Saturday, September 24, 2011


It took a mere 6 hours by train to arrive to Berlin.  First class of course!  Thankfully when you purchase a eurorail pass it must be first class travel (unless of course you take the express trains, there is no classes as the ride is too quick).  Its so comfortable, I actually didn't feel like it took so long.  I just put my headphones in, wrote in my journal and looked at the beautiful scenery. Crops, Windmills, Castles.  There is so much vacant land, it surprises me as the population is so high for a small country, but the Germans are very organised.  

Day 1
Staying at the Heart Of Gold hostel which is a pretty cool place, in a great part of town.  Its a pretty alternative place, what you would expect from Berlin.  My roomates and  I became instant friends.  Jonas (a young German kiwi!) Abraham from Saudi Arabia and Jared from Australia.
I did a walking tour of Berlin, organised through Sandemans New Europe Tours.  They are a really good group, the guide James was super smart and impressive for an English bloke.  We walked for miles and saw some incredible sights (Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitlers Bunker, Holocaust Museum, Richestag, Cathedrals etc).  It went for about 4 hours.  Feet were so soooore by the end of the day.
I met some really nice American girls on the tour, who were doing the pub crawl that night, organised by the same crew.  So we all met up at 8pm for the drinking shenanigans.
So Nick, myself, Jonas and Abraham all headed off to the pub crawl.  At the first bar, the Silberfisch we sat and had our first free beer.  I met two young guys from Canberra who I donned as my little brothers, I just love them - Steve and Martin.  This bar was really cool, played some great music (The Pixes, Kasabian, The Killers)
At the last night club a fair few hours later.  It was seriously so bad and cheesy I wanted to get the hell out of there.  Terrible late 90's pop music. I dont even know what the place was called.
Unfortunately my little buddy Martin had 5 stitches in his big toe from Oktoberfest, and he kicked his toe and busted his stitches.  Oh my lord there was blood everwhere!  So I took him outside and spoke to the door man who sent me inside to speak to the bar staff who sent me back outside to speak to the door man!  I was getting pretty mad.  Eventually the door man called Martin an Ambulance.  Poor mate - it was pretty funny.  His second trip to a German hospital in a week.
Nick stayed out with one of the American girls.  So Jonas, Abraham and I headed back to the dorm.  We got lost, of course. Abraham hailed a cab, paid for it thankfully and we were home in only a few minutes. 

Day 2 
was a late start.  We met up with the American girls at midday and then we all headed on our own tour of the city.  We wanted to get to the parts of the wall we had not yet seen.  The Eastside Gallery it is known as.  The wall has been covered in some great artworks.  We walked the entire city, revisited the sights we had seen on day one, plus went down to the holocaust memorial.
After walking and sight seeing for 7 hrs, it was time to say goodbye to the Americans.  So Nick and I headed back to the dorm and got ready for dinner.  Jonas came with us, thankfully as he can translate for us ;)  We ate at a lovely Italian/German restaurant. I wanted a Schnitzel, no way was I leaving Germany without having one.  So that is what I had, it came with scalloped potatoes that had been fried with bacon, yum! And salad and I washed it all down with a glass of Italian Merlot.  (I still think Aussie wine is better)

Day 3
Nick and I did a self guided tour of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen in Oranianburg.  About a 45minute train ride out of the City.  It was the housing for political prisoners established in 1936 and the training centre for the SS.  Much of the original structures still exist in their original form.  
The killings in this camp were usually done by hangings or shootings.  A lot of the people also died here from torture, malnourishment but most commonly tuberculosis.  Then eventually in 1942 they built the gas chamber and ovens.  The camp also contained a brothel where female prisoners were forced to work.  It was all pretty disturbing, but it has to be seen.  It's all very fascinating.  I wasn't emotional visiting this place as I was sick.  My stomach was pretty unsettled with the stories. Also so difficult to comprehend the terror that existed right underneath my feet.

At the end of the day, I simply had a takeaway pasta in my room and spent some time downstairs with fellow hostel buddies.  I was in bed by 11am and early to rise the next day.

I loved Berlins history, a tortured soul that has bounced back with vibrance and strength.  After 4 days however I was ready to leave.


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