If you've been following me on social media you'll probably know I was a very lucky girl this Christmas. Josh treated me to a short trip to Berlin as my Christmas present, so at the beginning of January we headed off for 4 days in beautiful, but cold Berlin. After filling a big suitcase, going over my weight limit and packing 5 different scarves, of which I wore 3, we were ready to go. A 3am wake up call was not how I wanted to start the trip though, although it was nice to see Manchester all lit up, and the sun rise in the sky.
We eventually arrived and navigated our way to the hotel thanks to the pretty great train and underground system in Berlin, and our hotel was lovely, the boy really had done well. Right next to an underground station and just off one of the main shopping streets in Berlin, the room was stylish and the bed was the comfiest bed I've ever slept in. The only slightly awkward thing was the bathroom door being less than soundproof, meaning loud singing or putting the shower on during certain toilet trips was needed. I love him, he loves me, but no one wants to hear another person shitting, no matter how much you love them!
After a quick refresh for me, and nap for Josh we headed out to have a bit of an explore, we decided we just wanted to walk around the area rather than head out for anything specific. Our first stop was the KaDeWe the biggest department store in Berlin, and it was amazing, it had a whole floor selling food, vegetables, chocolates, meat and bread. It also had bars selling meals and drinks or coffee I loved wandering around just looking, even though it was pretty expensive I made Josh promise we could come back!
After grabbing some
expensive amazing lunch in the restaurant upstairs we headed back out into the freezing cold and stumbled upon Berlin Zoo. When we found out it was only 10 euros each we figured we'd have a look and check out the animals. As zoos go it was nothing special, and although some of the animals seemed happy, some parts of the zoo got me quite upset. The big cats were kept in really small inside enclosures with concrete floors and they were constantly pacing back and forth, to me they just looked unhappy, one of the lionesses looked me straight in the eye and I could have cried. We left pretty quickly after that. I do love these two photos though.
By the time we'd finished in the Zoo it had got dark and a bit rainy. From the Zoo we'd seen the Victory Column all lit up so we decided to go have a gander, and it was really pretty, like the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, the Victory Column sits in the middle of a roundabout and you go through an underground tunnel to get across. It's definitely something I'd recommend seeing at night as it's a lot prettier all lit up.
Totally shattered from a long day we headed back to the hotel, got changed and headed out for dinner, there was a little Italian restaurant close to where we were staying so we decided to just go there as we were so tired. It turned out the be a chain called Vapiano, and it was honestly amazing, the food was cooked in front of you and was so cheap but tasted great! Me and Josh both agreed that his Carbonara was the best we've ever had. I'd definitely recommend checking it out. I think there is one in London!
Our first full day in Berlin was probably the coldest day we had, and we spent the day walking around, in fact we probably walked about 10 miles! The first stop on our list was the Brandenburg Gate, and we decided that rather than get the underground we would walk through the Tiergarten as it led all the way from where we were staying to the gate. It was huge but also lovely, and I can imagine it being a great place during summer.
The Brandenburg Gate is definitely impressive and one of my favourite places in Berlin, it's always filled with people but theres lots going on, there was also some big information boards up that told you a bit about the History of WW2, which we mostly knew but it was good to read about it while in Berlin. Especially because our next stop, just around the corner was the Jewish Memorial.
If you ever go to Berlin this is something that is definitely on my list of places to go, I like that there is no explanation and you can take what you want from the memorial. Walking through the rows and rows of growing columns you start to feel a bit enclosed and lost, both me and Josh found it really interesting and it made us think. It's so important not to forget the past, and a memorial like this will always be there as a reminder of all the people who lost their lives.
The next place on our list was Checkpoint Charlie, but while walking there we found ourselves at the Topography of Terror, a free museum on the grounds of what was the SS Headquarters. This museum is probably top of my list of things to do in Berlin, the museum mainly focuses on the history of the SS, but there is so much information to read, but also so many photos I'd never seen before, some that shocked me (a photo of people being hanged), and also some about things I'd never known had happened during that time. We didn't have enough time to fully read everything, but it was a great museum, and for free, we couldn't have asked for more!
Checkpoint Charlie is a famous check point between what was East & West Berlin, now it's just a small hut in the middle of the road, more of a tourist attraction than a historical sight to be honest. I found the information boards more interesting than the checkpoint as I got to read about the history of the wall, and the stories of people who tried to cross from the East side to the West. It's crazy to think how recently the wall still stood, there are still remnants of the wall across the city, and you can follow the path the wall took if you want.
We decided to head back down to the central area, which meant walking down Friedrichstrasse, a pretty great shopping street, but I restrained and saved my spending until the last day! Josh and myself are big fans of just wandering around and exploring what we find, so we made our way down towards Alexanderplatz, along the Unter Den Linden a road surrounded by beautiful buildings, a lot you can tell are newer buildings rebuilt to look as they had prior to being bombed, however there were also older buildings.
Museum Island was around this area so we decided to take a look at all the buildings, we're not massive Museum fans so we didn't go in any, but they're all amazing just to look at from the outside, the Berliner Dom was one of these beautiful buildings, it sits just on the edge of the river and is so impressive.
That night we decided to eat at The Hard Rock Cafe, as I'd never been to one before and Josh is a big music fan and wanted to see what memorabilia they had, and I am very glad we went here. The food was so yummy, huge portions but it tasted so good, they also do amazing cocktails, I could have drank 10 of them! We headed back to the hotel feeling pretty tired after a long day walking, I ran a bath and we relaxed for the rest of the evening before heading to bed.
Another post of the next two days is up, so you can read that here. Sorry this post was so long, but I wanted to recap everything as I love reading my travel posts back and remembering what I did. What would be your top thing to do in Berlin? If you've got any travel posts please link them, I love reading them!