This trip marks the first official travel entry onto this blog and, although not technically a solo trip (as my two wonderful sisters were with me), such an incredible city deserves to be talked about.
Upon arrival (a fantastically simple transition onto the U-Bahn directly from the airport into the centre of the city) it becomes swiftly apparent that the only way to get around is by bike. It’s what the locals do and I’ve never seen a city so wonderfully equipped with such a vast network of cycle lanes. Cycling around the city centre of Berlin is safe in a way that no other city makes you feel. Besides, what’s not fun about directly transporting yourself from place to place on two wheels in a manner which not only costs you absolutely nothing but allows you to freewheel like a small child on a flight of freedom? I’ll tell you – nothing is not fun about that.
We happened upon Berlin at the tail-end of Octoberfest which was a wonderful thing to witness – naturally this involved a more than touristy visit to a local brauhaus. Finding myself vastly hungover after a visit the previous night to one of Berlin’s infamous night spots I did (utterly tragically) have myself a stein of cloudy apple juice however, I made no such compromise on my choice of food. You can’t visit Germany without eating sausages and this dish was incomparable. Simple, delicious and paired with a sweet wholegrain mustard relish the likes of which I have never tasted. Man alive that was good food.
One of my favourite things about Berlin is that it’s a city steeped in some incredibly serious history but simultaneously, a place which feels modern and fresh. This for me is embodied in the iconic traffic light man, striding you from historical corner to stainless steel architecture in one fell swoop. There is something to discover around every wonderfully right-angled corner and that faithful, ever-striding figure is always there to lead the way. I’ve learnt more recently that said iconic figure is in fact called an Ampelmännchen and, prior to East and West Germany being reunited, was actually depicted differently on each side of the wall. Previously associated only with East Germany, the survival of such a fundamental visual from such a turbulent time in history marks just how far this city has come.
Our final destination for the trip was to the East Side Gallery. To be quite honest, I’ve never seen anything like it. Old Berlin meets New Berlin in the most glorious expression of art and culture that could ever be thrown directly in the face of the past.
Basically, you’re just going to have to go and pay this city a visit. Nothing I have to say could ever do it any kind of justice. It’s just bloody great.