trip report from Berlin

Jul 20th, 2007, 11:35 AM
  #1  
carolinetaylor
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trip report from Berlin

This is a trip report i began a while back but haven't had a chance to finish until now. It is from mine and OH (Ian) trip to Berlin.

Overall impressions of Berlin are a city that is trying to break free from the past whilst not forgetting its past. It is doing a very good job and i have to say i enjoyed it all. Right report

Right arrived at Berlin Schoenfield fairly late, so due to tiredness and plain laziness, took a taxi to the hostel citystay. It was on rosenstrasse, just off alexanderplatz. Now this was right in the centre of old East Berlin, apparently on the street where this hostel was, women made a protest against their men being held during WW2 and secured there release, a small victory. Anyway once we'd dumped our stuff in our room. It was tiny, but had a bed, which was about all you need, we went for a wander. We looked around Alexanderplatz, walked up the main road, (completely in the opposite direction to the main sights as it turned out) found a kebab stall and ordered a kebab, a currywurst and fries. All for under 5 euros! How much of a bargain is that, being used to English prices I was very impressed. Although the food wasn't gourmet cuisine, it was satisfying. Whilst eating we wander around and stumble upon the Hackescher Markt area. First we see a girl dressed up but wearing this knee high white boots. Interesting fashion choice we think...then a bit further on we see another. We had stumbled on the red light area!!! They all wear the same clothes, a type of uniform, white boots, normally trousers and some wear a bustier on top of there clothes, very different to other prostitutes I had seen. (I lived in the Netherlands for a while, so its not as dodgy as that statement sounded!)

After that we head back to the hostel, have a couple of beers in their 24 hour bar. Berliner pilsner, nice...then bed as for some reason, travelling is really tiring even though you spend most of your time sitting around
 
Jul 20th, 2007, 11:36 AM
  #2  
carolinetaylor
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I can't sleep in strange beds so I wake up early and take a shower; the showers were good, although there was no separate area for you to put your clothes. Luckily I was next to the showers so didn't mind wandering back in just a towel. We were going to have breakfast in the hostel, but for the 4 euros, it didn't look overly inviting, so having heard about Berlin's cafe's doing amazing breakfasts we wander outside.

Walking past Alexanderplatz, we stumble upon the Karl Marx statue and park. Being winter it was fairly bare, but you can imagine it being a really nice park in the summer. After looking at the statues around there, we wander down Unter de Linten. We walk past all the big sites in this area, and its a bit of a trek down to brandenburg gate but because of all the beautiful buildings you don't really notice how far you are walking.

Once at Pariser Platz we stand and admire the Brandenburg Gate. It is very difficult to imagine what it would be like with the wall around it. We walk through the gate and there is a band playing to one side, although the only distinguishable word (in any language) is Fussball. Walking past the memorial to those that died in their attempt to cross the wall, you can't help but wonder was it really that desperate in East Berlin? One of those that died attempting to cross, was in early 1989. If only he'd waited just a few more months, then he would have lived.

Now we were at the Reichstag. We joined the queue to go up to the roof and the dome. We'd heard rumours about the queues, although we only waited about 15 minutes, so i gues swe were really lucky. Once through the security gates (similar security to an airport) we get the lift up to the roof, and wow the view is breathtaking. We look around taking pictures of many of the views. They were spectacular. By this point we still haven't had breakfast and are starving so we try to get into the cafe/restaurant on the roof but its closed for breakfast. We walk up the dome and again the views of spectacular. After just looking at the views we take the lift down and decide to head towards potsdamer platz to find something to eat.

To get here we walk past the parlimentary buildings, the British embassy and the Jewish memorial, but we are too hungry to stop. Once at Potsdamer Platz we find a place to eat called Alex. Although its latish (around 11) we still manage to get a buffet breakfast. It was gorgeous, bacon, scrambled eggs, warm bread, cereals, fruit, yoghurt, hams and cheeses. All this, plus a small orange juice for 5.40 euro. We also get a couple of drinks so it comes to about 15 euro for two buffet breakfasts with hot drinks. A lot better then the 8-euro it would have cost for some bread, jam and cereal at the hostel!
 
Jul 20th, 2007, 11:36 AM
  #3  
carolinetaylor
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Feeling suitably stuffed we validated our travel tickets and took the u-bahn over to Checkpoint Charlie to check out the famous crossing. I have to admit I was disappointed, not by the size, just the commercialist feel to the whole site. Okay it’s a tourist trap, but everywhere else I’d seen so far they’d managed to not over commercialise the area. Anyway we’d seen it. We went into the museum, which was, in contrast to the checkpoint, excellent. It was very informative, really showed what life was like during the Cold War. Having found it difficult to visualise what life would have been like, this really helped, seeing some people’s stories and what they went through…well it made it seem so much more real.

From there we went back to Potsdamer Platz, stopped off for a drink at this bar which was part of the film museum and also to look at a sculpture of two bikes in the middle of a pond. I didn’t and still don’t get it…We wandered around the area a bit, looking at all the new buildings, some of the contrasts are indescribable. The city just has history at every turn, old with new, modern with historical.

We then went back to the hostel to freshen up before heading out to this restaurant that was in the lonely planet guidebook. It was a bit of a way out, but eventually we got there and it wasn’t at all what I was expected. It was more of a deli, with two tables at the back. The owner was extremely friendly though, translating the menu for us, word for word. We chose something, I had a pork roulade with potatoes and seasonal veg, Ian took the meat with dumplings and sauerkraut. We both had a couple of drinks and it only cost 25 euro! I never expected it to be so cheap, I was completely shocked. We left 30 and went out. Wandering around the area, can’t remember what it was called, but it’s the up and coming area in Berlin. We stumbled upon a small bar, and this was what I had imagined Berlin to be, small kneipen serving different beers. We ordered a couple before sitting down and enjoying people watching. From there we went back to the hotel and had a couple of drinks….this turned into quite a few, and we were both hungry again, so we went out for a kebab and sat looking at Alexanderplatz, that TV tower certainly is something!! So then its back to the hostel and I’m out like a light.

Woke up early again, had a shower, which kept turning off, still it made me feel so much better. Out again to Alex’ for breakfast, again absolutely fantastic loved it. Whilst on our way we stumble upon a small piece of the Berlin Wall which backdrops onto Potsdamer Platz. It also has some interesting information next to it about what they are going to do with regards to preserving the wall, including a trail which tracks the route of the Wall.

After breakfast we head over to the East side gallery area, and walk along, admiring the murals on the wall. The fact that these are graffittied ruins the effect a bit, but it is still very thought provoking about what people went through at the time. I can vaguely remember the news around the time the Wall came down and this somehow makes it real. Here you can see a small part of no mans land and that truly is one of the most sobering things I have ever seen two walls with a small gap in between. I don’t think its something that I’ll ever truly comprehend.
 
Jul 20th, 2007, 11:36 AM
  #4  
carolinetaylor
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From here we head back over to Gendermarkt, which was a very pretty area and then take the u bahn over to the museum island area. Here we admire the Berliner Dom, taking some photographs before walking around the area. We notice the bullet holes in the buildings here (including in the Dom) which are a reminder of the War. For lunch we stop at an irish pub and I have a cheeseburger and chips, Ian has fish and chips, they are okay but I think after al the walking we are just glad to sit down!!! After a couple of hours of relaxing in the pub we head over to Charlottenburg and take a walk that is in the Lonely Planet guidebook, the highlight of which is most definitely the destroyed church. Going up close you see that it is just a shell, left as a reminder of the damage that was done to the city.

Then its back to the hostel to freshen up, we are really tired so we eat at a steakhouse close to Alexanderplatz. The steak was gorgeous and it only cost 42 euro for us both.
We go to a couple of bars in the area and then bed

Its Sunday and we’ve decided to do a tour around the world war 2 sites. There are quite a few of these around Berlin by various companies we used berlin walking tours but all the company’s seemed to offer the same. Anyway we bought our tickets then grabbed a quick breakfast in McDonalds (there were no other quick options, we only had half an hour!) Disappointed that they had no hash browns but never mind. Any waythe Third Reich Tour was done with Chris and he was a really knowledgable guide. He took us around the city telling us the story of the rise of Nazi Germany and then the war. We visited the resistance museum and whilst this was okay it was Chris that made it all worthwhile, he had such a deep knowledge and answered everyones questions. With him we also visited topgraphie of terror, the jewish war memorial, Gestapo headquarters (now the town hall) He showed us the red marble in one of the u-bahn’s which was taken from Hitlers office. He explained how propoganda was used and also showed us Hitlers bunker, which is now a car park. Although we could have seen these sights alone, having him explain to our group what went on really made it seem more real somehow. Anyhow once the tour was over we headed to Potsdamer Platz for a late lunch at Lindenbrau a microbrewery in Potsdamer platz. Food was excellent, huge portions.

That evening we were so tired we just had a few drinks, a bratwurst and then bed.

Our last day, we had evening flights, so we checked out of the hostel but left our luggage and headed over to the ku’damm. We wandered around the shops for a while before heading to the Story of Berlin. This was a great museum, very interactive and also full of information. Once we were finished here we had some lunch in the 12 Apostoles. This was a great place to eat. The pizza’s were gorgeous. Then we went to the war museum, located in the old American quarter. I can’t remember it’s name but it holds the original checkpoint Charlie. Anyhow it was an okay museum, but didn’t really show us anything new. Still an interesting visit though.

Now its time for us to get our bags from the hostel and head for our flight. We left loads of time to get to the airport though this really wasn’t needed and we got on our Ryanair flight (which left on time) shattered but having thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
 
Jul 20th, 2007, 08:28 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Thanks for your report. we are going to be in Berlin in October and will definately use your trip report as a guide for things to see.
Snowflake25 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 06:26 AM
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Great report! Thanks for posting. I enjoyed reading it.
lucy_d is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 07:40 AM
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Great trip report! We'll be in Berlin next
March. We'll keep a copy of your report. Thanks.
igpjazz is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 01:40 PM
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topping for caroline...
lucy_d is offline  
Nov 6th, 2007, 09:26 AM
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caroline:
Thank you. I printed out the trip report to check it out. I just love those things !!
Flem is offline  
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