Modern Day Berlin 

Berlin is remembered for its dark history during Hitler’s dictatorship and then during the cold war, but Berlin is now a vibrant city, full of life and welcoming to all walks of life. I still recommend visiting the historical sites, but once you have ticked them off your list, head over to the modern side of the city and experience the culture and atmosphere like no other.

Berlin Fernsehturm (TV tower), located right next to Alexanderplatz station symbolising the modern Berlin. Its €13 to ride the elevator to the top for views over the whole city.

 

There is a free walking tour that meets outside the Starbucks under the TV tower called the ‘Alternative Berlin’ tour. It departs every day at 11am and we booked on http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com the night before, but I think you could just show up and ask to join.

A quick note on the free tours, every tour is different and the tour guides don’t get paid so they rely heavily on tips, please be generous.

Street art is all over Berlin, you either love it or hate it, I absolutely loved it. There will be a lot of stops on your walking tour to point out the work of various famous street artists.

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During the 90’s East Berlin was mostly empty buildings, because when the wall came down everybody moved to the ‘nicer’ West Berlin. The empty buildings attracted artists, musicians, writers etc. who lived in the buildings without paying any rent, (illegally squatting). There are still a handful of buildings where the artists still live rent free, usually by agreement of the local government. One example is Haus Schwarzenberg, visitors are allowed into the courtyard and there is a small museum that you can enter free of charge. There is also Kunstraum Kreuzberg where there is a section open to visitors.

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The colourful east side gallery is the longest stretch of the wall still standing (just under a mile), the government have commissioned street artists to decorate the wall in cheerful colours, it’s really busy all year round but its free and one of the ‘must see’ attractions in Berlin. 

 

 
There’s a Treehouse just behind Baumhaus an der Mauer, where an old Turkish man lives. (I think he’s 96 at the time of writing). The man built his tree house himself with scraps of wood he found on the street, it’s on a tiny patch of land that once backed right onto the wall. When the wall came down, the local government wanted to knock it down to build a road from East Berlin to West Berlin, but the community came together and managed to save the man’s home. he still sits out on the porch waving to people passing by. A symbol of how strong the community in modern day Berlin can be.

Berlin has a buzzing night life and has something for everyone, from bouncing night clubs to high end restaurants to laid back beach bars.  

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I’m much more into the relaxed scene and stay away from clubs as much as possible, but everyone I’ve spoken to says that Berlin has some of the best clubs in the world. 

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We stayed in Friedrichshain which was perfect for a laid back cocktail. It didn’t seem like much was happening until you wander down the little side streets where some of the best places were hidden. If your in the area you must try the Thai restaurant Sala Thai, best red curry I’ve ever tasted. Also, Keyif cocktail bar was superb. 


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Click HERE to read our Essential Information post about Berlin.
 
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Click HERE to read our Historical Berlin post.

Historical Berlin 

Berlin has a long and turbulent history, if you’re a history geek or not interested at all, it’s impossible to visit Berlin and not be reminded of what has happened here, I have listed some of my ‘must see’ attractions below. 

Brandenburg Tor (Gate), probably the most iconic view of Berlin, this used to be the official entrance to Berlin used by the Royal family. Now a meeting point for most tours. There is a free tour every day at 10am and 11am which leaves from the Starbucks opposite. There’s no need to book, just show up, if there are too many people for one tour then they just divide you up into groups.

Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, we spent about 15 minutes here on the free walking but we made a special effort to return here and spend longer, the artist who designed the memorial never announced what it was or what it was supposed to represent, he wasn’t visitors to really think about the different possible meanings and make up their own opinion.

Topography or Terror, one of the few pieces of the Berlin wall still standing, it’s been kept in its original state and is open to the public, there is a free museum next to the piece of wall which is open every day.

Gendarmenmarkt, a historical market square, the French cathedral is at one end and the German cathedral is at the other end. The French cathedral was a huge statement when it was first built, it was one of the first (if not the first) foreign church to be built in Germany, signalling that French migrants were welcome in Berlin.

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Berlin Dom (Cathedral), located on museum island and probably my favourite building in all of Berlin and we didn’t even need to go inside to appreciate its beauty. If I ever visit Berlin again then I will make time to see inside the cathedral for sure.

The memorial for the May 10th 1933 book burning opposite the university library. All books written by Jews, homosexuals, non-German authors etc. were burned on this spot in 1933. Now the memorial is an underground library with only bare shelves. There is a glass platform above ground to allow visitors a view of the memorial. Students sill line up outside the university every day selling second hand books to raise funds for charity as a direct response to the universities dark history. 

A quick note on the free tours, every tour is different and you don’t cover every single thing on this list. The tour guides don’t get paid so they rely heavily on tips, please be generous.

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Click HERE to read our Essential Information post about Berlin.

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Click HERE to read our Modern Day Berlin post.

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Cost and Useful Info – Berlin

Getting There: The flight from Newcastle (UK) is around 1 hour and 35 minutes, EasyJet fly regularly from loads of different cities in the UK. Our flights only cost £55/pp.

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Where To Stay: Arcadia Hotel Berlin, (only £40/night) right next to the Berlin Frankfurter Allee train station where you can take the S9 direct to the airport and opposite the underground, where the U5 is a short 7 minute journey to Alexanderplatz station in the city centre. The Arcadia is located in the Friedrichshain area which is quite and safe with a few nice restaurants and bars close by.

Getting Around: The main airport is SFX, about a 30-45 minute train ride from the city centre depending where you’re staying. A single ticket costs €3.40 or a day ticket which includes all the trams, busses and underground is €7.70. A single ticket for the underground is €2.80 and lasts 90 minutes, you can go as far as you want and change train as many times as you need to, all on the same ticket. They run regularly, cover the whole city and most lines are 24 hours.

Tours etc.: There are lots of ‘Free’ tours in Berlin, a quick google search will bring up a few different companies. I used http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com to book the classic Berlin tour and the alternative Berlin tour. The tours are free but the guides rely on tips to make a living, so be generous. See our ‘Berlin 3 day Itinerary’ for more details on the tours. Click HERE to read.

The river Spree is lined with dozens of boats trying to sell you a 1 hour tip, we chose the one which departed every 30 minutes from Moltkebrucke for €13/pp, but I got the impression that they were all similar prices and all follow the exact same route.

Food & Drink: The first thing I noticed is that water is expensive here, ranging from €1.80 to €3.00 for a normal size bottle. Food on the other hand is quite reasonable, for breakfast there were hundreds of bakeries selling croissants for less than €2.00. For lunch, there is a currywurst stall spread all over the city and you can buy one for less than €5. For dinner, a 2 course Italian meal for 2 people with wine cost us €40.



Visa: UK Passport holders do not currently need a visa to enter Germany.

Vaccinations: At the time of writing (June 2017) there are no vaccinations required.

Currency: The currency in Germany is Euro. It was really easy to find a cashpoint (ATM) and MasterCard is accepted in most places, even at underground (subway) stations.

£1 (GBP) = €1.14 (EUR)

£1 (USD) = €0.93 (EUR)

If you still have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below:
Thanks for reading

Ashleigh xx

Christmas Markets in Düsseldorf 

Just a 1 hour and 20 minute flight from Newcastle is Düsseldorf international airport. With regular flights from all over the U.K., it makes a perfect December getaway that’s guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit. 

We flew on a Friday afternoon and returned Sunday afternoon, it was a short visit but was just enough to see the best that the city has to offer.

It’s really easy to catch the train from the airport into the city, the S11 train dropped us of about 3 minutes walk away from our hotel.

We stayed in the brand new Holiday Inn Dusseldorf City Toulouser All. The rooms are what you can typically expect from a 3 star hotel in Europe, but the breakfast was one of the best I’ve had in any hotel all year, Sean was over the moon and raved about the breakfast all weekend. 

We spend Saturday morning walking along the river front and admiring the view from the top of the Rheinturm tower, a 240.5 metre high concrete telecommunications tower with a bar/cafe at the top, it cost €8 per person to ride to the top, once you got up there there drinks and snacks are an ok price considering where you are.


It was so cold that the rest of the day was spent jumping from pub to pub then we went back to the hotel for a bath and a warm up. 

If your in Germany during December then visiting a Christmas Markets is a must! We went to quite a few, my favourite was the one next to Jan-Wellem-Platz, it was abit more spread out and didn’t seem as busy. 

The food is fantastic and we tried as much as we could fit in our bellies. (Which is a lot!) We spent Friday night and Saturday night wandering about, stuffing our faces.

We will certainly be returning to Germany but hopefully when it’s abit warmer. 

Ashleigh xx