I've wanted to go to Berlin for as long as I could remember, so it was a high priority to visit while in Europe. I've always been fascinated by the heavy history, but also the new culture that has erupted, turning it into a creative hub for art and design. Before heading to the city, I asked a friend what to expect, and he said Berlin is poor, but sexy.
During my time abroad, I have been using the weekdays to explore Dublin and have been using weekend to get out and explore outside of the city. Soon, I realized I had more destinations in mind than weekends left and I decided to take a mid-week trip. So, on Monday I decided to book a weekday trip between classes. This meant heading to class with a backpack, and leaving to the airport straight from class - this is what studying abroad is all about right???
While coming to Dublin has been a solo adventure, this trip to Berlin was my first time going to a place where I was really alone. While at first this was a bit intimidating, I had been so excited to go somewhere alone that the nerves fell away — Spoiler Alert: it all worked out and I will be traveling alone again soon.
Upon arriving in Berlin, I took a bus and then transferred to the U-Bahn (Berlin's underground subway system) and made it to my the Circus Hostel at about half past nine. As soon as I walking into Circus, I knew I made the right decision. The hostel has such an incredible atmosphere from Katz & Maus, the trendy cafe located in the lobby, to the Circus Hostel Brewing Co. located downstairs. This place has it all + they give you a voucher to try the local brew upon arrival.
During my days in Berlin, I explored the city on foot through a free walking tour. While the tour was only intended to last 3.5 hours, it lasted over five hours and walked over 10 miles. It was by far the best walking tour I had ever been on, so much of Berlin's history is by the stories of individuals - and requires an informed guide to make sure you don't miss anything. The tour made sure we saw all of the essentials from museum island, Check Point Charlie, the Berlin Wall, and a variety of memorials and monuments. One of my favorite parts was exploring the East End Galley - the murals painted directly onto the Berlin Wall.
I also got a chance to visit the Deutsches Historisches Museum, the museum is beautifully curated and shows German history in a careful way. The museum faces a challenge of being respectful and transparent, a challenge I believe is handled well. Fittingly following the museum, we headed straight to Hofbräuhaus Berlin, a traditional beer hall. This gave me a chance to get the 'Oktoberfest' experience, without as many tourists + we finally got liters of beer and salty bavarian pretzels.
During my nights in Berlin, I went out with new friends and got to experience another aspect of this city. First off, drinking is much less expensive in Berlin than Dublin. This was instantly clear as beers at a restaurant across from the hostel were €2. The rest of the night continued to live up to the poor but sexy expectation. I saw it all, bars that felt like house parties complete with new games, hip cocktail bars, and somehow even made it to an underground techno club called Suicide Circus. Most importantly, all of our nights ended at the the local kebab house for a €3 falafel.
Before every trip I take, I like to scour Instagram and the Lonely Planet for cafes and coffee shops to visit. While visiting Berlin, I knew I wanted to visit St. Oberholz. I came to this cafe because I thought it was so aesthetically pleasing, to realize I didn't go to the right location that I saw online. Anyway, I read some of my book, enjoyed my flat white, and had a nice morning.
While this trip began solo, I didn't feel alone at long. From my first trip to the elevator I met a group of travelers from California to the independent travelers staying at my dorm I was met with kindness and great company. Over the course of 72 hours, eight bars including karaoke, over 20 miles of walking, and amazing memories, Berlin will not be forgotten.
I hope I've encouraged you all to take a trip to Berlin + stay in the Circus Hostel.
until next time, here is a picture of me and a beer the size of my head.