I’ve wanted to visit Berlin for a long time, and I was meant to go last October but ended up deciding to cancel, because I was going with my Mum who was too worried about the Ryanair strikes and getting stuck. Since then the city has felt like the one that got away, and so when I decided to book a bank holiday trip I knew Berlin was the one. The way my flights fell I ended up with three full days in the city, which meant I could tick a lot of things off, and this post talks about everything I saw during my 72 hours in Berlin. Because this post is so long, I’m doing it in two parts-today’s is what I did on the Saturday, and in three days time there’ll be a post about Sunday and Monday for you.
Saturday was my first day in the city and I knew I wanted to fit in as much as possible. I made life difficult for myself as I wore my knockoff converse, which badly blistered the underneath of my feet-so by mid afternoon I was both shattered and in pain. I powered through, though, and here’s what I got up to.
I knew the Jewish Museum was going to be difficult, but it’s one of those that I think everyone should do if they can. The museum was really thought provoking and very moving, especially the Fallen Leaves exhibit, with it’s metal faces you walk over, each representing someone killed by war, which really upset me. I’m not going to tell you much about the museum because it’s all easy to find online if you’re interested, and if you’re going to go, I’ll let you discover it for yourself. Needless to say it was money well spent (I think about 12 euros) and there was an audio guide in lots of languages, so anyone can appreciate the museum for themselves. I’d recommend planning to spend 2-3 hours there, so you can really take it all in, and spend some time in the museum gardens too.
Checkpoint Charlie is the most well known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. When I got there it was far more touristy than I’d expected, and nothing to write home about. Effectively it’s just a ‘roadblock’ in the middle of the road, with three men dressed as US soldiers charging 3 euros for tourists to get a photo with them. You can also pay to get your passport stamped if you want to. I’d suggest popping over if you really want THAT photo, or if you’re close by, but if you’re not near and you’re not bothered, don’t waste your time. There is a museum you can pay to visit if you want to find out more, so you could probably spend a couple of hours here if you’re interested.
You can actually visit the museum inside to find out more about the history of the city and how Hitler rose to power, but I chose to just view the outdoor part. There’s a lot of information on there that I found hard to process-I understood it, and it was easy to see how things happened, but it wasn’t easy to read, if that makes sense. It’s very hard hitting.
The history of the Berlin wall fascinates me, so I knew I’d go to see as many parts of it as I could. I still don’t know much about what happened, even after visiting the city, so reading up is on my to do list. Potsdamer Platz, as well as being an attraction in itself, has a few segments of the wall and so I went to have a look at them.
This is possibly one of the most famous landmarks in Berlin, but the sad thing about solo travel is there’s no one to take a good photo of you in front of a landmark. It was raining too hard to use my tripod, so I ended up with a few not that great selfies instead. Brandenburg Gate is well worth seeing, and it’s so close to a fair few other attractions too.
This was one of my must sees, which I knew I’d like before I booked the flights. Also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Holocaust memorial is designed to make you feel a bit lost, a bit confused and disorientated, as you wander through the different paths created by the different height blocks. There’s been a bit of a scandal recently about people taking smiling selfies with the memorial, or even climbing on it or doing acrobatics against it. I didn’t do any of that, of course, but I did take a few shots-believing that sharing something like that is fine, but disrespecting it is not.
I didn’t get chance to find the room of names, which plays the names of everyone killed in the holocaust over and over-taking SEVEN YEARS from the beginning to the end of the list.
Tiergarten, Berlin’s version of New York’s Central Park, runs from opposite Brandenburg Gate across to the Reichstag. I had a bit of time to kill before my booked visit so I wandered through the park. I was looking for the Gay Memorial but despite seeing it on my real time map, I couldn’t find it.
I did find the Memorial to the Cinti and Roma, so I spent some time looking around that. On the floor were the names of all of the different concentration camps, and around the pool in the middle was an incredibly moving poem :
Sunken in face
a torn heart
The Parlimentary building, Germany’s version of our Houses Of Parliment, isn’t open for the public to just wander inside, for obvious security reasons. You can walk around the outside and take photographs but you can’t get too close-recent terrorism around the world is, I’m sure, the reason for the heightened security. If you’re interested, you can book to go up inside the glass dome above (think Berlin’s version of London’s SkyGarden) and so I booked my free tickets just after booking my flights.
You’re given a free audio guide, which tells you what you can see as you walk around the winding path leading to the top of the dome, so I was able to learn lots about both the Bundestag and the city, and the views were breathtaking. I spent about an hour wandering around, taking photos and trying to spot buildings I recognised. I’d absolutely recommend doing the Reichstag dome as part of a trip to Berlin if you’ve not been before.
Once I’d finished inside the dome, and taken more photos outside, I was going to head back to Tiergarten to try and find the Gay Memorial again, and then back to the Holocaust Memorial for the room of names. I was a bit put off by the sudden appearance of a lot of police, and the closure of the main road, so instead I went to the nearest U Bahn station to get a train back to my hotel, where I had tea outside at a street market, and got into bed with Netflix.
Part two of this post will be going up in a few days, so you can find out what I got up to on my second and third day in Berlin. Have you been to the city before? Did you do the same things I did, or did you choose something else instead?