Bumble Bee Living

Authentic, happy and sustainable living.

During a recent trip to Europe, Germany was the first stop on my itinerary, and I spent a jet lagged yet happy four nights in Berlin. Although we didn’t get to see much outside the city, here are some of my highs and lows from what I did see.

Positives

The Language -

Having learned German for the last four years, being able to hear it be spoken in person was awesome. Although I’m not the most fluent speaker, the Germans were patient and their widespread knowledge of English really helped with communicating too. Not only that but they appreciated the effort greatly - it’s amazing what a long way a “Danke schön” can go.

The Fernsehentürm ( or TV Tower)

Able to be viewed from all over the city is a big, Sky-Tower looking building that was built by the East Berliners during the 20th Century. Going to the top was one of my favourite experiences of Berlin - the elevator ride was exhilarating, the panoramic views were breathtaking, and the cost was reasonably priced too. Although it was busy with the tourists the wait to get to the top was not long and was definitely worth it while up there.

Sachesenhausen Concentration Camp-

It may be a little insensitive to rate a former concentration camp as a highlight, but the historical tour I went on was hugely interesting. Located about a 50 minute train ride outside of Berlin in the town of Oranienburg, the concentration camp is huge and has more exhibits than there is time for. Although most of the buildings are reconstructions you can still get a good sense of what life in this work camp would have been like - especially as we visited on a freezing, overcast and windy day. The most chilling part was probably the intact dungeon-like rooms that had been used for storing corpses after people died from exhaustion, starvation, or beatings.

Museum Island -

Whilst I didn’t actually go inside of the museums themselves ( entry fees can be expensive) the stunning architecture and pleasant location next to the River Spree certainly makes it a nice place to walk. It also boasts the Berlin Cathedral, which is one of the cities most renown buildings in terms of splendour. Located in and around the Museum Island there are also several nice parks and areas of greenery that make for enjoyable strolling.

The Food -

I’m normally a vegetarian, however a visit to Germany wouldn’t be complete without a nibble of a sausage so I decided to break my diet for the duration of the trip. My first meal in Germany was an extremely typical Deutsche dish of sauerkraut, mustard, bratwurst and beer. The sausages were as tasty as expected and the beer was good too. Even better though, was the iconic German streetfood of Currywurst- sausage served in a spicy, tasty sauce often with a bread roll or fries. The breakfast buffets at the hotel were also to die for with cheeses and breads to ones hearts content. A surprising gem was a Russian restaurant called the “Green Lantern” where I enjoyed my final dinner in the German Capital.

Negatives

The Smell -

The reason is still unknown, but in several places around the city we would catch whiffs of a highly unpleasant, sewerage like scent. Many of the big European cities smelled less than enticing, especially in comparison to the fresh New Zealand air, however it was particularly bad in Berlin. While it was hardly trip- ruining, it did take away from the otherwise pristine and aesthetic prettiness of the city.

Public Transport-

This is only in the “negatives” section of the review because of our Kiwi ignorance of how to use big-scale public transport. In a big city like Berlin there are hundreds upon hundreds of train lines ( called the S-Bahn) that sprawl all over the city and navigating them can be daunting for first time travellers to Europe. There were several panicked moments however by the end of it we began to get the hang of the public transport and once you do begin to understand how it works using the S-Bahn ( above ground train) or U-Bahn ( underground) is an incredibly effective way of getting from A to B

 The Weather - 

The weather in Germany was changeable, but on the whole nowhere near as cold as you’d expect. Apart from one day to the concentration camp where none of dressed for the frigid wind, Germany was HOT. Due in part to a heatwave that was scorching Europe ( we did go in July after all) we experienced an incredibly painful 37 degree day that also happened to coincide with a 4 hour walking tour. Sunburn City!