In January I visited the German capital of Berlin with my best friend Daniella as I took her for a present for her 21st, as I found really good prices from London Stansted which involved getting two ridiculously early coaches both to and from the airport. But that did not matter as we were going to Berlin!! As it was somewhere we were both dying to go visit and we'd never been able to find flights which were in our price range so I decided we could not miss out on this chance.
I kept where we were going a secret but told her the country which we were visiting on her actual birthday (around a month before we went) so she would have an idea of how cold it would be and know what currency to get and then told her which city we were going to about an hour or two before the flight. But did tell her and her mum when I picked Daniella up it was either Munich or Berlin as Daniella's mum wanted to look up where we were staying and we were staying with Wombats Hostel, and luckily there is more than one in Germany so still a surprise!
Before I knew it, it was time to jump on the national express to Stansted and I was beyond excited despite the fact it was 1 am and I had been at work all day prior and knew I was far too excited to sleep on the bus. As I expected I got a maximum of half an hour sleep on the bus but three hours later and we were at Stansted and flew straight through security as I had checked us in online and travelling hand luggage only so we didn't have to check in our luggage. We were very much looking forward to our veggie breakfast from Wetherspoons, but they had no veggie sausages or hash browns!!! Heartbreaking!! so we still had a slightly disappointing Wetherspoons breakfast, before boarding our flight to Berlin Schönefeld and gratefully got some sleep on the flight. Just under 2 hours later we had arrived in Berlin Schönefeld and we had no idea how we were going to get from the Airport but we decided to follow the crowd and decided to get the U-Bahn to Alexanderplatz as we were staying around this area but our closest station was Rosa Luxemburg Platz but we decided to walk from Alexanderplatz as we thought this would be a good way to familiarise ourselves with where we were staying. This walk was the best decision as it gave us our first proper taste of Berlin and we were both loving it and were so excited to explore. Top tip here MAKE SURE you ACTIVATE your ticket for the trains as if you don't and get caught out you could be fined up to 40€ on the spot. We were staying at Wombats Hostel which we were really happy with as the location was brilliant but beware if you stay there the Wifi is terrible. It was around 12 pm when we arrived at the hostel at this point and we were starving so decided to head out for food and we discovered Burger Vision!! If you are visiting Berlin you have to try this especially if you love Halloumi the Halloumi burger is to die for and would go back to Berlin just for that (but will be back 100%). And then it was time to check in, we had booked into a six-bed female only door, and we had the loveliest Japanese lady in our room she must have been around 60 years old but loved staying in Hostels and went to see the Opera every night.
After refreshing, we headed out to start exploring Berlin before the Sunset we found Museum Island and were in awe of the Cathedral as it was beautiful at sunset and we were growing to love a city which we had only just started to explore. We found the Neue Wache which we haunting but also so peaceful as we remembered the tragic events which have happened in German history. We also saw the Brandenburger Gate from afar but the moment the sunset the temperate dropped to like -7 and we had been up for like 36 hours so decided to get an early night as we knew we were going to be busy for the next few days. We had signed up for a free walking tour which was going to cover World War II, the Third Reich and the Cold war which sounded amazing so we headed over to Grand central station where we were meant to meet but no one turned up!! So we decided to do our own version just without any of the cool stories so we headed towards the Brandenburger Gate as we knew this was somewhere which we dying to see. It was breathtaking but like every major tourist attractions such as The Eiffel Tower, Oxford Street etc keep your wits about yourself as there will always be people trying to scam you. And we found people coming up to us with clipboards trying to get us to donate money to a special needs school but covered up the donation column so you think it is innocent but speaking to locals none of this money goes to the schools. We got invited to join a free walking tour which started just outside the Brandenburger Gate.
Our next stop was Reichstagsgebäude which is the German parliament building which has an extremely interesting history as it was burnt down just after Hitler came into power as the German Parliament still had power over Hitler's decisions. But after the building burnt he had full control of all the decisions. But I will let you discover more on this story when you visit, but the Reichstagsgebäude has a glass dome on the top of it and apparently gives you one of the best views of Berlin and you get to look down on German Parliament. This is extremely interesting as it means that the people are above the Parliament so when they look up they can see the German public, or tourists taking a selfie. Although we didn't get to go up the Reichstagsgebäude it was something which we wished we had done, but the tickets apparently sell out days in advance. After the Reichstagsgebäude we headed towards the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, but at this point, we were freezing cold and decided to leave the tour as we wanted to look more into the memorial but the tour past by it but they may have come back later. But we were freezing and wanted to see the memorial now. The memorial was eery, haunting but incredibly powerful and would say it is a must when visiting Berlin as the history is key to the way the world is today. After this, we headed for a hot chocolate as we planned our next stop which we decided was going to Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie is a must when visiting Berlin, as the events which happened here are shocking and the whole idea of East and West Berlin is insane and shocking how walls are still isolating nations today. The Berlin wall came down 30 years ago. But the history which you learn there is vital as they have a museum there telling the stories of people who escaped and tried to escape. But also a chance to get your passport stamped with official stamps, which cost 5€ for 6 stamps or 10€ for 12. I am a sucker for a passport stamp so decided to get the 6 stamps and 100% was worth the money. Also from the checkpoint Charlie gift shop, I was able to buy a bit of the Berlin Wall, which I thought was amazing as this was such a pivotal point in history. After this, we headed to Vapianos for lunch which did not disappoint. We still wanted to explore Berlin as visit Hilters carpark and we were shocked the size of it and how it is now being used a carpark. I understood there is no good use for it and it can't be destroyed as the walls are so thick. But it is literally round for the corner from the memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe.
We then headed back to the hostel and decided to get ridiculously drunk in a bar which was good, although the next day was a bit of a write off although we did go up the Berlin TV tower for sunset which was amazing and the view was to die for!! And would 100% recommend it cost us 16.50€ I believe for a standard ticket which was perfect as you are given the option to skip the queues and the option for the bar and the restaurant which were sadly out of our price range but having a meal up there would be amazing as the view was insane!!
On our last day, we headed straight over to the east side gallery and decided to jump in an uber there as it was -5 and an hour walk, the uber cost us around 11€ which was a bit on the pricey side but we did not fancy doing the walk as the wind was bitter. The east side gallery was amazing and the artwork there is incredibly powerful and still so relevant today. Standing on the border between two former nations which are now a united nation is a feeling like no other, knowing that people risked their lives trying to cross from one side to the other and the fact that there are nations still divided by a wall such as North and South Korea.
After this, we headed back to Checkpoint Charlie as this was a highlight for us and we still had a few things we wanted to pick up before we headed up to the Memorial to the Berlin Wall, which was extremely moving especially with the photographs in memory of the victims of the wall. This was a heartbreaking sight but as temperatures had now reached -13 we called the day short and headed back to the hostel.
After this, we started heading back to the Airport which was heartbreaking as it meant our time in Berlin was over and after an incredibly burnt veggie burger from Burger King, it was time to fly which was extremely easy. Then after catching the National Express back home. Overall I loved Berlin and would give it a 10/10 and am dying to go back as soon as possible! And would love to explore other parts of Germany as it is a country which is rich in history and trust me I will be back!! Ashleigh xx Here is a discount code, to give you £25 off your first trip over £55. www.airbnb.co.uk/c/ashleighh1808