I really wanted to fall in love with Berlin this time round.
Considering my recently discovered love for Germany in general thanks to six months living in Bavaria, I feel like I really ought to love the capital city.
When my friends
Everyone says Berlin is fun, exciting, trendy, edgy, buzzy, great... I just haven't got that impression myself. Yet. However I know I'm not totally alone. One of my friends tweeted back saying, "It's not one of those cities I fell in love with and thought 'I wish I lived here'- it's interesting not magical." And I'd have to agree. Please don't hate me, Berliners and Berlin-fans!
The first time I visited Berlin was a year and a few months ago, in deepest darkest winter. And I'm sure you'll agree, nowhere is particularly appealing when it's freezing and the skies are grey.
After a fun few days powing out the sights with my uni friends and packing in as much as we could, I'd decided I found Berlin really interesting... But I didn't love it. Again, by no means did I disike it, oh no, but it hadn't charmed me. (Feel free to read more about my first impressions and what we got up to here.)
So, when I rather last-minute got the opportunity to spend another 24 hours in Berlin and this time in (nearly) summer, I was super excited and hopeful I might come away with an improved impression of the city.
To be fair, my impression has improved. But I wouldn't say I love it, as much as I want to.
Maybe it's because I am a wannabe Bavarian and nowhere does it for me like quaint, charming, traditional Bavaria.
Or maybe it's because I haven't seen the best places and I need an echt Berliner to show me round. Super-Berlin-lover, former-Berlin-year-abroader and blogger, Ellie, told me she didn't love it when she visited, it was only after living there that she grew to love it. "It's got a kooky hidden charm," she said, and that's what I'd love to discover.
Don't get me wrong, I still had a great few hours in Germany's capital city - I mean, hello, it's Germany! Personally, it makes me happy just to hear German all around me. Well, nearly all around. There are a lot of tourists to be fair.
I did a classic me on a mini city break - walked and walked and walked until I could walk no more.
However, seeing as this trip came about rather at the last minute, I unfortunately could not do a classic me and research/plan/make an itinerary beforehand. QUELLE HORREUR! So, with nothing organised or anything in particular on my "to do" list, I merely wandered.
I saw a few of the main sights, but I wasn't overly fussed about ticking them all off as like I said, I did them all the first time round.
With my trusty camera round my neck, I still found plenty of picturesque sights to capture, so allow me to take you on a little stroll through Berlin and share the things I liked most. Los geht's!
Past one of the uni buildings I went, thinking to myself it must be rather nice to study in there.
Then I went over the river with a lovely view of the Reichstag...
|I love the mix of old and new here|
Did you know they've banned the people in costume who were once so iconic in pictures of the Brandeburg Gate? Well they have. Yup, selfies with Mickey Mouse are no more. You've missed your chance, kiddos.
I walked down Unter den Linden (the biiiiig road leading up to the Brandenburg Gate) and ventured East. One of the things I love about East Berlin is the famous Ampelmann:
He's so cute, no? There are even Ampelmann shops all round the city (or maybe just the East?) where you can buy Ampelmann-themed, well, everything. I'm particularly partial to the gummi Ampelmann sweeties. There's a surprise.
Quick history lesson for those of you who know nothing about Berlin: after WW2 it was divided into East and West by this massive wall called The Berlin Wall. (Makes sense, huh?). It was kind of (totally) a big (HUGE!) deal. And although it's been 25 years since the wall came down, the differences between the two sides are still noticeable. Having studied the history of the city, I find it super interesting.
Aaaanyway, I carried on strolling, stopping to peruse some old German books as I went...
...and I soon got to the weekend art market on the Museumsinsel. I had a little lookie.
Then it was over the river to the very impressive Cathedral.
The sun may not have been shining but surrounded by green green grass and leafy trees, it looked even better than it had done in January.
Another thing I really like about Berlin is that you can basically see the TV tower from wherever you are. It may not be much of a looker but it's pretty helpful for getting your bearings, I'm sure you'll agree.
I walked some more. And some more. I went past this cupcake and froyo café and took a pic purely because it looked cute...
And yes, I did just say cupcake and froyo café. Perfect for me, much!? I tell you what, it was extremely rare to see cupcakes or froyo back in oh-so-traditional Bavaria, and I stumbled upon loads of similar places during just a few hours in Berlin. I guess that's quite a good demonstration of the difference between the two!
Oh, that leads me rather nicely on to where I went next actually...
I managed to find myself in Berlin's Nikolaiviertel (Nicholas Quarter if you want to translate, but I think it sounds much better auf deutsch) which is all historic and quaint and IT REMINDED ME OF BAVARIA!
Oh, cobbled streets and ye olde German-ness! It's been too long!
Next up, I walked round an area that was less photo-worthy so let's just skip that and get to the next pretty bit, shall we? Jolly good.
Ah, here we go:
That's the Gendarmenmarkt. It's sehr Grand and I like it a lot. By this point, however, my feet were aching and I realised my blood sugar had dropped perilously low. Any good city explorer knows that's fatal, so... TO THE BAKERY!
I really miss German bakeries. Just like Germany in general, they're totally underrated in my opinion. Everyone's always saying "Oh la la, boulangeries, bon, bein, baguettes, ouai, alors, délicieux" and there's this idea that French bakeries are the best thing since, um, sliced bread? (Not sure that expression really works here but we'll go with it.)
French bakeries, like Belgian ones, are undoubtedly full of delicious and diet-destroying treats. But they're quite different to German Bäckereien. And me, I prefer the latter. French/Belgian ones are fancy schmancy, fabulous and fine, German ones are like PRETZELS, BREAD ROLLS, PASTRIES in your face. I'm not sure I've explained this very well but you'll just have to trust me.
Well the point is I had a delicious lunch and a reinvigorating sit down before venturing off again. I walked down the shopping street, Friedrichstrasse, managing to resist actually shopping (*hears applause in head* thank you, thanks very much.)
And I soon got to Checkpoint Charlie, which is one of the most famous crossing points on the Berlin Wall. It's now a total tourist trap and there was even a cool little sandy "beach" area where people were lounging on deck-chairs and sipping cocktails from the surrounding street trucks. Trendy, I know. The sun had come out too, hoorah!
However with so few hours in Berlin there was no time to stop and top up my tan, and on I went.
I crossed the river yet again...
...and after walking on for a while more I found myself in Gleisdreieck Park. Apparently this is quite an upcoming park, and on a sunny Saturday afternoon it was full of people picnicking, roller-skating, skateboarding, playing table tennis, sunbathing, playing on the swings and generally having a nice time.
At this point it was time for me to head to a meeting so off I went. Let's jump forward a few hours...
I had the evening to myself and so set off in search of dinner. Something vegetabley, thought I. Readers, nothing vegetabley occurred.
Back over the river I went, this time with some pretty lovely evening light going on...
...and back to the grand old Brandenburg Gate. Instagram/Twitter followers may know what happened next. You know what? I just couldn't help myself!
Yup, the classic Currywurst and chips. When in Berlin, eh? It's not even my favourite type of Wurst (everyone has one, right?) but on a mild evening in front of the Brandenburg Gate, with a side of people-watching, it was really most pleasant.
I have to say, now I'm accustomed to the famous Belgian frites I realised these chips had nothing on Belgium!
And that was pretty much the end of my day in Germany's capital. I feel like I really packed it in though. Achey feet to the max!
|Aaaand good morning, Berlin!|
Unfortunately all I had time for was a quick (but DELICIOUS) breakfast then it was back to the airport.
|Don't mind if I do!|
Even the journey back to the airport looked much nicer than it had done the previous day because the sun was out to play. I was sad to have to leave on such a beautiful day.
But it was a lovely visit to Berlin and I really enjoyed discovering more of what Germany's capital has to offer. Maybe all I need is one more trip to fall head over heels in love with Berlin... Do you have any tips or recommendations for next time? I'd love to hear them.
PS. Get excited: I'M GOING BACK TO BAVARIA THIS WEEK! Keep your eyes peeled for what will undoubtedly be a gorgeous trip.