Updated: Jan 1
Berlin is eccentric. People have tattoos and dyed purple hair.
My first impression of Berlin was that it is made up of memorials and kebab shops. Is that rude? Maybe, but I would rather hurt you with truths then with lies. That being said, kebabs are delicious so I don’t see that as a negative.
For real though, Berlin is a massive memorial site. It didn’t sink in that 80% (that may be personal knowledge) of it was destroyed until I actually arrived. Walk 15 minutes in any direction in the downtown core and you’ll pass by a memorial. They started to map where the Berlin Wall once stood on the ground. So you could be minding your own business, eating a sausage, staring at your feet, only to realise that the divider, was right there. It sort of grounds you, sort of makes you super, duper sad.
Rent a bike
Do a historical tour
Any-who, Berlin is substantial in size and flat, which some may not consider to be the perfect body shape but it is the perfect shape for biking. I may have read somewhere that renting a bike was a good idea but when I saw the signs for 10 euros per day, I thought my legs are cheaper. After 8+ hours of walking per day, I was singing a different tune. Although, I did see everything I wanted to, but my poor feetsies.
Berlin is rich in history. Shit went down there. That’s why, to fully experience it, you need to get some smarts. Whether that is from a free walking tour (which I didn’t do) or go to Berlin Unterwelten (which I did).
Berlin Unterwelten. You can’t buy tickets online so you will need to go to their ticket shop located at the Gesundbrunnen metro stop. This is also where the tours start. Due to reasons I can’t remember, I arrived 2 hours early (11:00 for the 13:00 tours). There was a line but it went super quick. There was maybe 17 tickets left for my tour, so I am unsure how early you actually need to go. My aunts recommended that I do Berlin Unterwelten and they did the Cold War nuclear bunkers (Tour 3). I couldn’t decide since they all sounded interesting, so when I got to the front I just panicked and picked that one. Students rejoice because they get a discount of a whole 2 euros (that evens out pricy tuition fees). Unlike the rest of the unlucky saps who pay 12.00 euros. I had an hour and a half to chillax before the tour started. Lucky for me, it was sunny and there is a large park across the street to do yo bizness in. I ended up grabbing a cider or two, a worst from some sketchy sausage place outside the train station entrance (which was delish) and drinking in the park because it’s Berlin and no judgements.
There is a massive supermarket called Kaufland nuzzled in between the ticket shop and the Berlin- Gesundbrunnen train station. Like a fool, I used the toilet in the mall, costing .50 cents but I think the one inside by the Kaufland supermarket was free, but don’t hold me to that. There is also a self- cleaning, city toilet in the park at the cross-road of Brunnenstrasse and Gustav-Meyer- Allee, that is .50 cents.
I ended up seeing all the major areas that the city is known for in two days, so if you get a map from your hostel, you should cover everything. There are some impressive free things such as the Berlin Wall memorial and the Topography of Terror (see what I mean about the memorial sites). I only paid to go inside one thing (other than Unterwelten) and that was Charlottenburg Palace. Again with my student discount. It is almost worth all that crippling educational debt to save a few euros on all these different European attractions.
Charlottenburg Palace is a bit of a trek, but totally doable on the bike you rented. I ended up walking and then taking a bus once I was about to collapse from the pain in my feet. As is custom with frugal people.
I arrived 10 minutes before opening at 10am and there were 8 people in line in front of me. I did the short tour, which was fine. Clearly I am not super enthusiastic about it all but it is basically an old fancy house. Since I am living in a 10m squared room, going in palaces just depresses me. I have to cook breakfast from my bed since I have no space whereas these rich people have a separate room to fart in. If you did purchase a ticket, go to the toilet inside the Palace because the toilet outside closer to the gardens costs money. I learned the hard way, one near bladder infection later.
If I were to do it again, I would just scoot around the back to go to the gardens for free and not pay to go inside the Palace.
I know you’ll send the hounds after me for saying this but I didn’t have the best food experiences. A few exceptions to that is the Best Worscht, which is inside the mall food court. The sausages have a kaleidoscope of flavours. He added CINNAMON, which opened doors to yummy-town.
Momos – organic veggie dumplings were unreal. You get to choose your fillings and they were fairly priced.
I did go to Markthalle Neun, and on Thursday evenings, they have a street food extravaganza from 17:00-22:00. It was a good collection of foods but expensive.