TRAVEL || Stranded In Berlin

Yep, stranded. It sounds quite dramatic, and whilst it all worked out well in the end, for 12 hours or so, the prospect of being strand...

Sunset Aerial View Berlin Dusk TV Tower_effected


Yep, stranded. It sounds quite dramatic, and whilst it all worked out well in the end, for 12 hours or so, the prospect of being stranded in Berlin was very real. And now you're probably wondering: ''but how though?'

THE PROBLEM

Put simply, the ground staff at Berlin's airports have been going on strike over the past few months. In fact, they were on strike until 5am the morning I arrived, so I was afraid my flight would be diverted to Dresden and face a four hour bus journey that would eat in to my precious Berlin-time. As it happened, I flew direct to Berlin's Schonefeld Airport, arriving into this most magnificent of cities at 11am on the Saturday morning, and that was the end of that.

In just three days, I managed to pack so much in, with barely any pause for breath or thought about anything other than how much I loved this place, I'd completely forgotten about all the strikes until EasyJet sent me a text at 10pm on Monday saying I needed to call them as my flight at 10am on Tuesday was cancelled. I called them: "The opening hours are 8am-8pm Monday to Fri..."

You fucking what?

THE SOLUTION

After a few hours scrambling around trying to figure out what to do, I managed to get on another EasyJet flight out of Berlin - on Thursday. Two days later than originally planned. And EasyJet's app wasn't working, so I had no idea where I'd be staying. ARGH. Luckily the OH has some pretty good travel insurance, so we got everything sorted in the end - including an earlier flight back - but hey, at least we got an extra day!

THE PLACE

Berlin in a Bottle Perfume_effected

As for Berlin itself. WOW. I've never really been one to travel to Europe, I tend to venture further east because I've always found it more interesting. But with recent political events in the UK and the US, I was struck by a comment from the Mayor of Berlin about tearing down walls, not building them and it kind of hit me that Berlin is the perfect place to visit to get a feel for what might happen if we continue along this populist path we find ourselves on.

And I was right. Everything about Berlin has a certain air of poignancy, and importance. You can't help but wander through it's mesmerising, wide open streets and lose yourself in deep thought. The walls, the roads, the trees - if only they could talk, they'd have some stories to tell, and that feeling just oozes from every corner.

THE STREETS

Street Art Kreuzberg Big Wall Building_effected

Walking through the streets at first, I kind of felt that it was very similar to Britain in terms of appearance, atmosphere and culture, but by the third day I was starting to appreciate all of the little things that add up to make it so very different. For a start, Berlin is huge - over 3 million people live there, but it doesn't ever feel rushed, congested or claustrophobic. The streets in the central areas are so wide and expansive, I felt like I could actually breathe.

Within the first half hour of arriving, you'll notice there's an awful lot of street art of varying degrees of quality. Some of it looks like it's been created by professional artists, some of it looks like it's been done by school kids who've gotten hold of a permanent marker for the first time, but almost all of it is political or artistic in nature, and often even both. This makes almost every wall in this city interesting, if you're not constantly looking around, paying attention to your surroundings, you'll probably miss out on something special, or strange.

THE PEOPLE

Berlin Iridescent Bubbles Pinterest _effected

The people aren't especially friendly or unfriendly, they just seem to get on with whatever it is they're doing, without really caring who you are, what you're doing, or more importantly where you're from. This is especially unusual for me, because in the UK there's always been that undercurrent of anti-foreign sentiment, which has become a bit of an overcurrent recently. I didn't experience any of that in Berlin during my stay.

THE FOOD

Tofu Burger Berlin_effected

A Tofu Burger - tastes as good as it sounds, and looks!

In comparison to Manchester, and possibly even the UK in general, Berlin is a veggie-heaven. Whilst the Germans are madly in love with sausage, they're also pretty liberal with their food, so if you have any special dietary requirements, you'll have plenty to choose from. A few observations about food then:

  1. If you order anything without meat in it, you'll quite often get asked "Are you vegetarian, vegan?" - as if they're used to it, and will pre-empt you to make sure you get what you need. Basically, you won't feel like an inconvenient afterthought.
  2. Pastries - my god, the Germans love their pastries. Sweet, savoury, breakfast, lunch and probably dinner. The thing is, I love German pastries too! It seems that they have a lot more to choose from than the standard Starbucks, Costa, Nero's or *shudders* Greggs fare. There are bakeries everywhere, and they don't sell Costco stuff either.
  3. Overall, I'd say the range of food available is quite eclectic, similar to London in a way. I also love how South East Asian food is quite prevalent, there's plenty of noodle and rice places to go, even at the actual U-bahn stations!
  4. For the halal traveller, Berlin isn't quite in the same league as London. There are plenty of halal places around, but they tend be bunched up in certain areas - Kreuzberg and Neukölln in particular have large Arab and Turk communities, as well as the generally positive attitude to vegetarians, you certainly won't be going home hungry.

THE PINK PIPES

Berlin Blue Pink Pipes Water Supply Why_effected

I also noticed a lot of industrial looking pink pipes dotted around the place, that seemed to fit in with the hipstery-vibe that Berlin gives off. At first I thought they were just some kind of quirky urban decor thing, then I wondered if they actually tracked the former location of the Berlin Wall, before finally I was told that they actually pump ground water away from construction sites and deposit it in nearby lakes and rivers, to stop the foundations of new buildings from flooding. Sadly, the reality is a lot less romantic and, dare I say it, a lot more German-efficiency. Still, they capture the imagination.

There were two main things that I wanted to gain from this short trip - firstly, I wanted to find out what exactly the Berlin Wall was, and why it was built, and secondly I wanted to learn more about the Nazis and Hitler. I never studied history at school at all, so my knowledge of both was pretty basic to say the least. 

THE BERLIN WALL

Berlin Wall Travel Guide Where_effected

To learn about the wall, I went to Bernauer Straße (that weird looking B actually represents 'ss'!) to see a reconstruction of the wall and a museum. I have to say, the wall itself pales in comparison to the separation wall that exists currently in the West Bank, and I found myself thinking how hypocritical it is that we make such a big deal about how bad the Berlin Wall was, yet we don't really learn the lessons of history, and keep pretty quiet about an actual wall that exists today with a very similar tyrannical purpose.

That being said, it was still a barrier placed in the heart of a thriving city separating streets, neighbourhoods and families where it took over 20 years for humanity to prevail, and for the wall to be torn down. Walking through the city, you can still get a feel for whether you're on the Eastern side or the Western side, and along the path of the wall itself, the buildings retain a mysterious aura about them - they've seen real pain and struggle.

 THE NAZIS

Topography of Terror Nazi Poster Berlin_effected-001

As for the Nazis, I went to the Topographie des Terrors museum. This is probably one of the most informative museums I've ever visited, and it's also quite a harrowing experience just to read about what the Nazis did, how they ascended to power, how they appealed to the masses, and how they tortured and murdered millions. It was a very sobering experience, not something for the light-hearted, but certainly a necessary one. Seeing how the Nazis took control of Germany, there are echoes of current world leaders, and I left wondering how soon it is before history repeats itself.

From what I gathered, they were pretty extroverted in their disdain for Jews, non-Germans, people with disabilities and homosexuals, and led a propaganda campaign to convince ordinary Germans that it was ok to hate these groups of people. It seems that those who covet power have learned from the Nazis. They've learned how to apply similar principles in today's world, without necessarily being explicit in their hatred. The leading figures were also cowards, who killed themselves to escape punishment when their reign of terror was at its end.

It was on the U-bahn home from this museum that it started to sink in, exactly where I was, the history this place has actually seen, and it felt overbearingly haunting. I was ready to go home now, but unfortunately my plane wasn't.

Berlin Potzdamer Platz U Bahn Hipster Guide Travel_effected

Waiting for the U-bahn - you're never usually waiting long though

Graffiti Street Art Berlin Hipster Kreuzberg Alexanderplatz_effected

No wall space goes to waste

Victory Column Creative Photography Berlin Gold _effected

The Victory Column or Siegessäule

Gas Masks Soviet Union Berlin Hipster _effected 

Merch

\Reichstag Dome Berlin Night Photography Mirror_effected 

At the Reichstag - The German equivalent to the Houses of Parliament

Dog Memorial Jews Berlin Guide Travel_effected 

This little doggy stopped by to say Guten Tag at The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe - a truly haunting place.

Berlin U Bahn Stadtmitte Station _effected

A hijabi waiting to cross the road at Stadtmitte U-Bahn station

Love Heart Chocolate Biscuit Berlin Travel Guide Hipster_effected 

Gotta love Berlin..

Kreuzberg Berlin Bikes Hipster Guide Travel_effected 

Almost every street I walked along had cycle lanes in both directions..

Berlin Cathedral Sky Tower_effected 

Where old meets sort of new

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Berlin's got my aesthetic going..

Fuck you Mr Trump German Street Art Graffiti_effected 

Took the words right out of my mouth..

Scooter Street Lamp Night Photography Berlin_effected 

Late night strolls..

Subway Underground Doors Yellow Berlin U Ban_effected 

The U-bahn trains are all yellow..

Soviet Union Hats Berlin_effected 

More merch..

Cyber Neon Lights Sony Center Berlin_effected 

Insta themes..

Girl Busking for Weed Berlin Streets Hipster_effected 

Any spare.. weed please?!

Wonder Waffel Kreuzberg Berlin Rainbow Unicorn_effected 

Tasted better than it looks ;)

Shoes Bokeh Berlin Starbuckets Sony Centre Creative Photography_effected 

These feet aren't made for walking.

Kreuzberg Street Art Berlin Bokeh Creative_effected 

Nope, me neither..

Skateboarding Skate Board Dog Famous Berlin_effected 

Whatever you do, don't touch his skateboard..

Sony Centre Berlin Night Photography Lilac_effected

The Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz

I hope this post has given you a bit of a feel for Berlin, it truly is an incredible city with something for everyone. Particularly if you're interested in history, there must be few cities on earth with more to offer in that respect. I get the distinct impression that I could come back over and over, and discover a whole new side to it each time. In the meantime, if you're after a little more info, visit the fantastic visitberlin.de website. Failing that, just jump on a plane (perhaps not an EasyJet one though)..






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7 comments

  1. Shame about your flights being a nightmare, however, whoop for an extra day in Berlin. It's somewhere I'd love to visit, simply for all of the history there but I worry I'd just end up crying about it all. It does appear as quite a vibrant city with a lot to offer. I'm sure I'll build up to visiting one day. Thank you for a look at your weekend away x

    Honestly Aine

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    1. It really does get a bit emotional, some of the accounts of what happened are so harrowing. Lots of upset looking people and a few facial expressions in total disbelief too. It truly is an amazing city though, would highly recommend x

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  2. Lovely post Lima - I've always wanted to go to Berlin, my sisters have both been and adored it there (one even spent a summer living near the Holocaust Memorial). It just seems like such a fascinating city. It's interesting you talked about learning the history there, that must be such a good way to immerse yourself in it, albeit a harrowing experience at the same time.

    Growing up in a country that was under Nazi occupation, I've been privy to the horrors of WWII since primary school (they start teaching it at a very young age in Luxembourg, we watched Schindler's List aged 11!) and have been fortunate to speak to a lot of older folk who remember what it was like in the 40s. I think it's so important we acknowledge our recent past, no matter what link we have to it - my grandmother's family fled Austria in the 30s because of the Nazis' rise to power - and you're right, how else can we identify what's happening in the world now without knowing what happened before? Very thought-provoking!

    xxx

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Dani, I received barely any education on the subject whatsoever, and whilst I'd read bits here and there, I'd never really gone into any kind of detail. To hear of the things that humans do to one another, it's quite upsetting. I can't even begin to imagine what it felt like having to live through that period.

      What we're experiencing today is totally different, but the lessons of the past still apply, and the similarities are chilling.

      But yes, I'd thoroughly recommend you visit!

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  3. This looked brilliant. I want to visit one day. My great-grandfather was from Berlin & went to America when he was a young man. I know I would cry seeing these things, but it's important to do so, so we don't forget and keep fighting on. Sorry about the flights, that would drive me bonkers. Definitely need to visit :)

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  4. sounds like quite the adventure! but apart from the flight situation it also sounds like you had a lovely time. i've never been to berlin, but definitely need to go:-) and i love your photos! xx

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  5. Oh my goodness - what an adventure! And maybe a good thing in hindsight that you were stranded for an extra day to soak in the culture. I agree, it seems an apt place to visit in light of the recent political environment - reflecting to learn and all that. Berlin is on my list and this post has reaffirmed that.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN x
    www.fashiondujour.co.uk

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