I’m back! The silence is over!
I’m going to try something a little different for my stories about Berlin and do a quick diray-style overview of what I did in two posts, and then seperate ones to focus on my favorite places again. I managed to, somehow in 8 days, take over 700 photos so uploading them all has taken me forever – and I have upload them individually because of how slow the computer is. It’s a painful process.
This is the only photo I took on Day One, mainly because it was already dark when I arrived – as you can see – even though it was only half four, but also because I didn’t really have time to take anymore! German is quite similar to Afrikaans, so I thought that it wouldn’t be too difficult to work out signs and the language, but it took me a couple of days to start to get used to it. That first afternoon was so scary – I had to get from the airport to Berlin Mitte (centre) and I wasn’t really sure how the train worked and I couldn’t understand the ticket machines (I discovered the language button only wayy later). It was the first time I’ve ever felt lost before in a city, I think because if it has been a very foreign place I’ve always been able to ask someone for help – but helpfully my phone was playing up. I am also grateful for the flyers that the airport put in a huge stand outside customs, because if I hadn’t have picked up one of them (which had a map on the reverse) I would never have made it to my friend’s house. I met my friend in central Berlin, and we had to quickly pick up one of her patients (she works in occupational theraphy) from a cooking class. Obviously, we managed to get hopelessly lost in about 5 minutes – me still with my suitcase, and trying to read her German google maps. It was a good start!
Day Two, my first full day in Berlin! It was, of course, freezing and the wind was ice cold. The skies were grey, and cloudy and gloomy, but I was determined that it wouldn’t ruin my day. I did a lot of walking, from Alexander Platz – a big square with load of shops, which is a two second walk from most of the best places to go in Berlin – through Museum Island, which houses most of the major museums in Berlin as well as the Berliner Dom (pictured). I saw some amazing things, from the inside of the Berliner Dom, the Holocaust memorial (not pictured but will feature later) – which was immensely powerful, eating german gingerbread, eating a pretzel and just seeing Berlin – a city I had already fallen in love with.
Pictures: 1+2. There were some amazingly worded signs spread around Berlin that I just had to laugh at, 3. The Berliner Dom, or Berlin Dome/Cathedral, which I fell instantly in love with and have a thousand photos of, I also went inside it later on day 2, 4. All of the trees were in their autumn colours and looked so beautiful, 5. Inside a war memorial, 6. My new favorite shop, which gives every customer free german biscuits as you walk in – who needs anything else?, 7. The giant world clock in Alexander Platz that made me realise that I hadn’t changed my phone time yet, and I had been working an hour ahead all day.
Day Three, and I’m not in Berlin! My friend invited me to join her in Kiel for two days because she was visiting family there and because I’m always up for seeing a new place I said yes and booked myself onto the coach with her. We used Mein Fernbus, who’s prices were really good, have free wifi, really comfy seats and they cover most of Europe. Kiel is about 4 and a half hours from Berlin, but it didn’t feel that long. To get the cheapest trips we had to leave at 7:45 in the morning, from a bus stop on the other side of Berlin – we were this close to missing our bus. Kiel is on the North Sea (I think) and it has a massive port built into the fjord that divides the city in half. I really liked Kiel, it was cute and small and interesting. We didn’t do much on the first day, just walked around the town a bit and helped set up for a party of my friend’s relative which we then went to that night. Everyone spoke german, so it was a little weird, but there was amazing music and such a great atmosphere that it didn’t matter!
Picture: 1. Our bus!, 2. A fish burger, with raw fish. Yep. I thought it was going to be gross, but it turned out to be really surprisingly good! Apparently it’s very traditional in the region and the fish couldn’t have been any fresher, since you could see the harbour from the shop, 3. lebkuchen! (Or gingerbread) basically, my favorite thing about Germany, 4. The beautiful setting of the party, 5 + 6. The Port of Kiel.
Day Four, our full day in Kiel. We helped clean up after the party and then my friend and I walked around Kiel for a bit. Then the plan was to go to a Historical village in Kiel, like the Chiltern Open Air Museum, but it was closed and since the weather was so rubbish we ended up looking at German food, and then in the evening went to go see an amazing guitarist/musician called Mäkkelä in a local pub called Prinz Willi. It was such a cute little place, and reminded me of a place I go to in Stellenbosch called Aandklas (shoutout to my friends who know where that is). I had never heard of Mäkkelä, but he turned out to be really good. He is German and Finnish, but sang in English (great for me) but did all of his explanations about the songs in German (not so great for me). It was a really nice way to experience the local atmosphere of Kiel, and I’m glad that I went.
Pictures: 1. a German chocolate shop that I wanted to buy in its entirety, 2. Christmas lights are already up in Europe, and Kiel was no exception, 3. The Prinz Willi from the outside.
So that’s a snapshot of what I did on my first four days in Germany, stop by tomorrow for the next installment! Have any of you ever been to Germany, to Berlin or Kiel? What was your favorite thing to do there?