Berlin is filled with so much history. A city that has been through so much and yet, the Germans have not shy’d away from acknowledging what mistakes were made, but have recognised great suffering and horrible events with very unique monuments.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
As you walk through the memorial it sucks you in and you start to feel overwhelmed and particularly small as you get to the centre. You also notice that every single block is unique, slightly smaller, slightly taller, sloping one way or the other, crooked. Different. The artist who designed the memorial never explained why he chose the design that he did, so it is left to your interpretation as you walk through it and feel it.
To me, it felt like walking through a cemetery. You also get the feeling of oppression as the Jews would have felt as you walk through the centre when you stand in the centre.
Soviet Red Army Memorial – where over 2000 soviet soldiers are buried
Jewish Memorial in the Jewish Ghetto
Memorial to the 96 Socialist & Communist Party who opposed Hitler
There is also a Homosexual memorial located in Tiergarten, I didn’t get a photo.
My biggest reality shock when I arrived was the fact that as a city, it didn’t look old. It wasn’t the same as walking through Prague and Vienna where you have hundreds year old buildings, instead, you have a very old city that was destroyed beyond recognition and had to be rebuilt. You now see a city that is relatively modern, but with some historic looking buildings and signs of war still remaining.
Original Parliament House where Hitler became Chancellor – the Socialist & Communist Party Memorial is to the right of this building
Have to get the Brandenburg Gate
One of the Nazi Headquarters, then became Soviet Red Army HQ and now is the Berlin Tax Dept
French Dom Church to the left of the Konzerthaus with the German Dom Church built directly opposite at 1m higher (to out do the French)
Bullet holes still visible in buildings today. They are all through the Jewish Ghetto as well
Berlin is also so much more than the history and the monuments but also the vibe that flows through the city in both the east and west side. The night life in Croitzberg is where you go for good bars, good drinks and good food. I had a great vegetarian burger from Burgermeister outside the Kottbusser Tor U-bhan station, it’s worth a try! Apparently a very good burger joint overall.
As I did in Prague, I did the beer tour in Berlin and it was good! The beers were delicious and you learn a thing or two about the city that you’re in. For example, there is an unwritten rule that when you finish beers you place the bottles next to the rubbish bins or next to buildings on the footpath. This is so the homeless can gather the bottles and take them to certain places and exchange them for money. By placing them on the footpath or next to the bins, it means they don’t have to rummage through the bins to collect them. During our tour we placed our beer bottles that we walked with to our pub next to a fountain, 40 minutes later as we were leaving, the bottles were gone. That’s pretty cool!
This brewery is apparently labelled the as ‘The Oldest Brewery in the World’
As well as loving Berlin, I spent my birthday there too. It was pretty amazing to wake up in Berlin, Germany on my 28th birthday. When one of your best friends joins you in Berlin to celebrate your birthday with you, you know it’s going to be a great one! Spending the day eating, wandering through Tiergarten and enjoying a dinner that your partner (in NZ) organises – pretty awesome!
Adorable bears that are all over Berlin!
Classic Torte Chocolate Cake
Continued birthday celebrations took us on a day trip to Potsdam, about 30minute train ride out of Berlin Ostbanhof station – such a cute little town! A must go! We hired bikes from Potsdam per Pedales and rode through the town. Riding on the right side of the road is very uncomfortable!
Potsdam has it’s own Brandenburg Gate (well a mini version) and another great UNESCO Heritage Site worth checking out!
Biking through main Potsdam park
Sanssouci Palace – UNESCO Heritage Site
Sanssouci gardens – Front
The new palace – so amazing!
Have to make the most of having someone to take photos for you
Our Potsdam visit was cut short due to a sick friend, but it would be somewhere I would go back to and do a bit more walking around the town and learning more about its history.
You can’t visit Berlin and not take time to check out the East Side Gallery. What remains of the Berlin Wall, now a canvas for artists. Here are my favourite picks..
On my last day in Berlin, a day where I was absolutely exhausted after the beer tour and being stuck at a bus stop at 12:30am for 45mins on my own before finally sharing a taxi back with two locals, was go to the Berlin Botanical Gardens. I went there with Carolina, an American friend I met in Prague at the beer tour there (yay travelling + beer!). She has been living in Berlin over six months and hadn’t been either. It was lovely, it was a beautiful day and they have an amazing giant greenhouse!!
A beautiful coy fish pond inside the greenhouse
There was so much more I saw in Berlin, a city I want to go back to and explore more of! Berlin is a great city! One I want to explore a bit more with my partner when we come back. There is so much more to do, but I also took the time and savoured six nights in a hotel to rest and relax before my time in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Porto and Lisbon are all in hostels.