If you haven’t already, take a look at my post “HOW I DECIDED TO TRAVEL ALONE IN EUROPE LAST SUMMER”
Berlin was going to be my first destination that summer. I took a bus from Copenhagen. A regular bus in Western Europe it included 2 TVs, a toilet, and a coffee machine.
I did a bit of a small talk with my seat neighbour – a father of three children, travelling with all of them and his wife.
I watched a little bit of the movie playing on the TV, I sent some messages to my friends on messenger.
The trip included a ferry to cross that bit of the Baltic sea that separates the Danish islands from mainland Europe.
We missed one of the ferries and we had to wait half an hour or one hour for the next one.
I had been travelling with ferries on small distances, mostly in Stockholm, but I haven’t really had a long trip on a boat prior to that.
There was cheap alcohol in the store on the ferry so pretty much everyone rushed to the store.
I walked around a little bit and bought some chocolate.
Then I went outside on the deck. There were many people in small groups of 2,3 and 4 talking to each other. It was a little scary. There were no lights on the deck, but there was a full moon, occasionally obstructed by a few clouds.
Now that I think about it I feel like there’s always a full moon when I travel at night.
Anyway, we spent around 1,5 or 2 hours on the ferry and I slept in the bus till we reached Berlin early on Saturday morning.
The bus left me near the central train station (Hauptbahnhof).
I went inside because the building looked really interesting to me and I needed to take a look from the inside. I also took a coffee and a croissant and sat in a small cafe at the station to make plans for the day.
My good friend google maps helped me and it’s helping me now because it still remembers all the roads that I took, although I’m not convinced it took all the information correctly.
I had booked my first AirBnB and I was a little worried about that. But there was still plenty of time. It was around 8 in the morning, I had to check in at 2 in the afternoon.
It turned out the way from the train station to the place I booked is actually saturated with interesting things, so I decided I’ll just take a long walk.
Now I had a backpack with some water and a sweatshirt, but my main luggage was a cabin-sized suitcase on 2 wheels. It’s not the most pleasant thing to pull a bag like that for half a day, but I decided it doesn’t bother me that much. So I walked.
I passed by the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and also other interesting buildings which I didn’t care to look up when I was there. And I know I’m an architect, but I don’t really care too much to look up buildings, architects and places unless something makes a special impression on my mind. When I travel I mostly enjoy getting lost in the city, not looking up every piece of architecture or landscape around me.
I have to say, though, after Berlin, I went to Amsterdam and there I took a guided tour which I really enjoyed. The next blog post is going to be about my experience in Amsterdam so stay tuned.
I spent more than an hour at a restaurant at lunch and then I went to my AirBnB.
I really liked my host – she was an artist and the whole place was very artistic. I had a room in a big old apartment for myself. It was huge and divided in two – a sleeping area and working area. The ceiling was around 4 meters above the floor. The building was old and beautiful.
I talked a lot to my host – middle-aged woman, living a bohemian life, being an artist and having a couple of places to rent out with Airbnb.
She offered me some coffee, we had a smoke and talked about how could I help her with her other apartment, being an architect.
In the afternoon I went to meet a friend. A colleague from university actually.
I had talked to her about travelling around Europe that summer and I actually started with Berlin and not Amsterdam in order to see her.
We met at Alexanderplatz.
The weather was finally sunny and hot so we walked a lot and had some ice cream.
I really liked Berlin, being there for the first time.
It has this Eastern European atmosphere, at the same time, it’s a German city. It’s very specific and it’s definitely a city I’d enjoy living in. Everywhere I go I ask myself this question: “Would I stay and live here?”
She showed me some things that I don’t remember, we had some pizza and decided to go out in the evening as well since it was Saturday.
I like going to Couchsurfing hangouts and events, so I found an event and we went there. But there was almost no place for us and I felt that my friend didn’t really like that kind of atmosphere, so we stayed at another table and talked a lot. I realized that for 6 years in university I didn’t get to know her that as much as I did for a couple of hours in Berlin. Later I realised travelling often does that to you. When you travel your mind is open, you don’t have prejudices, you listen to the others.
We went to another place and one of her local friends joined us. By local I mean he was residing there. He was Australian and I don’t think he was speaking any German. But that’s exactly what I like in those cities – the variety of people, travellers, expats.
Then we went to some kind of a night club/bar. At many of those places in Berlin people smoke inside and I was very surprised to found out that in what I thought is a developed European country, but as I said, Berlin to me has more similarities with Eastern Europe than with the west.
For some reason, I have no pictures from those places.
The next day I went to see the Berlin Wall Memorial. I’m kinda ashamed of that but before going to Berlin I assumed that it was a border city between West and East Germany during the cold war era, but it turned out to be much more complicated than that. The city was entirely surrounded by East Germany, but it was also divided into two. The west part of the city was provided with a narrow corridor to the rest of West Germany. But you probably know that already.
To me, it was interesting how they built the wall through peoples properties in front of entrances of buildings etc. They used an old church tower as an observation tower and there were soldiers there. Anyway, I’m sure you can read more about it if you’re interested.
I went to a cafe close to the wall memorial. Even the service at those places reminded me more of my home country than Denmark and Sweden (giving them as an example since I was already familiar with them).
At the cafe, I checked how I can get to Amsterdam. There was a night train and I thought it’s perfect since I can walk around Berlin till the end of the day and then arrive in Amsterdam the next morning. I didn’t have to make a reservation so all the planning was done now – I was going to spend one more day with my bags around and just jump on the train in the evening.
I wanted to visit many places but I wanted to do it my way – I need the immersion in the everyday life of the city. To feel how the city breathes. I also wanted to spend not more than one salary for that one month of travelling.
So I walked the city that day, met some American girls that were visual artists so we talked a lot about sketches and character design.
I had some German weissbier. I don’t really like any other kind of beer, but weissbier in the hot summer is good.
I had to go to the Pharmacy to get some medication about a minor problem and since it was Berlin – the guy there was speaking perfect English. It’s not the case everywhere and I’m gonna tell you a story one day about how I had to deal with health problems during a trip to Poland.
So the day passed by slowly and I got to the train station around 8 or 9. My train was at 23.45 so I had plenty of time.
I took a place at a restaurant at the station.
The waitress was very polite and I noticed she has a familiar accent and I asked her if she’s by any chance Bulgarian. And she was. Which was very funny and for the rest of the evening I got service in my mother tongue which was hilarious.
I booked a room in Amsterdam while I was drinking some more weissbier with fries and later I went to find the train.
I had to change trains in the early morning at a small town in Germany close to the border with the Netherlands.
After the departure, I quickly fell asleep.
It felt so good to be on the go. Only 2 days had passed but it felt like much more.