I absolutely could not have come to Europe and be in such close proximity to Berlin without paying it a visit. Since my tour concluded in France and I had to make my way back to Prague I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to visit Berlin as it was on the way. I figured the most scenic and economic way to get to Berlin was to take the euroline bus. The trip was overnight and took a bit over 13 hours. This worked out great since I slept the entire trip and saved money having to pay to spend the night at an hostel.
Right off the bat my experience in Berlin would be unlike that in any other city. I was completely on my own in Berlin and was staying at an hostel for the first time. Since I rented a room in Prague, and stayed in hotels during the tour I did not get to experience staying in a hostel. The hostel experience is a must when traveling through Europe in your 20s.
The hostel was centrally located in Mitte which was part of the Soviet controlled East Germany. When I arrived at the hostel I saw a sign that read “hostel” and another that read “bar.” I was confused about what exactly it was but decided to walk in and ask. Once I entered it was a fully stocked bar. The receptionist/bartender saw the bewildered look on my face and asked me if I was looking for the hostel. It turned out that the bar was part of the hostel. The bar occupied the ground floor and the hostel occupied the upper levels. It turned out to be a pretty sweet deal as hostel residents received discounts on meals and drinks!!!
Since I arrived early in the morning and could not check into my room until 2pm, I was able to leave my bags in the hostel storage and begin to explore the city. Just passing through on the bus it was evident how damaged Berlin was as a result of World War II so I wanted to explore more of this.
Exactly across the street from the hostel is the Volksbühne. The Volksbühne or People’s Theatre was originally designed to provide low cost access to theater for low income citizens. The theater was heavily damaged during World War II but has since reclaimed its name as one of the most explicit theaters in Germany. The writing on the edifice of the building alone proves its explicitness (I did not photoshop those words in).
A 5 minute walk from the hostel puts you right at the Alexanderplatz which is a big transportation hub ( Mitte’s Grand Central). The square around the Alexanderplatz is very popular as the shopping mall Die Mitte, the fountain of friendship and and the Fernsehturm are located adjacent to it.
I explored the Die Mitte and it had really nice clothes at affordable prices. Unfortunately, it was extremely crowded and busy so I did not spend much time there. I had no space in my bags anyways so that worked out lol. While leaving the mall I passed this fountain and took a picture of it because I taught it was cool. It was not until later that I found out that it was The Fountain of Friendship between Good Peoples. This fountain retains it Socialist flair as it heavily graffitied (so is much of Berlin). Awesome!!!
Also within the square is the Berlin tv tower or Fernsehturm Berlin. At 368 meters it is Germany’s tallest structure. There’s a revolving restaurant and bar that provides views of Berlin. Will definitely be checking it out at night :).
There are constant reminders of Germany’s Socialist past. While walking back to the hostel I saw this bus that was used in many communist countries. Witnessing this bus passing by was an amazing experience. I am so fascinated by history and reminders from the past that this made my day!
From just exploring the neighborhood in a short amount of time on my own I saw and learned so much. I actually had no plans for Berlin. I briefly mapped out a visit on tripadvisor a few months ago but hadn’t taken a look back at it since. My main objective for visiting Berlin was to see the Berlin Wall. I did not even put much effort in finding an hostel that was centrally located. It just so happened that my hostel was in a terrific location. I am always super organized but sometimes it pays off to just wing things and let them fall into place. Berlin seems to be the perfect city to do so in. If I had planned activities I would be so focused going to these places that I won’t have time to explore and learn as much as I did.
Watch out for the next post on Berlin!!!