Waking up at 3 am to fly to Berlin was far from ideal. I am incapable of functioning before 7 am. Me and Beth were flying from East Midlands to Berlin Schönefeld and coordinating our flight with Harrie and Lucy’s. We would all meet in Berlin at 10:30ish. My inability to function was quickly demonstrated as we got out of the taxi, and I went to put on my backpack. I was instantly pulled backwards, flailing around like a turtle on the floor outside the entrance to East Midlands airport at 4 am.
Inside the airport, there was a surprisingly long queue to check-in. I was busy searching around my hand luggage bag for my passport when I managed to split open the zip. Now I will have to buy a new bag at some point. I continued my embarrassment in the security checks. The women asked me if I was over 16 and old enough to be searched! She seemed very surprised when I told her I was 20 and found this very amusing. I was not amused. While on the flight, I somehow managed to melt chewing gum into my seat and create a huge sticky mess. Despite these minor problems, we made it to Berlin, and all managed to meet on time at the airport. Perhaps our bad luck was ending.
This optimism lasted for a total of 5 minutes when we were confronted with the ticket machine at the S Bahn station. Berlin Schönefeld is slightly further out than other airports in Berlin but is only a simple train ride away to the city centre. I say simple, we managed to navigate the ticket machine and select the correct destination, and we were fairly pleased with ourselves when the machine refused to let us pay by a card or take notes. We all had to quickly scramble around in our bags and purses to try and make 13 euros from 20 cents and loose change. The growing queue behind us was annoyed by this. Finally, we were only 40 cents away from finally completing it when the machine decided to timeout and gave us back all of our change, forcing us to start the entire process again. The queue behind strongly disapproved and threw what I can only assume was a selection of swear words at us.
We quickly boarded our train and got our first glimpse of Berlin.
With Harrie leading the way we managed to find our hostel fairly quickly. We had done lots of research in advance before booking anywhere, but this would be most of our first ever experience of staying in a hostel. We arrived at the Meininger Berlin Mitte a little apprehensive. Only to find it wasn’t that different from most hotels we had been to, just a bit smaller and with bunk begs. Its location is ideal with a street full of bars, and restaurants close by and the S Bhan station connecting us to the rest of Berlin just across the road.
After dropping our bags off at the hostels, we didn’t waste any time and started exploring Berlin. We went on the Sandeman’s free walking tour, which I would highly recommend! It’s a great way to get to know your way around a new city and learn a bit of history. It conveniently started at the Brandenburg gate.
The tour covered the site of Hitler’s bunker and suicide (now a car park, which was odd but somehow fitting.) The memorial to the murdered Jews, which was vast and impressive, yet at the same time eerie and harrowing. Checkpoint Charlie, Gendarmenmarkt and a section of the Berlin wall.
If you’re ever in Berlin I would highly recommend this tour it’s free you only pay the guide what you thought it was worth / can afford and get a great insight into the city.
We had our own highlights as the whole tour got far too excited by the hotel that the famous Michael Jackson baby incident happened in. My personal favourite was when Lucy unsuccessfully attempted to warn Harrie not to stand in dog shit. Harrie was distracted by this and slid through all of it, providing entertainment for most of the tour, as she then desperately looked for grass to rectify the situation.
After our flight and all the walking, we were thoroughly exhausted so headed back to the hostel. To save money, we have decided to eat our as little as possible and take pack lunches out with us. We would have to find supermarkets to purchase supplies. Luckily there seem to be Lidl and Aldi on every corner. We stocked up on some cheap healthy food; however, forgot that you have to pay for plastic bags so performed a juggling act carrying all our food back to the hostel. We cooked dinner in the hostel kitchen and came up with a bit of a plan for tomorrow before having an early night.