Date : 16th December 2015
After fascinated by Doha’s Science Fiction wonders, I finally… landed in Berlin! Woohoo! Europe! It’s my first time being in another continent.
Berlin is quite a wonder. After completing my trip, I realize how lucky I am to have Berlin as my starting point. It is really a mixed city, metropolitan, but didn’t give the shiny-tall-buildings-everywhere scenery. At least not in the tourist center, and that’s quite big. It’s a history packed location, but not full of ruin. It’s full of facilities but not overly crowded. You got what I mean?
I spent two days on this city – well, actually more like one and a half, since I get to Berlin and reach my hostel late at night. And I knew instantly that I stand out and look like a tourist. Very much. I don’t know why, I can’t pinpoint what was wrong, but it’s my first time outside Asia, and there are very few Asian people there.
On the first night, after we safely arrived and stow our luggage in Wombats Hostel Berlin, we set out to try to catch a glimpse of the Christmas Market there. And suddenly, we are being woo-ed by a Parisian and a Spaniard- and I suspect the reason is because they knew we are not local.
After talking to my friend who has been living in Germany for a few years, she concludes that our clothes are not …normal.
Turns out that it’s best to wear black, and a normal style of clothing, otherwise, well, we will stood out like a sore thumb. When I went over to her city, Hamburg, it got worse – as the city full of university students have their winter gear and style nearly identical. Whew! So, for other out-of-styles-not-self-conscious tourits like me,be careful, my friends
Unter Der Linten
The next morning, we are going to explore around Unter Der Linden. For me, this area is very nice and packed with quite a lot of attractions and sightseeing places. First, we come to Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) in Parisier Platz. Parisier Platz itself is nothing special, and Brandenburg gate is best seen at night – with the lights on – for my taste. Then, past the Brandenburg gate, there are Tiergarten beside Reichstag (Government Building).
Do you see the dome on top? Apparently we can enter it and take a stroll above Berlin’s magistrate if they have a meeting there. We can book ahead here. They said it’s an invaluable experience, but as I can’t book it, I try
my luck. The line is sooo long, I decided to just pop up later, as some staff suggest.
But when I come back at night, I can’t enter without booking, so I guess the enter-by-lining thing is only on the afternoon. So, alas, I can’t enter as I don’t have time anymore to book and my other chance of visiting is at night.
So, we pass through Tiergarten, back to Unter Den Linten, and then head to Museum Island! On the way we see a lot of interesting buildings, as well as Embassies.
There are also quite a lot of exhibitions, and for me, I am fascinated by unique, one-person public toilets “stalls” that can be found all along the street. The color is red, you can enter 1 Euro coins to use that for a limited amount of time. Pretty useful I’d say, because I have a quite severe case of loose stool when I am there. Winter effect? X”D. Then we are headed to the Museum Insel!
Self-explanatory right? Who else is a museum lover here??
Time is not really allowing me to go through the museums, nor was budget. I considered museum pass but then pass it (no pun intended :P). But I was pretty happy seeing the museum buildings and the explanations outside the museums. The museum islands is connected by bridges as I said before, and in the end of it near there are a very wide garden where Altes Museum and Berliner Dom met. It is a very nice garden – I suspect people lay down there on summer. Then we get near a big river where DDR museum is located.
My friend get into trouble in this area, the very bridge shown in the “Our Weird clothes” photo. I forgot the name as it’s one of the many bridges in the museum isle, but there are people betting something there. She watch, and then allured to play along and then she have to pay them 100 Euro!! I am too late to her rescue, as I think in no way it would amount to 100 Euro.
I take a look of the DDR museum and actually it’s very impressive! I am not going in, but from the outside it’s already good.
After that, we stroll down to Television Tower, near Nikolay Church, into yet another Christmas Market, and then at night, going to checkpoint Charlie, which are closed already due to the short opening hours of the winter, and the fabulous Rausch Schokoladenhaus, which I will review in another post!
Berlin is divided into three tariff zones: AB, BC und ABC. Tariff zone AB includes the urban area until the city boundary. Zone ABC additionally includes Berlin’s surrounding area and Potsdam. A day ticket (Tageskarte) allows travelling during the whole day for as many trips as desired. The ticket is valid from its the day of its validation until 3 a.m. the following day and costs 7 Euros in tariff zone AB, reduced 4.70 Euros. – https://www.berlin.de/en/public-transportation/1772016-2913840-tickets-fares-and-route-maps.en.html
You can see the fares of all tickets (single, short trip, etc.) from the URL above. While Berlin is nice to stroll on foot, I get an all-day Berlin ticket for AB area (which is enough to cover the main tourist attractions) just in case. Anyway, if we want to just stroll we need to know the route, while there are many guides in the bahn stations.
The track is not really covered up though, for example in the Unter Den Linden area, there are only one track route which are not connected to other route as well, so we must walk quite a bit to other station. That, or I am just confused.
For one, I love Berlin’s Christmas Markets. They are everywhere, and I’d say it’s the best from any other Christmas Market we vi
sited. People are not lying when they said it’s the best! We stumble across three from five Christmas Markets Berlin had. I love the one in the Alexanderplatz the most. We tried many foods and snacks, and as my friend is a cheese lover, she freaks about the amount of cheese used in Germany’s snacks.
I have a video but, uh, I will try to upload it later. The picture serve the cheese no justice. To tell you the truth I forgot the names of the foods we’d eaten in the Christmas Market. Too many and a bit similar. After we are tired of cheese and bread, we tried Berlin’s famous snack : Currywurst!
And my friends bought kebab, and as the meat lover she is (yes she suits European food better than me, poor me), and in the end of our trip she said Berlin’s the best! Well, for a city with a street full of kebab seller (Weddings) and so many Turkey’s immigrant, it shouldn’t be surprising.
And then Pretzel! Don’t forget the Pretzel. Each country in Europe may have their own Pretzel, but my friend, a salty-taste lover, loves the one in Berlin the most. Yes, she had a wonderful time in Berlin it seems.
The pretzel is hard both outside and inside, and nearly crunchy, with rock salt on top. It was the right amount of saltiness! We get it from Pavilion Cafe Berlin, a restaurant/cafe across the street of Reichstag, where everyone lined up to enter the reichstag.
The next day, and the day we transited in Berlin to go to Wroclaw, Poland, we went to two other restaurants – Ishin Japanese Deli and Rausch Schokoladenhaus! It was recommended by my German-resident friend and both were amazing!