Ok, So as promised, If your interested in looking at pictures now, you can check them out on my flickr page here. I will link photos in to the rest of the blog when it is complete. Until then, pictures can be viewed through the link.
Our first day in Berlin was on a beautiful rainy Tuesday. Seems like the crappy weather followed up pretty much the entire trip. Although we did get some fairly decent weather in Munich, we were inside the entire time. So that was a fail. For the most part we wanted to take the day relatively easy. For one, the city is way to big to explore and get the whole thing into 3 days and be able to get all of it, and two, we didn’t want to cram too much in and feel like we were working. Were on holiday, we don’t have to do anything really. Some people miss that premise.
We had spent the first few hours of the day in the commons area of the hostel flipping through their giant brochure wall figuring out what to do and how much we did want to see. I had said the first thing I wanted to do was do the walking tours in the city, but here, their tours were 6 hours long! Can you believe that! They advertised, shorter tours for those that were in a hurry that ran for 3.5 hours. Seriously, I barely have the attention span to take a standard 2 hour tour, I couldn’t imagine a 6 hour one. So that was out. We grabbed a map from the front desk. On it was the layout of the majority of the downtown area of the city along with all its major monuments pointed out. It also offered walking routes of the city as well as metro and bus lines. This eventually became our lifeline to the city.
Our last day at Oktoberfest, we spoke to a guy at a neighboring table and his recommendation was to check out the burgers in Berlin. I did not expect Berlin to be known for their burgers, but who doesn’t like a good burger. So naturally the first thing we decided to do was get that. This brings me to 2 recommendation. If you have a smart phone, download trip advisor and trip advisor city guides. While you have wifi trip advisor is an amazing app giving you reviews by listing, a map view search closest to you, pricing comparisons, etc. Any what trip advisor lacked for each city, the city guide made up for it. Your able to download each city to your phone and use it off-line. that is a huge factor!
So based on the reviews and the top # of places to go and see we chose what to see and what to avoid. First stop, Burgermeister, a tiny little spot nestled underneath the metro line and crammed practically in the middle of an intersection. If this was America, it would be a food truck. It was smaller than most of them we have here. They had table set up outside, half of them were standing only, the others were the same, but the seats were bike locks with padding taped around them. Anything else was either a milk crate, or a soap box, or anything they could put together to sit on really.
Either way it doesn’t matter. These burgers were bomb. Literally and metaphorically, amazing grease bombs. They also had chili cheese fries. One thing that I have noticed while eating all throughout Europe so far is that no matter how much I eat here, I never get full like I would have gotten in the states. The food here really is much better in some aspects. The eggs especially. And this burger.
Oh yeah, About the metro here. It is fairly reliable, there aren’t any turn styles or people checking to make sure you have paid your fair. When we first arrived we bought a 3 day pass for about 24 euro. This allowed us to use any form of public transit for 72 hours. There are two passes you can choose from, the City Tour Card and the Berlin Welcome Card. Here is a link to the Berlin Metro site if your interested in learning more. They both have their benefits, discounts to museums, restaurants, etc. And they both cost about the exact same. So determine which one you want to use.
The city is also broken up in to 3 zones, A, B, and C. A is the majority of the downtown area, B being outlying city area and C, the outskirts and neighboring towns. You can get a pass for 24, 48 and 72 hours for either zones A and B or pay an extra 2 or 3 euro and get C thrown in as well. We wanted to explore outside of the city as well, so we paid the little extra. In the end, I don’t think a single person check our tickets the whole time we were there, so you could easily get away with not having any passes and use the metro at your own risk. If you get caught, I think the ticket is about 40 euro or so. Munich is pretty much the same way.
After burgers we took the metro down to Berlin Flughafen Tempelhof Airport. The originally terminal and grounds were built in the 20’s and is one of the only pre WWII airports in the world. It is also one of the largest buildings ever built (I saw that it was huge, but I didn’t realize it was that big).The main terminal and surrounding buildings were rebuilt by the National Socialist party in the thirties and was, in their eyes, to be the gateway to the center of the world Germania (Wikipedia). Walking around you can see the nazi era architecture throughout the building. Now the airport is a huge park. You can actually go out and walk around on the old runways. It is HUGE. We would have spent more time out relaxing in the park, but it was raining, so we walked to the next station and headed back north.
Next we walked by Checkpoint Charlie, a checkpoint gate in the wall between east and west berlin to the Topography of Terror, a memorial for political prisoners taken and tortured by the Gestapo and the SS. The grounds of the memorial and museum are the former grounds of the SS and Reich security office buildings. Along side the entire length of the Topography of Terror Museum is a section of the original Berlin Wall. From there we walked to Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building. We didn’t go inside though, to do this you need to set up an invitation online for a specific date and time. It is free to do, but you should do it a few days in advanced.
After that we went back to the hostel for a few hours to decide if we wanted to go out to the clubs for the night. We sat and chatted with some guys from Vancouver who also had the same idea. So we partied up with them and headed out to a place called the Q-club. There were all of 4 people in the entire place so we grabbed a cab with some german guys that in the same boat and went to another club called Matrix. This place was packed! They played all of the top 40 hits from the 90’s; like flashback to high school. The only downside to the entire place was the glass. I have never seen so much glass on the floor of any club, it’s like people smashed their drinks on the floor after they were finished with them. Around 3am we were pretty tired and wanted to head home but we had to wait until 4 for the trains start running again. On the way out some kids were hanging out in a pedestrian underpass jamming out. I took a video, but for some reason the sound didn’t come out. Im pretty sad about this. It was pretty cool.