Picture of orange brick double decker bridge, Oberbaumbrücke in Berlin over water.

Our main activity for day three was the East Side Gallery.

Although Mark discovered that there was a beer festival on the weekend we were there, and conveniently it was on the way to the East Side Gallery!

The longest beer festival in the world, it was a mile long and had 2,400 brands of beer and 344 breweries. We even had Scotland represented with Brewdog. We bought a tiny (0.2l) stein each and set off to sample some beers. I mostly stuck to the fruity ones but did try some of the German beers too. I don’t think we were even half way down before I started feeling a bit tipsy! Thankfully there were plenty of food places so we got some currywurst to share before we headed for more beer.

It seems that Germans love unicorns as much as me, there was a lot of unicorn stuff in shops and there was even a unicorn beer! And it was freakin’ delicious!

Part of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery. Colourful, unrealistic looking faces

Once we got to the end of the beer festival we were on the way to the main attraction of the day. The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall at over 1300 metres long. It’s covered in over 100 paintings, the most famous probably being the kissing scene of Brezhner and Honecker (unsurprisingly it was super busy here, so I didn’t manage to get a good photo of this). We also saw Oberbaumbrücke, the double-deck bridge which was near the start of the East Side Gallery (the one you can see in the photo at the top of the post). This bridge was closed after WW2 because it connected east and west Berlin.

I think day four was my favourite day. We went to the Berlin Wall Memorial and Berlin Underworlds Museum. We headed to the Underworlds Museum first thing and booked onto one of the English tours of the bunker under the train station. Tickets purchased, we were back on the train to the Berlin Wall Memorial. This was such an interesting museum, partly outside, there were photos of escapes across the border and plaques on the ground to show where people had dug tunnels to get east to west. There was also a part of the wall set up as it would have been, with no man’s land in between the two sides and the watchtower. The part of the museum that was inside was more about the wall going up, it was put up overnight and the people of Berlin woke up unable to get from side to the other, families were separated, people couldn’t get to work. It’s so weird to imagine that when I was born the wall was still up!

We got back to the Underworlds Museum for our tour and it was so cool. We entered the bunker through a huge door half way down the stairs into the station. The bunker consisted of lots of different rooms and would have been able to accommodate 1000 people in the event of a raid. When we went into the bunker we were told not to touch the walls, and the reason why was demonstrated to us – the paint glows in the dark, and still does all these years later! Pretty sure that means there is some harmful stuff in that paint!? Although it had space for 1000 people in reality there would be more than that in it when it was in use, candles were used to monitor the amount of oxygen in the bunker. We weren’t allowed to take photos in here as some of the items on display weren’t allowed to be photographed.

Our last full day in Berlin started with a visit to the Olympiastadion – the venue for the 1936 Olympics. To get into the actual stadium you had to pay but we decided against this as you still got some pretty cool views without actually going in and we still had other sights to see!

Entrance to the Olympic stadium in Berlin. The five olympic rings suspended between two stone pillars. Blue sky and fluffy white clouds.

The other thing on the list for day five was Topography of Terror which is on the site of what was the Gestapo headquarters. This museum was really tough going. It’s all about the horrible things the Nazis did during their time in power, both in the lead up and during WW2. The whole museum was made up of large info boards that gave details of the horrors inflicted on people. I’m a total history geek but there was only so much I could read and the photos were truly awful. I ended up sitting out about the last quarter of the museum.

Our flight home on the Tuesday was around 1pm but we managed to get booked onto a tour of the glass dome on top of the Reichstag. You are able to do a tour of the whole building but this has to be booked well in advance and by the time we booked our trip there were no slots left. The glass dome was cool and the views across the city were amazing! Plus we were up so early we managed to see the Brandenburg Gate with no tourists in front of it.

And then it was time to head to the airport and get back to sunny Scotland.

Berlin was such a great city and we had a great time. If you’re planning a trip my must see places would be the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Berlin Underworlds Museum, Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery. The fact that the Germans don’t shy away from their history amazes me! Our hotel (Park Inn by Radisson) was in a great location, the rooms were a good size and the bed was comfy. Everything you need in a hotel on a city break. The only weird thing about it was the fact that the shower cubicle was pretty much in the bedroom, as in you could see it from the bed!

I definitely think walking around a new city is the best way to explore it but the public transport was great and you can buy a ticket thats lets you use the train, tram and bus. Also, when in Germany you need to try ALL the food! Currywurst is super tasty, and is great washed down with a beer. Also German mac n’ cheese – käsespätzle – is amazing!

Have you visited Berlin? What were your favourite things about the city?

You can read pt.1 of our Berlin trip here.

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

Photographs taken by me & M Richardson

 

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Picture of Berlin Wall with colourful graffiti on it

Not all who wander are lost.

In August Mark and I headed off on a much needed holiday! Although Mark took the time off and I knew I would be off (due to the job quitting thing!) we actually didn’t decide on where we were going until the week before we left!

Berlin was somewhere we were both keen on and although each of us had been to Germany before, Berlin was a first for both of us. We flew out of Edinburgh on 3rd August, thankfully it wasn’t too early a flight but I still slept pretty much the whole way! I woke up way earlier than I needed to – must have been the excitement!

The flight took just over an hour and as we only took hand luggage it took us no time to get out of the airport and to the train. We were staying at the Park Inn by Radisson at Alexanderplatz, a convenient two minute walk from the train station. We got our choice of floor between nine and thirty! As I’m not the biggest fan of heights I opted for floor nineteen and we still had great views.

After ditching our bags and freshening up a bit we headed out to explore a bit of the city and grab some lunch. There were plenty of food places in the station so we just grabbed sandwiches and sat in the sun while deciding where to go and people watched.

Picture of windows surrounded by green leaves with red roses

We set off for a walk around the city. I’ll be honest, I pretty much follow Mark when we’re away anywhere. My sense of direction is so bad! One of the places on our list was Clärchens Ballhaus which is apparently considered an institution in the city. It originally opened in 1913 as a ballroom and is now a restaurant and nightclub. It’s meant to be really cool inside but we didn’t manage to get in so just had to admire it from the outside.

Picture of old building surrounded by green trees and hanging lights

You can’t be in Germany and not visit a beer hall. Our first visit dinner was at Hofbräu Berlin. The guys were wearing lederhosen and the women were wearing dirndl, and the beer steins were HUGE!

Picture of hand holding a pretzel with a water fountain behind it

Day two we were up nice early and ready for a packed day of sightseeing. We started our day with breakfast – I couldn’t get enough of the pretzels! We found what seemed to be the German equivalent of Greggs, this was our breakfast place of choice for the trip. After we had eaten and got a little bit soaked by the fountain we sat in front of we set off for the Brandenburg Gate. It was unsurprisingly really busy and mobbed with tourists!

Picture of Brandenburg gate, it has six stone pillars and a green statue on top with four horses

From here we walked to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews and then onto probably the most famous car park in Berlin. The car park was once the site of the Führerbunker, used by Hitler during WW2. Day two was by far our busiest day and we saw so much because we walked everywhere! It’s such a good way to see everything, the Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design was next up. Pretty cool if you’re into art and design and the tiny houses out front were pretty cool.

During our wander through the city we walked through Potsdamer Platz and this was the first we saw of a bit of the remaining Berlin Wall. We had lots of wee breaks throughout the day, we needed to make sure that we drank as much beer as possible! This kept us going until we hit Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, then we did even more walking! On the way back to the hotel we went via Checkpoint Charlie, they’ve kept the checkpoint hut and the signs telling you you were leaving/entering another part of Berlin. Even much later on in the day it was still mobbed with tourists, and by this point me and my wee feet had well and truly had enough! It was a really hot day we’d clocked up an unbelievable 13 miles (over 30k steps!) and I was wearing Converse…

I’m going to leave it there for now and I will be back with pt.2 in a few days.

 

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This post is so long overdue!

Every visit to London ignites my passion for the city more and more.  It is such an eclectic place and you really do see it all down there.

I was down in June for 1 night and it gave me just the right amount of hunger for my trip back down last month.  This was my second London trip with the boy, we were also down with some of my family as my stepdad celebrated a pretty big birthday this year.

The boy and I flew down on the Saturday morning and made our way to our hotel in Holborn.  After a quick power nap once we got into our room we headed out for a wander.  We went to Trafalgar Square to people watch, had liquid nitrogen ice cream at Somerset House and walked down Whitehall to see the Houses of Parliment and Big Ben.

Sunday called for some shopping and Liberty was top of the list.  After seeing the programme on channel 4 last year I have been desperate to go.  We got there a whole hour before the shop opened so took a bit of a walk down Oxford Street and then went to Topshop for it opening, there was actually a queue outside waiting for it to open!  Liberty was next on the agenda, we headed to the chocolate shop first of all and spent way too much!  I loved wandering round and looking at all the delights Liberty had to offer, the furniture and kitchen departments were my favourite (including Alice in Wonderland kitchenware!).  After spending a few hours looking around my mum and I went for coffee and tiny macaroons in the Liberty cafe.
Monday was spent with the boy and my brother walking down the Mall to not see the changing of the guard (it only happens every second day!) and then onto Covent Garden.  We had possibly the best fast food I have ever tasted at Shake Shack.  Monday night was spent seeing Les Miserables, it was so good it gave me goosebumps.
Before heading home on Tuesday we saw the poppies at Tower Bridge.  Photographs can not do this justice, they are so much more impressive in real life.
After this trip I think my other half is coming round to the idea of living in London a bit more.
xxx
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