Berlin, Germany (June 2016)

April 07, 2017

View from Panoramapunkt 

The idea was to go on a weekend break for my boyfriend, Ryan’s, birthday. We wanted a holiday but a week by a beach was too expensive, and going to Bristol for a packed weekend break for my birthday in 2015 ensured the city break bug was well and truly caught. So it seemed the logical step. 

Also it meant I didn't have to think of a present…

Also it meant he didn’t have to organise a night out in London which is way more expensive than it’s worth… 

Also, Brexit, so we suddenly loved Europe that little bit more.

But like we needed excuses. We wanted to travel.

Deciding where to go took little time. Ryan’s a massive history and politics nerd, so Berlin was established pretty quickly. Museums, memorials, and much beer and Bowie. He was set. 

Neues Ufer, David Bowie and Iggy Pop's hangout

For the two non-family holidays I’d been on previously, I’d relied on All Inclusive deals with a travel agent. I was pretty sheltered and had The Fear of booking things separately, and online at all. Bless me. 

I started with Skyscanner. I’d heard good things from friends and the website was easy to navigate. Job done. Flights with EasyJet were booked.

Finding a hotel was a little more tricky. We didn’t know what we wanted from a city break hotel, nor where we actually wanted to be within the city. Central? Just outside? Near a station? Did we need a station?! I did a lot of Googling and Twitter asking, and searching on Booking.com. That’s where we ended up booking our hotel, Hotel Indigo, through. The only stipulations we decided on were free WiFi and it being close enough to everything so we could walk… and that the breakfast looked good in the photos. 

Very tourist, much mapping

Skip a few months and we’d landed in Berlin. I was PSYCHED. Like a dog off a leash, a toddler off reins. We followed everyone to the train station and spent longer than necessary trying to work the ticket machines. We needed Alexanderplatz, it wasn’t that hard, but apparently it was. Ryan speaks a little German so we grabbed a man, who spoke English. We clearly couldn’t have looked more British if we tried. 

Checkpoint Charlie

Walking into Alexanderplatz was ace. There was so much going on, and it was super hot and sunny. We wanted to save the little money we had so refused any taxis or trams (TRAMS!!!), so I got my phone out to Google map the hotel, and quickly remembered that I couldn’t use my data outside of the UK… and there was no WiFi… 

GOOD THING I’D SCREENSHOTTED THE HOTEL ON GOOGLE MAPS BEFORE WE LEFT, EH?! 

I am my mother’s daughter. 

In his element 

Hotel Indigo was lush and perfect for what we wanted. It was right next to Alexanderplatz which our room had a great view of, including the TV Tower (Berliner Fernsehturm). Breakfast was solid, too. And the WiFi worked. Little talking was done in that hotel as we rinsed it to catch up and Instagram. So judge me. 

Brandenburg Gate

You can walk around most of Berlin without needing the U-bahn (their underground - a thousand times better than ours - cleaner, less busy, on time - a dream, quite frankly). We used the map the hotel gave us, which had everything on it, and walked from Alexanderplatz to Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, the Reichstag, and the museums inbetween. The only times we used the U-bahn was to the East Side Gallery (40min walk from Alexanderplatz) and Bowie’s flat (in Schöneberg, 1hr 15min walk). And even they’re not excruciating distances to walk. 

East Side Gallery

Berlin felt like a busy city without being overwhelming, like London. It was comfortable to walk about and visit tourist spots, and a lot of things were free. We paid to go up Panoramapunkt in Potsdamer Platz when we found you needed to book days in advance to go in the Reichstag for the infamous view from the dome, and we paid for the Stasimuseum, but that was SO justified and only 6€ anyway! We tagged on to the English-speaking tour (every weekend and Monday at 3pm), and the tour guide was very, VERY good. I hate tours, can’t stand them, but she actually had me concentrating. Relatable and funny without being embarrassing. A talent. 

Photobombed by Germany's Paul Hollywood...

Reichstag

For free museums, we went to Topography of Terror, the Holocaust Memorial (officially known as Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) and Place of Information underneath. Topography of Terror was one of the last museums we went to, and by then I was kinda done and toddler-grumpy, so sat while Ryan took everything in. But just sitting in a museum with no phone, watching tourists - people from all over the world - look around was its own kind of education. 

Holocaust Memorial 

We stayed in Berlin Friday to Monday, and I reckon we could have done with an extra day to do e v e r y t h i n g, including the Reichstag, TV Tower, and Jewish Museum. But we were super happy with the time we had. Berlin is a wonderful place full of history and stories. It’s clean, arty, powerful, the people are lovely and nothing is overly expensive (apart from maybe the TV Tower…). And there’s a river. I love a good river. 

HOW DO YOU SIGN OFF TRAVEL BLOGS, IDK?!

Thanks, Berlin.

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