Back in August, two friends and I took to mainland Europe for two weeks, travelling around some of the continent’s most famous capital cities in search of culture, beauty and nightlife. Our second stop: Berlin.
We arrived in Berlin’s main train station around 7pm; it was a sticky 36C, the sun was setting and I held a printout of the world’s most complicated bus instructions to get to our hostel. After carting our backpacks around in an hour-long attempt to ignore the instructions and find our own way on the subway system, we eventually gave up and made our way to the bus station. As it turns out, buses are an efficient and easy way to get around Berlin; a few buses and a short walk later we made it to our hostel for 9pm.
The nightlife in Berlin is famous, so we thought we’d scope it out in our first evening, before hitting it properly the next night. Berlin however, is huge; it is spread out over an extremely large area, and unless you’re in the right spot, walking to a place that has bars and clubs is almost impossible. We were staying near Checkpoint Charlie which didn’t have much of a night scene, so after wandering around for a few hours in an oddly desolate and quiet neighbourhood, we went back to our hostel.
The next day we decided to rent bikes so we could get around the city quicker, and I would definitely recommend them in Berlin. There is a great network of cycle paths along the roads and car drivers are very conscious of cyclists.
We started at Checkpoint Charlie, and got to see some of the original Berlin wall. Throughout the day we visited the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building, Berlin cathedral, Berlin TV Tower and several war monuments and smaller museums. We finally stopped in at the Holocaust Memorial as the sun started to set, and this was perhaps the most thought provoking part of our day. Everything in Berlin had an extremely poignant feeling to it, but the spaces created by the Holocaust Memorial were extremely powerful, and if you only have time for one stop in Berlin you should make it this.
We got back to our hostel that evening, and while we were getting ready for our night out we bumped into two of our roommates, Emma and Chloe. We all hit it off immediately, and after a few drinks in our room we took the party down to the car park. Within an hour or so, about 30 people staying in the hostel had joined us for a group pre-drinks outside. The rest of the night got pretty blurry after this point, but my friends and I led a large group of people around Berlin for more than an hour to a club that we couldn’t find. At some point in the night the three of us lost everyone we were with, had a drug dealer try to start a fight with us, and finally made it back to the hostel around 3am.
The next morning was rough. Everyone in the hostel room woke up severely hung over, pretty much fully dressed (although Chloe had attempted to put pajamas over her clothing) and sweating from the extreme heat. We somehow managed to check out and make it next door to the Game Science Centre, and it was incredible. With an awesome selection of interactive exhibits we soon forgot about our heavy heads and were totally enthralled. The museum is independently run by a group of four game developers, and offers guests the chance to try the Oculus Rift, play a host of interactive games and try incredible state-of-the-art technology.
With a couple of hours left in Berlin, we stopped off at the Jewish Museum. We didn’t really have enough time there, this museum was huge and there was so much to see. From rooms steeped in history to the whole museum’s architectural design and spaces, it’s easy to imagine you could spend an entire day there. Sadly for us, we had to jump into a taxi after just a few hours and head back to the train station. Our next stop: Prague.
Our time in Berlin was incredible, there is so much to see and do that I would love to go back and experience it all. For a city that has a very modern and trendy vibe, it remains full of history and culture with a buzzing atmosphere that makes it one of the most colourful places we visited on our trip.