As there haven’t been many posts recently, I would like to explain why.
Firstly, I have been doing some travelling! In the two months, I have been to Berlin, Amsterdam, Riga and Tallinn! In this post, I would love to introduce those of you who haven’t been in Berlin, or those who are thinking of going but haven’t made their mind up. Let me do it for you, book it now!
Berlin made me feel at home. Being born in Tallinn and living in the UK for the last 14 years of my life, its nice to sometimes go home and not hear English. Although Berlin is far from home, I truly felt like I was there. The architecture was incredibly similar as Estonia was occupied by the Nazi’s between 1941-1944, and was also a part of the Soviet union, as was East Germany and East Berlin.
Anyway, we will start at the start of my trip.
I flew from London Stansted to Berlin Schönefeld via Ryanair. The flight was quicker than I had expected. I thought it would take around two hours, give or take to get to Germany. But no, an hour and twenty minutes later, we touched down in Berlin!
My initial thoughts of when we were on our descent, is how green Germany was! The UK is green, of course, but green in the sense of fields and grass. Germany is green in the sense of endless towering trees, fields and everything possible in-between. It felt so nice to see trees everywhere and be swallowed by a sea of green.
The airport was small, and in my opinion, quite unorganized. You were herded into a passport control room, where there weren’t many markings other than ‘EU Passports’ and ‘Other Passports’ to stand in queues for. The majority of the flight were in the queue for EU Passports (which had one person checking them for a queue of around 130 people), and so it was an extremely long wait. Eventually, me and my brother got bored of waiting in the stuffy crowd, and instead went to the ‘Other Passports’ queue, which also accepted EU passports. So, as I said, not very organized at all.
After passport control, we headed over to one of the many points in Berlin where you could pick up the Berlin ‘Welcome Cards’ (which I am so excited to talk about!) I ordered them the night before, and I could pick them up in booths they had around the city, luckily one being in the airport! These cards were an absolute steal. We were in Berlin for just over 48 hours, and so we got the 48-hour card. These cards include discounts for museums and tours, as well as all transport covered. This also included travel to and from the airport for just €23! The Berlin Welcome card honestly saved our lives for our time there, and I highly recommend buying if you go! Although the museums aren’t free, they are discounted by 25%, which is well worth it in the long run.
As we were only there for 48 hours, my brother and I purely looked at attractions, and didn’t go inside any museums (except for the Victory Column, which was €3. So, not expensive at all). Although, someone who would be there for a couple of days, for example, would highly benefit from buying this card, especially for visiting tourist attractions.
Travel in Berlin couldn’t be clearer. Buses, trams, trains and the metro were always clean, easy to understand and ran regularly and on time. We ran into a little trouble with one of our trams being really late, but other than that, we had no trouble getting around the city on time. The train from Schönefeld was quick and easy, and the Berlin Card people in the airport gave us a sheet of all the stops in the city, and so we were on our way!
The train pretty much hit all of the main stops in the city. These included Alexanderplatz, Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Friedrichstraße. We got to see a lot of interesting things on the way into city, as well as orientate our way around Berlin!
On the way to meet my brother’s friend, we stopped off at a few places to look at. We visited the Volksbühne and the market by Landwehrkanal, where we met up with everyone. After looking at some stalls and getting alcohol in a shop nearby (drinking alcohol in the street when you’re allowed feels so good!) we went on to visit part of the Berlin Wall in Friedrichshain. Lots of people were taking pictures of the wall, and as was I. A few were also posing in front of the wall, and I tried, but felt really awkward standing somewhere and smiling in front of a wall where people were separated from their families, and so I quickly stopped.
We wanted to get a boat tour, but were late for the Friday, and decided to go and stop off at the hotel and drop our stuff off before going back out.
We stayed in Motel One in Hauptbahnhof. After the carnage of the morning (my brother and I almost missing our flight because of security, and then the airport trams breaking down) I was ready for this motel to be an absolute nightmare. I thought to myself, if it was bad, it was only one night, and then we would be on our way anyway. How wrong I was! The ‘motel’ was in fact a huge hotel, with massive comfortable beds and huge bathrooms. It came as a little bit of a shock due to all the other stuff happening earlier during the day, but it also came off as a big relief that we could have a good night’s sleep before the incredibly long day ahead of us.
After a quick two hour nap to get our energy back up, my brother and I quickly got ready and left off to go to East Berlin, to meet our friends for dinner. A few of us in the group were vegan / vegetarian, and so we opted to go a place that catered for them. God, I was dreading it. I don’t mind vegetarian food as a lot of it is quorn based and I do like it, but also a lot of restaurants work with tofu. I HATE tofu. I’ve literally never eaten tofu that I have enjoyed. And so, I regretfully went to Sora on Sonntagstraße 26. I looked through the menu, and of course, a lot of tofu. I chose the Bun Nem, which was rice noodles with spring rolls, salad, Vietnamese herbs and fried onions and peanuts. It was incredible.
I have honestly never had such a delicious and filling meal! I also tried some of the tofu my brother had, and it didn’t even taste like tofu! If we had such a good variety of choice for vegan eats in the UK, I wouldn’t hesitate to go vegan / vegetarian. I highly recommend SORA.
We then went on and visited a friend of a friend’s new bar, but I decided to cut the night short, and get all the sleep I could before the next 24 hours of no sleep.
On Saturday, we woke up and decided for our last day that we would try to see as much as we could. We started off at the Reichstag, which was a short five-minute walk from our hotel. We got some pictures, tried to get a ticket to go in (the queues were far too long and would leave us no time to do anything else) and so we then moved onto the Brandenburg gate.
Pariser Platz was extremely busy and had some sort of event or concert on that evening, and so it was hard to get a nice picture of the gate. Nonetheless, we got our pictures and went on.
We then took a five minute walk down to the Soviet War Memorial in Tiergarten, which had a lot of information about the rebuilding of Berlin and the USSR’s influence on East Germany, as well as history about the memorial. It was weird to see things being written in Russian, as enough as it was that Berlin looked a lot like Eastern Europe.
We then walked 20 minutes towards the Victory Column, where we climbed up 281 steps for €3. It was painful and I nearly collapsed from the exercise and the heat, but well worth it for the view. The whole column was a work of art, with paintings and bullet holes and scrapes, painted beautifully with gold. Inside, there are also models of lots of famous landmarks from around the world inside the museum section (before the climb), including the Kremlin in Moscow, the Empire State Building in New York, and the Houses of Parliament in London. I highly recommend going as it is SO beautiful.
My brother and I then opted for a faster mode of transport- Lime scooters. These were so fun and so quick, and so we scootered past the Jewish Memorial, got some pictures, and then to Checkpoint Charlie.
I won’t lie, Checkpoint Charlie was a little bit underwhelming. I feel like I expected more from it, but all it was, was a small booth in the middle of the street with an American flag. I really don’t know what I expected from it, but just more. We also went into the gift shop, which was extortionate of course, and then swiftly left.
We then scootered over to where our friends were staying and got an hours boat ride around the city. We got to see loads of great stuff, like the Museum Island, Humboldt Forum and the City Church.
Later in the night, we went and got drinks and dinner at Zollpackhof. The food was great, the drinks were great, and the night cut short due to a massive storm.
We then ran around central and east Berlin looking for shelter and ended up in some bar until 3AM when my brother and I decided to leave for the airport.
Another thing about Schönefeld, there are no plugs? My brother and I hadn’t charged our phones since noon the day before, and at 3AM we were desperately searching for plugs around the airport. I then got desperate, and asked one of the women in the shops if there was anywhere I could charge my phone. She abruptly said no, and I went on my way. So that’s also something strange to keep in mind, make sure you take a portable charger!
Overall, my 48-hour trip to Berlin was a success! There are a lot of things to see, places to eat, and very easy modes of transport everywhere! Not the cheapest place, but becomes a lot more bearable with a Berlin City Card, and so I would highly recommend getting one as it is incredibly cheap and saves a lot of money on travel, which I promise regardless of what you want to see / do, you’ll be doing of a lot.