Europe, Germany, Travel

Back to Berlin: Part 1

I’ve been quiet for awhile– for good reason, it got a bit busy for a couple weeks. At the very end of March, my visa was approved! This was great but sent me into whirlwind planning mode because I had to get health insurance, find a time to go to Berlin, get a bus or train ticket, book a hostel, and make sure I had all the necessary paperwork ready to go. A week later, everything had come together and I was packed and ready to go. Though of course, nothing ever is completely smooth sailing and I almost missed my bus because some parents were late picking up their kids from Thursday’s craft club. But, I made it with 2 minutes to spare and had almost the whole bus to myself for the 5 or so hour drive to Berlin.

Normally, I have a tendency to sleep while in a bus or a car (ask my friends, I will be out cold in ten minutes), but the sun was still out and everything was in bloom. It was too gorgeous to sleep! I got to Berlin late that night and sleepily made my way to the hostel I was staying in. I normally like to stay in smaller hostels, but I’d heard good things about the Generator brand so decided to try it out since it was actually one of the cheaper options for this trip. It was nice, though I definitely prefer a smaller place. The bar was quite impressive with some awesome cocktails, though!

My first morning was a bit stressful, though it was all my own making. I decided to relax a bit before going to the embassy to get my visa. I wanted to do an 11 AM tour, but wanted to go to Primark to get a “leather” jacket first. Clothes in Prague are expensive! But with the added relaxation time, by the time I got my visa and got to Primark it was pushing it close to the tour time. Luckily, they were very close to each other. The problem really arose when I realized it was going to rain and that I was going to freeze with what I had packed. So I started looking for a sweatshirt and rain jacket. I found them, but when I got to the checkout line, it was going to take at least 10 minutes! I didn’t have that time. I decided to just do the tour and come back later. Except, when I walked outside, I realized it had gotten colder. There was no way I could do a 3 hour walking tour without a sweatshirt or coat. So I decided to go back to Primark, get the coat, and do the tour at 1. I now had a couple hours to kill, so went to the Jewish museum. I arrived, got my ticket, got the audio tour, and then went to enter. At this point I had maybe an hour and 15 minutes before needing to leave. I was informed that I needed to check the small backpack I was carrying, which was holding basically everything important I had with me (my passport, wallet, and camera). I eventually gave in and went to check it, only to discover that a huge crowd had arrived and there was a long line for the coat check. I started to wait, but then realized that I wouldn’t have any time in the museum by the time I got through. So I decided to leave. Thankfully, the staff at the museum were amazing and completely refunded me!

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Part of Berlin’s vibrant street art scene

At this point, things started to turn around. I went and got lunch, walked around a department store, and then finally got to the tour. I had done the standard historic free walking tour the last time I visited, so this time I decided to do an Alternative Free Walking Tour through Alternative Berlin. The tour was going to focus more on street art, urban culture, and the music scene in Berlin. My tour guide was really into street art, so most of our tour focused on that (photo-essay coming soon!). We also visited the Young African Artists Market (YAAW), the beach portion of it was closed because of the gross weather, and the Kunstquartier Bethanien, an art center that I was planning on visiting the next day.

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The view of YAAW from the other side of the river

By the end of the tour, I had a blister forming on the bottom of my foot and was cold and tired, so made my way back to the hostel for a shower and a quick rest. I planned on getting dinner and then doing Alternative Berlin’s pub crawl, but unfortunately right as I left for dinner I started to not feel well and decided not to go out. I spent the night instead enjoying the hostel bar, and getting to sleep on the earlier side to make the most of my last full day in Berlin!

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