Berlin Travel Blog› entry 12 of 16 › view all entries
After a decent bus trip from Prague we arrived in Berlin at the Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof. With our usual budget constraints we stayed at the cheapest pension available and received the cheapest service as a result. The Hotel Pension Messe failed to tell us that they had two locations and as a consequence after a 1km walk with our loaded backpacks their woeful staff informed us we'd walked past the building we were to be housed in so we had to lug our bags almost all the way back towards the station. The room was adequate although the walls were basically made of paper so you get to know your neighbours pretty well!!!
As usual we decided to take a long stroll to acquaint ourselves with the neighbourhood and get our city bearings.
The weather was too tempting to ignore so we headed back towards a beautiful park near our pension, buying picnic goodies at a supermarket on the way and enjoying the sunshine among the locals who seemingly all had the same idea. One of the nicest things we have experienced during these travels around Europe is the gusto with which spring and the nice weather is grasped. It must be something to do with long cold winters as it seems that everyone is straight outdoors as soon as the sun comes out.
We had picked up the usual collection of leaflets at the tourist info office and as we went through them we decided to take a bicycle tour of the city with the Fat Tyre Bicycle Company. We figured it was an easy way to cover lots of ground and see most of the major sites in one day then return to see those that peeked our interest in more depth later; and so it turned out.
Having got off the bikes and being a little saddle sore we found the most amazing restaurant called Dolores which serves Burritos, Nachos, etc; all made to order with your choice of fillings, salsa and rice. It was so good that we ended up finding an excuse to visit everyday.
We had been told that on Thursdays many of Berlin's 170 museums offer free entry for the last few hours of opening so we went in search of a good deal but discovered it is only the state museums that offer the deal. So we decided to go back to Checkpoint Charlie which we had seen on the tour and check out the museum.
Another site we later revisited was the visually stunning but ultra controversial Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Contoversial because the 6 million Jews murdered during the holocaust were in fact just one of many groups the Nazis persecuted and the other groups are not currently commemorated with such expensive and high profile monuments.
Talking of Graffitti we headed out to see the longest section of still standing Berlin Wall which was painted by hundreds of artists in the days after the fall of the wall. The East Side Gallery as it is called was a major disappointment as the art works are now mostly covered over with other tags and graffitti which is a real shame.
Two museums we would recommend are the Story of Berlin and the Neue Gallerie Art Museum. We were really lucky with our timing at the Story of Berlin as as soon as we arrived an English speaking tour of the Nuclear Fall out Shelter below the museum building was taking place. Apparantly during the Cold War Berlin was thought to be the most likely flashpoint of any nuclear conflict and the government built 18 shelters around the city which were designed to house 1% of the population in the event of a nuclear bomb being dropped!! The shelter we visited accommodated 3,600 people in very cramped conditions for two weeks.
The Neue Gallerie houses the sort of modern art you either love or hate and we were split exactly on those lines. There was some shockingly bad stuff but also some pieces that were thought provoking and interesting. It was all housed in a great modern building and the layout and organisation was very good.
To sum up we both absolutely loved Berlin and can easily see ourselves coming back for more. It's a place we'd totally recommend and has something for everyone.