Third stop! Berlin, Germany. I was pretty excited about visiting this country – I’ve always loved learning about anything World War II & Holocaust related so I figured there would be loads of history to learn on the walking tour (which I would need to prepare for because my ankles were sausages due to the amount of walking I had done in just a week).
And while there was, I was also surprised by how new the city was. It felt more like Chicago then the cute old cities I pictured to be spread across Europe. Our tour guide addressed this by saying nearly 90% of the city had been ruined by the war so the Berlin that we were seeing, was nearly brand new and completely rebuilt in the past 30 years. This completely blew my mind however, also didn’t surprise me.
Even though the majority of the city had a modern feel, there were still some pockets of old, such as the Bradenburg Gate and infamous Berlin Wall. I also appreciated that the city was dotted with memorials, my personal favorite was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Sounds grave, which it is, but it was also very powerful. Designed by Peter Eisenman, there is no formal description of why it is what it is. There have been several interpretations but the one that stuck with me the hardest was the design of the slabs force you to walk in a straight line. You are not able to talk to anyone, making you feel as though you are alone. As you get deeper into the memorial, the slabs get taller, making you feel further from the life you once knew and draining hope that you will make it back, much like what the concentration camps did for those millions of people. The location of the memorial is prime, sitting were the Berlin Wall once crossed and nearly over Hitler’s underground bunker.
Underneath the memorial is the museum – it’s free and a definite must. But leave a couple of hours to go through it – there’s a lot of reading and it is very heavy. Overall, I think you can get through the majority of the city in 2 days but if you are there for an extended period of time, have a picnic in Lustgarten outside of the Berlin Cathedral and spend half of a day at Prater Beer Garden.
Then when you’re ready to leave, turn right out of the main entrance and walk yourself back to the city center. There are a ton of cute boutique shops (I did a bit of unexpected shopping here) and cafes that you will pass along the way!
Food & Drinks
Sights To See
Shoot! I almost forgot my tiny train story! Leaving Amsterdam, my train got cancelled for only God knows why. So I had to sit around the train station waiting for two hours until the next one arrived. Apparently this happens pretty frequently no matter where you are traveling to or from so even though it sucks to get up early, I suggest taking one of the first trains out of the city. This way if something happens like it gets cancelled or delayed, you aren’t arriving in that strange new city late at night because that can be pretty scary (I’m having terrible flashbacks from Marseilles right now).
Another travel tip is for laundry. I quickly realized that laundry machines aren’t really a thing in most European apartments so of course, I resorted to washing my clothes in the sink. By the time I got to Berlin though, I was sick of rinsing, wringing and repeating multiple times so I just started hopping in the shower with my clothes on 😂 Yes, it was a bit ridiculous but the process went so much faster
Follow me on my journey:
Prague, Czech Republic