My first train ride in Europe from Prague to Berlin was an interesting one. Paige and I got to the station in Prague and had no idea where to go because there were hardly any signs in English and we were looking around on the old run down upper section of the building rather than the modern lower part of the train station. I was pretty stressed because I thought that we might miss our train to Berlin as we waited anxiously for our platform number to come up on the huge screens. As soon as our platform flashed up on the departures screen everyone started running and I was like what the hell??Until Paige explained to me that because we hadn't reserved seats with our cheap tickets, if we didn't get to the platform and board the train early we could miss out on a seat. After hearing this Paige and I started running as fast of we could with our overweight backpacks. This would have looked hilariously funny now looking back on it, but there was no way I was missing out on a seat. In the end we were lucky to have seats in a carriage without having to move the whole way to Berlin. It was lucky there was a German guy in our carriage who spoke English as all of the train information was in German and we may have got off at the wrong station or town. I didn't sleep the whole six and a half hour trip because we were sitting so close to everyone in a six seater carriage. This ended up being a good thing because I got to see some beautiful scenery and views of the river that extended from Prague to Berlin. I also got to see lots of German houses which were very colourful and had gable roof tops and small windows.
We had an interesting conversation with our taxi driver whilst heading to our hostel in East Berlin and he let us in on his hate for Turkish people and the stand over families that rule Berlin's streets. I love all that gangster and corrupt stuff, so I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about the 'underbelly' like happenings in Berlin.
During the first three days in Berlin, Paige and I didn't get up to much as we were struck down with a serious case of the flu. I hate getting sick and when your so far away from your family and with no one to look after you it's even worse. Paige and I stocked up on cold and flu tablets, Vicks (or Wicks as the Germans call it) and eucalyptus throat lollies. During the nights I had body aches, shivers and felt like I wanted to cry, and through the day I was coughing, sneezing and had massive headaches, it was terrible. While we were sick we did however manage to find a restaurant, which had amazing food just around the corner from our hostel. Paige and I both agree that this restaurant had the best pasta we had ever tried anywhere in the world. I had pasta puttanesca which had capers, olives, and a delicious tomato sauce through it and although we were sick we still managed to guzzle down two bottles of pino grigio whoooops.
We were very lucky to have the four bedroom hostel room we were staying in to ourselves on our first night in Berlin. Two mornings later we thought we might have got lucky with a new, hot, dark roommate until he spoke two words and that's when we knew he was gay ha We found out he lived in Paris and worked at Disneyland which totally suited his personality. Paige and I used to laugh because he would just walk around in his Elmo undies with no shirt and his noticeably huge package lol
I celebrated my 27th birthday while I was in Berlin and anyone who knows me, knows I love my birthday. I believe it's the one day of the year that is all about you and I love organising parties and things to do for my birthday each and every year. Even though my birthday didn't fall until the Monday we decided to go out on the best night in Berlin which was a Saturday. During the day Paige and I got outfits from a huge shopping centre called 'Alexia' right near Alexandra Palatz, drank at the hostel bar and went out to an amazing R&B club called Havana to celebrate. We met a really nice German guy who was rooming with us that also came out with us and ended up being very handy as he communicated to the taxi drivers and bouncers in German. Havana Nightclub was so fun, there were loads of 'blackies' as I call caramel men and the music was soooo good!Paige and I hooked up with some guys but when we got sick of them crowding us all night we said we were going home...which was a lie and headed straight to the next nightclub 'Matrix' which had six dance floors. By the time we got to Matrix we were pretty hammered and I once again thought I was a DJ or DJ groupie and ended up being let into the VIP box with a DJ from Florida and German soap celebrities. Paige and I had a great night and ended up getting back to our hostel at about 6am which was a great effort for us as we have been piking it at about 3am in other cities.
On the Monday I celebrated my actual birthday looking at hundreds of birthday messages and eating a beautiful dinner at a popular Vietnamese restaurant in East Berlin. Although it didn't really feel like my birthday as I'm usually surrounded by my family and friends, I still had a good day. The dinner felt a little more like my birthday during the night as I was with Sandra, Matt, Morgan and Paige. We had a bottle of wine and ended up running into our other roommate from Paris and his friends who shared the same table with us and sang me Happy Birthday, not with a cake and candles but with a lighter and after they finished singing I blew out the flame ha Paige was beautiful and shouted me my birthday dinner which was so nice and after dinner we headed home to relax in the hostel room.
|Me heading out in Berlin for my 27th Birthday|
|Morgan, Sandra and Matt celebrating my 27th Birthday at a lovely Vietnamese restaurant|
|Paige, our roommate from Paris and I on my birthday|
While in Berlin we also took part in the best free walking tour I had been on so far in Europe. The tour guide was so captivating and told us lots of amazing facts about the history and sights of Berlin in a way I could relate to and understand. It's so surreal to think that German history is so recent and the Berlin wall was only knocked down around 20 years ago.
Berlin is the capital of Germany and has a population of around 3.5 million people. After World War II, the city became divided into East Berlin—the capital of East Germany—and West Berlin, a West German exclave surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961–1989.
We started our tour in the death strip right in front of the Brandenburg Gate, where the tour guide informed us we would have been shot by German military soldiers if we were standing in that exact spot 20 years prior to that day. The Brandenburg Gate became the east-west crossing points after the Berlin Wall was built and is a symbol of Berlin's division. In 1989 more than 100,000 German's poured through it as the wall fell.
The Reichstag is just west of the Brandenburg Gate and is a glass domed building with four national flags fluttering around the outside. This building is now the German seat of power (Parliament) and around 10,000 tourists flock to walk around the spiral walkway and catch glimpses of German Parliament each day. The glass beehive like structure is said to be transparent so there are no secrets kept within the building, something I found interesting on the tour.
Paige and I also visited the Holocaust Memorial information centre on the site which told the stories and gave information about the lives of families and individuals killed in the holocaust. We spent about an hour reading recounts of what it was like living during this terrible time in German history, which was a little emotional for me.
|Paige and I in front of the beautiful Berlin Cathedral|
One night we also went up to the 360 degree panoramic level of the TV Tower where we had amazing views of Berlin and shared a strawberry daiquiri together as we admired the views. Call it Freudian or call it Ostalgie (nostalgia for the communist East or Ost), but Berlin's once mocked socialist 1969 Fernsehturm is fast becoming it's most loved symbol.
I absolutely loved Berlin and would have to say it was one of my favourite cities in Europe! There were so many amazing sites and so much history in this vibrant city and I could have stayed here for weeks.
|A friendship bear near the East-side Gallery|
|Typical east German cars from the past|
|East-side Gallery artworks on the Berlin Wall|
|These Berlin bears are everywhere as this is the symbol on Berlin's Coat of Arms|
|cool informational site in Berlin|
|The unique east Berlin Ampelmann stop lights|
|hmmm this sites name slips my mind?|
|East-side Gallery-one of the most famous artworks on the Berlin Wall|
|Me eating curry wurst|
|Brick marked lines where the Berlin Wall once stood|
|common area at our second hostel in Berlin|
|Me riding along the East-side Gallery, Berlin Wall|
|East-side Gallery artworks on the Berlin Wall|
|East side gallery|
|hmmm this sites name slips my mind?|