Four Days in Berlin: Solo Trip 2017

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Wrote 2016 first, but whadduyaknow- it’s 2017!

I spent the first few days of the year on a little solo winter getaway to Berlin. 😉dsc_0110dsc_0001 

(Ok, no one does a “getaway” to Germany, but it was a great trip).  In all honesty, I didn’t love Berlin in the same way that I love many other European countries (like Paris, Lisbon, and Amsterdam), but I learned a lot… and had plenty of time to sit in cozy coffee shops and read this incredible book.img_8529

Since I was alone, I didn’t actually take that many photos, so I thought I would do this post ‘itinerary style’ and show you how I spent four days.dsc_0026 

I decided to go alone since almost everyone I knew was either in the U.S. or on one trip or another for the holidays, or was at work (Luis).  I didn’t want to sit at home, so I decided to use the week for a little solo travel!  I LOOOVED my solo trip to Lisbon, so I was excited for this one, too.  I chose Berlin because so many people are like ‘best place ever’, but when I got there I was like, ‘???????????????????????????????????????’.dsc_0031 

Berlin itself is not really a beautiful city (imo), which is understandable due to it’s history.  But I also just found the city to be a little bit boring.  Where is the cool downtown?  The funky stores?  The amazing coffeeshops and bumpin’ restaurants?dsc_0029  

I asked some people what in the world they were talking about when they said it was amazing and they said that in the summer it has a really great mix of city and outdoor openness, which obviously is lacking in the frigid grey, snowy winter.dsc_0007  It’s ok though- i got my museum and history fill for 2017.

Day 1/4

– Wake up at 3 am to catch your flight.  Go to the airport and think happy thoughts…..img_8502

– Arrive in Berlin, try to stay awake long enough to find your hostel.  (I stayed in EastSeven Hostel and it was awesome.  Highly recommended if you’re looking for a place).dsc_0002

– Take a nap in your new cozy bed, then wake up three hours later and eat your tortilla espanola.  img_8528

– Take a couple metros and go check out the outdoor Turkish market (only on Tuesdays and Fridays!).  It’s full of fruit and veggie stands, olives, grape leaves, hummus, etc. etc.dsc_0011 dsc_0015 dsc_0016

– pop into a coffee shop and have a cafe creme (basically American coffee with the consistency of an espresso so big and strong, exactly the way it should be!) and read your book.

– go to the hostel and offer to help make dinner and then join in on the feast because you’re no Henny Penny, are you?!

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– go to sleep

Day 2/4

– up at 8 am!  with breakfast and a guidebook.

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– stop 1: Parliament building.  Make a reservation!  (Free)dsc_0043

This was well worth it for, not only the views, but also to get oriented with the city.img_8549  

They provide an audio guide that tells you “if you stop and look to your right, you’ll see…” and so on and so forth.  It was really good to help me plan my next stops.  Also, really cool architecture in the building.dsc_0047 dsc_0049 dsc_0059

– stop 2: Memorial to the politicians that opposed Hitler.  It’s in front of the Parliament building, to the left if you’re facing it.  It’s small and easy to miss.  (FREE)dsc_0065

– stop 3: Berlin Wall Victims Memorial.  This is on the corner, when you are walking from the Parliament Building to the next stop of the day.  Easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. (FREE)

– stop 4: Brandenburg Gate(FREE)dsc_0075  Huge, like something you would see in Paris….which leads us to our next stop! 

– stop 5: Pariser Platz (Parisian Square) (FREE)– not my favorite, but has important buildings.  Notice the U.S. Embassy to your left when you stand in the plaza looking at the Gate.dsc_0073

– stop 6: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Information Center (FREE)dsc_0091-001

100% you should definitely make time to see this memorial, which is a huge block of land covered by these pillars and blocks of stone of various heights.  It gives you a feeling of confusion about what is up and what is down and maybe the designer was trying to give you the same feeling that the victims had- it messes with your perception.dsc_0079 

After you take time to walk through the Memorial, get in the short line and go to the underground information center.  It’s small, but absolutely worth your time to read more about the Holocaust.  I waited in line while it was hailing, so you can wait, too.dsc_0085

By the time I came out, the sun was shining and the sky looked beautiful.dsc_0094

– Walk 45 minutes back to the hostel and get ready for some dinnah

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Day 3/4

– Wake up at 9 am because…vacation.  Also there is a fresh dusting of snow out there!dsc_0103

– stop 1: Museum Islanddsc_0107 dsc_0115

Museum Island is home to a number of large art museums, as well as this huge cathedral.dsc_0117

I’m not a big art person, so I felt my time could be spent in other places.  Instead, I walked around the island and looked at the buildings….and used their lobby to get oriented.dsc_0123 From Museum Island, exit the other side of the island and head into town towards the Brandenburg Gate, but a little more south.

– stop 2: Checkpoint Charlie (FREE to look at, pay to enter museum)dsc_0125

Once you see Checkpoint Charlie, bang a left and head towards the next stop, which is only 5 minutes away.dsc_0127

(not this, but saw it along the way.  This artist has art all over)

– stop 3: Topography of Terror (FREE)dsc_0153

The Topography of Terror is a museum on the grounds of the Gestapo Headquarters Office.  The museum is absolutely worth your time.  Spend 2-3 hours looking at the photos and reading about more of the history of the Gestapo and how the Nazi Party came into power.  Warning:  you will see photos that will turn your stomach- some from violence, and others are like this:dsc_0149

Photos of S.S guards and women on their ‘retreats’ just a kilometer or two from Auschwitz.

Outside of the Topography of Terror:dsc_0130 dsc_0135

Headed home and played chef for the night!  Made “taco rice bowls” with rice, bean chili, corn, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, yogurt, avocado.  Deeeeelicious and it’s amazing how many people 30 Euros feeds!!img_8568 img_8569 img_8571

Day 4/4

– Breakfast, then head out for an hour long walk to The Jewish Museum Berlindsc_0155

– Stop at The Jewish Museum for 2-3 hours of reading and reflecting and learningdsc_0163

The museum was designed by the same architect that designed the World Trade Center Museum, so the building itself is intended to make to feel something.  The lower portion is made of three different “axes” that come together.  Each axis has different information.  The first is the Axis of the Holocaust, which provides photos and artifacts, before leading to a big, heavy metal door, which takes you outside to this small sliver between two buildings, with only a tiny bit of light coming from the top.dsc_0168

Then there was the Axis of Exile (I can’t remember, maybe exile?) and the axis of continuity, which leads you up to the rest of the museum to learn about Judaism in Germany (and the world) throughout time.dsc_0170

There is also an “interactive” memorial, which allows you to walk out onto thousands of metal “face plates” and since, they are metal (or steel?) and all different shapes and sizes, they make clanking and banging noises when you step on them, similar to the sounds of unnatural human screams.dsc_0182

Again, very highly recommended during your trip to Berlin.

That was it for my trip!  I headed back to the hostel and collected my things to head to the airport.  I wouldn’t say it was my favorite trip ever, but it was certainly worth my time and I learned a lot of history and a lot about myself. img_8556

Perspective is everything, isn’t it?dsc_0158 dsc_0160

 

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