This post picks up right where I left of in my previous post, which you might not remember, because I got distracted by life and neglected this blog for a while. If you didn’t get a chance to read it yet or need a refresher you can find it here. However, here’s an extremely quick recap: I went to Amsterdam, met a bunch of friends, did fun things, ate good food, and then headed towards Berlin with my good friend Selene.
While still in Amsterdam we found out it was possible to get a free tour of the Reichstag, the only requirement being to sign up beforehand. The Reichstag building is topped by a huge glass dome with 360° views of the city and it is also where the German parliament sits. Visiting slots fill up fairly quickly and when we got to it there were only two available times left… Which is how we ended up being there 08.00 AM in the morning! Despite it being grey and rainy, we still had an amazing view of the city. All visitors get a free audio guide so I would highly recommend going in the beginning of your trip, because it definitely helped us decide which places to explore during our time there.
Around an hour later we were back with solid ground beneath our feet. Just across the street from the Reichstag is Tiergarten, an enormous garden in the middle of Berlin. In its centre is the Victory Column, a tall and golden monument celebrating one war or another. What may have seemed like aimless wandering by an outsider was actually a calculated zig-zag aimed at letting us see as many parts of the garden as possible. Not that we met many other visitors, because what had started as a gentle sprinkling of rain eventually turned into downpour.
The weather is no match for two determined souls however, and after a hot cup of peppermint tea we headed towards Schloß Charlottenburg. Once we realized the palace was not at the Charlottenburg S-Bahn stop, it became much easier to find. Well there we explored the grounds finding many birds, a very old tree, and a couple cute dogs. At this point in the day we had been doing a lot of walking and very little eating. So on our way home we stopped for a typical Berlin snack – currywurst. Something we would only recommend if you really like ketchup.
All that intense sightseeing might have influenced the following day’s lazy morning. But when on vacation it is OK – even encouraged – to start the day at whichever pace you want. We had our breakfast at Roamers, a cozy and hip little place a few blocks away from where we stayed. From there we walked to the East Side Gallery, which is a stretch of the Berlin Wall covered in art and a memorial for freedom. Despite droves of tourists it was a powerful experience. We wanted a little bit more of the history so headed to the open-air Berlin Wall Memorial which I would highly recommend anyone to do. It is hard to describe the feeling of slowly realizing just how recently the wall fell, the incredible impact it had on people’s life, and that there are situations similar to this still today.
Our last day in Berlin was even more lazy than the last. Perhaps it was the grey skies or maybe the many kilometers we had walked over the past five days, but we did not leave the house until we were hungry for lunch. Lucky for us, Stella was not too many blocks away, and since everything is already prepared we got our food quickly. Full and content we set out to explore more of Neukölln, the neighbourhood we lived in. We walked along Weserstraße, a street that is full of bars and activity in the evening but not so much during the day. This was how we stumbled upon the adorable café Two and Two, a unique combination of a French café and Japanese stationary store. I had the most heavenly chocolate cake there (it seriously almost made me tear up) so I would sincerely recommend going there.
Reading this post it might seem as we did not do much while in Berlin and truth to be told we spent a lot of time just wandering around. But the thing with long-distance friendships is that while we are able to easily keep in touch through social media and such, being together face-to-face is an entirely different experience. I am one of those people lucky (and in a sense unlucky) to have my friends scattered across the world. When I finally get to see my friends in person we make time to have all those conversations you’ve missed in the past months or years – those you don’t have through texting or chatting. It was such a treat to get together with Selene after such a long time and I can’t wait to see where our next adventure will be.
Since I grew up in Europe and have visited all these cities previously, this trip was really about spending time together with people I love and don’t see very often. In fact, I had a whole group of friends waiting for me at my next destination. Waving goodbye to Berlin and Selene, I packed my bag and was on my way to Vienna!