A Look at Berlin

On our journey to Berlin from Amsterdam, we had our first Eurail experience. We’ve sort of figured it out.

We didn’t need a ticket or reservation for this train so we just sort of got on with our Eurail pass and hoped for the best. The man who had (sort of) helped us at the ticket desk the day before told us each seat would list if it was reserved or not. Of course, this train didn’t. So we just sort of picked a seat.

We ended up sitting across from an 18-year-old British kid who was traveling around Europe with his friend. Jimmy quit school and, with his skateboard in tow, was determined to find a warm place to live permanently. Preferably without cobblestones (kills his wheels).

Chelsea talked Jimmy’s little ear off. He looked a lot like her younger brother so she regaled him with countless stories about Hunter and life back in Wisconsin. Poor Jimmy, he had no idea what was coming when we sat down across from him.

A few hours later we played Heads Up with him which was absolutely hilarious with the cultural differences. He started asking us about the U.S. and if it’s really like the movies. Sorry Jimmy, but I totally lied to you. America is nothing like the movies!

About four hours in to the six hour train ride, we had to get up because the seats we had chosen were reserved. We spent the last two hours standing on the train, sweating our faces off. Chelsea almost passed out. I sweat right through my shirt. It was absolutely miserable.

We also found out from a local on the train that it had been a long weekend for Germany so everyone was heading back to Berlin for work on Tuesday. We seriously the worst luck. Honestly. Have you met two girls any less prepared or informed?

By the time we got to Berlin, we were ready to book the first flight back to the States. For the rest of the trip, each train will be at least 4.5 hours without air conditioning. Lovely.

But after a way too expensive Mexican dinner near the hostel, we chalked it up to just a bad day and decided to make it better tomorrow.

We did a little bit of planning for the rest of the trip at the hostel. We booked trips for Croatia, Istanbul and Mykonos so we at least have something to look forward to at the end of this month and beginning of July that will be planned and we won’t have to think so much! We’re spending about a week in each spot so we won’t be running around so much.

I was determined to make our first full day in Berlin better. We set out for the East Side Gallery which is on the east side of what remains of the Berlin Wall. It’s been turned into a wall of murals with amazing paintings and drawings. I’m not entirely sure if these were painted on purpose or if citizens just turned it into an art gallery after the wall fell. Either way, it was very powerful. Thinking about the history of the wall and what it means was very sobering.

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Chelsea is going to murder me for writing this but I laughed too hard to not include it (and it’s my blog, so suck it Chels!). First of all, it was 93 degrees while we were walking along the Spree. We were exhausted and sweating so much. But as we were walking back, a giant, shirtless, sweaty homeless ran toward Chelsea asking her for a hug. She started screaming and running away while I stood there unable to control my laughter. I’m used to homeless people and beggars on the streets of New York but Chels doesn’t get much of that in Wisconsin. Plus, as she says, she didn’t want his smelly juices on her in 93 degree heat.

After sight sighting, it was time to check out a real German biergarten. I googled the best ones and chose one near the East Side Gallery. It was so cute. It was the perfect spot to kick back and relax. Beers were really cheap and while there were the traditional long tables, there were also couches to lay on in the sun or shade, a fountain and swings. We ended up laying around there for about two hours just relaxing.

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Look! It’s literally a beer garden.

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We almost forgot we were in Berlin for a second. We have those moments where we look at each other and say, “Oh my God, we’re in Europe.” But we never forget how lucky we are!

I’ve heard that Berlin has the best nightlife and I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get to experience it. But A. We’re exhausted. The last thing we need to be doing is staying up all night partying. And B. We have a horrible habit of splurging on overly expensive dinners so we can’t afford it!!

So we spent the night doing laundry and going to bed early.

Our next full day, we headed into West Berlin to walk around and see a movie. A friend of mine who backpacked last summer suggested seeing a movie and having downtime in order to help keep you going. We decided this would be the best place to do it.

So we headed to the Sony Center CineStar movie theater and saw the new Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore movie, Blended. I know, I know. We’re in Berlin and we saw a freaking movie. But ya know what? We’re here for three months and some times you just need a down day of no sightseeing, just doing something you enjoy. We loved the movie and it was well worth it!

I didn’t really like Berlin. All of these cities are starting to blend together. But Berlin was very artsy. There was tons of graffiti everywhere and what appeared to be a very large punk rock and/or heavy metal culture. Everywhere we went that type of music was blasting. We stayed in East Berlin so maybe that culture is just in this part of town but overall, I liked Amsterdam a lot more.

Our hostel was pretty far outside of the city center. We learned the lesson that just because it’s a bit cheaper, it’s not necessarily worth it. The hostel is pretty empty and there’s not much going on. If we wanted to go out, it would be about 30 minutes most likely into the part of the city where there’s stuff going on. This was also the first stop where we seemed to be the only Americans in the hostel. This is totally fine but we’re curious if that’s because it is outside of the city center.

Tomorrow we head to Prague where we will finally start to slow down. We have three nights booked in Prague but have decided that if we want to stay longer, we just will. Our only real plan for the rest of the trip is to be in Croatia by July 3. As long as we get there, we’re good!

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