After exploring classical Munich, we spent the next two days discovering Berlin’s culture. Berlin’s atmosphere was a stark contrast to the other cities we had seen in the days before. The city has so much history, but they have had to rebuild within recent years due to the bombing of WWII. Restoring the city also means forming a contemporary culture that combines East and West Berlin.
There was a sense of heavyness, in my opinion, when we walked around the first day. Many of the attractions and memorials related back to the war. First, we passed through Brandenburg Gate and then strolled through Tiergarten, but not before trying some currywurst! I must admit, I think Tiergarten would be a lot more vibrant in the spring/summer. In fact, I think visiting Berlin in general might be more pleasant in the warmer months. Nonetheless, Tiergarten used to be a private hunting ground (it’s so expansive!) and was transformed into park. The great thing about the city (and Europe in general) is that everything is, mostly, within walking distance of each other.
A few blocks away from the Brandenburg gate stands the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (or the Holocaust Memorial). Built a little over a decade ago, the memorial takes up almost five acres of city. Large concrete slabs stand along a grid-patterned sloping field. The disorder of the whole atmosphere becomes unsettling; there’s no rhythm, no reason that anyone can make from the grids. In a way, it reflects the Holocaust’s disorder and how the war became completely out of touch with humanity and morality.
Our second day in Berlin focused more on the contemporary art and culture scene that the city was known for. To start the day, we ate doner sandwiches, Berlin’s most popular fast food, at Imren Grill (10/10 would recommend)! From there, we walked through the streets (wandered, really) towards East Side Gallery. As an avid art junkie, I love exploring art with historical value. The East Side Gallery, almost a mile long, stands covered in commissioned murals by artists from around the world. Some pieces were thought-provoking and controversial, while others were fun and playful.
Our last stop of the day was visiting the Spree River statues across from the Berlin Cathedral. Thank goodness for the internet, unless I would have never heard about these lil’ ladies. Personally, I found this spot to be my favorite in all of the city; if I lived in Berlin, I’d probably sit with those statues for hours and just watch the surroundings. We planned to visit Markthalle Neun for breakfast before we left Berlin. Unfortunately, barely any of the vendors were open and the entire place was empty. I just wanted to walk around and see the building (which would have been amazing if it was bustling with people). The coffee shop next door became plan-b, snagging a quick pastry and seeing a majestic dog before travelling back to our hostel.
One more thing: my absolute favorite coffee shop of (probably) the whole trip … Impala Coffee. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the pink building that looks like straight off of a film set. I ordered a lemon tart and a raspberry juice/smoothie drink; safe to say, I fell in love immediately. I definitely wish I had spent more time there, as it was just around the corner from our hostel! But you live and you learn, and for me, it’s a must when visiting Berlin.