The best bits of Berlin
Berlin has long been known throughout backpacker circles as the clubbing capital of Europe. I don’t need to tell you about that, as there are plenty of websites telling you where the most banging warehouse parties will be happening on any night of the week. Once you’ve unrattled your brain and the ringing in your ears wears off, take some time to check out the rest of the artistic, beautiful German capital.
I spent four days traversing Berlin’s insanely difficult metro system before realising that it’s a bloody massive city. Nothing is ever walking distance. I feel as though the city planners are all in a room somewhere having a good old laugh.
This brings me to my first tip: do one of those hop-on, hop-off bus things! I know, I know – you don’t want to 'be a tourist'. I’m the same; I normally scoff at the touts trying to sell me a 48-hour pass as I schlep to the metro station with the locals. Big mistake. It would take a team of rocket scientists and Stephen Hawking to figure a way to logistically see Berlin via its metro and tram system, and they would still probably miss a bunch of good stuff.
My advice is to buy the ticket! There are two loops, which could both be done in one full day if you rush it. Grab a seat on the top level, crack open a German lager, and tune into the audio tour guide. I’ve just saved you four days of frustration. You’re welcome.
After you’ve made yourself comfortable with the city’s huge array of landmarks, palaces and points of interests, it’s time for an adventure. Catch a tram to Treptower Park on the outskirts of the city. It’s a huge green space full of fun stuff next to the River Spree. Head south along the river until you reach a forested area where you’ll notice a large fence. Behind it and some trees lies the abandoned Spreepark; an amusement park dating back to the late Sixties and it’s been abandoned since 2001. The colossal Ferris wheel still stands, along with many other overgrown, creepy and old kids’ rides.
Now, its time for some history. There are far too many war-era museums and notable sites to talk about, so I’ll give you my top three:
Checkpoint Charlie – A building that was strategically positioned close to a section of the Berlin Wall. This was one of the only places where you could pass between the once divided Germany. It’s now a museum with some amazing photos, props and firsthand personal stories.
Holocaust Memorial – A striking piece of design, not far from the Brandenburg Gate. A quiet walk among the huge concrete slabs to remember the horrific atrocities committed during World War II is a must.
Berlin Wall – There are about half a dozen locations scattered throughout Berlin where you can still see sections of the original wall. One of them is only a couple of blocks from Checkpoint Charlie, which has a great, and free, interpretation centre attached.
Now to the drinking and dining scene - it’s fun, it’s cheap and it’s young! Berlin is full of trendy places to wet your lips. The rent is super cheap and this leads to restaurants and bars popping up all over the place. It’s also super cosmopolitan, which means there is a huge array of cuisines from Vietnamese to Peruvian and best of all, it’s not going to break your bank account! For a hilariously good night out, head down to White Trash Fast Food, an American restaurant with fun staff, stiff drinks and thoughtful menu items like F*ck You fries. The owner provides barrels of laughs on trivia night.
Another thing about this capital is it’s one of the cheapest cities in Western Europe (based on food, accommodation and fun). You can easily find a great 4-star hotel for around $AU100 per night! My tip would be to forget the dorms for a few nights and take a mini break that comes with room service. Ask your agent for a quote!
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