Our time in Berlin started out rough (but don’t worry, it got MUCH better!). We had almost missed our bus the night before and arrived at the bus station in Berlin with what we thought were clear directions to get to the city center… but we couldn’t find the right U-Bahn stop for the life of us. After a while a few nice Berliners tried to help us out, one telling us the line we needed was cancelled, but that we could still take a certain line and we might end up close. Well, that’s what we did, and we eventually got to where we needed to be. What we really figured out was this: Berlin’s public transportation is CONFUSING! Luckily we had one of my best friends from childhood to show us around. Caitlin’s interning in Berlin for the summer and we were able to visit her on her second weekend in the city! We honestly would’ve been completely lost there without her.
Our first stop was the Holocaust Memorial. The 4.7-acre area contains contains 2,711 concrete slabs at varying heights, almost resembling a cemetery. Once you enter into the grid you disappear from the rest of Berlin as the path waves vertically up and down.
Next we headed to the Brandenburg Gate to meet up with Caitlin. We didn’t realize it would be complete chaos there – there was a soccer (I guess I should call it football since I’m in Europe now!) event going on for the championship game. Fans were sporting their favorite players’ jerseys (mostly Barcelona) and chanting those songs you hear when you watch a European game on TV. My dad would’ve been in heaven there. You could even wait in line to take a picture with the championship trophy!
After leaving that hectic area Caitlin took us to her apartment in the Friederichshain neighborhood. Two subway changes and a tram later we were at her place, dropping our bags off and ready to head out for the night.
First up was the East Side Gallery to walk along the best preserved section of the Berlin Wall. I was amazed by some of the artwork. To walk along the actual wall that once divided the city and represents so much history was incredible. We went around 7pm, when the sun was starting to set and the tourists were scarce.
After walking the length of the wall and back, we crossed the bridge and searched for a place to eat. We settled on a little corner restaurant and we all got falafel. Apparently Berlin is known for its great falafel, I had no clue!
Next up: the cutest (and first) biergarten I’d ever been to. I’m not a beer drinker, or much of an alcohol drinker really, but this place had the best atmosphere and was a highlight of Berlin for me. The twinkling hanging lights, the fresh evening air, and the German duo playing their music made the night perfect. The three of us split a glass of Prosecco and laughed about childhood memories. It was awesome.
We then made our way across town to a rooftop bar some coworkers had told Caitlin about. Their directions were to go to this mall, go all the way up to the top of the parking garage, take a left at the vegetable stand, and there should be a bar there. Well, after a few trials and tribulations we found the bar, and the super long line that went along with it. We decided to wait in line since we had come all that way, and hey, it was a rooftop bar in Berlin! How cool would that be to see?
The hour or so in line passed pretty quickly as we chatted away, but we were excited when it was finally our turn to get in. The bar was cool, it had sort of a garden theme, but we didn’t stay long. Just long enough to get in a breathtaking view of the city skyline and see a few mice running back and forth on the ground. That was enough to freak Hannah out (they were cute though!!).
The next morning before we left for the ZOB bus station we stopped by a café for some traditional German cake and coffee. I’m bummed we didn’t get much more time in Berlin; I loved the areas Caitlin showed us, with their rough edges and down-to-earth feel. I was there long enough to learn a new word: scheisse (sh*t), which once Caitlin taught us we heard a lot on the street. Maybe I’ll visit Berlin again to see what more it has to offer. Because a city of that size and diversity definitely has more than can be seen in just two days.