|East Side Gallery, Berlin|
Just like my first day in Amsterdam, my first day in Berlin also involved getting my bearings & doing another hop-on-hop-off tour. Having bought a Berlin Welcome Card at Berlin Hauptbahnhof when I arrived the previous afternoon, I was spoilt for choice when it came to tours. I ended up going with City Sightseeing/Berlin City Tours & got a discounted ticket for the A tour, but tbh I found the tour itself quite boring. I had some idea of how widespread Berlin is, but by how much I had no idea & after seeing the 5000th embassy, I began tuning out of all commentary. To be fair, I probably should've researched the itinerary beforehand.
Note: The Berlin Welcome Card also entitles you to unlimited travel on the S-Bahn, the U-Bahn & buses around Berlin. I bought a 5-day card to cover me for my bus trip to Tegel airport the morning I left Berlin, as well as the afternoon I arrived. You can get a card that covers you for just Berlin only, or you can get a combined Berlin & Potsdam card as well. If you want more information, visit the website.
Later that day (and a zillion transport changes later), I went to Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg to check out Street Food Thursdays, which I’d heard was a must-do thing in Berlin. Unfortunately for me, it was quite the fizzer. I went there waaaaaay too early methinks - I read somewhere recently that it’s fully on from 5-10pm. I got there at 2-2:30pm, so no wonder I was let down!
Before I left home, I received a tip-off about going to Berlin’s famous department store KaDeWe (short for Kaufhaus de Westens) & specifically heading to their renowned Gourmet Department food hall &…well…that tip was a good one because the place is 50 shades of awesomesauce. For all the Aussies out there, it’s like a David Jones food hall, only a trillion times better. The sections all looked very appealing! Conveniently for me, KaDeWe was only a 10-15 minute walk from my hotel, so I ate there every single night of my Berlin stay. On my 2nd night in Berlin, I had an Aussie fillet steak (!) with several accompaniments & whilst it wasn’t quite cooked how I wanted it (more like medium rare), I still ate as much as I could. Considering I’d been living on burgers, pasta or satays up until that point, a steak was rather welcome.
|Papaya Royal, the Thai outlet inside KaDeWe's Gourmet Department (food hall). I ate there twice, pretty damn good.|
|Dinner @ New Burger inside KaDeWe on my last night. Served to me by a hot German chef. 😋|
After a very satisfying hotel buffet breakfast (my lord the Germans know how to make good brot – that’s bread for those of you who don’t speak German), I headed back into town to register for a visit to the Reichstag dome. For those of you who don’t know about it, the Reichstag building is Germany’s national seat of parliament* – think Capitol Hill for Americans, or Parliament House for Australians – and the dome that sits on top is quite the tourist attraction. Considering I was a tourist, it seemed like something I ought to do whilst in Berlin. I had no problems with registration, aside from (a) forgetting my ID in the first instance & having to head all the way back to my hotel to get it, (b) standing in line the 2nd time being unbearable due to the rising heat (I got lucky with the weather whilst in Berlin – it was warm-hot every single day) & (c) I couldn’t get in until the following day.
Note: You can pre-register for the dome before you arrive in Berlin too.
Since I wasn’t far from the Brandenburg Gate, I headed up the street & around the corner to take some snaps of it & finally accomplish my desire to walk through it.
After wandering aimlessly through town, stopping at just about every Douglas store to find the aforementioned ZOEVA brushes (without luck), I stumbled across Museum Island, but didn't stop to go to any museums there. However, I did quickly stop to take some snaps of the Berlin Cathedral + TV Tower nearby (I didn't go up there), before discovering that I wasn't far from another attraction I wished to go to - the DDR Museum - and finding a great little ice-cream & sorbet place nearby, whose name I've totally forgotten. Being a mango sorbet connoisseur, naturally I had to take a quick pitstop & get some refreshment from the baking midday sun, before heading into the museum for some sweet AC relief.
|The aforementioned mango sorbet....so good!|
|The fashions of East Germany. Hideous to see, feel & no doubt wear!|
Before I left home, I'd read about the East Side Gallery via The Sunday Chapter & knew it was something I wanted to check out, so I did. It's not a gallery in the traditional sense - more like a major stretch of wall along a main thoroughfare - and unfortunately most of the art is kinda blocked off by metal barricades (you can still see the art; the barricades just mess with your ability to get a good photo). You'll soon realise though that it's a good thing once you see other works of street art that have been ruined by people's handwriting & general graffiti. It's a shame really, but what can you do? Regardless, I really enjoyed checking it out & in the process realised that I really dig street art.
After trying to find some book/magazine place & realising it was a total dud, I was ready for some more air-conditioned relief in the form of another shopping mall - Potsdamer Platz Arkaden. Tbh it too was an absolute dud (more like a crappy suburban shopping centre), so I headed back across to the Mall of Berlin to sit down & rest my poor aching feet (and survey the blistered damage on one of my pinky toes). I'd been there the previous day to score my Mavi jeans, but this time around I was in agony & could barely walk!
Despite the furnace outside & the pain in my feet, I later headed down to Checkpoint Charlie to take some snaps, before heading over to check out both the Topography of Terrors & the Berlin Wall Memorial (which essentially is a chunk of untouched wall that's been preserved as a tourist attraction).
Hobbling along in the sweltering afternoon sun, feeling sweat trickling down the back of my leg every time I stood to read about Hitler's rise & fall, I did question for a moment what the hell I was doing at the Topography of Terrors, especially since I'd already learnt about the rise & fall of Hitler & the subsequent aftermath of WW2 for Germany during high school & my visit to the DDR Museum the previous day. Still, it is worth a visit just to walk along side the remains of the Wall itself....just don't go on a hot summer's afternoon!
|Berlin Wall Memorial|
I stayed at H10 Berlin Ku’damm in the shopping district of Kurfürstendamm, which IMO was the best hotel I stayed in all trip. Handy for the U-Bahn (a station entrance is literally right next door to the hotel - I didn’t figure this out until 2 days in) and a stone's throw away from the shopping district itself, great buffet breakfast (€19 every day, but sooooooooooo worth it since I'd been eating nothing but croissants, orange juice & a banana for breakfast up until that point), incredibly comfortable bedding with great pillows, modern looking rooms, sensor lights in the hallways (which always amused me every time I’d go back to my room) & best of all, a bath that didn't begin letting water out as soon as I stepped in! It was also quite affordable when I went in late August, which surprised me given that it was late summer in the northern hemisphere after all. This is one shot of my room:
*Please correct me if I'm wrong!
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Have you ever been to Berlin before? If so, what did you think of it? If not, is it on your travel bucket list?