Managed to successfully catch the fast train from Dusseldorf to Berlin yesterday and then catch a local train to my hostel. The hostel is amazing for the low price I paid. It has many social activities every day and even a pool and sauna. The train ride from Dusseldorf to Berlin was over 4 hrs, so despite the dark and drizzle, I went for a wander around the area to stretch my legs after I checked in. The Hostel is just a short walk from the East Side Gallery-part of what remains of the Berlin Wall, that has been turned into an open art Gallery. Artists from all over have left their mark in a street art style, something Berlin is known for, it’s street art. Reminded me alot of Melbourne seeing all the street art on buildings every where around the city. Not much is left of the wall, thankfully.
I went down to the bar for a drink and some dinner as I was starving having not had a proper lunch whilst traveling. Managed to order my meal successfully in German, though the problem was when the waiter responded in German. I could only understand and answer one of the questions. Cover blown xP
1 euro brekky of quark and and apple from the Lidl near the hostel. Backpacker life done right. Caught the train to Brandenburg Gate to meet for another Sandeman’s free walking tour, of Berlin. Learnt about Berlin’s recent, haunting history. Grew up learning and hearing about the world wars, the depression and the Berlin Wall but to hear about it whilst standing in the very sites it happened makes it that much sadder. Got chatting with a mother and daughter from Manchester, UK and another Melbourne girl. We bonded over hot chocolates on the tea break. Saw the famous war memorial dedicated to the millions that lost their lives. Stood over the site where the bunker is buried that Hitler committed suicide in and walked past more beautiful German Christmas Markets. Stood in the middle of the square that the Nazi’s held the book burnings, saw and heard stories of the Berlin Wall. Finished off the walking tour looking in awe at the Berliner Dom.
Of course, after the walking tour, I went back and explored three Christmas markets. Treated myself to more Gluhwein at one market (kept the mug too, I’m trying to collect one from each place I visit in this trip) and a Berliner (Jam donut covered in lots of icing sugar-managed to get it all over my nose and coat) t the massive Alexanderplatz Christmas Market. I wandered along the full length of the East Side Gallery back to my Hostel. I finished off my long day with a swim in the hostel pool. It felt amazing to be back in the pool, swimming up and down, especially with all the time I’ve spent on my feet lately.
Caught the train in again, this time to go to the Reichstag and up the dome. I got in early so went for a wander to the Brandenburg Gates to take more photos. It’s free to go up in the Dome in the Reichstag building, but you need to pre-register for a time slot. You can see views over the city but It was grey and drizzly, leaving everything looking so flat.
I decided it was a good idea to walk to Charlottenburg Platz, to see the palace and Christmas market there. It was not a good idea. I walked through Tiergarten, looked very different to photos I’d seen. It looked like an abandoned place. I imagine in summer its green and full of life and I definitely hope to get back to Berlin one weekend in the summer, as I need a couple more days to see more! The walk to the palace took over an hour and I became rather hangry. Got to the square where the market is to find it wasn’t opening for another couple of hours. A bag of Haribro mixed gummy lollies later and I was on the walk back towards central Berlin. I went around the other side of Tiergarten because I knew there were some sites on my list along that side. I stopped at a photography gallery that features a lot of up and comers, walked past Bikini Berlin, a massive shopping centre and stopped for a wander through yet another Christmas market around the base of a church. I continued walking until I made it to Potsdam Platz, another square with another Christmas market. I will never tire of wandering through these festive places. I stopped by the memorial for the murdered Jewish people. I walked right into the middle and just stood and soaked it all in. Surrounded by these tall, grey concrete blocks, looking up at the sky, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how it felt for the many millions who inhumanly lost their lives.
Berin is a place of old and new. Of beautiful street art and structures. It is a city where everyone is reminded of one of the darkest moments in recent history, but it is also a city of hope. The German people, show every day, that the majority in this world are good and want what is right. They go about proving this each and every day, through their words and actions.
Walking back to the hostel, I came upon the Ritter Sport Chocolate shop. It’s similar to those Lindt stores you see in every other city around the world but stocks this awesome German chocolate instead, with flavours I’d not seen in the supermarkets here before. I couldn’t help myself but go in and buy some, or a lot. Luckily the chocolate was so cheap too.
After almost 8 hours of non stop walking, I made it back to the hostel and felt I definitely deserved another relaxing swim and sweat in the sauna.
On the train to Nuremberg tomorrow. Christmas is almost here!!