Berlin: Highlights

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It’s been two months since my wonderful trip to Berlin and yes, I am feeling slightly guilty for not having posted this earlier…

The work/eat/sleep/repeat lifestyle sucked me back in for a while, and then the Easter holidays happened (yay!), I feel alive and inspired again. I was also so, so lucky and managed to experience a whole new country: Japan. I can’t wait to share that with you, it was a truly incredible country. My only regret was having to come home! But first things first…

Berlin Highlights

The low-down:

Your euros can go a long way in Germany’s capital! The majority of my highlights cost us a grand totaly of 0€. Berlin was, shockingly, a very affordable city to visit; I completely over-budgeted and have leftover euros I will have to spend at some point in the future.

There are so many places worth visiting to discover the diverse and rich culture and history of Germany’s capital. After 6 days, there was still so much more to see, but we will have to wait for our next trip. Luckily, Berlin in summer has a completely different vibe, so I look forward to experiencing the city without frozen limbs in February..!

If you still need to catch up on the first post in this series, you may find it here:  Berlin, Berlin!

Brandenburg Gate at night

This photo pretty much speaks for itself. It was a great view! In summer, I believe there is a nice park to explore just behind it.

Recommended duration of visit: 15-30 minutes

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Brandenburg Gate

Look down

Berlin has its fair share of rooftop bars, but on a rainy day, Monkey Bar was a nice way to shelter from the rain/cold while spying on some of the Zoo’s inhabitants below!

Recommended duration of visit: Under 1 hour

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Monkey Bar, view of the Berlin Zoo

Jewish Museum

I highly recommend the Jewish Museum which was nothing short of an experience. The exhibits to the architecture of the building were really powerful and thought-provoking.

Recommended duration of visit: 1-2 hours

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Jewish Museum

Walk, just walk

The public transport in Berlin was really impressive, and we were able to get anywhere by bus, tram, or U-Bahn/S-Bahn so easily. What I really loved though was getting off in a neighbourhood and just exploring.

 

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Berlin streets

The Holocaust Memorial

This is free so there is no excuse not to do it. There is an indoor exhibit underground, below the memorial which has a collection of a range of testimonials and collections from victims and survivors of the Shoah.

Recommended duration of visit: 1 hour

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Holocaust Memorial

Visit the Bundestag

The roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building offer great views of the city. A free audio guide is also included (who doesn’t love a free audio guide?) which lets you brush up on your knowledge of the Reichstag Building and its surroundings, the German Bundestag, the work of Parliament, and the sights you can see as you walk up and around the dome.

Remember to book in advance online to be able to take advantage of this free activity!

Recommended duration of visit: Under 1 hour

berlin1Walk the Berlin Wall memorial

The East Side Gallery is an interesting walk where you can see the open air art ‘gallery,’ but to better comprehend what life was like during this time, The Berlin Wall Memorial, located on Bernauer Strasse, gives a powerful insight into this historic moment. It highlights what this particular street and its residents experienced divided by the Berlin Wall.  It gives visitors an impression of the fortifications on the Eastern side but also the events which took place there. I recommend visiting during the evening which is when we went; the darkness envelopes your surroundings, allowing you to visualise what this street might have looked like not so long ago.

Another interesting exhibition nearby which is worth seeing is the Ghost Stations Exhibition, “Border Stations and Ghost Stations in Divided Berlin,” which can be viewed at Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station. It gives an idea of how the underground transport system worked during the Berlin Wall.

Recommended duration of visit: 1 hour

 

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

One of my colleagues encouraged me to ‘go to the church, which has stained glass everywhere – it is really beautiful to look at.’ Not a lot to go on, but luckily my friend Kam, who I was visiting, knew exactly what my colleague was talking about – the Kaiser Wilhelm, Memorial Church. This Church, was built in 1959-1963 in what was West Berlin, after the original 19th-century church was bombed during WWII. . The damaged spire of the old church remains, which is adjacent to the new-build and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall (which is so beautiful!!). It’s free to enter both and it’s really amazing to see the new and old standing harmoniously together.

Recommended duration of visit: 30 minutes

 

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What are your Berlin highlights? Let me know in the comments!

Robyn

Berlin, Berlin!

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After 5 months of zero travel, it felt strange packing my bags and heading to the airport for February half term to the German capital. A week away was refreshing, and I had missed that sense of adventure, discovering a new city and all it had to offer.

In this post I am going to give an overview of my trip, sharing the best of accommodation, transport, the costs and the wonderful food. Next post: the best places to visit in Berlin.

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Meeting me at the other end was one of my closest friends who I hadn’t seen since our Graduation last July, and also my boyfriend who arrived on a separate flight.

She has been studying in Berlin for the last six months, learning German and exploring Berlin, which I think is very exciting. We were lucky enough to visit restaurants, bars and sites we would never have found had we been traveling on our own – even with our beloved TripAdvisor app.

Accommodation

My boyfriend and I booked an Airbnb apartment for the trip and we were both thrilled with it. At £30 each a night, we had our own flat with full amenities, steps from the tram, in the hip area of Prenzauer Berg in what was part of ‘East Berlin’. We booked this accommodation ourselves but fate happened that we were staying on the very same street as my friend! Albeit, it was a very long street and she was 5 stops away on the tram. Still, this was great as we could co-ordinate meeting up much easier than if we were staying on the other side of the city.

Berlin is not a beautiful city;

it is intriguing, has a profoundly interesting and distressing history, it carries a sense of being liberal and slightly rebellious. It is a city of contrasts and its streets are museums in their own right.

6 days in the city gave us enough time to ‘see’ the sights and also to begin to get a feel for the place. At the start of the week, I decided that Berlin was not for me; grimy, so hipster at times that I couldn’t cope, it even reminded me a bit of Budapest which I enjoyed but was not my favourite city. After a few days it really grew on me though. It is a very livable city.

There are three aspects which we enjoyed most about Berlin; its very affordable, the public transport system is great and possibly the most important thing – the food was so good.

It’s an an affordable city

Aside from the cost of flights, accommodation and a 42€ Berlin transport pass, six days in Berlin only cost 100€ for all food, drink and entry to sites. We were not very thrifty as we ate out every lunchtime and evening. I came back with quite a few euros to spare which hardly ever happens.

Transport

We paid the 42$ for a 6-dy transport pass for all tram, bus, U-Bahn and S-Bahn travel in Berlin. This I would highly recommend as we relied heavily on public transport to get around. The transport was always punctual and even had services which run through the night. Moreover, there are no ticket barriers or staff checking passengers for valid tickets. So different to what I know in the UK. There is a sense of trust that people do not abuse the system, however I am sure that there are those that do. Of course, I could have got away with buying no ticket for the entire trip as I never had to show mine, but it is not worth it as you can be charged a heavy fine. Also, as the transport is of such good quality, its worth buying to ensure that this continues.

Delicious food and drink

The three of us agreed that we did not eat one bad meal all week. We discovered wonderful homemade pizzas for 3.90€ that were so good, we went back to the Pizzeria for more on our final night. We discovered a chic cocktail bar in West Berlin, where you have to ring a doorbell to be let in. Berlin does excellent burgers, as we found at Shisho. Beat the queue and spend an hour at the Monkey Bar in the early afternoon and have a birds-eye view over the Berlin Zoo. Or for a more affordable option, visit Bikini Berlins rooftop view next door for a free showing!

See you next time!