Berlin

I went to Berlin on a whim but I am so glad that I did. We had a frazzled start to the weekend which included six trips on the metro Friday night. It was a three day weekend and we wanted to take advantage of the holiday and go on a farther trip. Our original plan was to leave Friday night but complications ensued when trying to purchase the global eurorail passes, hence the six trips on the metro.

So instead we left 6a.m. Saturday had a transfer in Cologne and arrived in Berlin before 2p.m. Saturday. After we were on the train the last-minute trip went surprisingly smoothly.

With the passes we purchased we have 10 days to  travel anywhere in the EU (besides the UK) for the remaining time we are here. It was a chunk of change up front–especially when converted to dollars– but in a trip or two it will pay for itself.

Berlin is a very dynamic city. It is astounding the history that it holds and so much of which is VERY recent.

It was my first time staying at a hostel but everything was  fine and it was located right in the downtown area of Berlin. Our timing was actually impeccable because it was the weekend in Brussels when they have their Carnival of Cultures. It was a crazy all day and night party with music, food and drinks from dozens of cultures. Berlin has the largest Turkish people outside of Turkey itself, so there was a strong Turkish presence at the Carnival, among others.

We took a five hour bike tour of the city to see the major sites and could not have asked for better weather. We stopped at a beer garden for lunch after passing through a very large group of naked sunbathers.

Out of all the sites I most enjoyed the parking lot (or the “car park” if you are from the UK). The site really is a parking lot but years ago, and a number of feet below the lot was the bomb shelter Hitler was married and committed suicide in. They tried to destroy it but it was too sturdy so they filled it with sand instead. The fact that it is now just an unspectacular parking lot seems to be the perfect jab at such an awful person.

On the tour we also saw a part of the Berlin wall but many of us were unsure we were even there. It was just plain concrete and shorter than I had expected. We later learned that the colorful portions, like the photo above, were just a train stop away. We visited these the next morning before we were on the train back home– I mean Brussels.