Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cheap Flight= Let's Go to Germany!

Two weekends ago, a few friends and I took a trip to Berlin, Germany. It wasn't on the original list of places that I had wanted to visit while in Europe but my friend Erin found roundtrip tickets for just 40 Euro so it was a deal that was hard to pass up. We arrived in Berlin at about 5:30 pm on Thursday evening and we're told by friends that the best way to get into the city was using the metro, so we followed signs form the airport to the metro station. The friend said "the signs are very clear as to how to get into the city" but apparently her version of "clear" is a lot different from mine. After trying to decipher multiple signs in German, we weren't having any luck as to which train to take into the city. After about 15 min of walking in circles, I asked a local and got an answer in broken English as to the way we were supposed to go so we decided to just follow what (I thought) he had said and hopefully we'd end up in the city. After diligently paying attention to the stops, we got off at the metro station stop that the hostel had recommended. At this point, we found a spot in a local mall with free Wi-Fi and Laurel was about to get the GPS directions to the hostel, just a mere 5 minutes away. We finally arrived at the hostel around 7pm or so and got settled. After getting a recommendation from the hostel about dinner places, we found the place they recommended but the prices were a bit about our college budgets so we decided to keep looking. Before we knew it, we were walking in what I figured out to be the expensive part of town after seeing numerous luxury cars and menus containing 40 Euro steaks. After about an hour of searching, we ended up at an inexpensive Italian restaurant which had great food. After finishing, we went back to the hostel and called it a night. On Friday, the four of us woke up, went to a local bakery for breakfast, and then headed to the monument called the "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe".
Memorial containing 2,711 rectangular concrete structures
Museum for the memorial

The museum was incredibly solemn and containing a lot of diaries of people involved in the Holocaust. It's one thing to learn all about the Holocaust and its effect on Europe but it's a whole other thing to read excerpts from diaries of people involved at a memorial in Germany; going to this museum was tough to take in but I'm very glad we took the time to go. After seeing this memorial, we headed to one of the other main monuments in Germany, the Berlin Gate.
From left: Me, Erica, Erin, and Laurel
After the Berlin Gate, we went to a food place nearby and order some traditional German food such as currywurst. As we were about to leave the restaurant, it began to drizzle, which turned into a rain, and then a downpour. We wanted to walk around a bit but not with this rain so we decided to trek to this area called "Museum Island" which is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of museums on a small island on the Spree River in the north part of Berlin.
Didn't have the chance to take this picture because of the rain; taken from Google
We all purchased student passes which gave us access to all 5 museums on the island but we really only ended up going to two, the one pictured and another one because we ran out of time. After the museums, we trekked another mile or so to a cathedral. As with any cathedral we encounter, we went inside, saw the beautiful historic architecture and then climbed to the top of the dome. It was an incredible view to be able to walk around the top of the dome and see 360 degree views of the city.

By this time, we were starting to feel really hungry and had wanted to get kebabs that were recommended to us. We stumbled upon a row of food shops and to our luck, one of them had a kebab place. I order the kebab exactly how it looked in the picture to get the full experience (pun intended) and man oh man was it delicious. Made with lamb and a whole lot of toppings, it sure was a mouthful to put down but worth all of the mess. And the best part was, it was only 3.50 Euro, one of the best food bargains I've encountered in a while for the amount of sandwich there was.
On our way back to the hostel, I caught a glimpse of a full size Porsche 911 Carrera being displayed in a store window along a main city street. A few steps later, my jaw dropped as I saw a $400,000 Lamborghini and a Bentley in the next window. I was in awe as I looked in this building and saw almost a dozen luxury sports cars on display. Intrigued beyond belief, I told myself I'd come back the next day and check it out in the day light. We went back to the hostel, got ready to go out, and headed to one of Berlin's most famous clubs, Tresor.
It used to be an industrial manufacturing plant and then was converted into a multi story techno club. It was a very unique experience and no place like we had been in any other city and we all made it back to the hostel in one piece following me as the guide, as happens in every city because I not only enjoy being the leader but am also very good at figuring out how to get places without a GPS.
The next morning, we woke up and ate breakfast at the same place that we had the day before...yes it was THAT good. I split off from the girls and went back to the car showcase while they went to check out this place called Checkpoint Charlie. When I got back to the building that I had been at the day before, I realized it was called the Volkswagen Group Forum which had various cars on showcase from a few of the brands that Volkswagen owns. I saw a lot of Porsches, an Audi R8, a Lamborghini Huracan, and even the Porsche 918 Spyder, a $900,000 semi electric hyper-car which was only produced 918 times and is very rare. It was nice to be able to spend as much time as I wanted there and drool over cars to my heart's content.
Volkswagen Group Forum
2016 Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 918 Spyder
After I had my fill (or some portion of it) of the cars, I went back and met up with the girls and we headed to the metro station to take it across Berlin to check out what's left of the Berlin Wall in East Berlin.

After seeing the wall, it was time for us to head back to the airport to catch our flight. Although we only spent about a day and a half in Berlin, it felt like plenty of time to be get a good vibe for the city and see most of what it has to offer. It was different than most of the other cities I've visited; it gave off a different vibe per say. It had its historic regions but also was very modern in some parts. Berlin itself is also a very wide spanning city and therefore we didn't get to see the whole city; we mainly saw the central area along with some of the east parts where the wall stands. For a 40 Euro roundtrip flight, the company of 3 fun girls, and beautiful cars, it turned out to be a great trip and I'm happy to say it is on the list of places I visited while abroad.


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