Here I am, sitting at one of my favorite places in Prague. I’m at Letna Park, which is a big park overlooking the city. It’s the perfect place to relax. It also happens to have a lively beer garden with cheap beer and always a crowd when the weather is nice. I’ve already been here for about 4 months which has gone unbelievably quick.
A few weekends ago, I took a trip to Berlin. I wrote a blog about it last week, but my work computer crashed so I lost it along with all of my other work files. So here goes again:
I set off for Berlin on Friday afternoon by bus, which cost just 20 euros ($30) round trip.After the 5 hour bus ride, I arrived in Berlin and found my way to my couch surfing host’s place. My host this time was a girl from Mexico named Lis. She had just arrived to the city a few weeks before, she so was also just learning how to get around.
After I arrived, we decided to go out since that is the Berlin thing to do. She took me to a few lively places around the city. Berlin is known for its nightlife. Cafes and pubs were everywhere and all seemed to be full. We stayed out pretty late, walking home at 6 am when it was light out. It’s a strange feeling to hear the birds chirping while walking home! One thing I noticed is as the evening grows closer, you see more and more people in the metro and walking around drinking beer. In the cities I’ve been to, I’d never seen so many people drinking beer in the subway and the street. It’s common to buy a few beers to drink on your way to the pub. Not even the Czechs do that!
The next day, I woke up and went to Brandenburger Gate to jump on the free walking tour. I didn’t know too much about the tourist attractions before going, except of course for the Berlin Wall. The Brandenburger Gate is the royal gate, where all the important people would enter the city when coming to town. Napoleon was one who used this gate a lot. After the Brandenburger Gate, we walked to the Holocaust Memorial, which was very interesting to see. It’s essentially made in a whole city block, and it’s hundreds of cement blocks of different sizes. Some are a few feet high, but as you get to the middle they are 10 to 15 feet high. Some people say it’s supposed to represent the coffins of people killed in WWII. While I was inside the memorial, I somehow lost my tour group. How you can lose 25 people is a mystery to me, but I apparently can do it. After walking around a bunch more, I finally found the group again. Other attractions included the university where Einstein attended, the Reichstag (sp?) which is the main political building, and other sites.
After getting done from the tour, Lis took me to a Morroccan restaurant. I had never had Morrocan food before, but it was extremely good. I’ll definitely try it again.
Berlin is actually pretty cheap for being a large city in Europe. I think it has to be one of the cheaper cities in Western Europe. I had heard that you can definitely tell the difference between West Berlin and East Berlin, and it was more obvious as you got further east. The further East you go, the more graffiti you see and the more alternative people dress. Berlin is a very artsy city, and you can tell when you’re on the east side. I didn’t realize it until later in my trip, but most of the tourist attractions are on the east side.
On Sunday, I went and saw the Berlin Wall. Some parts of it were still standing in their original places, which made it interesting to see. They had a long wall telling the history and everything behind the wall and communism in Berlin. One of the big tourist attractions in Checkpoint Charlie, which is one of the crossing points from the East to the West. It was always heavily guarded, and the Allies side at this part was controlled by the Americans. They still had the little shack where the American guards would be, and they still had American flags flying with a guard outside (not sure if she was really American). Ironically, right behind the guard shack was a McDonald’s and Starbucks. Almost like welcoming you to the West side saying “Welcome to Capitalism”.
On the way back to get my stuff from Lis’ apartment, I stopped at a pub since the crowd caught my eye. It was the championship match of the second soccer league in Germany. Naturally, I stopped in and caught the end of the game. Hertha ended up beating Augsberg, and Hertha is the best Berlin team so people were extremely happy. To know that it was in Germany, instead of pouring water on the coach after winning, they had liters of beer in glasses that they poured all over the coach. Of course some of the guys were celebrating the win by drinking it before throwing it on each other.
Finally, I stopped and got a falafel since the Turkish community in Berlin is very big. Especially in the part where Lis lived, the area was dominated by Turkish people, restaurants, and shops. It was really nice to see that since I’d never seen a community that big of Turkish. I definitely enjoyed the falafel!
I took the 5 hour bus ride back on Sunday night. Weekend trips are way too quick and can be tiring, but the memories and the experience make it worth it.