This weekend my friend Lizzy and I decided to pretend like we weren’t poor college students and take a trip to Berlin! It was a much needed break from some drama that was going on in both of our lives.
I have been to Germany before, but never to Berlin. Before I left, word was that Berlin is a magical place full of all the things a student in her early 20s could desire. While the reality is much cloudier and colder, Berlin was still pretty fun.
Our trip got off to a pretty stressful start. Late Friday afternoon, we got messages saying our flight had been cancelled. No Berlin? No way! We had to find a way to get there! So, Lizzy’s kind host father found us some new seats on a Norwegian flight, so we ended up being able to go. After a stressful couple of hours wondering whether or not we would make it, we relaxed with a couple of mojitos in the airport.
After one of the shortest flights of my life (think Des Moines to Chicago, around 45 minutes), we had arrived in Germany! Lizzy and I figured out how to take the train to an apartment where we had rented a room on Airbnb, one of the greatest things of all time… even cheaper than a hostel, and much nicer too!
We met our hosts and their adorably droopy basset hound, settled in, got ready, and went out. We were both starving, so our first stop was to a traditional German restaurant to get some Mexican food. Although it was almost midnight, it was happy hour. Apparently happy hour in Germany is a lot later than in America. At our restaurant, happy hour was 11 pm until midnight. So, we got mojitos and then another drink. My second drink was the strongest margarita ever–it was basically all tequila. Lizzy got a veggie quesadilla and I got chicken nachos. So delicious. I’ve miss eating Mexican food regularly since I’ve been in Europe.
We asked our waitress for some recommendations on where to go out. She recommended this area nearby with a bunch of electronic dance clubs. Before we entered the club, we were approached by a man wanting to sell us, um… stuff. We said no, because it wasn’t sketchy at all.
In the club, people were seriously crazy. It was really hot, the DJ was really good, there were lots of colored lights, and the entire place was just one big dance floor. We danced for a couple hours until this guy started stalking me so Lizzy pretending she was having a medical emergency and we left.
Lizzy’s brother’s friend DJs at this club close to our apartment in Berlin, Salon – Zur Wilden Renate. It. Was. Awesome. There was a huge line to get in, but we skipped the whole line because we knew the DJ. I don’t know how to describe the club except to say it was like a huge house party. There were lots of different rooms with different musicians and people dancing. The only bad parts were that it was so hot and so many people were smoking (and possibly doing other things) so it was hard to breathe. It was also very late by this point, so we didn’t last too long before going home.
On Saturday, we slept in a little bit and then went out into the city. We stopped at a sushi place, since we’d both been craving sushi for a while, and marveled at how inexpensive everything was when compared to Copenhagen.
Then, we walked over the Reichstag building, which houses the German parliament. We wanted to go in, but we needed a reservation. Instead, we walked over to the nearby Brandenburg Gate and watched the people and some street performers. We didn’t know where to go next, so we went into a Starbucks to grab some coffee and Google some museums. We decided on the Jewish Museum, so we hopped on a train and then walked there.
The Jewish Museum was a mix of a Holocaust museum and a museum on Jewish history and culture. The Holocaust part was housed in a section of the building with slanted floors, so I was constantly feeling like I was about to fall over. The museum had a lot of pictures and artifacts left by Holocaust victims, and it was a little overwhelming. Lizzy is Jewish, so I think she felt a personal connection to the exhibition.
The museum also contained at least one open space in the building, called a “Void”. This was meant to represent the void left in the world by the murdered Jews, and the floor was filled with thousands of metal faces with all kinds of expressions. People were allowed to walk over the faces, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so.
After the museum, we were pretty tired, so we walked back to the train station. Along the way, we stopped at a Netto, and it was shocking how little everything costed there. For example, you could buy a bottle of wine for 2 euros. So much less expensive than Copenhagen.
On Sunday, we went to the Topography of Terror museum. The museum is located on the site of the former SS/SA headquarters, and now houses exhibits on the police and their involvement in the Holocaust. This museum was also pretty overwhelming.
We hadn’t eaten yet, so we went for a late lunch at Chipps, a delicious vegan/vegetarian restaurant. We both got the same meal with fried eggs, salad, tomato & cucumber, and toast.
When we finished our lunch, we walked a roundabout way to the train station so we could wander through a very charming part of the city. I also stopped to get a couple of souvenirs–a postcard and, of course, a shot glass (if you know me well, you know that I collect these).
Back at the apartment, we packed and lounged around until it was time to leave for our flight. At the airport, the stress commenced. We were flying back on Easy Jet, which apparently has very strict luggage requirements. As in, one piece of carry-on that must fit into the size box… or else you have to pay a lot of money. I couldn’t even bring my small purse on board; I had to stuff that into my suitcase along with my backpack. I just hoped for the best, and luckily my bag fit! Whew. Thankfully I’m not planning on flying Easy Jet again, though.
Lizzy and I had a couple of beers as we waited at the airport and then we were off! It feels good to be home 🙂