One of the greatest things about Europe is just how easy it is to travel around to different major places. I had some extra time while I was in Hamburg because my Eurail pass hadn’t arrived, so I booked a bus ticket to Berlin for the weekend.
The bus ride is enjoyable. I have a very nice window seat and I’m able to watch the beautiful German scenery and listen to some music. While on the autobahn sports cars fly past at around 100 mph, which keeps me thoroughly entertained on the way.
I step off the bus at central station and I’m immediately lost again. I am getting used to this feeling and enjoy it. It doesn’t take long for me to get my bearings though, and soon I am off to the nearby train station to get a ride to my hostel. Along the way I walk next to the standing remainder of the Berlin Wall. Artists have painted vast murals all along the wall now to cover the bleakness of it. It is absolutely beautiful to see.
Making my way to my hostel the roads get confusing and I lose my way again. 20 minutes later though, along with some directions from a kind couple, and I am walking in the door to the Youth Hostel International Berlin. Being greeted by an attractive, young brunette girl was nice. She hands me my room key and I find it easily. Spending a small amount of time to get acquainted, I then leave the hostel and head for the downtown area. Not much time to see the sights of Berlin, and I want to make the most of it.
First stop, Potsdamer Platz. This is an area that the desk girl recommended to me, saying that it is a nice area with shopping and business districts. I arrive while there is still a small amount of daylight left. It is a very nice section of the city that has a large shopping complex, many restaurants, and the Sony headquarters for Europe which includes a filmography museum. Nearby is a monument to the wall and I read that the whole area I’m standing on used to be included in the ‘Death Zone’ of the wall. All of this area had been renovated after the wall was taken down. It is getting dark now, so I head to the nearby Brandenburg Gate and take some quick pictures. Then it is time to go back to the hostel and get some sleep.
Waking up early Saturday, I head out and make my way back to the Brandenburg Gate area. Some info at the hostel informed me that there was a free tour starting up here today. Turns out I wasn’t able to find the tour, so I just walk around Berlin to view the sites on my own. After visting the Holocaust museum, the SS museum, and a very nice little science museum by Otto-Bach, I head south towards Checkpoint Charlie. This is the checkpoint that my dad went through when he toured Berlin with his school’s German club in 1974. It is quite interesting to see even though it has started to rain quite frequently. I decide to head back to the hostel from here as it is getting late in the day.
On my way back I stop at a small restaurant I found called Gel Gör. Fantastic little Turkish place that serves up delicious köfte baguettes. I order one baguette and a lime Beck’s, and promptly devour both. When I get back to the hostel my dorm mates are there as well. I have a nice chat with them before they leave and find out a couple interesting things. First is that they are from British Columbia, Canada and are living over here in Hannover, Germany doing an intern program. Second is that they are attending the same university in the same field as I had applied for. Makes me realize just how small of a world this really is.
Waking up on Sunday I prepare my things for the trip home and check out of the hostel. The bus ride back to Hamburg is just as nice as the one to Berlin. Once I arrive back at Jannis’ house his mother makes me some delicious crepes and I sit down on the couch to enjoy some soccer with his family.
Next stop. Amsterdam.