It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve returned from Berlin and sometimes I think my head is still in the clouds. That’s the weird thing about vacations. They are so necessary for mental health and well-being but the minute you step back into everyday life it’s almost like it never even happened.
But I’m not complaining. I ate my way through the city and Bryan and I got to see a LOT in our seven days there. Just recently, Bryan was watching something on the Nerd Network (not an actual channel but it should be!), and he called me in the room because they had a feature on the bust of Nefertiti. It was only a few days ago that we were standing in front of it, awestruck by how lifelike, colorful, and impressive it was. And that’s one of my favorite things about travel; it’s fun to see things on TV or overhear a conversation about a place you’ve visited and feel you are able to contribute because you have experienced it for yourself. There’s just nothing like it.
Here are a few of my favorite things about Berlin (not an exhaustive list by any means), and what you can skip on your next trip!
- Museum island and of course the bust of Nefertiti at the Neues Museum; also the Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum was incredible in person. They had a folk art exhibit that examined childhood fairy tales that I’d also recommend. You can get a guest pass ahead of time online which is worth it if you are planning on doing more than two museums in a day. Personally we maxed out at two but I’d love to return and visit some of the others
- Topography of Terror. This is free to the public and a great way to see pieces of the Berlin Wall intact while learning history along the way. There are signs up everywhere that give information about the history of the city, the rise of Hitler, and a sobering look at this country’s past; it’s an interesting exhibit altogether
- East Side Gallery. This was one of my favorite things to see, because it provides insight into the psyche of the people just days after the wall had fallen as they took to the streets (and to this stretch of wall in particular) to share their grievances through art. Unfortunately many of the original paintings have been tagged by graffiti artists over the years but it’s worth a visit, if only to see the sheer magnitude of the wall itself
- Potsdam. We did a walking tour that lasted six hours and though parts of it felt rushed, it was a great way to experience Sanssouci Castle (we didn’t go in but the grounds were incredible) and learn some history (our tour guide was amazing!). I wish we had longer to spend in the city itself; they had a little Amsterdam corner that looked so quaint!
- The food. Eat all of it. Legit. This is a photo taken in a local grocery store:
The displays in train stations were equally as impressive and all of it so delicious. The breads, the desserts, the regional and international cuisines… There are a LOT of vegan and veggie friendly places—one Vietnamese restaurant was located around the corner of our hotel and so delish we ate there twice!
Other things we saw and thoroughly enjoyed: Checkpoint Charlie, Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate (though the one in Potsdam was way more impressive and far less crowded!), and Gendarmenmarkt which has really neat architecture (they have their Christmas markets here in winter; we walked in on a protest).
Misses (I use this term loosely, as there weren’t that many):
- The 5 hour boat ride along the Spree River. The ride itself was interesting and I liked that we had headsets to learn about the monuments, but it was way longer than we needed. They have one hour tours as well, but you know that expression about hindsight being 20/20. Side note: Bryan and I got a kick out of this man who came up with new and inventive ways to drape a white shirt over his head
- Fernsehturm. I’m not sure this really belongs on the “miss list” because I actually think it was really interesting to see the city from that elevation but the ticket price is kind of bananas for what it is (I think it was just over $30 USD for both of us)
Have you ever been to Berlin? What were some of your favorite things to see/do? Also, where to next! I have the travel bug again, ha!