Monday, 16 January 2017

A Mini Trip to Berlin - Part One

This post is actually a little outdated now, as we actually visited Berlin in the first part of December. However, the events that unfolded shortly after we had returned made me feel like it wasn't quite the most appropriate time to make this post, and so it's been a little delayed in its posting! Please therefore also excuse the lack of detail in this - it's been a while!

 The main reason that we had decided to visit Berlin was to go and take a trip to some of the Christmas markets. Chris absolutely loves Christmas, and so I felt that Germany was a particularly excellent choice to take him to go and see some that are a little bit more authentic than the likes of Winter Wonderland! I know that Berlin is not generally the city of choice in this area, however it was ultimately chosen as I felt like it had lots to offer in terms of other things to do and see - and as Chris is also quite interested in the history, Berlin just made sense.

We loved the atmosphere of the markets and how beautiful some of them were. There was lots to see and do, and plenty of entertainment in the form of choirs, carols and other musicians. We enjoyed tasting lots of different German snacks and looking at the crafts on offer. And perhaps most importantly, I left with a lovely warm pair of gloves that came in VERY useful as the weather was horrendously cold! We hadn't expected it to be such a drop from the temperature in London but it was absolutely freezing.

 As we were very short on time, we decided to take a tour that looked into the basics of the history of Berlin. This was a good idea - but did make us wish we had longer! Some of the museums in this area contain really interesting sounding exhibits and pieces, and I think I'm going to be returning at some point in the future so that I get to explore them. It's ironic really, as when I was looking into museums before visiting I didn't really find many positive reviews - and yet whilst there discovered loads that sound like they have a lot of potential!

 There was a lot about Berlin that I did not know. I did not realise quite how damaged the wars had left the city - although I suppose in retrospect it makes sense. There is constant evidence of the impact that the wars had on the city, and Berlin's attempts to rebuild itself.

 It is not a particularly large city, so we found it to be pretty walkable. That being said, if you do decide to take the public transport there are no problems whatsoever. Getting the tickets is easy and cheap, and the buses contain screens that keep you updated on what the next stops are going to be - very convenient!

 In terms of food options, we were very surprised by just how many Italian restaurants there were in Berlin. We sort of felt like we had failed as all the options we kept decided upon ended up being Italian - and though they were very good, we didn't go to Berlin to eat what we could eat on any other day! We had gone with recommendations from a German friend of mine but found that actually finding German food could be difficult in places. However, everything we did eat was delicious and we felt that it was all well priced - which surprised us, as we find the supermarkets to be quite expensive so were a little worried!

 Of COURSE we went to Fassbender & Rausch, which is apparently the worlds' largest chocolate store. They had beautiful chocolate desserts that we were so sad we didn't have time to stay and eat as they just looked so wonderful. And of course, the store is filled with massive chocolate creations of famous places in both Berlin and the rest of the world. Most of the chocolates were actually really reasonably priced, and we eagerly picked up a chocolate slab to take with us for the rest of the walk. I wouldn't say it was the best chocolate I've ever had, but I did enjoy it!

 It was interesting to see so much of Berlin's history - and you have to respect the fact that they are upfront about the more negative areas of their past. To me, it was particularly fascinating to hear about the Berlin wall - especially following the realisation that I was actually alive when the wall came down, which sounds like madness to me!

 An area I particularly enjoyed visiting was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This is an interesting structure featuring lots of dark columns of different sizes. It was interesting to walk between them and approach them from different angles, and to see the reaction of other people when you stumbled upon them somewhere in the middle. I had seen pictures of this monument and didn't think I would find it all that interesting, however it really is one that you have to experience to appreciate. You feel very solemn whilst in there and it allows the perfect oppurtunity to contemplate - until, that is, your boyfriend manages to very loudly drop a tin of pringles right in the middle of it.

We both enjoyed our trip to Berlin, although it was so very very cold! We were both interested in the history, and Chris in particular really enjoyed looking at all the bits of history that are dotted around. Chris concluded that Berlin was the best place he had visited, and while I wouldn't rank it quite so highly as him it was a very interesting trip and has definitely encouraged me to plop some other areas of the country onto my visit list.

As well as the city itself, we also took a trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp - which will be posted next week!

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