Berlin, the capital city of Germany, is rich with both history and innovation. I had the pleasure of visiting Berlin with Jack at the beginning of April, even thought it was a very short trip. We flew to Berlin via Skyscanner for £18 per person with Ryan Air; flying from London Stansted Airport to Berlin Schönefeld Airport. We landed pretty late at night and went straight to our hostel, City Hostel Wombat that was about an hour away from the airport by the S-Bahn train (more about this later). Jack and I stayed in a Mixed 4-Beds Dorm that cost around £20 per person per night; which was relatively cheap. Since we arrived very late at night and left early in the morning, I can’t give a thorough review of the hostel, but I will say that there were no covers in our beds so there were less privacy when we were sleeping; we had big lockers to ourselves, which could fit a small luggage. We also had an en-suite bathroom that had a very nice shower facility, so overall, our room was satisfactory. One thing that I didn’t like about this hostel was how loud it was during night time; it was not just from the people that were probably partying in the hostel, but the people outside on the street that were either shouting or playing music and even cars and motorcycles that were passing by during the night time. I would definitely recommend finding a different hostel that are situated in a quieter neighborhood for those who care about getting a good sleep during the night; if not, the Wombats City Hostel may be a great fit for those who love to party and does not mind noises during the night time.
Picture courtesy of Wombats City Hostel Berlin
Jack and I only had one full day in Berlin, so we opted for the Day Ticket that allowed us to travel within the ABC zone of Berlin which cost 7.70 Euro per person. Berlin is divided into three tariff zones: AB, BC und ABC. Tariff zone AB includes the urban area to the city boundary. Zone ABC additionally includes Berlin’s surrounding area and Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, which was the option we chose. More info on other types of fares can be found here. Our ticket also allowed us to travel in all forms of public transportation such as the Tram, Bus, S-Bahn and the Underground (U-Bahn). We did most of our traveling on the S-Bahn, which was pretty much trains that were running above ground, and the U-Bahn, the underground train.
The first thing we did on our trip was trying out Berlin’s famous Kebab shop, Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap. Jack and I both got their famous doner, which cost just 2.90 Euro. It was so delicious, and as much as I would love to have another one, I was full with just one doner.
Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap
32 Mehringdamm, 10961 Berlin, Germany
Our food adventure didn’t end there just yet, despite how full we were; next to the Kebab shop, there was a shop that was selling Germany’s famous fast-food, currywurst. Currywurst is consisted of the steamed and fried pork sausage (Bratwurst) typically cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup, a sauce based on spiced ketchup or tomato paste, topped with curry powder. The store we saw was called Curry 36 and was selling the original currywurst for around 2.00 Euro or even less. It was delicious, and I really liked the spices on it so it was not just drowned in ketchup. Currywurst is actually a recommended must-try food in Berlin by many bloggers and travelers so I was glad to try it so early in the trip.
Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin, Germany
After food, we decided to burn off our calories by walking to our next destination, the Berlin Wall Memorial. We noticed that Berlin was quite similar to Birmingham and Amsterdam because there was a canal to accompany us on our walk; there were also various buildings with murals painted on them.
After around a 15-20min walk, we reached Berlin Wall Memorial which was also next to the Topography of Terror, a museum dedicated to showcasing documents and history of the Berlin Wall and the holocaust during World War II. The Berlin Wall Memorial commemorates the division of Berlin by the Berlin Wall and the deaths that occurred there. Both of these attractions were free to visit.
Berlin Wall Memorial & Topography of Terror
Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin, Germany
About 10 minutes walk away from Berlin Wall Memorial was where we got to see Checkpoint Charlie, the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. Jack and I decided to grab drinks there as a small break and enjoyed the sun.
We then walked for half an hour to Brandenburg Gate, an 18th-century neoclassical monument built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II after the successful restoration of order during the early Batavian Revolution.
Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Adjacent to the gate was the famous Reichstag building, constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged after being set on fire. Today it is served as a parliament building. Members of the public can actually visit the dome in the building, free of charge, as long as they book in advance here. Jack and I didn’t know we had to book in advance, so we did not get to visit the dome (which was highly recommended, as well). However, there was also another option of booking last minute by registering at the service centre run by the Visitors’ Service near the Building, next to the Berlin Pavilion on the south side of Scheidemannstraße. If there is an availability, you will be given a booking confirmation; however, the booking must be issued a minimum of two hours before the time of your visit, thus Jack and I decided to just enjoy the view of the building from outside because we did not have a lot of time in Berlin.
Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin, Germany
We headed to the Alexanderplatz, a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin. We got the chance to sip on drinks, ate another currywurst, and enjoyed ice-creams to ourselves at a beer garden nearby called AlexOase.
Alexanderpl. 7, 10178 Berlin, Germany
Jack booked a ticket for the both of us to go up the Fernsehturm, a television tower in central Berlin. We both got the fast track ticket for €19.50 per person. There was also a standard ticket (€15.50 per adult), which would be cheaper for those who want to spend less money and does not mind waiting in the queue because there is no option for advance purchase for standard tickets online and thus you must purchase it at the desk. We were able to beat the queues and got to the top fairly fast with our fast track tickets. There were a lot of people in the observational deck and it was a lot smaller than the Empire State Building, but we still got to enjoy the view of Berlin and sip on cocktails while we walked around.
Panoramastraße 1A, 10178 Berlin, Germany
By the time we left the tower, it was getting dark, so we rushed to see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consisted of a 19,000 meter square site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae” arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. An attached underground “Place of Information” holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims. Unfortunately, it was quite dark when we got there and thus I didn’t get to take photos of it during daylight but I still managed to get two decent photos.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany
We ended our Berlin trip by having our dinner at a restaurant called Creasian Restaurant, which comprised of various Asian cuisines, with Thai and Vietnamese being the two prominent cuisines. Since I haven’t had Pho in a while, and I could also tell the staffs were Vietnamese and Chinese, I felt like it would be appropriate to try their Pho. I was glad I did because the broth was amazing and it felt like I was back in Vancouver and having Pho. I also ordered Thai papaya salad, which didn’t taste like the real ones, but Jack liked it.
Große Hamburger Str. 21, 10115 Berlin, Germany
It was absolutely unfortunate that our trip in Berlin was short, and we wished we could have stayed a little longer, but our flight to our next destination, Budapest, was very cheap the day we had to leave so we were firm on making the most of our one-day Berlin trip. There were certainly other places we wished to visit such as the East Side Gallery, the Bikini Mall, and other museums (Berlin is also known for its little section of numerous museums). Despite not being able to visit these places, Jack and I were happy to see a lot of attractions and learn of Germany’s history in Berlin.