Travel photography: Berlin – Poor but Sexy
When: 23 – 26 May 2014
How: Easyjet from Liverpool Airport
Stay: PLUS Berlin Hotel & Hostel
Who: Emma, Elaine, Karen
I’ll be honest, when I suggested going to Berlin to the girls, it was simply to tick it off my list to be able to say I have been. So a long weekend there over May bank holiday seemed the perfect amount of time to get everything ‘on the list’ done.
I can now say, I don’t think I have ever underestimated a place so much. Firstly Berlin is huge! Secondly, every inch of it has something fun and quirky happening. You will never stop admiring Berlin.
4 Days was just the tip of the iceberg and I already have another list of ‘to do’s’ for the next visit.
‘Poor But Sexy’ is Berlin’s slogan and it is spot on. Students, artists, musicians all flock here making the city eclectic and diverse. Anything goes in Berlin.
We flew from Liverpool with Easyjet, who once again outdid themselves by the slight delay of 15 minutes but getting us to Berlin 20 minutes early. With friendly staff and a group of men on a stag weekend singing along the way, this has to be the happiest flight I have been on in a long time.
Because we didn’t know much about Berlin and it’s districts we had a real battle with where was best to stay. Weeks of searching and we finally settled on PLUS Berlin hotel & hostel. This was a brilliant decision.
We hopped on the train at the Airport which took about 25 minutes to get to Ostkreuz station and then a 20 minute walk, we could have changed trains to get closer to Warschauer, but we wanted to get a feel for the place.
As it turns out, once we arrived, the hostel is part of the same group of accommodation as Camping Jolly (The campsite we stayed at in Venice) and we could instantly tell. The hotel / hostel accommodates for any kind of traveller, their communal / bar areas are well thought out, staff were so helpful with all our million and one questions and our room was brilliant! For a hostel / hotel (even though we had a private room) we expected basic, but we received a spacious modern room (triple) with 3 single beds (we were expecting bunk) and a great bathroom that was again spacious with a powerful shower.
The location was perfect, right by the east side gallery and also the S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations are just a 2 minute walk away.
In the evening a 10-15 minute walk took us to the Friedstain district which was the place to be for great nightlife, for both restaurants and bars. Although if you are tired from sight seeing, the Opera bar at the hotel is a great place, full of atmosphere.
It was safe to say on Saturday, I was on a photographic mission and I have so much love for Elaine and Karen dealing with my to do list, they are awesome and I love them! We were very optimistic about knowing the way to everything after having a look over the map Friday night and underestimated the size of Berlin. So we set off early Saturday morning to the East Side Gallery (Just over the road from the hotel), to cut a long story short we walked all the way to the Reichstag stopping off at all the main sights along the way. By the time we walked back our feet hated us.
My top tip is don’t underestimate the size of Berlin and use their super clean super reliable public transport systems!
What I do love about having my over planned spreadsheet is that it still allows us to see where the day takes us and go with the flow, the afternoon was gorgeous weather so we grabbed a spot in one of the Tiergarten parks just by the Reischtag for some chill time in the sunshine.
Sunday we made our lives a lot easier and hopped on the train, trams and buses of the city. You name it, we got on it, and continued on our sight seeing trail. One of the recommended spots by a friend was Mauer park, a great spot to relax and listen to live music. The night before we realised that every Sunday is market day so we arrived on Sunday to a huge flea market, it was like all our dreams came true! The market had everything from vintage clothing, furniture, hand made jewellery and bric-a-brac, with singers or bands around every corner. Such a great atmosphere. But be warned Germans do not haggle! We visited a few markets over the weekend and they will not be moved on price, some will instantly say its normally 20 euros but today I am doing it for 18, other than that you have no chance… or if you do manage it I need you to come with me next time!
After another great day we grabbed a bratwurst and beer for only 4 euros each at the entrance to Warschauer station. Street food is the way to go in Berlin and because it’s so popular it always looked fresh.
Bike rentals are really popular in the city and a great way to get around, I am a scaredy cat though and think I would prefer to know my way around the city before I brave it on a bike, for now I would be happy with the public transport as it was clean and reliable… but do know bike’s are highly recommended for getting around the city. From what we saw rentals seemed to be around 10 euros per day (public transport approx 5 euros per day for an all day ticket)
Another thing we noticed about Berlin is that there is music everywhere, particularly in stations – musicians and punks with ghetto blasters just picked a spot and created a party.
And if you want to look like a Berliner, grab a beer while you are walking through the streets of East Berlin, and for the amount of beer that was casually on the streets not once did we see any rowdy or drunken behaviour.
We successfully saw all the sights we had in mind for our trip but I would love to go back just to ‘be’ in East Berlin, take a look at all the areas off the main tracks, East Berlin has so much character and charm that you would be crazy to not want to keep going back to explore, for me West Berlin was good for the parks and Kurfürstendamm for shopping but it doesn’t have as much charm as the East.
East Side Gallery – a section of the Berlin wall still standing, with murals/ graffiti along both sides. This was top of my list and it did not disappoint.
Berliner Dom – My favourite piece of architecture in Berlin, this building is beautiful
Reischtag – We were totally unorganised with this, to go up to the dome it is totally free but you need to pre register online, or you can queue in the hope to get a spot on the day but! Remember to take ID… we didn’t… massive fail! On the plus side the sun was shining so we had a nice relaxing afternoon sat in the park in front of the Reischtag. Perfect.
Neue Wache museum – my favourite memorial in the city, 1 room with 1 statue, simple yet effective.
Holocaust memorial – an outside space filled with blocks, you can walk between them
Mauer park market – a huge market selling vintage clothing, furniture, bric-a-brac and handmade jewellery
Tiergarten – a massive and peaceful urban park a great place to escape the city
Main shopping street (Kurfürstendamm) – great for high street and designer shops, if you need to get your shopping fix this is the place to be
Friedstain district nightlife
Not so much love:
These are still top sights to see in Berlin but for me they didn’t live up to the hype, but I am glad I have seen them
Check point Charlie – you can have your photo taken with a 2 guards, there is also a beach bar on the site too
Brandenberg Gate – this is one to get up early for if you want to grab a photo before the tourists descend
Must do for next time:
Reischtag dome view
Mooch around the different districts
Average meal in a restaurant 15 euros
Aveage street food meal + drink 5 euros
Group ticket (all day) on any public transport 16 euros (max 5 people)
Bike rental 10 euros (per day)
I can’t wait to go back to Berlin to mooch about and just soak up the city.
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