I absolutely loved my weekend in Berlin! I have a friend from Rutgers University studying abroad there, so three girls from my program and I went to visit her. She had previously visited me in Budapest earlier in the semester! Flights from Budapest to Berlin are very cheap, which made it an easy trip to plan.
My favorite part about traveling so far is how different everywhere I have been is from each other. Berlin was so unique with its mix of new and old buildings. Also, there was graffiti everywhere, which really made the city stand out. The buildings amazed me. Some looked very contemporary and interesting, there was art everywhere, and some buildings looked very old. There are even some buildings with bullet holes from the war.
I also loved seeing art in every corner. It just made everything so interesting. You could go for a walk and have no idea what you would run into.
I kept another to do list on my phone that we were able to check off as we went. We were able to see the TV Tower, Museum Island, Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie. It was cool to see the TV Tower poking out from most places. We also got to walk around Kreuzberg and Alexander Platz which are really nice areas with cool shops and cafes. There is also a flea market every Sunday which was huge! My friend got some new earrings and a coat and I got some rings. We also saw Two Door Cinema Club on Saturday night, which was SO FUN. They were amazing live.
Of course, the food did not disappoint. Unfortunately, I did not get to try currywurst or schnitzel, but I hope to try schnitzel in Austria! We went to Burgermeister, which was SO STINKING GOOD. Possibly, the best burger I’ve ever had. We also had really good Italian food which was super cheap and great breakfasts, including a buffet brunch. The sausage, beer, and coffee was excellent, as well. I highly recommend The Barn for coffee! Again, follow my food Instagram account (@hungaryforempanadas) for more posts about all the food that myself and my friend, Claire (studying abroad in Buenos Aires), are trying.
The Berlin Wall was really cool to see. We saw the Berlin Wall Memorial and East Side Gallery. I didn’t realize that there were fragments of the wall throughout the city. I have learned about the Berlin Wall so many times in past history classes, but it was so strange to actually be there. It made it seem way more real, and less like a story in a textbook. There is art all over many portions of the wall, so it was cool to walk along.
The Holocaust Memorial was also really interesting. It is apparently supposed to be up for interpretation, so there was only one sign reading “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”. It looks like a field of cylinder blocks and if you walk though, you realize that they are all different sizes and that the ground is different levels.Looking from the outside, the blocks seem to all be the same height. This could represent an “illusion of order” and I feel like it definitely captures a feeling of despair and loneliness. It felt ominous to walk through.
We were able to see the Neue Wache Memorial, which is a place of remembrance and a memorial for the victims of war and tyranny. It is a sculpture of a mother and child in an empty room within the Neue Wache building. There was a plaque at this site that we all found very moving, a couple of us even brought to tears.
This is what I love about Berlin. There is so much to remember, and that is realized. History is not trying to be rewritten. Its history is packed with sadness, but there is a liveliness that prevails throughout the city, especially through its art and music. Berlin was well worth the visit.
Special thank you to Joanna for a great tour of the city!
I will be in Budapest for the next couple of weeks, with the exception of some day trips to cities within Hungary and a trip to Vienna! I have my sister and cousin visiting, followed by a visit from six of my good friends from the States. Stay tuned!