(photo above: My Berliner friend Yvonne of www.JustTravelous.com and I in Berlin.)
In 2007 on my second trip to Europe I passed through parts of Germany spending a night in St. Goar in the Rhine Valley and two nights in Munich. My first time to the country it lived up to my expectations and more of lots of pretzels and beer drinking. Partly because I was on a bus tour and of course these were the things they chose to highlight. It was also my first experience with European Christmas Markets and beer in McDonald’s.
I left Germany with a real love for the place, I was even amused by Munich’s glockenspiel. Afterwards I thought about visiting again but had a hundred more countries on my list that I wanted to visit first before returning again. However in the past year I have met a few Berliners on my travels and I read of other friends visiting or moving to Berlin. Each one of them that I talked to got excited when I said I had been to Germany and loved it but then most said “You haven’t seen Germany until you have visited Berlin.” So on my last trip to Europe I decided to visit Berlin.
I hated Berlin.
I loved Berlin.
It did and didn’t live up to its raised expectations that were painted in front of me.
I arrived late at night, not knowing how safe the city was or how easy the trains and underground would be to navigate I took a taxi to my hostel which I had previously been assured would only cost 25 Euros… 42 Euros later…. I made it to my hostel. Hate. (note: I very easily took public transport to get back to the airport.)
I stayed at the Circus Hostel in Berlin. The Circus Hostel is literally one of the best hostels I have stayed in to date. I had a private room with two single beds, my own shower and toilet, kitchen and a wicked balcony with a view of the TV Tower. Love.
The next day I woke up and was not feeling well but headed off to meet my German friend Yvonne for coffee and then she was going to tour me around the city. I must of had a 24-hour bug that I picked up on the plane, I could barely eat my food, I had to leave Yvonne and return home to my hostel to sleep. I slept all day. Berlin was making me angry. (Yes I know my sickness wasn’t Berlin’s fault but I had nothing else to blame.) Hate.
However that night ended my hate and started my love for Berlin. I went to the Berlin Travel Massive that was not even a block from my hostel. I met friends that I had known on twitter for the past few years, people that I had wanted to meet and didn’t even realize were living in Berlin but also got reacquainted with new friends I had met the week before at WTM in London. Love.
Over the next few days with my Berlin Welcome Card in hand I took all modes of transportation possible (almost all free with the Welcome Card), I toured around on a hop on hop off bus, visited the TV Tower, walked along the East Side Gallery, explored the Check Point Charlie Museum, visited too many Christmas Markets eating too much delicious German food, took photos in front of the Brandenburg Gate and took in the Jewish Holocaust monument and under ground bunker museum.Love.
(photo above: The beginning of Berlin’s East Side Gallery, the longest stretch of the remaining portion of the Berlin Wall.)
(photo above: A view of Berlin from the top of the TV Tower. I love the shadow.)
Although it sounds like I did and saw a lot while in Berlin I really felt like I didn’t do enough touristy things / sightseeing because I was spending too much time with my friends who were living there. (not a bad thing though) I went to Adam an American and Alexis a Parisian’s shared birthday party and became great friends with a girl who knows how to shake her booty. I met friends for brunch more than once, I went to Überlin‘s anniversary party and drank pickle backs. I ate late night kebabs and lots of halloumi and went vintage shopping. I rode the underground while being amused with every other person opening and drinking alcohol. Love.
People smoke in the bars, in the underground stations, in their apartments, every where in Berlin. Hate.
In the end the loves outweighed the hate by far. I now need to go back to visit my new friends, party in the clubs, go in search of random underground parties, go on a graffiti tour, visit the abandoned airport and more. Berlin was a delightful city and now I might agree with my friends, you haven’t seen Germany until you have visited Berlin.
If I haven’t convinced you yet to visit then at least visit to buy a bratwurst from a guy like this below. He is his own walking hotdog stand. Brilliant, yet probably heavy / dangerous.
Have you ever been to Berlin before? What did you think of it? Would you go again? Is there a city that you have a love-hate relationship with?
Thanks to Visit Berlin for helping with my trip to its great city. Although Visit Berlin helped me with portions of my trip as usual all views are my own.