I’m pleased to report that my first experience of Berlin was amazing. My friends and I stayed in Kreuzberg, an area that’s known for its alternative vibe, and met loads of really interesting people. I even had one of the best doner kebabs I’ve ever eaten – nothing like the greasy parcels of meat and pitta bread you get here – and there were loads of small shops selling the tastiest falafels I’ve had the pleasure of devouring at all hours of the day and night.
Anyway, suffice to say I was incredibly impressed with the city. The Reichstag dome is completely mesmerising, and so futuristic compared to the classical face of the building. And German history was never my forte at school, but I’m determined to read up more about the origins of Berlin Wall after witnessing it in real life, from the vast stretches of colourful graffiti to Checkpoint Charlie, a former crossing point that’s now a busy tourist attraction with the most intriguing museum. It opened its exhibition at the end of 1962 and has since continued to grow and change as it followed the twists and turns of the eventual downfall of the notorious border security system.
Another thing I loved about Berlin was the way we kept coming across beautiful buildings and fountains when we least expected to. I was really taken with the Berliner Dom, or Berlin Cathedral, on Museum Island. Here’s a photo I took of it with the television tower (‘Fernsehturm’ in German) in the background, but I don’t think it really does it justice.
In my opinion, one of the nicest things about Berlin is the way it has so many themed bars that don’t feel gimmicky. For instance, I had a delicious afternoon cocktail in the Barbie Bar (which touts itself as a gay/drag friendly bar) on Meringhdamm in Kreuzberg – a great drinking hole to spend a lovely few hours during the day. On the other end of the scale, the Panorama Bar in Friedrichshain (next to Kreuzberg) is a fantastic, lively night out – it’s above Berghain, one of Europe’s most notorious (and biggest) techno clubs.
All in all, it was a lovely few days in Berlin and it’s definitely cemented my feeling that Germany should be a more popular holiday destination than it currently is. But four days was certainly not enough! I’m already thinking about planning a trip back in November during celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.