So this is my new entry for my most recent trip to Berlin, Germany for a week; 26th October to 2nd November 2012. The weather was more or less pretty cold and one day of rain. Overall I loved the city, much better than London! Easy to get around, not too busy and cheap! Would definatley go again!
So I will post my entry in trip report format, it will be the same as what I posted on TripAdvisor.
Day One: Friday 26th October.
I arrived at Schonefeld airport at around 10am from the UK. I followed the directions to the train station and got the RE4 to Friedrichstrasse. The train station is really easy to find, turn left coming out of the airport and follow the covered walk way and your there! From Friedrichstrasse I made my way to the hostel I'm staying at which is City Hostel Berlin. It's very nice, clean and the staff so far seem very pleasant and happy to answer any questions. Anyway I left my case in the luggage room at the hostel as check in wasn't untill 3pm. I walked the short walk to Brandenburg Gate, which is pretty impressive.
I had a reservation to visit the Dome Of The Reichstag at 2.45pm and was early so decided I would try my first CurryWurst, which smelt amazing and looked it too! I bought one from one of the stands on Unter Den Linded near the Brandenburg Gate. To be honest I was a little disappointed the texture of the sausage was very different to what I am used to, it was nice but I couldn't eat it all.
After this I walked down to the Murdered Jews Of Europe Memorial and walked around it for a while. Walking through the massive grey columns gave you a feel of how the Jews felt; closed in, sorrounded. I then queued up to go down to the Documentation Centre, in where if you read every bit of information you could spend well over an hour here, but I had to get to the Dome so spent around 40 minutes reading the timeline and reading bits of information in the other rooms. There was also a audio room where you could listen to stories about people in the holocaust and war times. The place is very quiet and well laid out. you have to go through security to get in. It is free of charge however there is a donation box.
It was now half an hour before I had to be at the Reichstag so made the short 5 minute walk over to it. The entrance for visitors is just down the side of the building, and you enter a small white building where you go through security before waiting outside to be escorted up to the Dome. Once in the main building we went up in a mirrored lift which gave the visual effect of the lift being enormous! I entered the Dome, the architecture being amazing, I walked slowly up the spiralling slope getting great views over Berlin including the Berliner Dom, the Fernsehturm and the River Spree. There were also some cranes which ruined the view slightly. Be advised if you are uneasy about heights do not look down, I made this mistake and felt as if I was about to fall. Once at the top you can look out onto the open sky.
After the Dome it was around 3pm so I went and checked into my hostel, unpacked my things and made myself comfortable. around 3.30pm I made my way over to the Eastside Gallery getting the train to Ostbahnhoff. The Eastside Gallery is literally just across the road from the station, you will see it as you come out. I'm not really into art or galleries but this was really impressive. The artwork was bright, some humorous, some more with a stroy behind them. I walked down the wall taking photos and gazing at the amazing pieces of the wall. I would reccommend this for anyone in Berlin, great way to spend an hour or so. After this it was time for me to go back to the hostel after a long tiring day of travelling I just wanted to get an early night. So I walked back to the station and grabbed a quick McDonalds before making my way back.
Overall a fantastic first day in Berlin!
Saturday 27th October, Day 2.
This morning I awoke around 9pm and got ready to go down for breakfast. Considering I only paid 10euro a night for the hostel the breakfast was quite impressive and of good qaulity. I had a freshly warmed roll with cheese and ham and orange juice, there was plenty more to choose from too. After this it was time to make my way to Starbucks near the Brandenburg gate as this was the meeting point for my booked tour of Sachesenhausen Concentration camp. Whilst waiting I bought a hot chocolate from Starbucks and a sandwich from the shop next door (Can't remember it's name) for later in the day, as food isn't availble at the camp and the tour goes on most of the day. The sandwich was very nice. Anyway our tour guide was James, he was very nice, helpful and full of the relative facts. Great guide. The tour company was New Europe, which I highly reccommend from this experiance. The tour itself was very interesting and very in depth at what happend at Sachsenhausen, you can walk round some of the original buildings viewing exhibits and such. It was very interesting and gave you a strange feeling being there knowing what had happened on the spot where you are standing. I feel I came away with a good understanding and better views. It's really hard to explain, you have to visit to understand what I mean. It's also upestting looking at some of the pictures in the exhibits. I would reccommend this tour, it was a 'good' day out, meaning good for learning and really trying to understand this awful part of history.
After Sachsenhausen I decided I would visit the Berlin Gruselkabinett (Berlin Chamber Of Horrors), I'd read mixed reviews on this and half expected to be disappointed, I only visited as I do like the quirkier, weird things and also wanted to be a little less serious and become a bit mroe cheerful after my day at Sachsenhausen. I was quite disappointed, they have a maze upstairs where people jump out at you which would be fun if you were with others, they also have a exhibit to medical history, however this is small and the models are plastic, in the basement there is a exhibit about the war which isn't too bad but not great. The whole place is set in a old war bunker, the bunker itself is pretty creepy and does have an atmosphere to it. Overall I found it tacky and cheap, it would be a fun way to spend a few hours with children but not really for adults travelling alone. I reccommend visiting here with children, if not then I wouldn't visit.
I also bought the Berlin 5 day Welcome Card, and had a rather rude encounter with a man at the BVG office in the Friedrichstrasse station, he called me a 'wrong woman' because I had asked for the book and map that goes with the card which you don't get straight away if you buy it at the ticket booth in the train station, apparently I was asking at the wrong place although he did give them too me. After Gruselkabinett I decided to head back to the hostel, on the way I grabbed a burger and some fries (I will eat at restaurants later in the week, just needed something quick these past two days)
So again a great, learning filled day in Berlin.
Sunday 28th October, Day 3.
This morning I awoke around 8.30pm and got ready for a long day by eating at the hostel and leaving for Mauerpark flea market around 10am. I arrived at the flea market on Bernauer strasse around 10.30am and it was exactly what it says; a flea market selling second hand goods, not like markets I know back in England where most of them are new stalls with high prices, this was low priced, nobody pressurising you to buy anything, so was comfortable at going around at my own pace, I didn't buy anything here but did see some good bargains, you could possibly spend the whole morning here, I didn't as I had a booked tour of Spreepark so left around 11.30am (a good job I did as I underestimated how long it would take me to get there) Anyway I got the train to S Planterwald, and coming out of the station you continue in the same direction till you get to a main road here you cross and continue down the road in the same direction your already going, around 5mins later I reached the entrance to a wooded area (Treptower park?) At the entrance there was a small white box with Spreepark labelled on it, which meant I was headed in the right direction, following the main path around 5mins later I reached the entrance, a elephant missing it's trunk, a train ready to depart for a tour and a cafe where I waited for Christopher the tour guide. The tour itself was German only, but I didn't mind as just wanted to look around and take some photos, there was around 50 people on the tour so felt comfortable not speaking German. It was 15Euro which is a fair price I think, but could probably be lower. The park itself is very atmospheric; manmade fun being completely overtaken by nature, you are free to take photos and explore the rides as you want. It was very cold and as the tour lasted around 2 hours by the end I was ready to leave, but very glad I did it. I'd reccommend this to anyone into nature, photography, quirky atmospheric, calm places.
After Spreepark I caught the train back to Brandenburger tour, where I ate some German Fries from one of the little booths situated on Unter Den Linden, after this I crossed the street and entered Madame Tussauds, I'd read mixed reviews on this and was expecting to only spend around 20mins there, however I was pleasantly surprised, the attraction itself is medium sized with intereactive exhibits and oppurtunity's to have your photo taken proffesionally in a fun environment. The figures were very life like the first few I thought were real people, until I became used to seeing them. I bought two photos at the end for 13Euro which I didn't mind as I had a discount via the welcome card, and the photos were great qaulity and souvenir.
After Madame Tussauds I caight the bus to Alexanderplatz, where I enterted the TV Tower (Fernsehturm) I waited in line for my ticket and they said approx 1hr20min wait, probably because it was a busy time 7pm. So I went and found somewhere to eat, I was in a rush as I didn't want to miss my entry time so got a mcdonalds, located in a shopping centre opposite the tower. I gained entry to the tower around 20mins earlier than expected. Going up the lift, the digital screen counts how many feet you are going up, untill you reach the top 203metres. The views over Berlin are spectacular, you couldn't see much in terms of landmarks as it was dark, but seeing the city lit up, it also gives you an incredible idea of how big the city actually is.
After the TV tower, I headed back to the hostel to get some more money as I wanted to go check out Checkpoint Charlie museum seeing as it was still quite early and I probably wouldn't have time to do this on any of my other days. From my hostel it is approx a 5 min walk to checkpoint charlie. Once there a very nice tourist took my picture and then I entered the museum, at first glance it looks pretty overwhelming, bits of inofrmation dotted everywhere, but you sson get the hang off how things worked, and to my surprise I really enjoyed it, coming from someone who isn't into museums. I really liked the escapee stories the best, and the story about Wallenburg, all in all it was very informative, quite easy to understand and reasonably priced given the discount. Again this I would reccommend to gain some understanding of Berlin and Germany's past.
So far my view on Berlin is a vey laid back, easy going City, which is good, I definately prefer Berlin to London already, let's see what the rest of the week brings! After checkpoint charlie I have now returned to the hostel and look forward to yet another very full day ahead tomorrow.
Monday 29th October, Day 4.
Today I had another ealry start, I got up around 8.45am and had breakfast before walking the 2min walk to the U bahn station and getting the train to Alexanderplatz where I entered the Alexa centre and visited the Loxx Miniatur Welten attraction, which is located on the top floor. The attraction itself was just as I was expecting, amazing and full of detail. It is quite big, and has all the main Berlin landmarks such as Brandenburg Gate, and the TV Tower. The detail was amazing including even having the shops in their exact places and setting scenarios in the street which you would see in everyday life such as fire engines and car crashes, even the trains where extremely detailed, with people on them and the double decker RE trains where also circulating the tracks there. The airport had planes taking off and landing and the airport itself had great detail. This would be a very fun way to spend a morning or afternoon with a family or friends. The price to get in 8 euro (discounted with the welcome card) was good for the attraction. It looked as though they were expanding it, building more, which should be good when finished. Overall I really enjoyed it and would reccommend it to anyone. I spent a little over 40mins here and would be easy to spend even longer especially in the company of other people.
After Loxx, I then caught the train and a tram to Hegmeisterweg where I visited Modellpark Berlin, looking at the directions I thought it would be extremely difficult to find but it was pretty easy, and plus this attraction doesn't exist on tripadvisor yet so hadn't been able to read any reviews. Once getting of the tram there was a large white sign post with Modellpark Berlin on, so you know your headed in the right direction, after the sign post it's about a ´5-10 min walk down the main path of the park it's set in. Once there, there is another sign telling you that your there. It was only 4 euro so was really goodly priced. However it was pretty empty, as expected as it isn't advertised on the tourist sites like this, only a few german speaking people only. It's a pretty small attraction, but with space to develop. The models themselves where amazing detail and had absolutly everything down to the last detail, they are fairly big in size, so easy to observe. Some of the models include The Reichstag, a famous fairground and some buildings of palaces and mansions from around the Berlin area. I enjoyed it here and would love to hear of other Berlin tourists visiting aswell, it is a long train ride but if visiting with a family or friends or even alone I think it's worth it.
After Modellpark I then caught the train back which was a rather long journey including waiting times to the Kurfurstendamm where I visited The Story of Berlin museum, overall a very informative, easy to understand timeline of over 800 years of Berlin history including the reign of King Fredrick, the milestones of Berlin including when monuments and landmarks were erected and even when the first cinemas and tourist attractions where founded. Included in the price you can go on a bunker tour which is really good. The tour lasts around half an hour and is located just outside the story of berlin building. You enter the bunker which is pretty dark ann eerie. The original bunker beds are still there which gives you an idea of how it was set out.
After the story of berlin I did want to go and have a look at the Topography of Terror however it was 5 o clock and the Topography closes at 6 so hopefully I will have time to visit there tomorrow. So instead I headed back towards my hostel and took a walk down Friedrichstrasse looking for somewhere to eat, along the way I passed by checkpoint charlie and paid 1euro20 to have a photo taken with the gaurd holding the american flag however after the photo was taken he asked for my number and if I could come back at 7pm, I felt pretty uncomfortable and just quickly put my number in his phone with an added 0 so it would come up with wrong number, it was really awkward I only wanted my photo taken and as I walked away he grabbed my arm and said 7 o clock here, I finish. I quickly walked off and found a small Italian restaurant on a little sqaure at the bottom of Friedrichstrasse, I ordered a Pollo di Lasagne, the food itself wasn't too bad, but I wouldn't reccommend it unless your looking for somewhere cheap and are with a bigger group, I felt quite uncomfortable sat alone, however all in all the bill only came to 9 euro for the lasange and a drink. After the meal I caught the U6 back to the hostel to avoid having to walk past checkpoint charlie and risk bumping into the soldier\gaurd again.
So again another great day! My trip is passing to fast only 3 more days left ;(
Tuesday 30th October, Day 5
This morning I was very tired, probably the busy days in the city are finally catching up with me, I didn't get up untill around 9am, I had breakfast at the hostel and then left for a busy day of shopping.
First off all I headed to the Kurfurstendamm, where I had to buy an umbrella as it was raining for the first time since I have been here. I strolled up the Ku'damm taking in the busy city sites and looking round shops such as H&M and other more German fashion stores. I walked around the Europa centre which isn't that great, just a few cheap fashion shops and an Irish pub. After here I walked down Tauenzentstrasse (spelt wrong I think sorry!) and entered the famous KaDeWe, full of expensive, out of my league shops, I went to the top floor to the food hall and coming from a person not that interested in food I found it amazing! The layout, the various types of food, just incredible. Here I spent around 12 euro on chocolate as gifts for friends and family. After the KaDeWe I walked back down the strasse and had a browse round Bershka which is just my kind of shop, I found it pretty similiar to New Look in the UK. I bought a few items from here before continuing on my shopping spree. The next destination being Harry Lehmann, I'd read about this online and new I'd love it! Situated on Kantstrasse, it's a small perfume shop, although it doesn't sell your average high street perfumes more tradtional, home-made styles. After only a couple of squirts from one of the testers the smell was incredibly strong unlike some high street brands where you have to spray a considerable amount and the prices here were great too, averaging from around 5-10euro for a small bottle which is bargain price considering how strong it is. I bought two bottles for 18euro and very happy that I visited here! After here I headed back towards where I was staying and entered the famous Fassbender and Rausch on Charlottenstrasse\Gendarmenmarkt, again another absolutly incredible shop! With chocolate models of famous landmarks such as Brandenburg gate and the Reichstag. Massive amount of choice between chocolates. They also have a cafe\restaurant upstairs where I purchased a hot chocolate and gold leafed mousee which was also great! I spent around 6 euro on chocolates here considering I'd already bought from the KaDeWe.
After fassbender and rausch I walked down Friedrichstrasse to the The Topogrpahy Of Terror, a timeline of the war and battle of the Jews\Homosexuals\Gypsies ect. Overall easy to understand and gives you a good understanding of the lead up to concentration camps and deportations ect. I also entered the inside part which was basically the same as the outside timeline just in more detail, I spent just over an hour at the whole thing and feel that was enough for me to get a basic understanding, if you were to read every last bit of information you could easily spend a day here but too get a understanding that is not needed.
After the topography I walked up Friedrichstrasse and went into one of the many souvenir shops, I love these! Overpriced but fun! I spent around 20euro on two souvenirs for myself a present for my dad and one for my mum, I still have gifts to buy. I then continued up Friedrichstrasse and purchased a cheeseburger as I wasn't that hungry tonight from a street stall called City Snacks, and I can tell you it was amazing! The best buger I've tasted in ages and all for just 2euro! I don't really like burgers all that much but this was great!
After this I returned to the hostel in hope of an early night to restore some energy for my final days in Berlin. Not long left now, it's gone so fast, I could easily stay here another week!
Wednesday 31st October, Day 6.
Today I awoke quite late around 9pm and still tired! I think the city is finally wearing me down! Anyway after breakfast at the hostel I departed for a slow, chilled out morning and headed towards Potsdamer Platz, the platz itself wasnt as spectacular as Id read about, however it was still pretty cool. I also took a trip up the PanoramaPunkt, a very high tower and you get similiar views as from the TV tower and for half the price! It was interesting to see views over Berlin in daylight as when I had gone up the TV Tower it was night. Also the PanaramaPunkt has a exhibition all the way round the walkway, I didnt stop to read it, but it was to do with the history of Potsdamer Platz and the very local area.
After the tower I headed towards Georgenstrasse where there is a small exhibition just outside Friedrichstrasse station called Death Trains, Life Trains or something along those lines, it was reccommended by Lynda, a user of this forum and I am glad she did, it was about trains that took children to England to survive the holocaust ect eventhough they survived some of them were still negelected but the point that they survived is a happy story from a city with so much sadness surrounding it.
After this I walked down Georgenstrasse and ate lunch at Da Vincis a brilliant, good rate Italian restaurant also suggested by Lynda! The food was very nice, goodly priced and you got quite a large portion too!
After lunch I headed for Hohenschonhausen Prison Memorial for the English tour at 2.30pm, after getting of the tram I walked down Bahnhoff strasse before reaching Genslerstrasse where the prison is located. The tour itself lasted just over an hour, for 5 euro it was fairly priced although I was expecting a little more, maybe more in depth, more stories ect. Our tour guide was German and kept struggling for words making it pretty hard to follow, he was also saying some words in German for the German people on the tour who really should have gone with the German tour. It was still interesting and I would still reccommend it but I would of liked more detail and more stories from prisoners themselves.
After Hohenschonhausen I headed back towards the hostel and walked down Friedrichstrasse where I purchased some more gifts for friends and family. I also ate at McDonalds again tonight. Im just not that into food and find it easier to eat where it is busy and also in a place I know and can order in English, also I feel pretty uncomfortable eating alone in restaurants if I was here with other people I wouldnt mind.
Anyway after that I returned to the hostel for an early night so I can make as much out of my last day here in Berlin tomorrow.
Thursday 1st November, Day 7.
Sorry that this post is a day late, I had a pretty long, last day in Berlin yesterday but now I am back in the UK I will post yesterdays posts and get onto writing individual reviews on TripAdvisor for each thing I visited, I also now have plenty of time to answer any questions and would love to do so.
So yesterday I awoke pretty early so I could make the most of my last day in Berlin, however I was also really tired after my past days in the City, I ate at the hostel and left for Berlin Zoological Gardens around 9.45am. It was pretty dull and grey and rained quite heavily throughout most of the day, I suppose it represented the way I was feeling about leaving Berlin. Zoo's are normally not that interesting and a place you visit as a child or with children for a day out, I wasn't expecting to be amazed or excited here, but thought I'd take a look around and see what this world famous zoo was about. I can tell you it was really amazing! By far a special highlight from my trip, I am an animal lover but never really been interested in zoos or farms as I went to them alot as a kid. The zoo is really big and you could spend a whole day here looking at the diverse species of animals, 90 percent of which I'd never even heard of before nevermind seen! They have an aqaurium here also but you need to pay a little extra for this, they also have a nocturnal exhibit which was really nice, also the exhibits for the animals were pretty clean and well suited to their individual, natural habitats for example the mountain deers were place in a exhibit with a large rocky mountain, the large cats i.e lions, tigers ect had forested exhibits with a vast water supply, so it was really nicely well-kept and you could see that the animals were well cared for as despite the weather the zoo keepers were still tending to the animals cages.After spending around 3 hours or so walking around the zoo I decided to eat lunch in the restaurant, I had fish & chips and it was decently priced and was of nice qaulity.
After this I had pretty much had enough trodding around in the wet so headed for the Judsiches or Jewish museum, this was not in my oignial itinerary but decided I really wanted to go. The building stands out from any other in Berlin, it is a silver/grey weird shaped building (representative of a shattered Star of David) with almost no windows. On entering the building you have to go through security much like with many other museums and places in Berlin, I placed my bag on the conveyor belt as usual however when I walked through the detector it started beeping and I remembered I had something in my pockets, that something being a little pot of Leberwurst or Liver Sausage that I had taken from the hostel that morning as a present for my dog back at home (sad I know), and still hadn't had chance to put it in my bag so the man on security made a joke about saving it for his dinner, pretty embarassing for some reason though haha.
The museum was really interesting, pretty small in contrast but good qaulity information, you can view property here that belonged to Jews and also small items which people had with them in concentration camps, seeing these items made it feel much more real and hit home a little of how horrific the holocaust really was, although we will never really understand, not like the victims anyway. You can also enter the holocaust tower which is a small empty tower with no windows, cold and dark and you get a real feeling of insecurity as people emerge from the shadows and also claustrophobia which I feel is representative of how the victims of the holocaust felt, but people have different views also. There is also a main exhibit about the complete history of Jews and how they was hated and murdered way back in the early centuries which was interesting for me as I didn't know this, but why were they hated so much? That question still lays unaswered for me. There is also a Garden Of Exile which you can walk around, it's layed out similiar to The Murdered Jews of Europe Memorial, however the columns are larger and in a much smaller space. I would reccommend visiting here, I was finished within about 1.5 hours and had read almost everything excpet for parts of the permanent exhibit about Jewish history. It is really interesting and reading some personal stories and seeing possessions makes it feel even more like it really did happen. Sad, but interesting.
After the Judsiches museum I headed towardsAlexanderplatz where I walked to the Berliner Dom, weird as I don't normally have interest in churches or cathedrals or anything of that matter but there was something intriguing about this place, making me want to visit, I still don't know what it is, but I am glad I went. The main room is pretty spectacular, traditional and really big, when you think of the amount of work it took to get the details and such. I also entered the crypt which is a calm but eerie atmosphere also of sadness although the people here died hundreds of years ago it still sad to see, especially the small coffins which hold babies and young children. One question I would like to know would be that are the bones of the people within these coffins or are they just memorials? fter the Crypt I headed up to the Dome walkway of the Dom, loads and loads of steps, really tiring and spiralling thin staircases, quite scary, especially if you look down! And as it was wet outside the stairs were quite slippery! During my visit I have been up the TV Tower and the PanoramaPunkt but this was different as you have to walk the entire height of the building to get to the viewing platform which makes you appreciate it more once you get to the top. On the walkway it was still raining and the walkway itself was incredibly thin! I am glad I went up though as it was a foggy day and this gave a great view and atmosphere over the city which was very atmospheric. After slowly walking down the steps back into the main cathedral I headed for the toilets except you have to pay 40cents, yes it's not alot of money but after paying to gain entry, then a 20 cent donation for a leaflet, another donation in the main room and then 1 euro to light a candle I found it pretty unessercery and inconveniant to pay to go to the toilet. There was a grumpy little woman stood at the toilet door and if you were even 5 cents off she yelled at you, and the queues were really long because onc somebody came out the little woman would go into the toilet with a cloth and wipe the seat a nice idea but when she's using the same cloth everytime it would and without a glove or changing the cloth it would probably be more hygenic not to do it and much more conveniant as people would be able to get in and out quicker.
After the Berliner Dom, I walked back to Alexanderplatz S Bahn, last minute gift shopping on the way and headed of for Rosenthaler strasse out in Pankow to go to the Monsterkabinett. Once I arrived at Rosenthaler strasse I walked down the road but the road itself was a small, dark, creepy residential street, I needed 39 Rosenthaler strasse but this only went to 35, so i walked around the area for a while to see if the street continued anywhere but I soon gave up as my feet were really wet from the rain and it was dark and spooky, so I headed back to the hostel to get more directions as I figured I was in the wrong place. I was in the wrong place, infact the Rosenthaler strasse I needed was in Mitte where I was staying! I read that the Monsterkabinett closed at 8pm and it was 7.15pm by the time I was on the right train! Once at Rosenthaler strasse it took me another 15mins to find the place, it's down a little grey walkway covered in graffiti, street art and stickers. Upon arrival it was 7.50pm but I was in time for the last show. I grabbed a drink from the adjoining bar which was pretty cool, and coming to this bar down this little backstreet alleyway gives an insight to what Berlin nightlife is like. At around 8.15pm we went down into The Monsterkabinett, for 8euro it is a little over priced and isn't included in the welcome card, but it's a really fun, different attraction and I really enjoyed it. Very different to the usual touristy things and gives an insight to the real, Berlin and the type of Berliner people. Really enjoyed this and glad I found it.
After this I found a little Italian takeaway/restaurant on Oranienburger strasse called Piccolo Italian, I ordered a pepperoni pizza for take away and really enjoyed it, nice little place and friendly owners. I then headed back to the hostel and packed ready to leave Berlin for the UK this morning. Looking back on my trip I've had a great time, learnt a great deal and succombed to many different experiances. Now I am home I am going to start planning my next trip which I think will be Prague.
Thank you to everyone on here that has helped me organise and plan this trip over the last few months!
Hostel I Stayed At:
Highlights from my trip:
Flew with Ryanair, East Midlands to Schoenfeld.