Though I was sad to leave Vienna, I was glad to have another new city to explore. Being in Berlin marked the halfway point in my journey, which was absolutely crazy for me to think about. After a terrible overnight bus ride, and having to once again navigate public transport in a different language, I finally arrived at the hostel and was able to settle in. I decided to go exploring anyway, and I’m really glad I did. I stayed at the Heart of Gold hostel, which is in the historic area of Mitte which has the majority of sites to see. The only downside is that breakfast isn’t included, but it is a buffet, so you can get as much as possible for the rest of your day if you want. I headed towards the centre of Mitte to check out the Berlin Cathedral, which was really beautiful. You are able to climb up to the top of the cathedral for panoramic views of the city, which were lovely. Afterwards, I decided I really wanted to check out a particular section of the Berlin Wall called the Eastside Gallery. Though there are pieces of the wall located all throughout the city, the Eastside Gallery is the longest stretch and is covered in artwork. I took the subway to get there as it was a little ways away and walked all along it. It was so cool to see!! Absolutely crazy to imagine what life was like during the division of Berlin.
The next day, I was determined to get in even more historical sightseeing. I headed to the Brandenburger Gate, a sight for passage between the sides of the wall. Nearby there is a park that stretches quite a ways and houses many memorials for those affected under the rule of Nazi Germany. I headed further to the main Holocaust Memorial for Germany, a massive cement ‘garden’ filled with cement pillars, and an exhibition below. The exhibition was extremely moving, as it contained many facts about the war and concentration camps, plus personal letters from many who suffered. It was extremely difficult to be reminded of these atrocities that happened not too long ago. Later on I went to the Topography of Terror site, which similarly describes what life was like under the Nazi regime as well as the Cold War. This site presented facts that were also difficult to be reminded of. Following this, I went to Checkpoint Charlie, a famous checkpoint between the wall that many people passed through. Opposite this was a room that contained a panoramic painting instillation entitled “The Wall,” which depicts what life was like in Berlin at the time when the wall was up. Complete with lighting and sound effects, it was a super cool experience!
At the hostel, I met a couple of girls who were really nice. One of them and I decided to go up the Berlin Fernsehturm Tower to take in some views of the city. After a bit of miscommunication, we finally met up with one another; however, the tower was very busy and we had to wait about an hour to actually go up (you were given selected times on your ticket). It wasn’t too bad though, because we got to see Berlin at night! It was all enclosed, which was slightly disappointing, but still pretty neat to see. Afterwards we met up with the other girl I had met for dinner, and we went to a Japanese restaurant where there was not an English menu. That in itself was another interesting experience, but we were able to order and loved it! I am grateful to have met these two.
On my last day in Berlin, I decided to visit a few museums. The first one I went to was the Jewish Museum, an incredibly interesting architectural experience designed to elicit emotional responses. Being there in itself was really interesting and moving. The museum provided details of the atrocities committed to the Jews, and also described the many accomplishments made by Jewish people throughout history (particularly in Berlin). I spent a lot of time there and it was very intriguing. Next I went to the Pergamon Museum, which houses many Babylonian and Islamic works, most famous being a big section of the Babylon Ishtar Gate. It was neat to see. Then I went to the DDR Museum, an interactive museum that explores what life was like during the Cold War. It was really cool! Such an interesting place.
In conclusion, my time in Berlin was lovely. Berlin reminds me a lot of Manchester, where I currently live. Berlin is a great place for travellers to visit on a budget, because a lot of the historical sights are free to visit (Berlin Wall, Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburger Gate, etc), plus many museums give out really good discounts for students. My favourite sights of Berlin include the Berlin Wall, “The Wall” painting instillation, the Fernsehturm Tower, the Jewish Museum and the DDR Museum. The 3 days I spent in Berlin was the perfect amount of time to see everything. For those travelling to Berlin, I hope you are in awe of the history Berlin offers as much as I was. Hopefully, in the future it will not be atrocities in history that draw us to such destinations, but the positive aspects and accomplishments of the world.