Guten Tag Blütenblätter,
One of my first ever university assignments was on - one of my now favourite films - Run Lola Run and ever since, I've been itching to visit Berlin. If you haven't already watched this cult classic, or even if you have, watch it (again) tonight and thank me later.
THE BALL IS ROUND, THE GAME LASTS 90 MINUTES, EVERYTHING ELSE IS PURE THEORY - RUN LOLA RUN
My fist impression of Berlin was the sense of familiarity. Berlin to me is London's long lost sister. Both cities are melting pots of culture and behold that terrific 'anything goes' vibe.
Accommodation wise, we stayed in a hostel called Lette'M Sleep - we'd be lying if we said it wasn't for the hysterical name alone. I'd hardly call the location prime, but it was however in a lovely little neighbourhood. I'd only recommend this hostel if you're hanging around the city for more than a few days. The only downside I can really think of is that it's the first hostel I've stayed in where you have to press the shower button every five seconds to maintain the water flow, but I suppose you just have to take that with a pinch of salt!
I LOVE BERLIN ALREADY / HONEY, I'M HOME
During our time in Berlin, it was my soul sister Caitanya's 20th. As her birthday fell on a Monday, the bar we were hoping to go to called The Chelsea Bar was closed, luckily it wasn't long until we stumbled upon A.m to P.m. Yes, this is a bar / disco - depending on what phase of the moon you swing by - that never sleeps. The barman's philosophy? "We'll sleep when we're dead." One thing (drink) led to another (drink), and before we knew it we were catching the first U-Bahn home at 5am.
I couldn't recommend a bar without suggesting where to hit up the morning after the night before for some TLC. Just around the
A.M TO P.M / IMPALA
BIRTHDAY GLITTER GIRL / CAITANYA'S BIRTHDAY PRESENT #BEERSHOWERGEL #SORRYETHAN
Word to the wise, keep one eye out for the cheap and cheerful photoautomats dotted around the city (the best results occur during the witching hour)!
PUT ON YOUR RED SHOES AND DANCE THE BLUES / 2AM PHOTOAUTOMAT
Our free walking tour in Berlin was the only tour during our travels where we weren't guided by a native. We were guided by a funky Aussie called Taylor, who has been living in the city for five years and knows it like the back of his hand. This tour was unique in that not only were we inundated with fascinating historical facts, but lots of quirky tidbits where also added in such as when we passed Hotel Adlon, where back in 2002 Michael Jackson infamously dangled his baby over the balcony. Iconic.
The two and a half hour tour took us to some of Berlin's most significant and at times harrowing points, such as the Brandenburg gate, the memorial to the murdered jews of Europe (words don't do justice) and Checkpoint Charlie.
AFTER ASKING FIVE PEOPLE FOR DIRECTIONS, I REALISED I'D BEEN ASKING FOR THE BATTENBERG GATE / SURREAL
At one point during the tour, we found ourselves standing above the underground bunkers where Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves. There was no memorial or plaque, for obvious reasons, we were just guided under a tree on a specific patch of grass adjacent to what used to be the Reich Chancellery - now a block of flats. It was as surreal as it sounds.
Another eye opening moment was when we were taken to Bebelplatz and discovered the discreet memorial - a pane of glass on the cobbled street - where, when closer inspected, conceals empty bookshelves underground. There's apparently enough space for 20,000 books to commemorate the amount of books burned by the Nazis on 10th May 1933. A prophetic quote remains nearby...
That was only a prelude, there
where they burn books,
they burn in the end people.
Heinrich Heine 1820
STANDING MERE METERS ABOVE WHERE HITLER AND EVA BRAUN COMMITTED SUICIDE / BEBELPLATZ MEMORIAL
Berlin is so vast - almost ten times the size of Paris - that if you only have a handful of days to squeeze everything in, I wholeheartedly recommend renting a bike. Weaving your way through the city allows you to see the city from a whole new vantage point and, in many ways, like a local.
If your cycling skills are a little rusty, don't be disheartened. I hadn't ridden a bike since whizzing round the streets of Corfu aged eight - and if I'm not mistaken, I had stabilisers! It's easy to get the swing of as Berlin is flat and hence a cycle city. If you stay in the cycle lane and keep calm, there's really nothing to fear. Just remember to stay alert and hydrated!
We rented our bikes from our hostel for just 10 euros a day. Not too shabby!
ABSOLUTELY STUNNING / DISCO NAP
A trip to Berlin wouldn't be complete without a trip to one of its multitude of galleries. One
lazing on a sunny afternoon, we cycled to Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin to catch their Avant Garde exhibition (think Dada); it's a little out in the sticks, but worth the extra mile.
Do remember to pack your student I.D card as most attractions in Berlin offer student discount (learn from my mistake).
MOWGLI / ALBUM COVER PHOTO
One of my favourite things about this topsy turvy city was forever discovering curious oddities such as this...
BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY
Keep your eyes peeled as everything is not as it seems.
IF I HAD A WORLD OF MY OWN, EVERYTHING WOULD BE NONSENSE. NOTHING WOULD BE WHAT IT IS, BECAUSE EVERYTHING WOULD BE WHAT IT ISN'T. AND CONTRARY WISE, WHAT IS, IT WOULDN'T BE. AND WHAT IT WOULDN'T BE, IT WOULD. YOU SEE? - ALICE IN WONDERLAND
I could preach about The East Side Gallery all day. Even though I was warned how big it is, you can't grasp the enormity until you're there yourself. We must have been walking up and down the Berlin wall, taking photos and reading hidden passages, for over three hours. I was in awe.
I think it's worth mentioning that just behind the start of the East Side Gallery, there's a really lovely hangout area; follow signs leading to 'Pirates Berlin' and you'll find this haven. It's a charming place to have a few bottles of moonshine or a cosy picnic whilst watching the world go by.
JUST A WEE REMINDER
THEO, AMY, YOURS TRULY, EL, ALICE, CAITANYA, ETHAN, OLI & RHIANNON
ONE FOR THE MANTELPIECE
Thanks for all the memories Berlin,
you still have me grinning like a Cheshire Cat!
AFTER THE GAME IS BEFORE THE GAME - RUN LOLA RUN