The next stop on Trip Euro2.0 was Berlin. I didn’t quite know what to expect out of the city other than knowing about its dense historical significance and vibrant modern art scene. My dad visited Berlin back in the early 90’s when he was studying abroad in college, right after the wall came down (what an amazing experience!). He himself chipped off a piece of the wall to take home with him and still has it in his desk drawer, which I think is really cool. To be able to have a piece of history like that in your own fingertips, which represents so much change in the world is amazing.
A lot has changed since he visited 30 years ago, and that’s where my adventure starts…. It was raining when we landed, so we immediately did the best thing you can do when it’s dreary outside and you’ve been traveling for hours: we ventured out to grab a cup of coffee.
Thursday evening in Kreuzberg
Now, I’ve been to Kreuzberg hundreds of times… the one in San Luis Obispo, that is. In Berlin I was visiting the original Kreuzberg, a district in Germany famous for its “alternative” culture and good coffee shops.
All of my wildest German coffee drinking dreams were fulfilled when we went to Hallesches Haus which is a concept shop that sold pastries, delicious coffee, and various other “urban outfitters/thrify” items. Its bohemian atmosphere and lively decorations made me feel like I could sit there for hours and enjoy the space.
Next we headed down the street to the Markthalle Neun, still in the district of Kreuzberg. The market takes place every Thursday evening from 5-10pm, so we got lucky by being there for a Thursday! It was incredible. Free entrance and food stations from all over the world as well as drinks, dessert and ice cream. I forgot that it was even raining out and enjoyed the cozy but chaotic mood and enjoyed some avocado toast with jackfruit and pink hummus. How trendy…
Friday Midmorning Historical Walking Tour
On Friday morning we went on a historical walking tour of Berlin. We had the most lively and informative guide explaining the sights including the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the site of Hitler’s Bunker (which is now the site of an apartment complex parking lot, because according to our guide Berlin didn’t want anyone to recognize sort of meaningful significance in the dark location) Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall, and the Reichstag building.
This building (pictured at the top and bottom of this blog) adorns a clear dome on top that you can see people walking through (it’s symbolically transparent, so that all of the people of the world can view their parliament sessions, it’s free to go up to the dome and see the politics below). Then, the tour stopped for lunch at a traditional German food restaurant and Conner got currywurst and I got a giant pretzel. Yum!
This tour is when I realized how huge the city of Berlin is. I also very much appreciated how the people of the country acknowledge their dark history and do not deny its horrible consequences, but apologize for the wrongness and educate the future people of society on its significance in history as a negative time for the world. Berlin has had so much history take place in its city, and I really enjoyed learning about it firsthand through exploring the preserved sights of the city. It was like being in a time capsule and looking through a window into the past, and the most exciting history lesson I’ve ever had.
Friday Night Clubbing
Berlin is known for its vibrant nightlife. We started out the evening at the Monkey Bar, a rooftop bar near Bikini Berlin and took in the sights of the city from overhead. Then we headed back to the hostel to meet up with some friends who were in the city at the same time.
Wandering around the Alt-Treptow district across the river was insane. There were so many people out you would have thought it was 1pm, instead of 1am. The riverside bars were dazzling to see with their lights reflecting off the water and the drinks were not nearly as expensive as other clubs I have been to in the US and abroad.
Saturday East Side Berlin Wall Museum walk and Badeschiff Beach Bar
On Saturday morning we woke up, grabbed some coffee, and walked the Berlin wall. The artwork was incredible walking along the East Side Gallery, a 1316 meter open art space by 118 artists from 21 countries. It was amazing.
After the walk we still had some time to spare before having to head to the airport for our next destination of Athens, Greece, and it was great sunny weather so we went to the Badeschiff, an outdoor pool in the river with real sand, drinks and snacks. It was ALMOST like being on a real beach… and was a cool experience because I had never been anyplace like it. It was a great way to spend a July Saturday afternoon in the sunshine.
I realize that in two days, we definitely did not have enough time to experience Berlin to the fullest. If we had more time I would have explored the city more and visited more of the historical sights. It was still an amazing trip, and the chance to dip our toes into the culture and history of Germany. I know that I’ll be going back to visit again to see what changes over time in the future.