Berlin had always been a city I wanted to go, but there were other – more “obscure”, I guess – places I wanted to visit, like Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. However, with many of those places now out the way, I decided that it was time to check out Berlin for myself.
I’d already seen some of south Germany – Stuttgart, Ulm and Munich. At the time, I imagined Munich to be cleaner and classier than Berlin… but then I do love hipster vibes, so I was pretty sure that I’d love Berlin.
The German capital is one of the few places that East Midlands airport flies to (my closest airport), and we found flights for £110 return. Not the cheapest, but when you take into account petrol costs to London, and the convenience of a half an hour drive away… well, there was no comparison.
I was looking forward to spending a long weekend in Berlin, and exploring some of the city – because, considering the fact that it’s a similar size to London, there’s no way we could see everything in just a few days. But we wanted to try and see as much as we possibly could…
My friend and I caught the 6.45am flight out from East Midlands. Going through security, I realised I’d locked my case but left the key at home… however, I did find out a helpful hack for this: stick the nib of a pen in your zip and it unlocks (but therefore totally undoing any safety you’d expect from a padlock). Anyway, the point was, at least I had access to my clothes!
We landed in Berlin at 9.30am, and the weather was cold – it didn’t improve at all over the weekend.
All of the days surrounding our trip were 28 degrees and sunny, but for the whole time we were there it was rainy, windy and didn’t get above 18 degrees. So, as soon as I got to the room, the first thing I did was put some tights on.
We stayed in the Ellington Hotel, which was situated right by the zoo in West Berlin. The area itself looked pretty cool with lots of shops, but unfortunately we didn’t have chance to go into them (although that could also be a good thing).
Once we’d unpacked, we decided to explore. Our first stop was Potsdamer Platz, what with it being one of the main squares. From there, we walked it up to Brandenburg Gate via the Jewish memorial.
We were pretty hungry by this point, but the only thing we could see was a Starbucks – and we didn’t want to have our first meal there – so we walked all the way past the theatre and museum island, until we ended up by the river Spree. We settled for currywurst at Ampelmann, and with the sun finally making an appearance, we sat outside.
After lunch, we detoured over to the nearest metro station, and then caught the train over to the East Side Gallery. It was the first time I got to see the Berlin Wall, and whilst it was cool to see the artwork that was showcased, it was even more interesting heading to the other side. Covered in actual graffiti, it gave you an idea of what the wall actually looked like when it was in existence, when people were living with it, dividing the city.
Our idea was to see as many major tourist attractions as we could on the Friday, so we’d have more chilled days on Saturday and Sunday. That was definitely a good idea, as if we hadn’t been rushing around from one place to the next, we would have definitely crashed.
After the East Side Gallery, we headed over to a place called Plänterwald, which was an old, abandoned fairground. Instagram showed pictures of an eerily empty ferris wheel and teacup ride, we caught the S-Bahn all the way to the far east of Berlin, and walked a good twenty minutes to find the park it was in. We literally had no idea what we were looking for, so had a long walk through German woodland to find it.
Eventually, we caught sight of the ferris wheel, so walked towards it… and found very tall fencing separating us from the rides. So, we never actually got to get any good pictures of the fairground – and we didn’t particularly fancy breaking the law when in Berlin.
By that point, we’d been exploring for a solid six hours (not taking into account travel time), so we made the long commute back to the hotel to get ourselves sorted for the evening.
Dinner consisted of grabbing the first food we could find, which happened to be Wok n Walk right outside the Zoologischer Garten station. Dunkin Donuts had a stand inside, so obviously I got a doughnut (with its icing in the colours of the Russian flag!).
From there, we caught the metro over to Neukölln, so we could visit Klunkerkranich, a bar on the top of the Neukölln shopping centre. Right on the roof of the car park, we drank vodka and orange juice as we watched the sun go down, surrounded by flocks of fake flamingos. It was a really cool place, but we had other bars we wanted to try in the area too.
Our next stop was TiER Bar, just a ten minute walk away. We managed to get a table almost straight away, and I had a cocktail adorned with thyme, which was pretty tasty! We didn’t stay out late though, as we were getting tired – we were back at the hotel for midnight.
We got up relatively early at 9am, and the weather looked equally as grim as yesterday’s, so I basically wore the same outfit (most of the clothes I’d taken weren’t necessary for the weather we had… sadly).
My friend had found a building she wanted as a backdrop for her Instagram pictures, so we headed over there – it was a half an hour walk from us. From there, we walked through Tiergarten to the Victory Column, and paid €3 to climb to the top. Cue what always happens when I climb up lots of stairs: forget how to actually climb up them. Still, the views were good.
Once we’d gotten back down on solid ground, we decided to get the rest of the tourist attractions done, so we headed to the Reichstag and then moved on to Checkpoint Charlie. Realistically, I knew that Checkpoint Charlie was just a crossing to get from east to west Berlin, but I think I was expecting a little more… and not to see a McDonalds situated right outside.
We were getting hungry so we headed into the nearby Back Factory for lunch – basically, it was a bakery with pastries that you served yourself – it was a very cheap lunch.
Once lunch had been eaten, we decided to do a little bit of shopping, so headed over to the nearest Weekday and Monki. Surprisingly, I didn’t buy a single item of clothing – I did see a (what could have been) cool wraparound dress in Weekday, but it looked very different in real life compared to what I visualised it to be, and it just didn’t live up to expectations. So I left it.
I wanted to see some more of the Berlin Wall, so we caught the train up to Nordbahnhof. Opposite this particular section of the wall was the actual memorial museum, and if you climbed up to the top of it you could look out. It was really interesting, because there was a section of the wall that had been totally left alone: you could see the death strip, with its raked sand, and original watch tower and streetlights. It was really creepy.
We headed over to Mitte to do some shopping, and then got dinner at Kreuzburger. Our final tourist attraction was a trip up to the TV tower to see the views of Berlin, which were pretty impressive!
We got back to the room by 10pm, and quickly got ready for another night out. This time I wore a playsuit, with my tights and boots. We headed over to Schwarze Traube in Kreuzberg, where you had to knock on the door three times to get entry. I had an Aviation, and I’m telling the absolute truth when I say it was one of the best Aviations I’ve had in my life. I would definitely go back to Schwarze Traube if I’m back in Berlin.
It was rainy, so we caught a taxi to the next place: Tausend. The concept was cool and I was really looking forward to going there: situated under the train tracks, the door just looked like part of the wall, and you had to ring the doorbell to get in.
It looked great inside, but it was a bit… dead. A bit of a shame, but we were out until 4am so must have been having a good time. Also, don’t think I’ve ever been so drunk off 2.5 drinks before (how much vodka do they put in a vodka and apple juice?!).
I woke up with a hangover, which I still don’t understand, considering what little I had to drink. We lounged around at the hotel before heading over to Geist im Glas – helloooo chicken waffles.
From there, we headed out to Gesundbrunnen, and booked tickets for the Berliner Unterwelten tour – we chose Tour M, which was all about the escape tunnels built under the Berlin Wall. It was really interesting – we were underground for most of the tour, where we got to hear stories about the tunnels being dug (some of which were successful, but many unsuccessful).
The tour started at 3.30pm and lasted for two hours – for anyone heading to Berlin, I’d definitely recommending booking a space on the tour.
After that, we went in search of cake (the nearest place being Starbucks), and then headed back to the hotel to pack.
That night, we’d planned to try to get into Berghain: only the most exclusive club in Berlin. The bouncer is known for being brutal, so we researched all the rules and dressed only in black, to give ourselves the best chance of getting in.
We grabbed pizza by us, and then headed over to Ostbahnhof. Berghain must only have been ten minutes away, but it felt like we were walking in the middle of nowhere, and it looked really creepy: an old power station, you couldn’t really see much except for red lights flashing every few minutes.
We took our place in the queue, and stayed silent: the rules said you weren’t supposed to talk, and you should look totally disinterested. That’s what we did for the whole hour, whilst watching the number of people get turned away (I literally only saw about two people get in).
Maybe this is big headed of me, but I thought we were going to get in. I was pretty sure it would be a let-down once we were in, but I just wanted to say we’d got in. So, we got to the front and the bouncer looked at us… and said “sorry ladies”. OK, we got rejected from Berghain. I reckon we either followed the rules too much, and should have worn some colour, looked like posers, or didn’t look like sex addicts. I guess in a way, that’s good.
Our night after that was fairly unsuccessful: finding somewhere else to go, we found Buck and Breck, but that was full. So instead, we walked round the streets of Berlin at 1am, before catching the train back to the hotel and eating chocolate.
Our final day was very short: we got up at 6.15am, finished packing and headed over to the station, as our flight was at 10am. Of course it got delayed, but it was so nice heading back into East Midlands and knowing we were only half an hour away from home. And for the whole afternoon, I got to sunbathe in the garden.
I was totally right when I thought I would love Berlin: it’s such a liveable city. I find it a shame that I hadn’t been before, because of the ease to get to it. Of course I’m going to have to go back again, because I’m determined to get into Berghain. Literally, since I’ve been back home I keep looking through my wardrobe and thinking of all the potential outfits that would have gotten me in. So I’ll be back, fairly soon I hope.