I’m thrilled to share what I learned from Berlin, Germany – the second city Kenny and I explored during our European travels.
I must admit Berlin quite took me by surprise. Not obviously beautiful, like Rome or Paris, Berlin possesses a stoic beauty. Walking the streets you’re overwhelmed by the fact that important things have happened here; tragic events have transpired. Each building tells a story and the city feels like an open air museum.
Evocative monuments and buildings tell the story of Hitler’s reign, communist oppression, and millions of lives that were destroyed. Berlin will move you and give you a deep, deep gratitude for freedom like you’ve never before experienced.
I was not expecting to fall in love with Berlin but it happened. To see a city rebuilt and reunified after decades of tragedy is a truly beautiful experience. Berlin’s sordid history gives it depth of character and the vibrancy of the music, art, and architecture scene display the power of human perseverance. To visit Berlin is to love Berlin; I can’t wait to experience it again.
After spending a few days in Berlin, here are some tips that I will adhere to next time and things that I hope will make your visit more enjoyable:
- Hire a guide or participate in walking tours your first day. Berlin has so much history that it’s easy to pass by unassuming buildings without an appreciation of its significance. Kenny and I did a walking tour our first day to get acquainted with our surroundings and get an overview of the city. This piqued our interest about the communist occupation of Berlin so we decided to participate in a second walking tour about “Red Berlin”. A walking tour is a great way to discover what portion of the city’s history you’re interested in learning more about and it can help you shape an itinerary that suits your preferences.
- Take a filtered water bottle. Bottles like this Brita filtered water bottle saved us from becoming dehydrated during our long sightseeing days. We had to purchase a water bottle from a stand in front of the Brandenburg gate and we were charged almost 4 Euros for one bottle. European water is safe for Americans to drink so we just kept refilling our Brita bottles throughout the day.
- Flight or Train? Consider the time and money. In Europe, moving from city to city or country to country is relatively quick and painless with the train system. After flying from Stockholm to Berlin and then taking the train from Berlin to Prague we became particularly fond of train travel and favor this option whenever possible. To get to and from airports, that are always located outside the city, cost us at least 50 Euros each way. Trains make many convenient stops through different towns so we were able to easily walk to our destination or take a much cheaper cab ride from the train station. Trains also don’t require you to arrive at the station 1-2 hours before and you don’t spend time going through security check points. You also arrive at your destination much fresher when you take the train versus taking a flight that puts you at high altitudes and will undoubtedly make you feel dehydrated and a bit loopy.
I hope these tips help make your Berlin experiences more enjoyable and that you love this city as much as Kenny and I did!