Waking up at 3am to fly to Berlin was far from ideal. I am incapable of functioning before 7am. This was quickly proven as I put on my backpack and was instantly pulled backwards, flailing around on the floor like a turtle outside the entrance to East Midlands airport at 4am. I and Beth were flying from East Midlands to Berlin Schönefeld and coordinating our flight with Harrie and Lucy’s so we would all meet in Berlin at 10:30ish. Inside the airport, there was a surprisingly long queue to check-in. Whilst searching around for my passport in my hand luggage, I managed to split the zip open on my bag. So I will now have to buy a new bag. Continuing 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. Whilst on the flight I also managed to somehow melt chewing gum into my plane seat and cause a huge sticky mess. Despite these minor problems, our trip to Berlin was smooth and we all managed to meet on time in Berlin airport. Perhaps our back luck was ending.
This optimism lasted 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 but Berlin centre can be easily reached by train. I say easily, with a huge queue of German’s and Canadian’s impatiently waiting to use the ticket machine this was not going to be easy. However, we managed to quickly navigate the system and select the correct destination and amount. It was all going well and we were fairly pleased with ourselves until the machine refused to let us pay by card or put notes in. This meant we had to all quickly scramble around in our bags and purses to make about 13 euros from 20 cents and loose change, much to the annoyance of the now very long queue behind. After what was probably a selection of swear words from the queue behind, we were only 40 cents away from finally completing it. At which point the machine decided to timeout and give us back all our change. We then had to start the entire process again. Safe to say we endured a lot of disapproval and quickly boarded our train. We got our first glimpse of Berlin Hauptbahnhof and a taste of what the rest of our journey would be like.
With Harrie leading the way we managed to find our hostel. We had done lots of research in advance before booking anywhere, but this was most of our first experience of staying in a hostel. So we arrived at the Meininger Berlin Mitte fairly apprehensive. Only to find it seemed like most hotels we had been in but smaller and with bunk beds. Its location seemed ideal with a street of bars and restaurants close by and the S Bhan connection across the street.
After dropping our bags off at the hostel we had decided to start our time in Berlin by going on a free walking tour. I would highly recommend this as a great way to adapt to a new city! We took the Sandeman’s walking tour beginning conveniently at the Brandenburg gate.
It 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.
Although we had our own highlights when the whole tour got far too over excited by the hotel that Michael Jackson dangled a baby out of. And most amusingly when Lucy attempted to warn Harrie not to stand in dog shit, which resulted in Harrie getting distracted and slipping on the entire thing. This provided entertainment for most of the tour, as she then desperately looked for grass to rectify the situation.
After all the travelling and walking we were thoroughly exhausted so headed back to the hostel. We decided to save money we would eat out as little as possible and take pack lunches out with us. This meant finding a supermarket to purchase supplies. We managed to find one ten minutes away through what we think was a university campus. Luckily Lidl and Aldi seem to be everywhere so we stocked up on some cheap healthy food splitting salads between us. However, forgetting that we were in Europe and had to pay for plastic bags we bought one between us and performed a juggling act carrying our food back to the hostel. After making dinner we were all exhausted so decided to plan tomorrow and have an early night.