A key European city absolutely saturated with history, Berlin is a must on every traveller’s list.
My travelling trio decided to take advantage of a free guided walking tour as a cheap way to see the city. The Berlin wall, the Holocaust Memorial, the Reichstag building and the Brandenburg gate are some of the icons we witnessed in the space of a few short hours.
We walked through the memorials, and tried to fathom the atrocity of the genocide commited against the Jewish population. We stood in the centre of the city and pictured the Russian advance at the end of the war. We witnessed the point where the Berlin wall first came down, and imagined what it was like to live in a city at the centre of an international war.
Our tour guide entertained us with a comprehensive and incredibly enriching overview of the WW2 history in Berlin. A fractured city within a divided country, at the centre of the insidious cold war. He explained the significance of each sight to major historic events, and it’s flow on effects for the rest of Europe and the world. He also helped us to understand how far Germany has come, and all that it has done, to atone for it’s Nazi WW2 past.
The Culture: Germans are generally a people of quiet pride, and I found them to be exceptionally welcoming and hospitable. The staunch, unfriendly stereotypes just weren’t true, and the language was actually quite nice.
The Food: Schnitzel and bratwurst were in good supply, and made for a nice little cultural experience. There’s quite a large Turkish population in Germany, and we were able to enjoy some German influenced Turkish street food as well.
Quite surprising to me as a non-drinker was the fact that the beer in Berlin was cheaper than the soft drink. Meg and Alex had a stien of beer each, costing them a grand total of 4 euros 20. My single, much smaller bottle of coke? 4 euros 80.
The Overall Price: Not bad at all. To be fair, I could just be comparing it to London. (Did I mention how expensive London is? Good grief).
Staying in an outer suburb and catching the train into the city was a very affordable way to do it, and also meant that we got to see more than just the city centre. There were plenty of cheap local supermarkets near our hostel, so grabbing pastry and fruit for breakfast was a cheap alternative to the mid-city cafe.
In Conclusion: I must confess, I was only in Berlin for 3 nights. It was a short trip, and not nearly enough time to be able to get a proper feel for the culture, and see all there is to see. I really liked Berlin, but I feel like I barely scratched the surface.
I simply have to go back.