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TRIP REPORT: 2 Weeks in Berlin — Autumn, the Wall and eating my way around the world

TRIP REPORT: 2 Weeks in Berlin — Autumn, the Wall and eating my way around the world

Old Jan 10th, 2023, 02:04 AM
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TRIP REPORT: 2 Weeks in Berlin — Autumn, the Wall and eating my way around the world

Hello everybody!

I went to Berlin last year (October-November) and I'm here to share some things about it. I was supposed to stay for a month, but ultimately decided to cut my trip short because, while the city was interesting enough, it was very much still a city, with too much cement, the incessant sound of ambulances and police cars, dirty streets, and the lovely, persistent view of construction sites. After a couple weeks I'd had enough and booked an earlier flight back to Spain.

This will not be a day-by-day trip report, I've forgotten the exact route I did every day, but just some of the highlights, my favourites and least favourites, photos, etc.

About me:
  • 26 years old, female going solo (I know, ignore the username). I chose Berlin because I'm vegan and they say it's the "vegan capital of Europe". It really is, but more on that later.
  • I love history and culture, performances, architecture, museums, parks and nature, etc. I arrived with my mind set on WW2 sites and knew nothing much of the Wall, besides the fact that a wall had existed, but I learnt a lot while there and it turned into one of the topics that interested me most, along with Humboldt, my other newfound obsession.
  • I don’t care for nightlife, street art and I don’t drink. That might sound like blasphemy… I had a couple drunk people tell me I wasn't "experiencing the real Berlin"! However, I do enjoy taking photos at night so sometimes I went out after dark.
  • Dates: 2022, October 24 - November 9th


NOTES ON SPENDING
  • Plane — €99 round trip from Barcelona, I flied Vueling there and EasyJet return. I only had a carry-on school bag with all my stuff, so there were no luggage fees. Since I returned early, I spent an additional €59 for the extra flight.
  • Accommodation — €645 total for 31 nights. I didn't end up sleeping all that time there, but it was pay in advance and I wasn't able to get the money back for checking out early. Oh well. I console myself by saying that I would've spent a lot more money had I stayed in Berlin the full month, anyway.
    • My first week I was at ONE80° Hostel Berlin, next to Alexanderplatz. The hostel room was okay (though I suspect one of the people in the dorm had covid), but the downstairs was always full of people who were hungover lounging everywhere and people smoking at the entrance, so going in and out wasn't pleasant. I didn't love the general Alexanderplatz area and probably wouldn't stay there again. Also the guy at the counter was rude.
    • Generator Berlin Mitte for the second week, in the old Jewish Quarter. It was a very big hostel so quite impersonal, lots of noise until at least midnight because of music in the courtyard, and I had a weird pillow, but the neighbourhood was very nice and people at the desk were friendlier than the other place. Also, every room of 8 people had their own shower + toilet, which was very convenient.
  • Transportation — My original plan was to just walk everywhere but my feet hurt from all the walking and I wasn't able to do long distances, eventually I bought two week-long train passes (36€ each) and used them to go everywhere (a monthly pass may have been cheaper). I did some day trips that weren't included, but most were in the C zone and only 3.60€ or so, except Lübbenau which was more expensive (12€ one way?), but well worth it.
    • I walked an average of 13km a day, my max being 19.8km for the day I tried to go to Peacock Island.
  • Sightseeing:
    • Annual Museum Pass for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin — €25
    • Philharmonie orchestra — €15. I was able to get a fantastic discount for under 30 year olds, marked as U30 when buying tickets.
    • Berlin Unterwelten — €18 for 2h tour “Under the Berlin Wall”
    • Arise Grand Show — €19.80. Many Berlin websites seem to have photos of the view from every seat when buying tickets. I can’t imagine the work that went into taking each of those photos and then uploading them in the right spot. Anyhow, I got the cheapest ticket but found a seat that still offered a good view of the stage, in the second row.
    • Charlottenburg concert — €35. The C tickets were fine, the hall wasn’t big.


View from my hostel room near Alexanderplatz


The street of my hostel in Mitte. It's the street where Humboldt lived, by the way.

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Old Jan 10th, 2023, 03:14 AM
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As mentioned, I'm vegan and was looking forward to doing a food tour of the city. During my planning, I realised Berlin has many international restaurants, so I decided to do a bit of a challenge where I tried to eat something from as many countries as possible. Unless I miscounted, I covered 17 countries.

These were some of my favourites!



There's a chain of Indian restaurants in Berlin called Amrit. I asked an Indian guy in my room whether the food there could be considered a decent representation of Indian cuisine, and he said they were rubbish. BUT, I absolutely loved the food here, what can I say. I went to the one in front of my hostel, along Oranienburger, as well as the one at Potsdamer Platz... twice. They have 4 or 5 vegan options and a heavenly peanut and banana milkshake. All dishes came with rice + a salad. It was sooo good.



The best place in terms of ambience was Restaurant Anastasia, in Friedrichshain. It was like a pub style place with cool red lighting, and the waiter / owner was a friendly man who smiled and laughed the entire time. His kids were running around the restaurant a bit and it was a cozy homey atmosphere.

I found this place just because I was looking to try Uzbek food (I love Uzbekistan). They do general central Asian and Eastern European cuisine and vegan options are limited (unfortunately the Uzbek food wasn't vegan), but I got some Russian tscheburek and Ukrainian borschtsch. I don't know what exactly borschtsch is (photo), but it was delicious and warm. Definitely a memorable highlight of my trip.




Another place that got a repeat visit from me was Vegano Flavors, mostly Turkish. I got to try lots of well-known foods like cig köfte, baba ganoush, fatteh and muhamara. It's a small no-fuss place with great food, what else can I ask for!



For Ethiopian food I went to Langano. I know nothing of Ethiopian food, so everything on the menu was unknown to me, I just randomly picked shiro wat and they bought me this. I was expected to eat with my hands, but I've never done that nor seen it done before (there was nobody else in the restaurant to imitate), and after a few failed attempts I gave up and asked for a knife and fork. Food was interesting and decorations of the place were nice.

I've tried making shiro wat at home because it turns out it's quite easy to make. I went overboard with the chickpea flour though, and the recipe I followed used way too much oil, plus I can't find all the right spaces at the supermarket here in Spain, so it will have to be refined. But I'm defintiely curious to try more Ethiopian food in the future.



I also had Jamaican at YA MAN Caribbean Soulfood. There were like three tables plus the counter, so we three patrons were sitting close together. All of the places on this list seem to be restaurants with repeat customers, and in this case there was also a Jamaican guy talking to the owner of the place. The food is a bit overpriced and expensive, but there isn't much competition for Caribbean restaurants so it remains, by way of its sole existence, one of the best places to try Caribbean food in Berlin! This here was ackee (a Caribbean fruit that's cooked), it tasted a bit like a salty half-cooked omelette but in texture it was very soft, almost runny, and melted in my mouth. Very different from other things I've eaten before.



This place, BESH, is closer to the city center, with typical dishes from the Silk Road. They have salads and things at the counter and you can combine them in different ways to end up with a plate something like this. So I got plov and kofta (though you can't see them well, they're buried a little), with some typical bread, hummus, etc. And jasmine tea and namura for dessert. All of it was fantastic.



And finally, last but not least, Bantabaa Food Dealer specialising in Gambian food. I went to try domoda stew but, upon realising it included kumera (I don't like kumera), I ordered the yassa instead. It was some very satisfying rice with mustard and lots of vegetables and fried plantains. The restaurant ambience was also enjoyable, with Gambian music and decorations around the place.

Those are my top recommendations. I also mention Safran in Kreuzberg as an honorary mention. Their sabzi, the national dish of Iran, was very enjoyable, plus I had some lentil soup and safran rice, and they had a very long menu of many interesting Persian cuisine options. But unfortunately I didn't enjoy walking through the area to get to the restaurant, and that influenced my visit in a negative way.

As for actual German food:



Currywurst, Berlin's most famous street food. There are some places that do vegan versions with fake sausage, such as Curry 61 (it's crowded though). I wasn't overwhelmed by it, but it was fine. It has lots of ketchup.



The vegetable fries seemed to be everywhere. I don't know if it's a German thing, but I tried some too. It's a good way to have a filling meal. This is at Zur Gerichtslaube, I actually just went to see the bolted ceiling.



Typical. There's a store in Hauptbanhof (central station) with a whole lot of pastries and things (vegan options clearly labelled) and you go around with some tongs, filling up a bag with whatever you want and pay at the counter. I found some amazing stuff there.



These drinks are popular in Spain so I've had them plenty times before, but I'm in Germany so I tried a few different ones while there. They're all good.



Hamburger. I still don't know how to eat them properly.

Last edited by Peter_T; Jan 10th, 2023 at 03:21 AM.
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Old Jan 10th, 2023, 10:27 AM
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The vegan food challenge sounds fun (and a little risky, lol). What a great idea. I looked up shiro wat and it sounds good. And so much better than chips and wurst!
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Old Jan 10th, 2023, 05:04 PM
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Fun read, Peter_T! Thanks for including the pictures!
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Old Jan 10th, 2023, 11:24 PM
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Thank you for the comments, Adelaidean and Janeyre!

Adelaidean, it was a little risky, not all the things I tasted were so nice... But I think it was a fun challenge overall and I'll have to continue it wherever I travel to next.
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Old Jan 11th, 2023, 12:29 AM
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General things that surprised me about Berlin:
  • Ambulances. All the time. I am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of Berliners. Granted, I’ve never lived in a capital city before, I don’t know if this is typical, but I don’t remember hearing so many sirens in London or Madrid, nor in Tokyo.
  • Lots of frisky guys. I had three men make comments on my body when I walked past (it was cold, I had a big jacket), one man call me over to sit with him while I was quietly eating sushi at my own table in a restaurant, another guy asked me whether I had a boyfriend, and another guy who wanted to spend the day out and about with me. I did meet one cool guy who I went on a date with, so yay? But it was an unusual amount of attention for just two weeks in a city. This is one of the main reasons why I didn’t like Kreuzberg and didn’t do a repeat visit to the Safran restaurant, it didn’t feel very safe for me alone after dark. Alexanderplatz and Friedrichshain, though less noticeable, also had a bit of a dodgy feel to them.
  • Nature in Germany is beautiful. It was hard to get some peace and quiet in the city, but some of my day trips were gorgeous. The rainy weather and mist also gave a bit of a mysterious and soothing atmosphere to the mornings that I enjoyed.
  • Very cheap blueberries and raspberries!
  • Berlin seems to be in a perpetual state of construction. Everywhere is construction zones. I went to Potsdamer Platz, and a couple days later, when I was passing through again, the square was completely covered in scaffolding.
  • The internet slightly exaggerated the amount of English people speak. Only some spoke English. Granted, much better than in Spain, and sometimes the German signs are self-explanatory, but there were fewer English speakers than I’d expected.
Day 1

My first night, I was awoken by people in the dormitory at 5:40am. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I started getting ready to leave a while after 6, and then headed to the station to start my day. It was still dark when I left, but the sky started to lighten up a little during the train ride.


Arriving at Wannsee station, the sun starting to rise.


My visit was to Wannsee, still within the Berlin AB zone. The goal was to visit three places: Königsweg bridge, Wannsee island and Peacock island. I was worried I would miss the autumn leaves if I left this until later in my trip, but there were still plenty days of orange leaves all over Berlin in late October. (Autumn came very late this year in Spain, in my town autumn proper didn't begin until December, and there are still leaves on the ground now in January.)

Anyway, the forest walk was supposed to be simple. I had a map.

The map was wrong.


I walked along the road for less than an hour, until I did a left turn-off onto a trail. The trail then follows the Berlin-Brandenburg border.

I made it to Königsweg bridge without any problems. This is where one of the most recognisable locations of the series Dark is located: the railway tracks.


Fans of the series will recognise this spot...


The bridge as seen in the series. I sat in the same spot where Bartosz from the series sat. Unfortunately, Bartosz didn’t chose the driest place to sit, so my bottom ended up quite wet.


The real deal!

This was my priority of the day, it was quite exciting, and the sun had properly risen by that point. The best autumn leaves were around this area and the walk was very beautiful from there on.









The problems began after that though. I ended up walking way past my turnoff (I swear there was no turnoff) and all the way through the forest to the next town. There I asked a woman with a baby where we were, and she pointed me the right way towards the river and Wannsee. I don't regret the long way around, it was a nice town with some very cute German houses. I was going to take photos, but it was a very lively place, with every neighbour out in their garden doing things, so I thought it would be a little rude/strange to photograph their homes.


The wall went through here, apparently.


Town church


A nice building.


After leaving the neighbourhood I had to walk along a road for a while before finally crossing the river into Wannsee town. Plenty of leaves around there, too.

I passed through Wannsee, ready to walk through that second forest and to Peacock Island. However, after a while it started to rain. I hid under some trees and made a hat out of leaves to stay dry. I sat there for twenty minutes before ultimately deciding I was too tired for another 2h of walking (I'd already been walking a few hours by that point), and so I abandoned my shelter and returned towards the station.


The leaves around there were less spectacular, though lovely in their own way.


Walking through Wannsee, back to the station


Close to the Yacht Club


Ferries depart towards Kladow

Finally, as I arrived to the station and was daydreaming of the comfortable seats of the train, where I would be able to rest, I ran into another issue. The ticket machine wouldn’t accept my €20 note to pay for a €3 ticket, which was the smallest thing I had to pay with. I went to the counter to buy the ticket instead, but when I took out the cursed €20, the woman crossed her arms and said “nein”. I stared blankly at her, not quite understanding what she was saying—she gave no further explanation—, but when she glared at my money and said “nein” again (with a shrug), I figured she was following the same rules and wasn’t going to accept it, either.

So I found a shop near the station and bought some useless things, finally getting some change and feeding the machine with coins.

Back in the city, I got off at Schlesisches Tor station and crossed another river (so many rivers!) to see the Oberbaumbrücke. It's an old brick bridge.


Oberbaumbrücke

And then I just slowly walked back to my hostel in Alexanderplatz along the East Side Gallery and Karl-Marx-Allee.


There were lots of tourists at the East Side Gallery.






I can't say I was impressed with Berlin's architecture, I didn't find any single building that I stopped to look at, but there's an interesting feel to them all together.




I was impressed by the Alexa Mall though (I went for dinner there). I've only been to one mall before, in Spain, so maybe I'm just being a peasant in a city, but it felt like Harry Potter with the criss-crossing staircases.

That concludes my first day!

I don't have so many details of my other days, I only sent a couple emails to my parents that I can reread. So, with the first day out of the way, I’d like to just talk about some of my favourite sites and activities from here on, later some of my disappointments, and maybe just share some other photos of my trip. Feel free to ask any questions if you’re going to Berlin soon!
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Old Jan 11th, 2023, 11:49 AM
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That looks a stunning autumnal walk. I really like your photos.
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Old Jan 13th, 2023, 03:11 AM
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Today I'll cover all the Wall-related sites I visited. I didn't know much about the wall before my trip (I'm young and naive), but learning more about it was the highlight of my trip.

There are several memorials and museums in Berlin covering this part of the city's history. For one, there is a strip that follows where the wall used to be. I don't know if it follows the whole wall or just bits and pieces, but I came across it in a few places, cutting through parks and streets. I think it's a very visual way to show how the wall really did divide a city. Whenever I saw a piece of the strip, I had to stop and imagine what that place must've looked like not so long ago...


Wall through a park



Apart from just walking around, I took a tour with "Berlin Underworld" (Berliner Unterwelten). As the name implies, they do tours underground, visiting hidden bunkers and tunnels that are otherwise off-limits to visitors. No photos were allowed, so I have nothing to show, but I can't recommend them enough. My "Under the Wall" tour was €18, they also have a tour for WW2 related sites, and a couple others (available in German, English and Spanish, possibly other European languages).

The meeting point was Blochplatz, next to Gesundbrunnen station. It started to rain as soon as I arrived, but we were quickly ushered inside, and they had benches prepared in the first room so we could sit down while the guide pointed at a map and explained some history of the Berlin Wall. The whole tour has quite a few places to sit so it was not tiring, though there was a bit of walking involved. The theme was how people escaped from East Berlin underground, but we passed by some of the war shelters and also stopped along the way just to check out the glow-in-the-dark wall paint. There were lots of zig zag corridors, like a maze, supposed to stop any (horizontal) shockwaves.


DDR watch tower on Erna-Berger-Straße

Essentially, there were three ways people escaped from the East: using the underground train tracks, digging their own tunnel, or the sewers.

That last one wasn’t pleasant to see. They had to wade through the toilet water and then do a bit of diving to get under the gates along the way. This method of escaping was called the “cologne tour”. Later they changed the gates and put sensors so nobody could go through the sewers. The train tracks route was difficult because of the number of guards along the way (and the gruesome traps). But apparently most of the people who escaped this way were the guards themselves, so they took to locking them in rooms during their shifts and they had to do their watch by looking through a little window.



After seeing those two, the guide opened a secret door and we found ourselves in the middle of the Gesundbrunnen train station. We took the train to the second part of the tour, Bernauer Straße, where the wall used to be, and we got to see some of the tunnels that people had built to try and pass under the wall. Most were unsuccessful because it’s hard to hand-dig a tunnel, and there was often flooding, roofs collapsing, police, etc.

They had a "copy" of a tunnel as an example on the ground floor of a pub, so we could look closely at it from the open side section and discuss how one builds such a tunnel. After that, we went throw a narrow corridor and were able to look throw a hole in the ground into a real tunnel that has stood the test of time.

It was a very interesting tour, and I'll definitely take their other tours if I return to Berlin one day!

Model of what the Tränenpalast looked like during DDR days.

Another site I visited was the Palace of Tears (Tränenpalast). It was very close to my hostel, so I was there shortly after they opened, and that was preferable since I had half an hour by myself before the crowds started to arrive. The Palace of Tears is a museum about the Wall located in the old border control of Friedrichstraße train station. They'd cut the train lines that crossed the border from East-West Berlin, but left this line. Friedrichstraße was open to both East and West Berliners, but Easterners had to go through a strict border control first.

The museum tells stories of many people who passed through the station and the Fall of the Wall. They have a video with the same events repeated twice, once being the coverage shown in West Berlin, then the coverage shown in the East, making the propaganda very clear.


Signs from the era that have been retired.


Interior of the museum. Every suitcase was the story of someone different, with their photos, documents, some personal items, and recordings.


Since Friedrichstraße station is still operating, they have some of the border boxes still up, and you can pass through them and see the DDR era signs pointing the way to the tracks.



The Topography of Terror is a museum on the rise and actions of the Nazi Party in Germany, but they have a piece of the wall there out front. Actually, there are a few surviving pieces of the wall around the city, so it's not difficult to find somewhere to see it.

While interesting (there was a lot on how the population was brainwashed, social shaming, people who resisted Nazi rule, etc.), the information could've been presented in a better way. There were only panels with a lot of text and photos, nowhere to sit and lots of people trying to crowd around each panel to read the same bit. Some form of interactivity, differing ways of showing information, more space since it's a known popular site, etc. It wasn't possible to stay there for much more than an hour before I got too tired.

You all know I can be harsh when it comes to museum design though...



The Wall at Topography of Terror.


You get a nice view of Friedrichstraße from Friedrichstraße station. My photo didn't come out great, because of the lighting and also because there were the train tracks and the railing in the way. But I've seen some good photos online from this spot, so photographers can go there if they're interested in some lighting practice.



Finally, I also went to famed Checkpoint Charlie. Honestly, it wasn't worth the detour. I'd only go out there if someone is interested in the museums next to it. It's a very touristy place now.



Last edited by Peter_T; Jan 13th, 2023 at 03:13 AM.
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Old Jan 13th, 2023, 03:53 AM
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Despite my newfound interest in Berlin's history, some my favourite parts of my trip were actually my visits outside of the city! I did several day trips: Wannsee (above), Potsdam, Köpenick, Spandau, Oranienburg and Lübbenau. There were a couple other places on my list (New Venice and Werder, and a second attempt to get to Peacock Island), but I didn’t have the time for them in the end.


View from the interior of the Köpenick palace

I had low expectations for Köpenick, since I thought it would just be a quick visit to their palace and be gone. But I ended up spending a nice day there. The palace was quite charming from the outside, with those manicured circles of garden and a bit of a park.



And the interior of the palace didn't let down either. It's on the smaller side, as far as palaces go, I’m sure, but the audioguide was very thorough and taught me a great deal of fascinating things, be it about rococó or Chinese artistic influences, the trend of making porcelain figurines inspired by Greek mythology, all sorts of things.



They had multiple curious objects in their collection (carpets, shell inlaid chests, chairs), and each seemed to have their own story. Most rooms had decorated ceilings, though in some cases the entire room was the piece of art!



A mirror room, this pink room covered head to toe in plaster figures and shields, a room shrouded in darkness where I could only just make out scenes cut into the wood.


Even the stairs were nice!


Most rooms had ceilings similar to this one.

And the basement had a couple pots and the like that had been excavated from the area from times past, as well as a little prison cell. I think the workers and security guards were surprised I spent so long in the palace, but there were just so many things to stop and look at.


One of the decorated rooms

Köpenick also has a couple nice streets to walk down. Germany seems to have a lot of cobbled streets everywhere, or at least I randomly happened upon many of them. This isn't so common in Spain. I guess in Spain we favoured the dirt roads in the past, and cobbled streets is seen as expensive.


I would've gone out to Köpenick just for the VOC porcelain, honestly.


Kietz street, near the palace

That same evening I went to the opera. The musicians are dressed up in period dresses and the stage was in the palace ballroom, rather than in a proper opera house, so I had the intuition that the quality might be lacking, but it wasn't a problem.

Since I'm a newbie, I decided on this "introduction" to some of the more famous classical music, rather than a 4h opera show. There are plenty performances in theatres around Berlin though, there's always something on, so there are options for those who want to hear the full opera pieces.

I left my hostel at 7pm, after a few hours rest after returning from Köpenick, so I had an hour to get to the palace before the show began. As I soon found out, there are fewer trains at that time of day, and every connection I had to make prolonged my journey considerably. I had to switch trains twice along the way, and by the time I reached Richard-Wagner-Platz train station, I still had a 15min walk to the palace. I ran and made it in ten, arriving a few minutes before the show began.


A cute house

Unfortunately, because I was late and seats weren’t numbered, I got last row (you only pay for the "zone", A-B-C, with the A being close to the front and C in the back). I'd say, if you're buying C zone, try to get there on time! I thought of dragging my chair out into the path a little so I could have a better view—without people’s heads in the way—, but it turned out all the seats of the row were stuck together with a metal bar. It wouldn’t have been very discreet to move the whole thing, so I had to abandon that plan, but the good thing about being in the last row was that there was nobody behind me. I was able to stand up without anyone realising and took a couple photos!



They did Vivaldi and Händel pieces, with some others thrown in there. I say “opera” but there were only three opera pieces, the rest was music only. They did the commentary in German and English, the booklet was in French (no idea why), the opera was in Italian. So all around a very European performance.


In Charlottenburg Palace's Orangerie building


The show as seen from the last row

During the intermission, everyone got up to drink wine in the hall (they always drink wine in the hall), and a bathroom break. At that time, you are able to walk up to the stage and walk around the hall a bit. You don't get entry into the palace main building though.

It was very fun!
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Old Jan 13th, 2023, 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Adelaidean
That looks a stunning autumnal walk. I really like your photos.
Thank you! I'm just an amateur, but I would like to take up photography as a hobby one day. That said, my camera is in Japanese, and it has no English-language option, so I have to learn to read some Japanese before I can play around with the settings too much...
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Old Jan 13th, 2023, 03:49 PM
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You have done some interesting things, I’m noting some sites for future travel.

My father escaped from East Germany (tried to get to West Berlin but was caught and jailed) so I’m keen to see some of those museums related to that era.
I was last in Berlin in ‘86, so the wall was still there.
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Old Jan 13th, 2023, 05:11 PM
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Peter who isn't Peter...you may be young and naive, but your photography is brilliant and you've piqued this jaded traveler's interest in a part of Germany that I have yet to visit, so well done you!
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Old Jan 13th, 2023, 09:07 PM
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wowee.... what a marvelous trip report. your photography is just so good.. totally brillian. I loved looking at them so much. I have never been to Berlin. It was on the list. So very interested in what you have written.
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 07:21 AM
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Station right in front of my hostel. You can see the Synagogue in the back there, but we'll get to that later...

I woke up early on Sunday 6th November. On the first Sunday of every month many museums in Berlin are free, and I had lots of things to see that weren't included in my Museum pass.


View from the Technological Museum rooftop

The first stop was the German Museum of Technology. It’s usually 8€, and I'd seen a really cool photo on the internet when planning my trip, of a plane indoors hanging from the ceiling, and I really wanted to check that out.
I was there with a guy I’d met in my room, he’d just arrived to Berlin the night before and had no plans, so he came along to the museum. Note that you have to reserve a time slot online before going to museums on the first Sunday! We didn’t know this and we were able to do it at the door by scanning the QR code, but for other more popular museums you definitely want to do this in advance. The Pergamon was packed full with a very long queue when we walked past later in the day, and I can’t imagine anyone who hadn’t registered beforehand managed to get in.


Train from South Africa?!

Simply put, the German Museum of Technology was incredible. If anyone is interested in trains, planes or boats (or all three!), I can’t recommend it enough. In fact, if you’re into any sort of technology, this is the place to be. My biggest Berlin regret is not spending enough time here. On a future trip, I will reserve a full day for the museum for a long relaxed visit, stopping to look at everything in detail. Maybe bringing along a sketchbook to draw some things, because it's the sort of place where inspiration strikes if you like to draw / write fiction.


There's a platform where you can see all the trains from above.

We started with the train area. There was a railway turntable outside, and there were retired trains parked in the building. Generally you can't go into them, but you can look inside from the windows, and they have some rooms of sleeper trains set up as they used to look back in the day, which looked like a scene right out of a movie.


Nice old-school carriage. It makes me want to take a long train ride somewhere, just feeling the sun in on my face while I doze off.



As well as the stationed trains, in this area they had some models and a train diorama of an old station. People seemed to stick to the trains though, so I had this to myself, and I went around and around the tables, crouching down to try and get a good view of the miniature world.


Detail of one of the models. It was huge, with lots of little scenes of everyday life.

The museum has models of lighthouses, hot air balloons, old aircrafts, military flying gear, a goldsmith workshop, rooms on metalworking, engines, a section on Covid vaccines, a plane on the terrace, everything. You name it, it’s there.


Goodbye trains, hello boats!


The museum is entertaining for both kids and adults. They have some more kid-focused areas, especially towards the entrance, so there is a bit of shouting down there, but the rest of the place was open enough that every visitor had their own space.



Anyway, there were several floors and I think even a third building. We only saw a couple of the main things. Because my travel companion wasn’t overly interested in the museum, we left after less than a couple hours and moved onto something else. This is why it's important to travel with like-minded people!


Some steampunk looking aircrafts. Though does it count as steampunk if they're real history?

We took the train to Nikolaiviertel, which is Berlin's traditional district. We had to cross a big road but there were no zebra crossings in sight. Thankfully, half of it was cut off due to construction, so we could jaywalk without much concern.
Nikolaiviertel is a very small area though, just a couple streets and little else. There do seem to be a few small artsy museums, but we didn't see any of them. We were there for the church!



This is the photo I saw online...


But there are heaps of them hanging every which way! We definitely got lost in the museum.

Living in Europe, I'm used to seeing some impressive churches and cathedrals, so I took a walk around and was ready to leave. I'm sure Germany has more spectacular churches that I didn't get to see. As always though, the lighting in churches can be quite entrancing and makes for some interesting plays of shadows and brightness.





We ate some currywurst for lunch in a park before parting ways, him going off to visit some German friends, and me going back to the street our hostel was on. The New Synagogue opens to visitors on the first Sunday. I met a Hungarian woman while we were waiting to go in. She didn't speak English, nor I Hungarian, but to my surprise she spoke Spanish! We had a bit of a chat.

There wasn't a queue, but they had the police out front keeping watch and checked bags at the entry, so everyone had to go through the control. Also, no photos were allowed inside. It's sad that even these days the Jewish community still needs to protect its safety...


Nikolaiviertel

It’s called “new” Synagogue, I’m guessing because it was reconstructed, or because there’s an older one, but it dates to before the war. It was mostly destroyed in WW2 so the mini-museum was more about the reconstruction of the building and the architecture, and they've managed to keep the old façade still standing out back. I've never been in a Synagogue before (Spain kicked all the jews out of the country, so there aren't many historical buildings or modern ones to see), making it very interesting for me to visit.



To end the day, I had tickets for the "Arise Grand Show". I'd initially booked this for another day further along my trip, but since I was going to leave Berlin earlier than expected, I contacted them and asked if I could change my dates. They kindly did without any extra cost, but there was only the afternoon show left, rather than the evening show. My ticket didn't work at the machine when I arrived, but the lady at the counter printed out another one for me there. They were very kind to me throughout!



It's a very popular show with thousands of reviews online, and that was confirmed when the theatre was packed full of people, no empty seats. My cheap seat ended up being quite good. I got a good close-up view throughout, both of the main stage and a little stage that was off to the right side, right next to me. The ones in front row got splashed a little during a water dance.


No photos allowed during the performance, only before and after. This is the end where everyone is clapping.

They did acrobatics (trapeze, and that one with the seesaw-swing thing), which were my favourite part of the show, but there was also dancing and singing. There seemed to be a storyline to follow, something about Time reviving the main singer's dead girlfriend, or something. I'm not sure I understood it. And the girlfriend was a prostitute? There were some unexpectedly sexual dances, so the mother with her several kids in the row behind me may have been a little uncomfortable...


The hall where people drink wine during intermission.

They changed their costumes every few minutes, the stage also lifted up in the air sometimes. It had The Greatest Showman vibes, if you've seen that movie (I haven't, but I assume it's like that). Overall, it was entertaining, and nice to see something sitting down after all my running around.



Oh, and I stopped by Brandenburger Tor to see it lit up.

Last edited by Peter_T; Jan 14th, 2023 at 07:28 AM.
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 07:36 AM
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Thank you for everyone's kind words!

Adelaidean, there is another wall museum near Checkpoint Charlie. I didn't go to that one, but you might want to look into it. The underground tour and Palace of Tears are highly recommended though.

Melnq8 and millie2112, thank you for the compliments on my photos I hope you make it out to Berlin some day, and that you see something interesting in my report to do while there. I skipped some of the Berlin "must-sees", but there are so many things to do in the city that you can find a bit of everything.
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 11:26 AM
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Your commentary and photos are great.
I remember reading your ‘train pass’ report from Spain, also really interesting.
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 02:56 PM
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I'm enjoying your report very much, Peter_T. We lived in West Berlin for a couple of years just before the wall came down, so I find your report very interesting. I look forward to visiting again... we went through that station at Friedrichstrasse to enter the east side several times and I'd like to see behind the scenes. The underground tour also sounds fascinating. Checkpoint Charlie museum used to have several artifacts related to escapes but I haven't been there recently.

Adelaidean, if you ever choose to share your father's story, it would be fascinating... but I understand that sometimes things this personal are not what people wish to share.
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 09:24 PM
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Trophywife, I think it’s interesting, but don’t want to hijack this thread.
Briefly, his family came from a village near Wroclaw, and his father conscripted to the war- so when the village had to evacuate as the Russians were advancing, his mum (who’d probably not been more than 20 km from her village) had to pack up 2 children and join the convoy, walking for weeks in the winter of ‘45.
Those that survived, stopped in Saxony. Eventually, my grandfather deserted, and reunited with his family, contact through a Berlin relative, and resettling south of Leipzig. Then the tough immediate post war years, Stalinism, and an increasing number of young people fleeing to the west. West Germany
transmitted radio that my Dad was able to secretly tune into. Desperate to leave, border was guarded so tried via train to Berlin, did not have appropriate papers and was jailed as a warning. Following year (mid 50’s) he had fake papers, and a return ticket. Which he didn’t use.
A few years in West Germany, and a poster advertising work in Australia…and he was off.
Met my mother in the migrant hostel in Adelaide.

She did have a German friend who paid for access to a border farm, the farmer met those prepared to risk escaping at night, walked them partway, then you’re on your own. She was terrified, about 20, I think, in the dark, heard the guards, she was hiding in the forest, but fortunately no dogs. So she was not discovered. Much harder later on.
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Old Jan 15th, 2023, 01:57 PM
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Thank you for sharing that, Adeladean. I grew up hearing about "the Iron Curtain." I think these personal histories are important to keep alive and your dad's story is fascinating.
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Old Jan 16th, 2023, 01:54 AM
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Don't worry about "hijacking" the thread, Adelaidean! Thank you for sharing your father's story (and how your parents met!); as Trophywife007 said, it's fascinating. Visiting museums about the Wall is interesting, but hearing about real people's stories is much more valuable.
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