eat, Aufsterz, so Nic and I headed that direction. He ordered the bratwurst with potatoes and sauerkraut and I had the schnitzel with a red pepper sauce and potatoes. Both were excellent, and we felt we were able to enjoy a good German meal! We had a beer with our meal and then we grabbed a beer to go because guess what guys? You can take your beer with you in the city…. anywhere. Well, except the underground. No beer on the subway. Nic and I missed that sign the first time. Oops!
Nic and I decided to check out the microbrewery below our hostel that night. We met someone from Wisconsin who was working in a small town somewhere else in Germany, but was traveling the country before going home after two years. The beer was good, the company was good, the night was good.
And we slept until 10:30am the next morning. It felt wonderful. We had no plans on this day until our beer tour that evening, so we took our time getting ready and then decided to meander through the city. We started by eating lunch at a place called KreuzBurger – probably the German version of Burger King, but way better. It was supposed to be hot that day so we wore shorts while we made our way to the Topographie des Terrors, the museum next to the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately, when we left it was raining and windy. We ran to the station and made our way back to the hostel. It went from warm to cold the same way it does in Nebraska.
Now it was time for our beer tour. We got to the place about 20 minutes early so we walked around a bit and then decided to sit down and wait for our guide. They never showed up. It was just Nic and I chilling, looking awkward and touristy as heck, and no one ever came to give us our tour. We waited a while and checked with someone who worked there to make sure we were in the right place, but no one ever showed. The tour was booked through Viator, and they have already promised us a full refund, so at least there is that. Anyway, we decided we would go on our own beer tour! We had no idea what we were doing, but we just had a beer and walked and bought another when we ran out. We walked around more of Berlin, revisiting some of the areas we had already seen, and then made our way back to the hostel.
We were hungry at this point and decided Bistro Street Food would be a good option for us again. We met some awesome girls from California while we were there. We all hung out for a few hours and talked about our trips. All three of them were teachers – yay! – so we had some good conversation. It was a blast getting to know them, if only we all exchanged information at the end of the night.
Nic and I had another early morning, so by the time we made our way back up to our room, we were ready to zonk out. Onward to Zurich!
Nic’s take –
Nic has no take on Berlin