We arrived in Berlin after what was meant to be a 10 hour bus ride but it turned into a 14 hour ride. On the upside we did watch The Hangover, I thought it was fitting considering our departed city.
The epic bus ride left the bus about guide a tad bit frazzled, but she managed to get through her spiel without too much hassle. Good work Carly!
The first night I had arranged to spend in the Alexander Plaza Hotel which is across the road from the City Stay Mitte hostel that I will spend the following two nights. I helped the bus driver get the bags off the bus just to make things a bit quicker then I grabbed my bag and walked to the hotel.
It was a welcomed change going into a hotel and this was immediately evident by the quiet nature of the guests. There was no thumping nightclub nor were there hundreds of people trying have their conversations heard over each other. I checked in and for the first time since leaving Sydney I had a night on my own.
Having your privacy is something that we all take for granted but when you get it on a trip like this it becomes rather valued. When I got to my room I had a queen sized bed, tv, minibar (that I did not touch), an ensuite and my thoughts. I emptied my bag and folded my clothing making sure that my bag was organized then I had a long hot shower.
Sleep that first night came on as soon as my head hit the pillow. I remember thinking to my self how much I was looking forward to having my own place to go home to. Perhaps that’s where you find your greatest sense of security… At home. Needless to say that it was the best sleep I’d had in ages.
The following day I checked into the City Stay hostel. I was in an 8 bed share room full of Aussies. I found an empty bed and threw my gear on it then set about on a short walk of the surrounding area. Being across the road from Alexander Platz it was naturally the first place I went to. There was a water fall with a statue of Neptune and the four graces and across the road, they were demonstrating some electronic three wheeled scooters. In the same square they had small market where there were stalls representing a number of religions. This I found rather interesting, having so many different faiths together in one market showing giving out information. People were dressed up, some were selling food and it seemed as they were all having a splendid time. I visited the Christian Anglican tent and bought a scone but not before taking a picture of the ladies dressed as a pilgrim.
I then took a walk to museum island and saw some gorgeous buildings but at this stage had no idea what they were.
Time was getting on and I went back to the hostel to go on a three and a half hour walking tour.
The walking tour met at the Hackescher market, this is a beautiful little strip of restaurants next to the train station. Our tour was headed by a Scotsman that was a history buff, his fascination with Berlin, world war two and the cold war. We got were told about the history of Berlin that went back to it’s original settlement by fishermen all the way through to present day. In no particular order, we did museum island, checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin wall memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, the Jewish memorial, the site of hitlers bunker (which is now a car park, but we were told about his final days), the Brandenburg Gate, the war memorial Humboldt university, BebelPlatz (site of the burning of the books in WWII) along with the memorial of that horrible day.
All in all the whole experience was quite emotional, not because I have any personal connection to Berlin history, but because it is so hard to comprehend that so many atrocities could be allowed to take place.
What a change though, the end of the tour was near the Brandenburg gate and there was a gay pride parade taking place. This was huge. There was a stage St up beneath the gate and there were a few double decker party buses lining the street. It was like a music festival. Lots of food and beer, loud music and dancing. I took a few photos there and just enjoyed the atmosphere. Such a sense of freedom. An incredible juxtaposition to the history that this beautiful city has endured.
Due to getting up a tad late on the Sunday, I missed the Third Reich tour. This was a good opportunity to walk around the city at my own pace. I revisited some of the sites again so i could take some photos, i went past the Bugatti dealer and saw a convertible Bugatti Veyron and an incredible looking Bentley. My photo challenges were yet to be completed so I got those out of the way and before I knew it I had been wondering for nearly four hours. I had a wurst roll for lunch and went back to the hostel for a sleep.
With my batteries recharged, I went to the meeting point and hit the pub crawl tour. The pub crawl tour would leave from the me place as the city tour I did the day before so I took advantage of the strip of restaurants. I ordered a suckling pig pork knuckle. It was incredible! This was coupled with a beer and I took in the atmosphere of the market. There was a women’s soccer game between Germany and Canada playing on the televisions that were in front of all of e restaurants. It seemed that this entire city was bewildered with the sport. The support for the women’s team is inspiring it made for a great afternoon.
The pub crawl started with a beer at the meeting point as we waited for more of the group to arrive. There were a few Aussie guys that had been partying their way around Europe. I will refrain from sharing their Amsterdam stories with you but to say that they took full advantage of the services there.
There really wasn’t too much going on on the pub crawl, the crowd were too young for me and I left once we got to the night club.
When I returned to the hostel, the Pub Crawl guide was there picking up her things. We ended up talking for about an hour about life in Berlin. It turns out that she is a kindergarten teacher and a stand up comedian. One of her topics covered in her stand up routine is the similarities between the pub crawl crowd and infants. Lol… It was good to get her view of Berlin and life in general.
Getting up the following day was a little hard due to my drinking the night before but I was able to have a sleep on the bus. It seemed the best way to get through a light but manageable hangover.