After school on Friday we headed back to our room to finish packing our bags and head to the airport to catch our flight to BERLIN! I was SO excited! Berlin has always been high on my travel wish list due to my love of history and World War II. I visited Germany last May as part of my study abroad trip with the TCU College of Education. As part of the trip, we went to Wiesbaden to learn about the Department of Defense schools and I also spent a couple days in Frankfurt with my parents after my study abroad trip. I was really looking forward to going back to Germany and seeing a different part of the country!
We began our German adventure by taking the train from Malmö to the Copenhagen airport (we are becoming train pros now!!!!). After grabbing some dinner, we boarded the plane bound for Berlin. The flight was so short! Only 40 minutes, which is shorter than from Austin to Fort Worth! We landed a little after 9 and were exhausted from the week (I was even able to sleep on the plane which seriously NEVER happens!!!), so decided to head straight for the hotel and get some rest for our full day exploring on Berlin on Saturday. Our hotel was beautiful and 112% an upgrade from Swedish hostel life. We settled in to enjoy the luxurious shower, giant comfy beds, and TVs even if it was just for the weekend.
After some very much-needed sleep, we woke up early to get a head start on the day. The hotel might have had the best breakfast ever, so needless to say we were really enjoying hotel life!! Fueled up and ready for the day ahead, we decided to use the underground to get around for the weekend. Seriously so easy and inexpensive! We were able to see so much of the city in a short period of time this way. Our first stop on Saturday morning was to the Berlin Wall Memorial. We saw many history filled sites during our two days in Berlin, but this one was definitely one of my all time favorites. When we got off the subway we almost didn’t see it at first! The whole memorial was outside and as you can see from the pictures covered in snow! The long metal poles in the pictures represent the fence that was erected as a barrier and protection for the Berlin Wall. At the memorial, there was also remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, this was the wall that was built in the years following World War II to separate East and West Berlin. Also at the memorial was a guard house used to monitor activity on both the East and West side of the wall. It was very impactful to read and see photos about life in Germany when the Wall was still standing. The location where the memorial stood was one of the main crossing points between East and West Berlin. It was difficult to imagine that the Berlin Wall was a reality for the people of Berlin until 1990 (or 28 years ago!!)
Next, we hopped back on the train to go to the meeting place for an underground tour of a bunker used for protection against air strikes during the terrible times of World War II. We unfortunately, weren’t allowed to take any pictures, but you will have to trust me that it was SO eye opening. I can’t even comprehend living during a time where being consumed with fear and spending hours in an underground bunker while a war raged on was the reality. Our tour guide was amazing and truly made us feel how it would have felt to stand where the frightened German people stood 75 years prior.
Lunch time!!!! KayLeigh is VERY into reading blogs and had found one about a famous burger restaurant in Berlin that used to be a public toilet. I have to say Hailey and I were quite skeptical, but when we got off the underground and saw the long line we knew it had to be good. I am not the biggest burger fan in the world, but I can confidently say it was the best burger I have ever had. Despite it being a standing only restaurant and mostly outside it was SOO worth it and it is a must visit destination while in Berlin.
After our delicious lunch we walked to the East Side Gallery, which is a long stretch of the remaining Berlin Wall that artists have painted. It was so neat to see how something so ugly and negative had been transformed into something more beautiful. We enjoyed strolling down the wall and looking at all the different murals. Again, it was still unfathomable to me that this wall, now beautifully painted, once divided the city of Berlin and created such a dark time in German history.
Our final stop of the day was to the Topography of Terror Museum. This museum is located where the head of the Nazi Regime was once located. This museum presented us with fascinating information on the interworking’s of the German Army. It is one of the most visited museums and memorial centers in Berlin. On the way to the museum we also passed a famous landmark in Berlin history, Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was the name given to the best known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War by the Western Allies, the group of countries the U.S was apart of. Unfortunately, now Checkpoint Charlie is quite touristy and unauthentic.
We ended our long day at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the monkey exhibit at the Berlin Zoo. The view of the city (and the monkeys!!!) was incredible and it truly was the perfect end to the day.
Our flight didn’t leave to return to Sweden until 2:30. We decided to have an early start to our morning so we could make the most of our last few hours in Berlin! After enjoying the amazing hotel breakfast round 2, we set out for the Reichstag, or Parliament, Building. We had booked the free tickets ahead of time and planned to get there right when it opened at 8am. The exterior of the building was breathtaking and I was excited to see the inside and learn all about it. The tour was an audio tour that accompanied us as we walked up the glass Dome of the Reichstag building. The audio tour pointed out import buildings and landmarks along the way, gave information about the dome and Reichstag building, as well as history of Berlin. The view was STUNNING and I loved learning more about the fascinating city of Berlin.
Next, we were able to take a short walk to the famous Brandenburg Gate. This was probably the sight I was most looking forward to seeing in Berlin. So much history has taken place at this iconic Berlin monument and I was excited to see it in person! The Brandenburg Gate did not disappoint and it was very special to see it in person!
We warmed up with a quick Starbucks cappuccino (actually hard to come by thus far on our European adventure!!!) and then took a short walk to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Museum. I stood in front of this memorial blown away by its simplicity and vastness. All I could see in every direction was differing cement blocks. We had already learned that an American architect who won a contest commissioned the memorial, but I was very curious about the meaning of his design. One of the guides at the museum explained that the architect never announced his own personal meaning or inspiration. He planned to keep the memorial abstract, so visitors could create their own meaning and symbolism. The museum connected to the memorial was chilling as we learned all about the horrific events of the Holocaust. There were pictures, videos, quotes, letters and stories about real individuals who suffered from the cruelties of this time in history. I will never forget the experience of walking through this museum.
Lastly, we still had about an hour before we had to head to the airport for our flight, so naturally we decided to squeeze in some more sightseeing. We took an uber to the Berlin Cathedral. Although it wasn’t open yet, we were able to take in its beauty from the outside and snap a few pictures. Right across the river from the church there was a really cool art market! I LOVED walking through and looking at all the art. We each were able to find a souvenir for our parents, also a plus!! We walked a little bit further through Museum Island, who knew Berlin had its own island complete with 5 different museums dedicated to art?? We aren’t huge art gals so we enjoyed taking this sight in from the outside just fine.
Sadly it was already time for us to head to the airport! This weekend FLEW by, but we were excited to get back to Sweden and our school. Crazy to think that in just four days we will be off on another even longer adventure. Can’t wait!!!!