Berlin 7th to 12th April 2013

Very spontaneously I decided to make good use of a one week spring vacation and take a trip to Berlin to visit my friend Simone, who now lives there for half a year because of an internship at an architect’s office.

Unfortunately, I was fighting against a slight flu the whole time and so visiting the sights was quite exhausting on its own, without doing much more touristy stuff like writing post cards. Therefore, this time you have to be satisfied with this entry.

For the first nights, I stayed the “Happy go Lucky” hostel. It’s located right at the subway station Charlottenburg/Wilmersdorferstrasse, from where we could quickly get to everywhere. The outside of the hostel was painted in bright orange and had a few smileys on the wall. The right place for me ;). They have a big lobby area with tables, where we could eat from a breakfast buffet in the mornings for 6 Euro. The room was quiet and I only once was in the shared story bathroom with another girl at the same time.

Happy go Lucky Hostel
Happy go Lucky Hostel

The first night, we had dinner in a cute looking Italian place (Portofino) on Kantstrasse. Pizza and pasta was great but the best thing was the huge salad bowl they placed on our table, because we decided to share something healthy. No way anyone could have eaten that salad alone without already being full.

We bought a 5 day tourist pass for 30 Euro. With this we could ride all public transportation for 5 days and had some discounts for places of interest. First thing, we took the train to the East Side Gallery. 1,3km of the Berlin wall, which is decorated by artists from all over the world. At all these places of history, I could have got a historic stamp for my passport. But of course, I only had the ID card with me.

East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery

Afterwards, we wanted to try Curry Wurst and therefore made our way to Curry36. It’s supposed to be the best and most famous place for Curry Wurst in Berlin. We ordered Curry Wurst with fries and some type of coleslaw. The salad and fries were good and I guess the Curry Wurst also (I didn’t have anything to compare it to, since it was my first one) but they were quite unfriendly at the booth. We took the food and ate it on a bench at the street. I still prefer a delicious St. Galler Bratwurst :).

Curry Wurst
Curry Wurst

It was quite windy, which probably wasn’t so good for my recovery, therefore we went off looking for the next subway station. We had to walk for quite a while and came by a pretty looking park (Victoriapark) until we finally found Yorckstrasse station. We boarded a train to the Brandenburger Tor and firstly warmed up at Starbucks for a while. Then we took some pictures, looked at a monument of the Sowjet Union and walked in direction of the Hauptbahnhof. We had some time before our free visit of the Reichstag at 5pm. At home, we signed up via internet to be able to visit the Reichskuppel. This way, we didn’t have to wait in the long line at the entrance and even made it inside at quarter to five, without waiting. We showed them our confirmation at the entrance, got through the security checks and were ushered to the elevator up to the Kuppel. I was very enthusiastic about the free audio guides. First of all they were free and you could have them in different languages and second, you didn’t have to do anything other than listen. It told you when to walk and where to walk and look and always said the right thing at the right point. Much better than the one we had at the Guinness factory in Dublin, where we had to push buttons to move forward and after a while we would hear the wrong text.

Reichstagskuppel
Reichstagskuppel
Reichstagskuppel
Reichstagskuppel

We walked in circles around the Kuppel to get to the top. The view was really nice and I got to know a lot about Berlin. The Kuppel itself is really cool too. In the middle, there is a big mirror construct. Below the Kuppel, if you look really closely, you can see into the room where political meetings are held. When we reached the top, we could walk down on the opposite side, without ever colliding with the people who were walking up on the other path. You might notice that I liked the architecture of this building :).

When we were back on the ground, I was really tired but since the monument for the Jews was really close, we decided to walk past it. The big place with gray rocks in different sizes is quite impressive. But with the background knowledge why this place is there, I didn’t feel too comfortable walking between the blocks. Otherwise it would probably be a fun place for hide and seek…

Judendenkmal
Judendenkmal

In order to get dinner, we took the subway to Savignyplatz, where we wanted to eat Sushi. However, the place we intended to go to was closed, so we ended up at a Vietnamese place. I had one of these big soups with noodles and lots of other things in it. It was delicious!

On Tuesday, we took a train to Alexanderplatz. We walked around for a while and then decided to go on top of the Fernsehturm (10.60 Euro with the visitor card). The view from 278m is great and luckily there was only a little fog far away. Because I wanted to be healthy again, we shared an expensive smoothie for 7 Euro at the bar in the “ball” of the tv tower. I was disappointed that he only put fruit juice in it and not real fruits…I guess more ginger tea for my throat.

TV Tower
TV Tower

Back on safe ground, we walked for about two hours to get a look at the city on foot. We finally ended up at checkpoint Charlie. I had to laugh a little that the Americans were still standing there and that there was a McDonalds right behind it.

After a short break and more ginger tea, we took a second chance on the sushi place. Sachiko sushi is located at Savignyplatz below the train tracks. This makes the atmosphere of the small place quite special because it’s cute and artistic but everything shakes every few minutes, when a train drives by. There are pictures of the sushi you can order, which makes this process a lot easier and we found what we wanted to eat. The sushi was as delightful as it was described on tripadvisor but it also wasn’t exactly a cheap place.

To get at least a little feel of Berlin by night (as I was always too tired to really go out late in the evening so far, due to my illness), we stopped at another cute looking place below the train tracks and I had a delicious Chai Latte.

The next morning, I finally felt a little better. We had breakfast at Starbucks, where at least I had internet. I had to make sure to purchase a better camera lens and the auction for the object I wanted was due that morning. In the end, I was the lucky winner. Hopefully, it will be what I wanted, so that I can take it to SEA in the summer.

Later, we took a train to Potsdamplatz and had a Dürüm (kebab) with a salad for 7 Euro. In Switzerland, we would pay the same for the Dürüm alone. Then, we felt restored enough to visit “Topographie des Terrors”. Another interesting and impressive place, which revealed something of Berlin’s role during WWII.

Reminder of the past
Reminder of the past

On our way from there to the Tacheles, the idea in me grew stronger, that I should finally dye my hair back to more blond. The hair dressers here seem to be a lot cheaper than in Switzerland.

The Tacheles is a building which was occupied by people without a home for the last few years. The walls are covered with graffitis and many new artists present their work. At least that’s how Simone remembered it. When we arrived however, the building looked quite deserted and closed. When we walked around a little, we saw a poster that said, that we had to walk around a parking lot and then enter through the back. So we did. There were a few shacks in a yard with lots of sculptures. There were a few other visitors but mostly, there were the artists and their friends with a beer in their hands. Music was playing and we chatted a little with one of the guys who told us that over the past years the government made this place smaller and smaller. They already tore down some buildings and their goal is to get rid of all the occupants living there, in order to build a hotel or mall. I think it would take a nice piece of character and culture out of the town.

Tacheles
Tacheles

The next day, we made our way to the Olympic Stadium from 1936. We got our student ticket for 5 Euro and walked inside the big stadium. Since it was raining, I was glad that most of it had a roof.

Olympic Stadium
Olympic Stadium

We did the tour around the building and once we had enough, we boarded a train back to Hackescher Markt. It looks like a nice area with a small market and lots of stores and restaurants. Small refreshment and reinforcement at Starbucks which came as a death by chocolate cake and caramel macchiato. Afterwards, it was my goal to find a place to dye my hair. I still wasn’t entirely sure that I would do it but I thought that now would be a good time for it. We walked into two salons to ask about prices and methods and then returned to the first one because they seemed really friendly, helpful and competent at “Uni Cut”. For 70 Euros two men were working on my head for 3,5 hours. The result was…blond. I’m glad I finally did it but I still get a bit irritated when I look at myself in the mirror.

Then, we were pretty hungry and took the subway to Eisenacherstrasse, where we wanted to go to a Greek restaurant. It smelled and looked delicious but unfortunately there was no empty space for us. The restaurant manager recommended an Italian place to us which was a little further down the street. So, we walked there and from the outside it looked nice and also quite busy. Luckily, we got a table this time. The food was delicious, the portions plentiful and the prices really small. About 4 Euro per pizza or pasta dish and the starters were really cheap too, so that we could take several things and share. Exactly my kind of place ;).

With full bellies, we traveled to the Brandenburger Tor again, to have a look at it by night. I’ve seen prettier places at night but it was still quite nice. Above all, there were hardly any other people there now.

Brandenburger Tor by night
Brandenburger Tor by night

We made it back home on the subway before midnight. Another night in my warm sleeping bag and then the only plan we have left over is taking a full circle on the Ringbahn or walk around the Tempelhof grounds. This is an old airport which is out of use and now people use it as a park to go jogging. Must be fun to take a sprint on a landing strip.

Then, soon it would be time to say goodbye Simone and byebye Berlin. Was a good idea to come here.

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