Berlin. Why I’ve fallen hard for this place is still unknown, even to me. The first leg of my Eurotrip started off in this city. Berlin, like any other European cities is not a megacity, no pulsing global metropolis, no massive infrastructure improvements but it boasts the illusions of eccentricity; advertises arts and a place that brings you nothing but the best in music, good vibes and beautiful party goers. Berlin is also known to the world as a city full of surprises because it’s a melting pot of culture, creativity, ideas, excitements, idealistic spirit – its euphoria belongs to the world.
It’s not a cutesy, romantic, adorable city like Paris or Prague but it’s a city full of characters and contrasts – a confluence of historic and modern, brilliant and stark and best explored on foot. Germany, can scarcely be said, with strict decorum, is influenced by regional history and culture. Germany today has very multifaceted art, music, theater and literary scenes. It can generally be described as modern and cosmopolitan, and has developed into a country of immigrants in the past 60 years or so.
German cuisine definitely consists of warm, rich and delicious food. The food is no stranger to me, in KL itself there’s a lot of German restaurants and bars that serve variety of Germany’s famous delicacies. From rich tradition of Bavarian Wirthaus dining to whiffs of savoury smell along the christmas markets, hearty German food should always be accompanied with drafted ice cold beers served in huge stein glasses.
Flying with Air France, I landed in Paris from Kuala Lumpur and sprinted like crazy the minute we touched down to catch my next flight to Berlin. The timing was crucial because I nearly missed my flight, and the fact that I fell terribly sick on the 13-hour flight made me feel like a zombie wishing for nothing but death. The cold breeze was brutal, weather was a little under 10°C and my body wasn’t actually ready for that brutality, so I passed out good inside the short flight. I arrived in Berlin close to 3pm local time and everything was still alive and motioning. I felt slightly better after downing some meds, and slightly dazed too – could be from the combination of jet-lag, PMS, feverish & stomach flu. What an experience.
I had no time to be a baby about it so I kept pushing myself, I took the train and stopped at Hermannplatz which is a station in the Neukölln district, the area where I’d be staying. I booked a room at The Cat’s Pajamas Hostel because the place has good reviews and rating, price is quite reasonable too – not the cheapest but comfort wise, amazing. The location is a plus, with all amenities, great restaurants, galleries, shops and a bar on every corner.
I met a few travelers from Israel, Denmark, Korea (my Asian sister woot woot) and Netherlands, and partying with them in Berlin was magical. Berlin probably has the greatest after-hours scene, ever. In a city as creative and eclectic as Berlin, nightlife is always going to be mental. If you don’t have much time to spend in Berlin but would love to have the Berlin drinking experience, there’s no better way to do it than joining the famous The Original Berlin Pub Crawl. I spent the next day nursing my headache and illness but didn’t waste my day in bed. Instead, I put on layers upon layers and bought another winter jacket (because the one I brought couldn’t withstand the cold) and started exploring the city as early as 9am.
Potsdamer Platz. The old heart of Berlin serving as a junction between the old city centre in East Berlin and what was formerly the new West Berlin. This area is now an urban and lively neighborhood, a cool and trendy place to grab snacks and hangout with good restaurants around, a Christmas market to get your festive delights, the Mall of Berlin that housed a lot of great brands, and the famous Sony Center.
Deutsches Historisches Museum. The official national history museum, located on the Unter den Linden Avenue near Museum Island in the center of Berlin. They were showcasing Homosexualitat_En, an exhibition that shows how same-sex sexuality and non-conformist gender identities have been criminalized. The LGBT history of Germany and Berlin was presented in a very interesting and varied formats, giving a very good overview of the formation of LGBT in Germany.
Berliner Dom. Or also known as The Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church is Berlin’s largest and most important Protestant church as well as the sepulchre of the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty. It is situated on the Museum Island on River Spree – beloved by locals and much-visited by tourists.
Altes Museum. One of the most important buildings of the Neoclassical era, designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Schinkel was associated with leading poets, philosophers, and statesmen of his day, and was doubtless the most important German architect of his era.
Brandenburg Gate. An 18th-century neoclassical triumphal arch and a symbol of turmoil and peace in Berlin, and one of the best-known landmarks of Germany without a doubt. Located on the western edge of Pariser Platz, a landmark that mustn’t be missed by anyone.
Französische Botschaft. The French embassy is located right next to the Gate. The Paris attack happened not long before my trip to Europe so I get to witness the solidarity showed by everyone which was undoubtedly very moving. Everyone paid their respect by leaving countless of flowers and well wishes during the difficult time faced by France.
Alte Nationalgalerie. This is one of the five museums forming the ensemble known as Berlin’s Museum Island. Another classic European museum with a sense of what this cultural landmark surviving since the 19th Century is like. A must for any art lover whilst in Berlin.
Fernsehturm de Berlín. Of course, another famous landmark known to everyone. This is a television tower in central Berlin, one of the most prominent towers in Europe. You will get a 360-degree panorama view of the city from 207m above. Since I was there during Christmas month, there was a Christmas market located right under the tower and the best part was, they have a ferris wheel set on the location. I didn’t go up the tv tower but instead I paid €4 and hopped on the ferris wheel to get the whole view of the town!
Holocaust Memorial. It was quiet when I went, with only a handful of tourists lurking around. You’d feel a splash of a bleakness and almost sad-vibe when you start to walk around. This place at first glance looks ordinary, just lots of concrete blocks of different heights and sizes that look like waves flowing away but I have to admit, the atmosphere is rather strange.
My first trip to Berlin was amazing. I also didn’t miss out the chance to utilize Couchsurfing where I met an amazing travel blogger Chris who showed and shared his travel experiences with me. This guy has a lot on his plates and he’s not planning to slow down! You can read all of his travel adventures HERE and trust me, you’ll be experiencing the travel itch in no time! After traveling to 6 different cities at one go, Berlin is definitely my favourite city. A perplexing challenge to romanticize this city because it lacks the romantic element but definitely rich with vibrance, exuberance, lustiness of history and art.