I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.
At about 11pm we hopped an overnight bus from Groningen to Berlin. When planning the trip, an overnight bus seemed like a really, really great idea. That way we wouldn’t waste 8 hours sitting on the bus during the day, plus we could sleep on the bus, and save ourselves the price of a hotel room. Once executed, this was not a really, really great idea. I can barely sleep while laying down in my own comfy bed, I don’t know why I thought I would be able to sleep sitting up, on a bus. I am going to be real vague when I tell you I took something to help me pass out that ended up having the opposite effect. I was wired, paranoid, and exhausted all at the same time.
Once we hit the German border, the bus stopped and German guards came on to check everyone’s passports. This ended up delaying our travel time. What should have been an 8 hour bus ride turned into 9 and a half. When we got off the bus I felt like I hadn’t slept at all, but I was so excited to be getting off the damn bus. I hate sitting still so travel isn’t ideal. At the bus station we were really hoping for wifi so that we could route our way to the hotel, but no such luck. We tried to find the train station and after a few minutes of feeling super flustered, we made a rookie mistake and got a cab. Whatever, sometimes paying more is worth it for sanity sake.
Our hotel ended up being quite a long distance from the train station, so I was happy to be in a cab, and not on a train. We gave the cab driver the name of our hotel and he insisted that he knew where to take us. Well he didn’t, he took us past the destination, got huffy, turned off his meter but eventually got us to our hotel.
We walked in, and I was told I had no reservation. I must have looked real exasperated at this point because the woman working was extremely helpful. She told me that I must have booked it at their sister hotel which luckily was only a 10 minute walk away, and she drew me a map! We stayed in the Checkpoint Charlie area of Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie was a checkpoint along the Berlin Wall passing between East and West Berlin.
We finally made it to our hotel, dropped our luggage with the concierge, brushed our teeth and set out for the day. We had less than 24 hours in Berlin, so we wanted to see as much as we possibly could! A friend recommended for us to see the Reichstag dome, which is a glass dome built to signify the reunification of Germany. The dome is set on top of the Reichstag building to symbolize that now the people are above the government.
After the dome we made our way over to the Holocaust Memorial, which is a site in remembrance of the Jewish victims of the holocaust. It’s made up of 2,711 concrete slabs set up in a grid pattern. Even though the number of slabs don’t have a symbolic representation, it was a really powerful thing to see. All throughout Europe are these little brass tiles called stolperstein embedded into the sidewalk, they were created to commemorate victims of Nazi oppression. I forgot to get a picture of them, but it was horrifying to see how many people were ripped out of their homes due to Nazism.
The memorial is really close to the Brandenburg Gate, which was a former city gate that was restored after World War II. Now it serves as a symbol for the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany, but also signifies peace and unity. Overall Berlin was rich in World War II and Holocaust history. Germans don’t run from their past, instead they feel it’s very important to remember what happened, and move forward in a positive way.
After this we walked toward a Christmas market for snacks, and drinks. At most of the Christmas markets you could find this sugar bread that they roll around a tube, roasting it above a fire. It wasn’t as good as it sounded. It cooled down pretty quickly, and then was just really flaky and messy. But I really look to be enjoying it, huh?
Our final destination was the Berlin Cathedral, which was gorgeous.
We sure piled on the miles during this trip. After all the sight seeing we stopped by a grocery store and picked up dinner. I was in desperate need for some vegetables. My stomach was yearning for something green. So I bought a salad, and some kefir. Germany was all about the kefir, there we so many options, and it was super cheap. At this point I felt like a zombie, so we headed back to the hotel room, and I passed out cold. The next morning we were heading to Dresden, on yet another bus. Let me tell you how much I loved bus rides after this trip…..
Favorite Parts of Berlin:
- The kefir
- The history. Sometimes I found it grim, but it was incredible to see.
- It was easy to walk around to a lot of the main tourist spots
Would I go there again?
- Yes, even though it wasn’t my favorite place, I think spending more time there would allow me to see more, and enjoy more.