Berlin, Germany – September 2016

Berlin has to be one of my all-time favourite cities. Friendly people, easy transport system, cheap as chips, and incredible buildings with wonderful social history behind them (and we all know social history is my kinda thing). So, when I decided to go away for a mini weekend break for my birthday, Berlin was right up there. Unbeknownst to me, the weather was forecast at a ridiculous 32C for the entire weekend, and I hate the heat with a fiery passion (no pun intended) but that wasn’t exactly Germany’s fault so I sucked it up and flew out there on Friday 9th September, straight to Tegel, and got the 109 bus straight into Kurfuerstendamm.

Ku’Damm is one of the best shopping areas in the city (absolutely no coincidence that I’m staying there) and my hotel, the Lindner Hotel, was right slap bang in the middle, just a stroll away from one of my favourite department stores, KaDeWe..

Just popped in for a quick overpriced, but beautiful, lunch 😉

To be perfectly honest, I spent most of the weekend shopping – I’ve already been to the Berlin Wall in past trips, as well as Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate, so had no need to see them again, although they’re all definitely worth visiting (especially Checkpoint Charlie which, if you love 20th century social history, is absolutely fascinating and quite beautifully haunting, if you excuse all the tourist stands trying to sell you replicas of signs and other cheap tat). Nope, my number one destination this trip was, weirdly enough, the DDR Museum.

I have a huge interest and fascination of East Germany and the DDR – you only have to turn a corner in Berlin and you’re whisked back to socialism with a sighting of an Ampelmann on a traffic light, a Trabi racing through the roads on a tour, or a Humana selling various polyester monstrosities and plastic bangles. I’d always wanted to go to the DDR Museum to discover more about this world, but completely forgot like an idiot the last time I visited Berlin, so made it a priority this time. And it did not disappoint.

An assortment of Ostolgie, including a Trabi that I didn’t get to sit in because some kids were hogging it, and some exquisite pieces of East German clothing. Bagsie the nude pantsuit in the middle.

The museum had also painstakingly recreated a typical new East German flat, right down to the pots and pans used. I found this part of the museum absolutely fascinating – possibly more so than the slightly stale political chat. I also saw quite a lot of familiar looking products, weirdly… Big shout out to various family members for using similar dinnerware to these:

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All in all the museum was definitely worth going to – it was worth the €7/8 entry fee, gives you something to do on a Sunday in Berlin when inexplicably all the shops shut, and offers a unique look into what life was like for a large number of people stuck in an aging world at a time when the rest of the world was rapidly advancing. Plus it’s opposite the Berlin Cathedral which is also beautiful:

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I spent Sunday afternoon eating ice cream and drinking pricey cocktails overlooking the monkey enclosure at Berlin Zoo with a friend and her husband – the Zoo being conveniently close to my hotel (did I mention it was a FABULOUS location?). Bikini Berlin is a new complex that was once a bikini factory (fun fact), and is definitely worth going to if you’re in the area.

All in all, a very fleeting visit, and I apologise for being a bit rubbish with travel tips etc. Some travel blog, huh? I will however say that Berlin has to be one of the friendliest, cheapest, most convenient cities I’ve ever visited. I speak German relatively well but even if you don’t, everyone pretty much knows English or can point you in the direction of someone who can. Transport is dirt cheap – I used the bus and U-Bahn while I was there and both cost me roughly €2 and €7 (for a day ticket) respectively. The hotel only has breakfast available, but there’s an awesome salad bar opposite the hotel called Dean and David which served mega salads for around €6 each. Failing that, there’s a supermarket next to the Zoologischer Garten (zoo) train station which is open relatively early/late, and restaurants all over the damn place of course.

All in all, not much to say other than see you again soon Berlin, and please keep the temperature down next time…

R xx

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