Bratwurst City and to many Christmas markets to mention.
Berlin Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
December 18th, 2008 – by: Gambla17
Then I thought if I'm going to Berlin I should probably spend a few days there anyway.
My flight to Berlin was at 6.20 in the morning, so I left for Edinburgh airport around 4.
I thought it wasn't possible to find a travel buddy as unorganised as me but I think I found that person. We both managed to check in online, but that was as organised as we got. Laughing to ourselves that now we wouldn't have to cue for 30min at the gate and we could breeze through security straight to the departure lounge. But ofcorse the printer decided not to work. And at 10pm in Edinburgh there is not much chance of finding a place to print the tickets at that hour. We should have probably wrote down the directions,name and reservation number of our hostel also. But no we just decided to meet up around 3.45am and see what happens.
I didn't get any sleep that night I never do the night before I go travelling. And we caught a taxi to the airport. I was just hoping at check in they would be nice and wave the 8 pound fee that they charge if you book in online but don't have your ticket with you. So we had to make up some excuse. I didn't want to use the printer wasn't working because everyone would probably use that one. And the check in staff were probably sick of hearing it. So even though the printer wasn't working I decided to go with we left our papers in the taxi. Which I figured would be the third most common excuse behind, I was in a rush and left them at home. And it worked.
At 8 something o'clock we arrived in Berlin. Now the fun was to begin. Getting through customs and passport check was quite straight forward.
So after cringing and seeing my hard earned pounds go almost one for one with the Euro, it was of to the tourist information. I knew upon approach that the lady sitting there wasn't going to be happy. From experience I knew the German people were a generally well organised and systematic nation and they just wouldn't be able to understand how two people could be so unorganised.
Every time I visit Germany I always wish I had paid attention at school when we had German class. But in Australia when your 13 years old learning German.
But anyway back to my story, armed with the four words of German i could remember at the time. Which were Good morning, Good bye, thank you and cheers. I nervously went to the information desk and said Good morning(In german) Then she responded, I'm not sure exactly what she said, it was probably something like "good morning how can I help you". And then Its the travellers worst time. That pause after you don't understand a word that has been said, and you say sorry dooo yooo speak English. And then they give you the Bloody English tourists look and say yes. So anyway after a few mints a few crosses drawn onto the free tourist map and a few train numbers and train stations scribbled onto a post it.
We got to the right platform for the airport express to the city, and according to the map and the timetable on the wall the train was only going in one direction and that was to Berlin. So we got on the train that was waiting at the platform expecting to be in the centre and exploring in around 25 min. But after 30min I started to relies something wasn't quite right as the scenery was becoming more rural, with lots of small lakes and fields with cows. And there was no sign of suburbia.
And and in true form we got on the right train, but yes it was going in the wrong direction. But we picked up our mistake early and got for at the next stop. City trains go every 3 min in Berlin so in no time we were on the next train and going in the right direction. As we were going up the steps of the underground I just jokingly imagined that that it would be good if the hostel was at the top of the steps, with golden gates in the mist and angels singing like we imagine heaven to be.
The main reason we were both a little excited about Berlin was we both liked Christmas. And Berlin was supposed to have lots and lots of Christmas markets. The hostel is well situated in Berlin, near Alexanderplatz which was good because the Berlin TV Tower which was built in 1969 by the East German government as a demonstration of its superior technological know-how was there. Wow I actually sound like a traveller who know what he's talking about in that last sentence.
This TV tower was good because no matter how lost we go you could see this tower from nearly anywhere in the city, so we always knew what direction to walk home. Yes I hear you say why don't you just buy a tourist map. Well firstly I don't believe in maps, you find and see so much more cooler stuff with out one, and even if it is not what you expected your so overjoyed to finally find it you don't care if its crappy.
Anyway it wasn't to long until we found our first Christmas market. In Alexanderplatz. I was in heaven as I was surrounded by gluevine( A warm Christmas wine) and bratwursts and all sorts of other traditional German food.
It wasn't to long before we found another Christmas market, wasn't quite as big as the one in Alexanderplatz but the good 10 minutes it took me to walk there was reason enough for some refuling and what better way to refule than with the all elusive currywurst.
As we walked back to the hostel one last market caught our attention, it was quite big and it had a fairest wheel. Also a ice skating rink and a few other cool things. But not sure on the name of the market but all these markets I've been talking about were within about a 1 and a half kilometre radius of the TV tower.
As soon as my head hit the pillow back a the hostel I think I fell asleep. And what was supposed to be quick nap ended up being about 5 hours. So at about 7pm we woke and went down to check out the bar and food in the hostel. I also stayed in the St Christophers in Amsterdam. And I recommend them both. Good value great range of facility's, safe, clean and they they both have a really good bar with good value food and drink.
So after dinner, we joined tables with a couple of other backpackers from Australia. They had been playing drinking games all afternoon so there were already quite on there way by the time we joined the fun. Wasn't quite sure of the name of the game we were playing but it had something to do with kings were the card to avoid.
I woke up surprisingly refreshed and early, well 10am but for me that's early. And without further ado we were out of the hostel as we had a lot of exploring of the city to do.
We didn't really know what we wanted to see. The Berlin wall of course, but I hate to admit it but that was about all we knew of in Berlin.
Our first objective was to find some brunch. We thought we would try and be a little civilised and have a nice meal in some sort of restaurant.
But it wasn't to long before we stumbled onto another Christmas market and I got my morning bratwurst fix. Rach on the other being the girly girl had caught the scent of chocolate. She had done well to last this long but I guess it was inevitable. Luckily for me she wears a bright red coat.
We had all day travel tickets, so our plan was to just to hop on random trams and buses until we saw something interesting and explore.
We got on a tram and at the next decent sized station we got off. I wish I kept a better travel journal and actually wrote down names of places. As yes we found another Christmas market. And now I'm starting to get really confused in which order events now took place.
From wherever we were, we jumped on a bus, it was a good choice as it turned out.
It was where I also got one of my most interesting souvenirs. There was as in every landmark I have ever visited an opportunist trying to get a little bit of the tourist money. But this guy was quite good. He was dresses as a communist Russian soldier. And had created his own little check point. He had German, British, French Russian and US visa stamps from back in the day and real Visa papers that would allow you to cross from East to West or vice versa during the cold war. He told quite a good story about the history of the place and was very helpful.
From here we had been told to go left at the gate if we wanted to find some of the Berlin wall. And after 5 minutes of walking led us to our next interesting find. At first we just thought it was some abstract piece of art. It was a lot of different sized blocks in rows, the size of a few football fields. And we thought it was fun to jump from one to another like stepping stones. But eventually we found a plaque which explained what it all was. The Holocaust Memorial. And came to relies it was large and powerful tribute to the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis.
It was quite cold so we stopped for a quick hot chocolate to get a bit of warmth into our feet and continued the journey.
10 minutes up the road we finally found some of the Berlin wall. It wasn't the best part of the wall but it was still very interesting. I have a very warped sense of humour at the best of times and though it would be funny to jump back and forth from east to west side of the wall. But I have never said I plan to grow up yet. I'm pretty sure after looking at other blogs we were at a place called Potsdamer Platz, it was Berlin's commercial and entertainment centre prior to World War II, however, the area was devastated by bombing. In 1961 when the Berlin Wall was erected, the wall passed directly through the centre of Potsdamer Platz.
Across the road from Potsdamer is the Kurfurstendamm it is the main commercial street in the Chalottenburg district of Berlin. Of course there was a market there with a cool little snow slide which you go down on a tube. It was quite fun. Don't think I had ever heard a girl scream so much going down that short little run. But I think we found a new contender. If you like shopping, restaurants, theatre and entertainment I think this is a great part of Berlin to visit.
From there we pushed on with our weary little legs. We ended up on a very long street somewhere. At the end of this street which was well over 1 and a half km we could see some quite bright lights. And as stunned rabbits looking into headlights, we began walking towards the light.
Anyway it was getting late and thought it would be a good time to start heading home . Not sure how we managed it, but we had walked in one huge circle. Like a boomarang. We checked out our last market. It was quite a busy one and the first one we had to pay an entry fee. It was next to an opera house or something and it had live performances every hour.
We were only one tram stop from home. And we actually got on the tram going the right way this time. So after a midnight kebab our two day adventure had come to an end. And I will definitely be coming back to Berlin.
So at 8 the next morning it was time for me to check out and head to the station for my 10 and something hour trip to Krakow. Which almost didn't happen as I got very confused and got on the wrong train to Hamburg. I just figured the announcement was saying this was the next train to Krakow, it was actually saying something like all trains are delayed 10 mints.
And for Rach, well she left for the airport about a hour before I left the hostel. She thought it would be funny to steal my tooth brush, she has a wacky sense of humour also. Apparently she got quite lost at the train station but just made the flight in time. And after 6 failed marriages she now lives alone with her cats for company.
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