We’re lost, trying to find our hotel on a hot, summer’s day. Five of us are crowded around a mobile phone, whilst we stand under a dodgy-looking bridge with a lingering smell of sewage.
Our first impressions of Berlin weren’t fantastic but boy, did it exceed expectation.
I had never visited Germany before, and didn’t think Berlin would be a place to take a holiday; but it had always been a city I’d been keen to see. When you think of a holiday with your pals, you immediately think LADZ ON TOUR 2K14 with the ‘original’ matching t-shirts. Nahhhh. Five recently made ex-students fancied a four day city break, not to drink ourselves senseless. With a hell-raising 4:30am cab ride to London Gatwick for a 6:50am flight – “someone give that man a F1 drive”, said the car-fanatic of the group – the rabble landed in the capital city of Germany.
The first day of the trip was spent with everyone taking naps and refreshing, after we all crashed hard. One member of the gang even fell asleep in a German Starbucks.
We hired out bikes for a very reasonable €10 and set off to see the sights on our second day. It was a glorious day, with the water sprinklers throughout the park ‘Tiergarten’ a welcome sight, as we rode to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. The enormity of both monuments was incredible, two of the main sights of Berlin. Visiting the Berlin Wall was a sight to take in slowly, walking along the stretch covered in art. Being at the sight of such an important part of the city and the country’s history, was wonderful.
The rest of the trip included visits to Checkpoint Charlie and its museum, (cramped with a lack of air-con, but definitely get your monies worth), the German Natural History Museum, (very good exhibition, despite only looking at the World War’s) and a visit to the Zoo (ridiculously cute penguins and a Goat who believed he was king of the castle).
But a visit to the Holocaust Memorial really hit home, and left us all in a somber mood. It is a beautifully-done memorial, but the information centre that accompanied it was extremely hard to take in. Tears sprang to my eyes and a very big lump appeared in my throat when I red all the tales of the victims of such a horrific and inexcusable crime. It’s sad to take in, but I for one am glad we visited it and paid our respects.
Our hotel with the flights was well under £200 and for that, I doff my hat to Expedia. But our hotel wasn’t a 3-star B&B, oh no. It was a five-star hotel right in the centre of Berlin by the Kurfürstendamm, named the Steigenberger. Five students looked very much out of place in the midst of a Bose launch, but it was very comfortable, modern and full of friendly staff.
And the rest of the city is unbelievably cheap. The S-Bahn and U-Bahn metro systems were simple to use, and a meal one night cost me under €10 for a large pint of the Berlin beer and a very tasty pizza. Take that, Pizza Express.
Waiting at Schonefeld Airport for our flight back to Blighty, we all agreed that four days hadn’t been long enough. Berlin had been wonderful to us and although we did see a lot, we could have easily have spent a week there. The holiday was one big ‘lol’, with the city of Berlin and the company of four of my closest pals being absolutely fantastic.
I returned back to work at Gatwick Airport four days later, and I saw the easyJet flight to Berlin on the departures board. Looking wistfully at it, I already wish to back there with my friends, having one big adventure.
But for now, danke Berlin. I hope to see you again soon.