So I recently took what I’m sure will be my last baby-free trip – we spent five days in Berlin and Amsterdam. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do as much as I’d usually like to when exploring new cities as I was tired, just starting to pop a bit and Berlin was SO hot. However, we still managed to see most of the main sights so here’s a little wrap-up of our couple of days in Berlin!
Berlin is a city I’ve always wanted to visit, partly because I love history and partly because it just seemed so different to any other European city I’d been to. I was definitely right on that – not only did the vibe feel different, there was such a mix of historical and modern in a way I’d not seen before, and the city is so spread out. We stayed in the Mitte area of Berlin, which isn’t smack bang by the tourist attractions but is close enough to them as well as not being far from Berlin’s central train station. I decided to book at the H+ Hotel after staying in their Salzburg branch and being impressed – it’s essentially a German brand Premier Inn, so you know what you’re getting even if it is simple! I’m very glad we chose to book there as it was a clean, spacious enough room and the breakfast buffet had so many options. There’s also a supermarket underneath the hotel which was really handy (also, not that I could drink it but they only charged €0.79 for a bottle of beer).
On our first full day we decided to start simple and headed off to the Reichstag. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good shot of it as the grass in front of it was fenced off whilst it was being cut, so you’re basically stood on the steps up to the entrance craning your head up. We then wandered through Teirgarten to head towards the Brandenburg Gate. By this point we’d already somehow walked over three miles so had to stop for a drink/air con break. From the Brandenburg Gate, it’s a straight walk down to Museum Island. Whilst there we only actually chose to visit the Cathedral, which did impress us, and the DDR Museum, which didn’t. Something I can’t stand about some history museums is when the actual facts are littered with propaganda and opinions (see also: Prague’s Museum of Communism and Albania’s National Historical Museum in Tirana), and this was definitely one of those museums (plus, it was €9 each to get in and it’s essentially just one room with some East Berlin memorabilia and old cars?). By this point I was exhausted so we trekked the couple of miles back to the hotel before heading back out to a cute Italian restaurant we’d seen in the Mitte area. Highlights here were the huge pizzas and the happiest dog I’ve ever seen.
The plan for the second day was mostly to see the Holocaust Memorial as well as some of the other memorials around Tiergarten and visit the Jewish Museum. After realising just how far away the Jewish Museum was from our hotel, we decided we had to skip it and instead made our way back towards Brandenburg Gate (as we hadn’t realised on the first day that the Holocaust Memorial is basically right next to it). This day ended up being a lot more relaxed (although we still probably walked just as much!). After visiting the Holocaust memorial and Soviet war memorial, plus a wander around Tiergarten, we slowly made our way back through the city and stopped for ice cream, as well as visiting a few buildings, memorials and landmarks on the way. Our train to Amsterdam was the next morning, so I didn’t want to be out too late as we still needed to pack.
A few tips for Berlin after my short visit; if you’re wanting to see everything, I’d definitely recommend spending a couple more days in the city than we did. It was definitely feasible for us to see more, but it would’ve been a lot more rushed and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. As I say, the city is very spread out, so make sure you check you’re near enough to the centre when booking accommodation or at least near a U-Bahn stop if you’d rather stay further out of the city centre.
Be aware of scammers – you’re in a capital city after all, and one scam we kept coming across was a group of young women asking us to donate money which they claimed was for a charity for deaf children. They only targeted tourists, asked if you spoke English and suspiciously gave you a petition to sign that was fully in English (why would it not be German when you’re in Germany?) and they’d get quite aggressive when you wouldn’t donate. We encountered them a few times and it was only when Jordan told them that we didn’t speak English, we were from Germany (luckily he knew enough German to say this) that they left us alone. After looking it up I found out that it’s a common scam in capital cities in Europe, especially Berlin and Paris.
We didn’t buy any passes as it wouldn’t have been worth it with what we wanted to visit, but their are tourist passes for attractions and museums, and some do include public transport, so it’s definitely worth looking into these if you’ll be there for a few days.