I wish we could say we went to Berlin before it was cool, but we didn’t… So this summer we went to Berlin, as did the rest of you according to Instagram, here is our do’s and don’ts for Berlin. (I do must add that Camille did go to Berlin before it was insanely popular. She’s not a hipster, she’s just plainly awesome and trendy. And we love her very very much.)
Although Berlin has a very clear and well covered bus, tram and underground line, we did almost everything on foot. Partly because we own a Fitbit, but mostly because it enables us to discover the city. (Also we see a citytrip as extended legday!)
We took the bus three times, to go from the airport to the city and from the city to the airport and to switch hotels. The bus was easy to find, schedules were easy to read, bus was on time so no complaints what so ever. Oh wait! I was almost hit by a tram, but that was partly my fault.
Berlin on foot was doable, but probably not for the ones that don’t walk or run on a daily basis.
Since we planned to see a lot in a few days so we decided to stay in two different hotels.
We first stayed in the Camper Hotel, which is AWESOME. It’s not only trendy and luxurious, it also offers free wifi and FREE FOOD AND DRINKS (24/7). So even tough the hotel is quite expensive we did safe a lot. In the end it levelled out.
The second hotel was the Ibis Budget Kurfürstendam, which is everything you can and may expect from an Ibis Budget Hotel, with the most funny, happy and nice staff ever.
So we were very happy about our hotel choice.
The to do list for Berlin in huge! So I grouped it in three categories WW II, DDR(i.e.: the Wall and such), and Other.
Berlin during WWII was Nazi-headquarters and the city isn’t being hypocrite about it what so ever. This, makes it even more awesome.
Beside the famous Yewish Memorial site, and the less famous Memorial for the Homosexual Victims in the park facing the Yewish victim memorial. We accidentally found the Memorial for the Homosexual, by actually reading tourist signs. We didn’t know it existed and think it’s a pity it’s not broadly mentioned in tourist guides, because it’s a beautiful peace of art. So is the Sinti and Roma memorial nearby.
Next to the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall, which you should visit due to architectural reasons,there is a memorial for the victims of Euthanasia Killings. The Concert hall is placed on the site where the so-called T4-killings took place, so it makes sense this memorial is not near the other three memorials. This memorial actually brought new light to how psychiatric patients were treated in the Nazi-regime. I for instance thought they were only killed during the high-days of the regime and not from the very beginning of the regime. These were not only psychiatric patients, but also persons with a handicap, children and adults with chronic diseases, …. These victims were being gassed years before the Jews! The families were lied to in the dead certificate which stated it was accidental, due to illness, suicide, …
The Jewish Museum is also worth a visit, it’s designed by Liebeskind, so it’s an architectural pearl. The inside of the museum is also extremely confronting. It makes you feel your deepest kind of sorrow, but also allows some fun facts and a thorough introduction to Jewish tradition. We also learned Kosjer gummy bears are made from fish oil.
If the Memorials, random information boards, the Jewish Museum and your own knowledge of history haven’t convinced you the Nazi’s were criminals of the highest rank, Berlin has one museum site that will leave you with no doubt.
Topographie des Terrors is the place to be if you want to know about Nazi crimes. It will dazzle your head, blow your mind and you’ll be an emotional wreck at the end of the tour.
For the persons who hadn’t had enough Berlin also offers a Jewish cemetery and 35 km out of Berlin you have the Concentration camp of Sachenhausen. Both of which we wanted to visit but couldn’t do.
Berlin became famous for its wall. But why a wall? Well, Berlin happily invites you to discover this history while walking the streets.
The cliffnote version is that after WW II, Berlin was divided into four parts, one for the sovjets and 3 for France, the UK and the US. Why? probably greed and they’ve just won a war, so. Any way the Sovjet Regime proved to be a tad more dangerous then we first thought it would. (smartly disgised by WW II) So the Iron Curtain was closing in on Europe recovering from war and had a halt in Germany, dividing Germany in East and West and Berlin in two. The Sovjet part and the 3 others, a.k.a. the west. At first Berliners could easily cross that border line, after a while a barbed wired fence was pulled up, and then the wall was erected. Resulting in families being ripped apart, people losing their jobs, and all thing history has showed us.
They wall was erected in 1961 and was torn down in 1989, the 25 birth day of the fall of the wall in 2014 has made Berlin the place to be for tourist, including the two of us.
Any way you can discover the full history at the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer, on the street where the wall is clearly marked. At the East Side Gallery ,famous for its graffiti, you can walk the wall. You have Checkpoint Charlie which speaks for itself, it’s an old checkpoint. And you’ll probably pass it a few times, it being in the city center and all. Just walk and pieces of the wall will pop up.
For the regular art lovers Berlin offers plenty of musea, all very near to each other.
What you must see is the Nefertiti Bust, in the Neues Museum on Museum Island.
Also near to the Museum Island you have the Berliner Dom, 7 euro’ s entrance seem a lot of money, however it gives you entrance to climb the tower, visit the church and the museum.
Shopping in Mitte you do at the Rosenthalerstrasse and nearby streets, containing brand stores, like Michael Kors, Bench, and so on … It also hauses the cutest gallery to walk through, near the Michael Kors store.
You must visit the Brandenburger Tor, it’s on the 1000 monuments you must see list. It’s not super impressive when you’re form Europe, since we have a lot of these gates, however I must admit it’s one of the prettiest. At the Brandenburg Gate you walk on Unter der Linden, a street that houses the Kunsthalle Deutsche Bank. This small gallery exhibits a very nice collection of photographic art.
Near to the Kurfürstendam (regular shopping street, by the way) you have the Kathe Kollwitz museum, next to it you have the Literature House, which offers the greatest food.
Talking about food, beside the above mentioned little restaurant and the Hard Rock Café (tradition, you know) at the Kollwitzstrasse you can find the cutest little restaurant, named Zu Hause. It’s all home made biological food and so tasty. Best food we ever had on holliday.
So this is a small summary of what Berlin has to offer, we hadn’t had time to do the entire city and there is so much to explore!
Berlin is trendy, vegan (not kidding), a walking history book and a lot of fun!