Europe has always fascinated me, and I wish to visit all the countries multiple times. Sometimes I feel I should settle in one of them.
Last season, I got a chance to go solo for a couple of days before joining my friends in Amsterdam for a weeklong holiday.
I chose Berlin. I had seen so many war movies and documentaries around the Berlin wall, I had to visit the city. Every movie that showed the city made me want to see it more in person. A city that has borne witness to destruction, I wanted to explore how it looks now.
I feel historically and culturally inclined when I choose a place. I first thought of Paris, but that would be some other day. And honestly speaking, I did read a bit about what to do when in Berlin or things to remember when traveling to Germany, etc. but when you are there just for a couple of days, it doesn’t matter. Had I been staying there for more than 2-3 weeks, then I suggest taking the pain.
So here are a few of the things I would like to share from my experience in Berlin –
Visa Requirement –
Being an Indian, I required a Schengen Visa which allowed me to travel to 26 countries in Europe without any additional visa. Schengen Visa allows you to travel up to 90 days before you must return to your home country. Find out the visa rules applicable in your country for Europe. You can read about Schengen visa here.
Moving Around –
Since it was October, the weather was just fine to move around at any time of the day. Moving around in a taxi is always an option. But the fun is in trying the local transport if you want to feel the city. I took the train from the airport to my hostel. I did get lost twice as the U-Bahn travels on both sides and covers it in a ring. It took me some time to realize which direction to look for. Germany has a good railway network and, also a good long-distance bus system. Book your tickets in advance to save money. You can buy a welcome card and get great discounts here.
My hostel was just outside the train station and it helped me a lot as I didn’t have to carry my luggage and catching a train was just as easy. You can choose to stay at the Generator as I found it to be quite clean, commutable, and had good food as well. A nearby grocery store came in handy for picking some fruits or sandwiches for the night.
Choose a place that is near the train station and has a grocery store nearby. This will save you a lot of time and money.
Hop-off – Hop- on –
I took this option to see the city around. It included all major spots, and you can catch any one of them on the same route if you wish to stay longer at any point. This gave me a chance to see the city at my own pace while not being bothered about taking a taxi or looking for locations. For more details click here.
Most of the route options on the offer include – Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburg Palace, Domes of Reichstag, Berlin Cathedral, Bellevue Palace, Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin TV Tower, The French Cathedral, Konzert Haus, The Victory Column, and not to forget the famous Berlin wall.
My reason for Berlin was obvious, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Holocaust Museum.
Take your time to visit these places and go back in history when the city was a pile of rubble during the war. The air on the eastern side is a little heavy to bear, maybe because your mind is looking at those grieving photos of the martyrs and those who witnessed the war. As you travel towards the west, you feel better and aligned with time.
When I witness Charlie Point and looked at the photos of those who dared to cross the wall during those days, I felt sad. This followed with my visit to the Holocaust Museum and I felt heavy for a long time after that. You ought to have a strong heart to go through all that suffering people have experienced in years gone by.
Strolling Away at night –
I found Berlin to be safe at night. Though you should be careful in some places. I made full use of my day pass and traveled as much as I could. Strolling through the markets and by the riverside in the Mitte area. Do take the boat ride if you have time and company.
Also, don’t forget to take the old tram for a change. It will take you back in the black and white era and you will feel as if you are a part of some movie.
Night Life in Berlin is something I missed, though we had a small party in the hostel. I prefer being cautious than being sorry in an unknown city.
However, to make up for that, I was lucky to be there during the Oktober Fest and it was a delight. The aura around the fair is full of excitement and I tried the local food there including the currywurst and wheat beer. The carousel, the ice-cream shops, the schnitzels, the beer, and shopping made it lively.
My stay in Berlin was short-lived and I had to catch a bus to Amsterdam via Hamburg. However, I wish to visit the city again sometime and live there longer to experience it better. Please share your experiences here if you visit Berlin.
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