Guten tag, Wanderers. I come bearing news from the land of cheap beer, curry wurst, and really long and hard to pronounce words!
We were met with humidity and light rain as we hurried off our plane into a shuttle bus at Berlin Tegel Airport, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. Germany is a first for both Vivian and I and we were more than eager to settle in and explore what the city has to offer. The cab driver spoke English with a slight German accent. He shared his tale about his visit to Vancouver and how he scaled the Grouse Grind in under an hour. I’ve yet to see a mountain this entire trip and it was then I realized how much I missed home.
Our home away from home was a lovely apartment that we booked via Airbnb. It is situated on the quiet, cobblestone street of Esmarchstraße and located in the heart of the growing Prenzlauer Berg part of the Pankow district. At night, it was difficult to make out much of our surroundings, but during the day, the street is full of young mothers pushing baby strollers and children riding bicycles on their way to and from school.
It took some time for us to readjust our vocabulary. English and our basic knowledge of the French language sufficed in Belgium and Paris, but in Germany (specifically our neighbourhood), even English didn’t quite cut it at times. Regardless, there was always at least one person that was able to help us out. In fact, on the first night we were in town, we were approached by a tall, bearded gentleman that was hollering at us from across the street in German. It was a concerning first impression of our neighbourhood, but the closer he came to us, he began to communicate in English. Turns out he was just giving us directions to the nearest market that was open since the one we were outside of had just closed for the evening. (Thanks, burly stranger!)
We had two full days in Berlin. Although we were both battling a cold we picked up in Paris, we did our best to cram as much as we can in our schedules. While attempting to locate the famous Checkpoint Charlie, we came across a random “beach” in the heart of Berlin’s busiest shopping district. For anyone needing to run your toes in soft sand and rest on beach chairs with a drink in your hand, your prayers are answered. Random much?
The Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten, Reichstag – all of which were amazing landmarks to see up close, but nothing could compare to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe (seen in the photo above). I’ve read about this particular memorial during my undergrad (years ago) and vaguely remember the artist’s purpose of this grid design. Walking through this solemn memorial was overwhelming at times. The further you approach the middle, the higher the stone slabs become. As they begin to tower above you, all sounds of the city become nothing more than a whisper and you’re left alone, lost and shadowed by these cold, grey prisms that are embedded into the uneven pavement. Powerful doesn’t begin to describe this memorial.
Moving on from memorials to very random things we’ve seen on this trip so far, I’d like to introduce you to Hans and Friedrich (possibly, but probably not their real names). These two gentlemen have the awesome jobs of being walking hot dog vendors! Amazing, isn’t it? They were selling bratwurst sausages for dirt cheap! It’s too bad I was just coming from dinner otherwise I would’ve shown them some support. The next time I wandered across Alexanderplatz in hopes of finding walking hot dog dealers, I was unable to spot them (darn!).
I love Berlin. I can certainly see myself living there in the future. The history is rich, the people are all approachable, the food is delicious and beer is dirt cheap! This city is one I intend to revisit in the future and I will not hesitate to call Prenzlauer Berg ‘home’ again. For anyone visiting Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg is the part of town you want to be! Why? Restaurants are open late, a nightlife exists, it’s extremely safe for folks of all ages, and the community is beautiful!
I’m hoping to write more about Berlin once I return home. VIvian should also have a vlog up by then (or at least soon). Till next time, Wanderers, I bid you auf wiedersehen!
And, as always..
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