There is nothing like the freedom of having a week to explore a new city with two of your best friends. Berlin provided the perfect balance for us. A fun holiday with quirky snaps and whirlwind adventures along with the opportunity to see lots of art, learn some history and experience a completely different culture.
We never stopped. Berlin is constantly changing and there is always something happening. Upon our first visit to Brandenburg gate we mistakenly stumbled upon EUFA quarter final crowds and ended up joining in celebrations until we passed out next morning. A very blurry night. A few days later we somehow ended up in the colourful midst of a huge Pride parade. Setting out each day with a vague idea of what we wanted to see and do, Berlin is so unpredictable and spontaneous that we definitely got more than we bargained for.
Our visit to the concentration Camp Sachsenhausen was understandably a very poignant day. To say the place ‘makes you think’ is an understatement. It’s important to keep these places open to the public, allowing people to remember and learn from the past. This remnant of an important part of history is definitely worth seeing. The same can be said for such landmarks as Checkpoint Charlie, The Memorial for Murdered Jews and of course, the Berlin Wall.
The city does not hide its ghosts. There are constant reminders of Germany’s troubled past, and yet the place also has such a current vibe, perhaps because it is still in a state of recovery from both war and the separation of the Wall. The city is ever-changing and with a constant buzz that gives the feeling that things are really happening here. Berlin is an art students dream. We got to see some classic works by Beuys, Rauschenberg and Kiefer, art pieces that we’d previously only read about in books. We saw work by contemporary artists we were previously unaware of and definitely felt inspired after our visit to the modern art gallery.
An aspect of art we previously hadn’t experienced much of was street art. But on a rainy day of exploration we stumbled upon Tacheles. An old department store, and one time Nazi prison, taken over by artist squatters. The energy in that place is so creative and chilled out, with its graffiti’d walls and multiple levels, it’s an artwork itself. Unfortunately Tacheles is being constantly threatened with eviction and demolition. I wish them luck.
We saw everything we wanted to see in Berlin and more. Every day we’d clamber into one of Berlin’s famous black and white photo booths and embarrass ourselves with stupid face-pulling. We got to sample finest Berlin Currywurst and found a new favourite drink in Berliner Weisse. We also experienced the most pleasant hangover I think we’ve ever had. After a heavy night on cheap Lidl wine we took a visit to Reichstag Parliament and climbed up to the domed roof. The best way to recover from a rough night is to lie beneath an open ceiling while a light shower of rain comes down. Did not want to leave.
It was such a spur of the moment decision to go to Berlin, sitting in the cold art canteen in February and daydreaming about the prospect of an arty trip away. I had an amazing time in Berlin and am very inspired to start my 4th year. The trip has made me hungry to see more of Europe. So its time to save, save, save and we’ll see what happens in a year.