Spring Break: There was a city called Berlin, in a country called Germany …

After planning to spend the first half of spring break in Rome, I debated what to do for the second half of the week. Before joining the Peace Corps, I hadn’t traveled around Europe much. Looking at the prices of flights from Rome left me feeling dizzy and giddy. I could go anywhere, for less than 100 Euro!

I thought about doing some city-hopping, but that just seemed overwhelming, given the little time I had. I finally settled on Berlin, because:

  • I had always wanted to go there.
  • I knew some other volunteer friends would be there, so I wouldn’t be totally alone.
  • There was a cheap flight directly back to Pristina (rather than having to fly to Skopje or Tirana).

Again, I like to travel with only a loose itinerary. Here’s what I ended up doing in Berlin:

  • Wednesday: Arrive in Berlin at night
  • Thursday: Free walking tour through SANDEMAN’S. Best thing I did in Berlin! We hit some big tourist spots: Brandenburg Gate, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and Checkpoint Charlie. Dinner with friends at a German restaurant (cannot recall name)
  • Friday: (only day with okay weather) Walk through Tiergarten Park (behind the Brandenburg Gate), and visit the Berlin Wall. Dinner with friends at an Indian restaurant.
  • Saturday: Visit Deutsches Historisches Museum. Dinner with friends at Leander.
  • Sunday: 6 a.m. flight back to Pristina!
Memorial to Murdered Jews
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
april and rachel
April and Rachel: At the end of our walking tour!
Rachel Tim April 2
Rachel, Tim, and April: Smiling despite the cold!

Trying beer in Germany, just to say I did it:

Brandenburg Gate at night
Brandenburg Gate at night
Brandenburg gate 3
Tim, Rachel, and April
berlin park
Visiting Tiergarten Park
rachel april tim park
Rachel, April, and Tim, at Tiergarten Park

At the Berlin Wall:

german history museum
Entrance to the Deutsches Historisches Museum
german history museum 2 inside
Inside the Deutsches Historisches Museum
german history museum american influence
Learning about the American influence on German culture

One interesting new thing I learned:

Hilter medals for women
Hitler’s medals for women
Hitler medal for women 2
Hitler’s medals for women

Sierra and Chelsea arrived on Saturday. It was nice to catch up with them and hear about their travel adventures.

April Chelsea Sierra
Last night in Germany! April, Sierra, and Chelsea

Tips and Observations about Berlin:

  • I’m going to be honest — Berlin is one of my least favorite places I have visited. To be fair, I had just come from a beautiful, Roman spring to cold, rainy Germany. Every day, I would put on as many layers as possible and go out into the wind. I tried to like the city, but I just couldn’t. I had pictured Berlin as this young, hip, vibrant, grungy city. But it is quiet and empty. I learned from our tour guide that Berlin is the only city in Western Europe that has declined in population, from 4 million residents to 3.5 million. Walking its wide streets and long blocks, I got an eerie feeling. Where were all the people?
  • I know Berlin has a reputation as a big party city. It’s the city of Cabaret! It’s the city of Hedwig and the Angry Inch! I cannot remember the last time I went to a club, so maybe if I had participated in the nightlife scene, I’d have a different opinion of Berlin.
  • Berlin is a very clean city. (As a friend pointed out, there are no people to mess it up.)
  • The subway system was extremely easy to navigate. I was able to get around with no problems.
  • My favorite part of my trip was the free walking tour. I’d definitely recommend it if you plan to visit.

Oh, well. I’m glad I was able to see Berlin, and check it off my list. I am also glad I visited while I am living in Europe. Had I paid a lot of money to fly over from the U.S., I probably would have been more disappointed.

(Thanks to Rachel for allowing me to post some of her photos here.)

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