A few days ago I introduced a new series called “The Streets of“, in which I said would be a type of photo essay kind of thing. Well, for the first entry in the series, we have a guest post from a good buddy of mine – Gerry Beine aka Ben. He’s from my home town of Boyle as well, and has recently just started blogging for himself over at http://www.gamesappntech.com/
So, you’ve been wondering, “where in Europe can I travel, that is not the status quo, is not too hot, has beautiful landscapes and scenery, is not too hot or cold, and is only a short distance away?” I found the answer to these questions was: BERLIN!!! The streets of Berlin are among the most cultural found in Europe.
I had heard a lot about Berlin from Carlo and others, who had been on a backpacking tour throughout Europe, and spent some time in Berlin. All I spoke to only had good things to say about this city. So, when myself and my girlfriend Danni decided to go on our first holiday together, and because extreme heats like you may find in Spain etc do not suit either of us, we settled on Berlin.
Berlin is a vibrant, colourful, welcoming city that is relatively new. After the devastation of World War 2, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall, a new city arose from the ashes, that is modern, easy going, clean and efficient.
So, in October 2010, we decided to head off. We booked our accommodation just off Kaiserdamm, in the Charlottenberg area of Berlin. The Kaiserdamm or K – damm as it’s often abbreviated to, is once of the main streets in Berlin.
We had arranged to fly into Schonefeld Airport in early October of 2010. When we arrived in Berlin after the 2 and a half hour flight out of Dublin, we hailed a taxi, and headed straight for our hotel. After checking in, we decided to go exploring a little. He had agreed prior to travelling that we would walk everywhere, as much as was possible. We spent the entire journey walking, without using the public transport once, but we did pay a visit to a U-Bhan station for a look anyway!
On our first day in Berlin, we had identified several places to eat, and some good stores, as well as some of the more kooky statues etc placed around the city, in our general vicinity.
On the 2nd day in the city, we decided to head out a bit further, and discovered that many of the main attractions of Berlin were all within walking distance from our hotel. Berlin Zoo, Potsdamer Platz, the Brandenberg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and more, all within a few miles. We both loved strolling through Tiergarten, which is a massive public park, right in the heart of the city. We found if we started walking along the K – damm, and just keep walking, there was a wealth of visual treats in store. The K-damm eventually becomes Bismarckstrasse. Keep walking straight on this seeming endless road, which transitions into Strauss des 17, Juni, through the middle of Tiergarten, and you will be rewarded with a massive roundabout, which features the Berlin Victory Tower. The tower, as you can see, was in the process of being cleaned up when we were there, so we didn’t get to see it in all its majesty in person.
Once you walk the whole way around this massive roundabout, you can continue on down Strauss de 17. Juni, and will be startled by the Soviet War Memorial that stands imposingly over you.
Continue on down the road, and at the end, you will be presented with the amazing, and world-famous, Brandenberg Gate (Tor). We witnessed all of these amazing things, all within a few hundred yards of one another, all within walking distance, on only our 2nd day in the city. And this was only scratching the surface of what Berlin is all about.
On our 3rd day, we ventured back toward the Brandenberg Gate, paid a visit to the nearby Reichstag, and walked as far as Potzdamer Platz. We came upon the amazing Sony Shopping Centre with its distinctive roof…
… as well as visiting Checkpoint Charlie, and following some of the path where the Berlin Wall lay. It’s interesting to note, there is a double layer of bricks throughout much of the city, that follows the path of the wall.
This took up most of our 3rd day. We had booked a 10 day stay in Germany, so there were lots to see and do. We spent some days indoors, as Germany, in October, can be wet. Most times it was t-shirt weather though.
It should be mentioned that Berlin has some fantastic places to eat. A lot of places will have dual language menus, but the locals seem to appreciate it if you try to at least use some German words – even just to say thanks. My favourite foods over there were sauerkraut mash and bratwurst, Potato and wurst soup and currywurst… look that one up! For beer lovers, you’d find it hard to beat a German pilsner, but for somebody looking for something different, I can’t recommend Dunkel high enough!
There are also some great places for shopping, the aforementioned Sony Centre being one, and the famous Ka De We being another.
So this will give you a general idea as to what Berlin is like. We had seen all of the above in just a few short days, and there was still plenty more. We missed out on loads of things to see, as we simply did not have enough time, the Olympiastadion and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (about 35km away, but there are tours available from the city) being two of my main regrets.
So, I hope you find the above informative and helpful. It may sway your decision if you’ve been sitting on the fence, or looking for somewhere to go that is not the norm!