Interrailing Travel Diary No.2 | Berlin, Germany
Helen and I headed to Berlin after Amsterdam on our Interrail* adventure. Neither of us had ever been to Germany before and we were beyond excited to finally see it! I've heard so much about Berlin, especially through college, as it's hugely known for its art and overall eccentricity.
Needless to say, we weren't disappointed and it was probably my favourite place of all the cities we travelled to. It reminded me quite a bit of Dublin in some ways; there was street art around every corner, a great juxtaposition of classic and modern architecture and generally just really interesting, eclectic people everywhere. It was the most inexpensive city we visited too, in comparison to the likes of Amsterdam and Paris - we saved quite a bit of money on food and transport.
We packed SO much into just over two days; both the general touristy stuff (the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building etc) and a few extra places I mention below. We didn't feel rushed or short for time at all in Berlin so it's definitely a place to stop off if you're going interrailing.
Our Airbnb* in Berlin was my favourite; it was so artsy, roomy and exactly what you'd want your dream "loft-style" apartment to look like in a big city. The interiors were modern and colourful and it was a dream to stay in, as you can see from Helen's video at the end of the post.
We stayed in the suburbs of Berlin this time but the S-Bahn and trains made it really easy to travel to and from the city. It was extremely straight-forward to work and we got the hang of the system almost immediately. Taxis are quite inexpensive too, compared to the other cities but do try and use public transport to save that extra few euros.
FOOD & DRINK
The food was great in Berlin! There's so many quirky restaurants and bars scattered everywhere, that you're spoilt for choice. Alike to Amsterdam, the food was mainly continental but we personally had a mixture of American-style, Mexican and Italian.
Loads of our readers recommended that we head to a bar called 'White Trash' so we went along on the second day and it did not disappoint! Let's just say you guys know us so well. It's basically the dream rock'n'roll bar: rock DJ's, American-style grub (burgers, hot dogs, chips), live acts, a cocktail bar and even a tattoo parlour. To say we were in heaven, would be an understatement.
However - and this is a big however - the food ended up disagreeing with both of us. We each ordered different food on the night, so we're assuming we just weren't used to the type of meat or that the alcohol we drank alongside it completely fuddled up. You're bound to get an upset stomach at least once whilst travelling; just try and get it up ASAP (gross, I know) and hydrate yourself extremely well the next day. Despite this, we adored White Trash. You must go!
We found a lot of Italian restaurants all over the city and they were generally the cheapest to eat in. The pasta dishes you can see below cost us €4.90 each. Pasta is a lifesaver when you're travelling, as you're guaranteed it'll fill you up and the dish names are typically still in Italian, so they're recognisable.
I have to give a special mention to both Pretzels and Dunkin' Donuts whilst I'm on the subject of food because both were a completely new experience to me and yep, I'm slightly obsessed. Pretzels are everywhere in Berlin, especially in the likes of train stations and tourist spots. Helen and I used to buy the cheese-covered ones for less than €2 for our train journeys and they'd fill us up in no time.
We went to the Jewish museum on our first day, as it was on the top of our list and me being a total history nerd, NEEDED to go. I didn't take many photos there, as quite frankly it was a very surreal - and upsetting - experience, as you can imagine. My camera was tucked away for most of our visit.
The building itself is so interesting to look at. It was designed by Daniel Libeskind and was intentionally designed to make visitors feel disorientated and somewhat lost - to give them a sense of what Jewish people have experienced for centuries.
Menashe Kadishman's installation 'Shalekhet' (Fallen Leaves), in a section called 'The Memory Void', had us both struck completely speechless. You enter a huge industrial room, with 10,000 iron open-mouthed faces scattered all over the floor. Visitors walk on and around them and it's such a shaking and moving experience. The clanging noise of the metal banging against each other is eery in itself and gives the whole room such an empty and cold atmosphere.
It's hard to articulate the impact the Jewish museum had on us, it's really a place you need to go visit yourself to truly understand. I can't express enough how much I recommend going here if you're in Berlin anytime soon. You do have to pay a small amount for admission tickets but if you show your student card, you get a discounted rate.
THE BERLIN WALL
We visited the infamous Berlin Wall during our stay and alike to the Jewish Museum, it was a very surreal experience seeing it in the flesh. What I loved about it though, was the abundance of incredible art covering both sides of it, tip to toe; how something so negative, could be made into a positive - a giant art work, as such. It was absolutely brilliant to finally see, snaps some photos at and location-wise, it's near some fun areas full of quirky bars and clubs.
BERLINER FERNSEHTURM (Viewing Tower)
We decided to pop up to Berlin's viewing tower on our last evening and see the city from a bird's eye view. There's thousands upon thousands of people viewing it each day so when we purchased a ticket, we received a number and had to wait an hour or two for our viewing slot. I recommend buying your ticket, keeping an eye on how fast the groups are moving, and then head off for dinner or a few drinks whilst you wait.
It was absolutely incredible to see a 360 degree view of our surroundings. It's the highest I've ever been in a building in my life so I was admittedly quite frightened and dizzy at first but I soon adjusted. Along with information points and telescopes, there's also a bar and toilets up on top so you're not stuck in the slightest once you get up there. It was incredible and a true "pinch me" moment to see Berlin from such a height.
Berlin was a really special place, I can see myself going back there again and again. There was such a youthful, fun and carefree vibe and everyone was so friendly. The language barrier didn't matter too much, as most people spoke at least basic English. If you're young, arty and just want a city adventure but nothing too elaborate cost-wise, I'd recommend Berlin in a heartbeat.
Helen's vlog on our Berlin adventure: