Last weekend I went to Berlin for five days. It started as a class field trip for Saturday and Sunday, but I decided to spend a few days before and an extra day after since I had never been. This was seriously one of the most rewarding things I've ever decided to do. I have so many photos to share from the trip that I have decided to split this into two separate posts! Here are days one and two:
In the past when I've traveled, as soon as my flight landed it was go go go until my flight landed back home. I left for Berlin with a few extra things I wanted to do and see, but no real plan of when I was going to do what. I'm a planner and usually try to plan every minute of my time to maximize my visit, but this trip was different. I felt like I was going to Berlin for many reasons. The first, was class of course, but second was that a few weeks prior my great grandmother passed away and I really hadn't had any time to myself to process. Living in this dorm style housing has been an immense blessing for me because I have constantly been surrounded by people who supported and loved me during this hard time, but I needed some time alone. Being that my Oma was German, I felt this trip was a sort of homage to her. Eventually I hope to visit her town that she grew up in near Munich, but this was a good starting place for me. So I left Mendrisio where fall was just starting and arrived at my Airbnb in Berlin where fall was in full swing and the ground was covered in leaves!
This Airbnb was seriously the CUTEST. I loved how bright it was and the light was streaming through my window. In my Postwar Architecture class we talk about the difference in the plan of Berlin with that of NY. Berlin blocks are much more square than the long narrow NY blocks. This allows for Berlin housing to have these really nice courtyards within. Seriously. I was in love.
After taking a few minutes to unpack and settle in, I went to explore! I have to say, I love the scale of this part of Berlin. The side walks were quite wide which allowed for lots of light to fill the streets and for community to talk place on the side walks, but watch out— these side walks aren't wide for no reason! In Berlin, bikes are used on the sidewalks, not the street!
As I was wandering around, I stumbled upon one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen.
What's one of the best things about Berlin? The diversity. Seriously. I thought I would be stepping into this super-German city and get to experience so much of my family's culture that I hadn't actually been a part of, but actually that was the farthest thing from what I experienced. Berlin, as I was told multiple times while I was there, is a place where you can be anything and anyone you want to be and no one will even look at you differently. You can wear clothes you wouldn't normally wear, try out an edgy hairstyle, or even just go out in no makeup because people literally don't care what you look like— you are celebrated as you are here. I seriously thought this was one of the most beautiful things to experience in a place so known for it's troubled past that lacked acceptance of "different" people.
So, my first meal in Berlin was SUSHI! I kept asking shop owners where to eat and not a single one recommended "German food." They rattled off one international cuisine after another until I finally realized that to them, this was "German food."
After dinner, I went back to the Airbnb and had an early night. The next morning, I was up early and went for a walk in the opposite direction I had previously gone. I found this super cute little pastry shop with the best chocolate croissants I've ever had and for only €1! Right next to the shop was a portion of the long line Berlin Wall Memorial.
Not so fun fact: At first, I thought these giant plain walls of the buildings were made as part of the memorial so murals could be painted on the side, but that's actually totally wrong. These plain walls were the result of the wall itself. East Berlin required all windows that faced West Berlin to be completely erased and filled with concrete. The murals were painted simply an after thought, but honestly works so well.
This photo shows just how much this memorial has become part of the city. It's not closed to the public and there's no charge for admission, how could there be? The line that divided East and West Berlin has almost erased completely.
Finally, I decided to make my way toward the most bustling part of Berlin, but not the "city center." As it turns out, there is no traditional city center of Berlin because the city is actually the result of a few settlements merging as they grew. Any how, the most tourist-y area is the area that holds the TV tower, the Berlin Cathedral, and is about the gain another massive CASTLE (Stadtschloss). Literally some architecture firm convinced the city to rebuild the castle, which is now on its way into existence, but here's the catch— the city still doesn't know what in the world to do with this massive thing since they have no need for a castle. It may host museums (even though there is a massive complex nearby known as "Museum Island"), there's talk in the architecture community of trying to convince a University to occupy part of it, but in reality... these people are in hot water because they started building without the money to finish and still don't know what to do with it when it eventually is.
In the city center I found the TV tower and immediately went to purchase a ticket to go to the top! The tickets to go to the top were $25! OR if you wanted to make a reservation to have dinner at the top, the ticket was only $15. So, since I didn't have any plans for dinner and there were times still available, I decided to get a ticket to go up for dinner that evening and see other things in the area until then. I found the Berlin Cathedral and it was so beautiful in the morning light!
Directly across from the cathedral was the Alte National Gallery so I decided to see that before going into the cathedral.
After this, I walked to the other side of the cathedral where the main entrance was. The entrance was grand and full of ornament, but this modern sign stood out amongst the rest. "HATE HARMS THE SOUL." Once again, it's so encouraging to see the church standing up to hate in a city with a rich history of hate.
Once inside, I decided to pay for the audio tour (€5 for the entry and another €4 for the audio tour). I think it was well worth it though, especially if you're interested in the architecture!
An artist had recently done an installation above the alter that was again, so modern in contrast to the rest of the building. It was so beautiful honestly.
The tour took me up a winding, extremely narrow, spiral staircase to the top of the dome. From here, you could walk around the entire dome and see a panoramic view of the city! This was unexpected, but the first of many times I would go to the top of buildings in Berlin!
Following the cathedral, I quickly visited the Anne Frank Museum of Berlin and made a stop in Lush Cosmetics to buy some solid versions of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash so that I don't have to every worry about packing liquids in my carry-on again!
Finally, I made it to dinner! The elevator ride to the top of the TV Tower was pretty fast and then I arrived to my table for ONE! The entire restaurant was slowly spinning so that it rotated one complete time over the course of an hour— giving you a full panoramic view without moving from your table!
This was really the first time I'd ever been to a nice dinner alone. Of course I got a few strange looks from the people around me, I'm assuming they were wondering why I was all alone, but it didn't bother me! I was having the time of my life and guys this is revolutionary... when you go to dinner alone, you get the entire bread basket and there's no one there to judge you for it!! LOL!!
And that's all for days one and two! I hope you enjoyed seeing Berlin through my camera lens!