Berlin was weird in all the right ways. As a city with a turbulent history, there is knowledge to be gained around every corner. Quite honestly, I arrived in Berlin knowing almost nothing about the city, the history surrounding the wall, or what to expect in my travels there. Four days later, I am leaving with a newfound appreciation for the resilience of the city and its people, the remembrance of those who suffered under cruel leaders, and the reminder to stay vigilant and never take freedom for granted.
My Favorite Things
I would compare Berlin to New York City, in terms of size and sprawl. Many of the activities are spread out, but they have amazing transportation options which I highly recommend, so don’t sell yourself short on where or what you can do. Below are some of the highlights of my four days in this vibrant, historic city.
- The East Side Gallery: This is a preserved section of the Berlin Wall which artists have been commissioned to paint murals on. A quote painted on a section of the wall stating, “No more wars. No more walls”, truly hit home.
- Sunday Market in Mauerpark: We were lucky enough to be in Berlin on a Sunday, one of the best coincidences as there is a huge outdoor festival in local Mauerpark. Here you’ll find a plethora of food trucks, vintage shopping, and outdoor karaoke (seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed- the last picture on this post shows the crowd watching and participating).
- Ride Bicycles: Berlin is low key a super bicycle-friendly city, although after coming from Copenhagen and Amsterdam it did leave a little to be desired. Compared to the US though, bicycling there is a dream and it is one of the best ways to quickly get around this large city.
- Museum Island and Berliner Dom: Self-explanatory; a beautiful old chapel and historic museums all concentrated on one island of the city.
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: A must-do; self-explanatory as well. The Holocaust Museum is underneath once you walk through the memorial.
- Brandenburg Gate and Tiergarten: Located right in the same area, Tiergarten is a beautiful, sprawling park which is great for escaping the grit and bustle of the city. After wandering through the park, you’ll come upon Brandenburg Gate which is the site of many historic Berlin moments, such as the huge celebrations when the wall started to come down.
Learning about the history of Berlin, and of Germany as a whole was truly my favorite part of the trip. Berlin today is a tolerant and vibrant city with a huge nightlife scene and kind people. It seems to be ever-changing, yet holds its past closely in order to not repeat history. Although I didn’t need much convincing, Berlin solidified in my mind that our world needs more love and fewer walls. Shutting people out will never lead to peace.