Taking on Berlin

I’ve made it through four weeks abroad! Somehow. This last week started off like any other… Rushing to catch a train, barely making it on board and breaking a sweat while doing so. The only difference this time was that I had my dad in tow. As I’ve mentioned in every post, I get lost a lot and rush to get on trains often. I guess I shouldn’t say get lost a lot; that’s only truly happened a couple of times. Mostly I just walk in the wrong direction or get on a train going the wrong direction a lot (I don’t consider that being lost). But, usually figure out it’s the wrong direction pretty quick. My dad was able to witness it all firsthand this past week. At one point, he turned to me and asked, “how have you made it this far?” I shrugged my shoulders and laughed. That’s the only response I knew how to give. To be frank, he’s not any better trying to navigate the trains.

Anyway, we thankfully caught our train from Heidelberg to Berlin. We had to switch trains and our first one was about six minutes late arriving at the station, so rushing to catch the next train technically wasn’t our fault. We only had 10 minutes to catch the second train to begin with, so take out six of those minutes and insert two people who don’t have the best track record in train stations and you get my dad and I hopping on the train right before the doors close and sweat pouring from our bodies. That’s a lovely image I’m sure, but I’m not trying to pretend that travel is glamorous all the time. Also, my dad way over-packed for his week here, so his bag was enormous. For once I was the one who packed light.

Our seats on the train were in one of the six person boxes/rooms and when we walked up there were already four people sitting in there. You know they loved it when they saw us, with our big bags, opening the door. Did I mention that our seats were all the way on the inside by the window? Yep, we made everyone get up so we could get in. Our little room was only full for a short time period. A few of them got off after a couple of stops, so it wasn’t packed with six people the entire time, thankfully.

After a good five hours on the train from Heidelberg and another 20 minutes navigating the city trains, we made it to our Airbnb in Berlin, which was not the best Airbnb I’ve ever stayed in. It could have used a deep cleaning. Told you, not always glamorous. We were only there to sleep and shower, so we managed.

We walked around a bit after settling in. At one point during our walk, my dad decided to step several meters off the sidewalk and cut through a tiny park. I followed even though I knew that was a bad idea. There was an old shipping container with quite a few men standing around it right where we were walking through. One of the men said something to us in German as we walked through. I was going to keep walking and ignore him, but my dad decided to stop and ask what the man was saying. He then repeats himself in English, “Do you want some hashish or cocaine?” My dad declined. But, we had a good laugh about it and decided we’d stay on the sidewalks from there on out.

It started to rain a little as we were walking, looking for a good food joint to stop in near the Airbnb. We weren’t finding anything and were freezing, so we stopped in an Irish pub for a drink while my handy friend Google helped me find a restaurant. Google did not disappoint. The place we went for dinner, Gaststätte Walhalla, was awesome. It was a casual, cozy joint. My Dad and I are not fancy pants people, so pretty much every place we went to had this type of vibe. The food there was very good. In fact we went there for breakfast one morning it was so good. One of the best breakfast meals I’ve had since being on this trip. We got our bellies so full, we decided to call it a night after dinner.

On our first full day in Berlin, we visited several monuments: Tiergarten, Victory Column, Soviet War Memorial, Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish Memorial. To name a few. That night we grabbed dinner and then had to go to the store to get coffee for the morning. After leaving the store we ended up hanging out in a small pub for a few hours. There has definitely been a pattern of us two ending up in some small local pub talking life and politics over beers. I blame my dad… He’s a bad influence. 😜

It was a bit rainy the next day (another pattern for the week), so we decided to tour a palace nearby. It got us out of the rain but wasn’t any warmer inside than it was outside. The palace was ok. Most of it had been destroyed in war, so a lot of it had been rebuilt and wasn’t original. The history of it was still interesting, just wasn’t one of my favorite palaces I’ve visited.

Later we went to the tv tower to get a 360 view of the city at night. Reminded me a little of the John Hancock in Chicago. It’s the same concept. Instead of beer I had a cosmopolitan at the bar while we enjoyed the view. It felt very Sex and The City style. Only less fashionable. And, I was with my dad sooo maybe not so Sex and The City style. Either way it was a good night.

Dad and I’s last day together in Germany, we went to the Topography of Terror museum. Here we saw part of the Berlin Wall that was still left standing and read about how Hitler came into power. We also saw some politician get a history lesson and then conducting an interview. We still have no clue who he was, but secret service was involved so we know it was political. I thought about jumping around in the background, but didn’t want the secret service to tackle me and end up in a German jail. I played it cool instead.

That night we went to another really good restaurant by the name of Boulevard Friedrichstraße. I had dinner AND dessert because treat yo self. Or should I say Dad treated me. 😊 After dinner that night, we went back to the Airbnb because Dad had an early flight the next morning and still needed to pack. Even though we tried to go to bed early, we were still up later than planned. I got to sleep a little longer the next morning so it didn’t bother me, but poor Dad didn’t get much sleep. Oh well, it was a Friday. He had the weekend to catch up on sleep before he had to get back to work.

When Dad left I moved to a hostel on the east side of Berlin. My first night in the hostel I met a couple of guys who let me hang out with them for the night. What up, Ross and Donal! I told them I’d give them a shout out in my ever so popular blog. It was their last night in Berlin so they were planning to have a chill night. And, it started that way. We watched a jazz band play at a bar, went back to the hostel for a bit and then went out for some dancing. Needless to say, the guys did not have a chill night.

The guys left the next morning and I slept in. I eventually got up and went and had lunch. Then walked the length of the East Side Gallery. It’s part of the Berlin Wall that is covered in graffiti. Good graffiti, not just random crap. I eventually made it back to the hostel. I had planned to go to bed at a decent time since I was leaving the next morning, but as I was lying in bed, a few of the girls came back to the room and said we had to change rooms because one of their beds had bed bugs. 😳 Luckily, I did not have them and they didn’t get in my stuff. We switched rooms and I stayed up for a little while chatting with the girls.

The next morning came way too soon. However, I did get up in time to have breakfast and get to the train without having to rush. I wasn’t looking so great, but I made it on time.

Four hours later I had made it to Prague. I checked in to the new hostel, fixed myself up a little, and then went walking around old town. I saw quite a bit I just a couple of hours: the Charles bridge, the castle from afar and a couple of the churches. Soon I couldn’t feel my toes though (next time I’ll be bringing wool socks). I grabbed some food and headed back to the hostel for the night. I actually went to bed early that night. I guess not getting much sleep in the previous two days catches up. It was worth it.

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