Berlin story might be a little bit delicate compare to the other story i have written. The reason of that is i met two great people here, with opposite perspective and attraction. I could understand both of the them, but to write it is a different story. Writing this in Universtät Bibliothek facing a slogan saying “Die Wahrheit wird evch frei machen” – The truth will set you free – does not make it easier.
I arrived in Berlin after a 8-hours long bus journey from Prague. I went straight to hostel and found a Japanese ramen place to eat. Then, i felt really tired. All i wanted to do was taking a rest. So when a friend i just met in hostel asked if i wanted to go with her, i refused politely. We settled with a promise to go to a “free” walking tour in the morning and a night out afterwards.
I never guessed that Berlin is the capital of Germany. I always thought its more like the well-connected Frankfurt (with its proud Flughafen – airport), or other modern city that i might not know about. Therefore, a year later after this visit, when i was studying german in Goethe-Institut, i was finally enlightened that Berlin is indeed the capital city of Germany.
Berlin in a glance was two opposite worlds become one. The history of west and east Germany were clearly shown here. If you have enough time to walk around, i recommend to feel the difference between the different side of the city, the west and east part. What to observe? Start with the architecture, the environment, cleanliness, and the feel – like Chris said (a Berliner i met in Milan).
The “free” walking tour started in the morning around 9-10 AM (depends on the operator you chose) and lasted around 2-3 hours. We gathered in Alexanderplatz to meet the tour guide. “Free” because the tour guide worked based on tips. This was when i met another friend, named Hans (only for the story purpose!). He was a Berliner who joined us on the tour because of the lady i met in the hostel.
The walking tour we went was more talking about the street art of Berlin. The calligraphy across Berlin’s wall, illegal street calligraphy, and community stories to preserve historic artistic building. My suggestion to you is always check the weather before you go. It was a bit rainy and cold walk, since it was in the middle of Autumn to Winter. But it was a very informative one, only if you were listening.
Berlin also offered a “Pub Crawl”, basically another walking tour with a plus. A plus of walking from bar to bar (or club at the end) with welcome drink included in each bar. This welcome drinks could be beer, shots, or small cocktails. If i remember correctly, the price was 15 Euro and you would get a paper bracelet or stamp on your wrist as an identification.
How did it go? We visited 4 bars and 1 club in total with a lot of drinks in between. People were really nice in the first bar, started to get drunk in second bar, behaved a bit weird on the third one, and just lost it afterwards. Of course, it always depends on who you are going with. It was an interesting night to spend with some strangers i just met. And maybe i knew too much about them in such a short night.
Other than partying, we also visited Parliament Building. The roof terrace and the dome of Reichtag Building can be visited by public. The only perks was we need to register first with a valid ID. The registration office was across the entrance of the Parliament Building. You might recognise it directly by seeing a small office with a long queue. It took about 20-30 mins to queue. The good thing was they had a display that showed the available slots for visit. So if your preference time was full, you would know before you entered the office and could tried to find alternate time. It was a cool experience to visit the Dome. Something different than just visiting Museums or Churches.
I also got time to explore Berlin by myself. With a guidance from Chris on where to go, i explored another side of Berlin a bit more. A walk from Ostbahnhof to Warschauer Straße to see the East Side Gallery (parts of Berlin Wall) with famous graffiti. From there, i continued to Kreuzberg – a very fashionista part of Berlin. Another alternate option were visiting Mauerpark (Prenzlauer Berg close to Eberswalder Straße) and Kudamm with KaDeWe. It was interesting to visit a place recommended by local (not touristy), especially in the eye of an artist like him.
Last but not least, a night before i left Berlin, i had a chance to talk with Hans more. I tried currywurst and we went to a traditional Bierhaus because i wanted something more German. I was in the middle of making a decision of master degree and i took the opportunity to ask him about that – he was studying master in Berlin. In Asian, we might have a long talk over coffee or tea, but in here, having a talk with Biers (English = beers) served the same benefits. And having it with a German who could drink certainly a nice one. I never thought that later on, fast forward to six months later, he was one of the person who helped me in my transition to Germany. Who knows how our life can be intertwined right?
See you in Cologne!