How did I let this happen? Seriously? HOW COME I STILL HAVEN’T WRITTEN ABOUT MY FAVORITE WEEKEND TRIP? I blame it on the madness that was April – moving out, packing for Italy and studying for final exams – and May – pigging out on home-cooked meals, shopping with mom and enjoying the Texas sun.
Well, anywho… I did go to Berlin, Deutschland for the long weekend in April, the Easter weekend, and to this day, I love love love telling the story of how we almost ended up in Dresden, instead. Lesson learned: Always double check train’s destination before you hop on it, especially in a foreign country after you’ve been up since 2 a.m. to catch the 6 a.m. flight.
Leaving whatever happened at the Berlin Shoenefield Airport train station behind, Jack and I eventually made it to our hostel, located right next to Berlin Haupbahnhof station. Meininger was the biggest and the most modern hostel we stayed at the entire semester. While small hostels, such as the ones we found in Dublin and Sicily, have their own perks of cozyness, comfort and personal attention, big hostels are well-maintained and offer more big-group activities.
After we dropped off our backpacks, we began our German adventures with…THE FREE TOUR! The same deal as the ones in Dublin and Paris. I quickly found Berlin was full of interesting ironies. Brandenburg Gate, at least 300-year-old historic monument, stood right next to the all-glass, extremely modern Parliament building. The Holocaust Memorial, with no clear sign of what it’s supposed to represent, simply sat in the middle of the city. All in all, we saw numerous historic sights, ate almost too many sausages and fell in love with the German culture.
Since close to two months have already flown by since my trip to Berlin, I will actually make categories and lists of places I visited, food I ate, things I loved, etc. – with lots of pictures, of course!
First things first, FOOD & DRINKS. (I mean, are you surprised?)
1. Bratwurst: Yes, sausages. Why else would you ever visit Germany? Grilled perfectly – burnt a little outside but still tender and juicy inside. Moreover, I discovered something absolutely amazing called CURRYWURST. Jack was daring enough to try it first, but basically, it is perfectly grilled bratwurst cut into small pieces with curry sauce and curry powder on top. I know, sounds a bit weird. The taste, however, is superb. By far my favorite food discovery in Europe.
2. Berliner Pilsner: Great German beer. Regardless of what size beer you ask for, you will most likely end up with a huge stein.
3. Cheap Thai/Vietnamese Food: For only 3 euro, I had a big bowls of Vietnamese noodle for lunch. Then for only about 10 euro, I had a huge plate of Thai noodle for dinner. Yum!
1. Climbing to the top of the Parliament building for a gorgeous city view: One downside is you have to start lining up at around 7:45 a.m. for its 8 a.m. opening time. Multiple upside factors are amazing view and no need to pay to enjoy the view.
2. Pub Crawls: Truth – Berlin S-Bahn and U-Bahn operate 24 hours a day on weekends. Need I say more? Great night life – we went to all sorts of pubs/bars during our pub crawl. We started off at Zapata, an outdoor hangout place, went to Die Fisch (Yes, The Fish!), a hip dance-y bar, then moved on to a bro-ish club and finally, sorta Euro-trash club. So. Much. Fun. We also made friends from NY and Norway. Sweet deal.
3. Picnic at Museuminsel: By Museuminsel, I mean The Museum Island where all the major museums in Berlin surround a gorgeous green. By picnic, I actually mean Currywursts. On a warm afternoon, just try it. Couple of Currywursts and a couple cans of Berliner Pilsner!
[Sidenote: At the Museum Island, you can also visit Pergammon Museum, which houses ancient Greek statues and Babylonian architecture. You can also get student discounts!]
4. Oranianburg Daytrip: About an hour away on the U-Bahn, this site of former concentration camp is definitely worth a visit. We ended up spending an entire afternoon there. Not sure how to describe it in words, but you just learn so much and realize how wonderful it is to have your freedom, happiness and simply, joyful life.
Oh Berlin! What a fun city! Throughout the weekend, I also noticed Berlin was full of tourists – almost more than London! I was a bit thrown off by how many people spoke French and complicated Eastern European languages around me, but nevertheless, blended in just fine and had a great time.
If I ever get a chance, I definitely want to visit Frankfurt, Dresden (not accidentally this time) and Hamburg. And also, practice my German skills!