Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Travelling Europe: Berlin

Trying to trace my mind back to Berlin, forgive me if my posts aren't always of the same writing quality. I want to make sure I put the correct amount of effort into these posts, but at the same time if my minds not in a writing mood its just not. I think I'll manage for today...

I was just about to think what time we would of arrived in Berlin, but there's a clock in the first image that shows clearly it was 5pm.. Handy huh! So 5pm we arrived in Berlin, the train station was huge as you can imagine and as we made our way to the entrance we could see it was made mostly out of glass. An impressive sight for sure. When we left the building we became a bit disorientated. We both didn't really know what to expect, but what met our eyes was certainly not it. We came out to a big plaza with barely any buildings around, we had no map and really had no idea what direction to head in so decided to sit down outside to find a hostel that we could then head towards.  It was at this point we discovered that on every website and app we tried, there was not a single hotel or hostel available that was under £200. We couldn't believe it, surely not everywhere was booked up in a city so big. Or maybe it was because it was so big and obviously popular that was the very reason it was booked up. All we knew is that we were struggling to find a place to stay for the night. Then Tom came across a campsite called Berlin City Camp, it had 2 locations, one north and one south. The one south seemed closer to us and so we decided to call them up to see if it was fine to camp there. Again communication was difficult and Tom seemed to get from the call that the campsite closed at 8.30pm but yes there was room. So with a place to stay found, we then began trying to figure out how to get there. Once we found what train to get we headed back into the station and were on our way. We got off at a stop called Lichterfelde Sud that appeared to us near the campsite. We got the route details up on Tom's phone and began walking. At first we both really enjoyed the walk, it seemed imminent that we would reach the campsite and so we were relaxed and looking around us. We came onto a main road as our phones told us and began walking up it. After a while we realised we had been walking a lot longer than trusty google maps had let on. We looked back on the phone and realised we had views the time under the driving setting (15mins) and when we switched to the walking bam, suddenly we had almost an hour and a half more of walking. We wouldn't make it to the campsite in time. Especially when we looked closer at the address we had put in and realised it wasn't actually the right address for the campsite. Problems.. We looked at each other both with no solution as what to do apart from carry on walking, but it was getting pretty desperate. We attempted to hitch-hike for a while as we carried on along the road but unsurprisingly that came to nothing. I began looking on my phone if there were an hotels nearby at all and came across one with rooms left about 45 minutes away (the closest). So we carried on walking in the evening sun. Eventually we arrived, it must of been past 9pm. We went into the reception and asked with some desperation if they had a room available. She took some time to respond from her computer, but thankfully they did - the last room - the only downside was that it was 200 euros. Ouch. We told her we would go discuss it and then we went to sit outside and review our options. We had none.. We were both pretty tired - still getting used to the weight of our bags - and here we had, although expensive a room to stay in nonetheless. We had cash on us, enough to pay for the hotel and so we decided to settle there for the night. Whilst going through the booking process the receptionist explained the rates were so high due to Berlin Fashion Week which was taking place during our stay. This perfectly explained why we couldn't find anywhere to stay in the center of the city. We paid and made our way up to our room where we collapsed on the floor and proceeded in munching the food we had bought for our supposed night of camping. Our room was huge and had three single beds, two of which we pushed together to sleep on. It had a bath which we took full advantage of, emptying out all three sets of shampoos, shower gels and moisturizers. We've definitely learned our lesson we repeated to one another as we dressed into our bath robes and continued nibbling our pistachio nuts. But we had, we had already managed to spend 500 euros in the first three days and it was something that concerned us both. Needless to say we had a wonderful nights sleep and woke up ready to find our way back into Berlin. 
The next day we tried our best to get up and going early. We walked to a train station called Teltow Stadt and from there made our way up to Potsdamer Platz which seemed a good central location. The days were gradually getting hotter, the 29th definitely being the hottest so far - my phone read 26 degrees -. We got off at the stop and came out surrounded by tall buildings, but in a square once again. Immediately we spotted a section of the Berlin Wall, broken up and with boards of writing us informing us of some history behind it. I've already forgotten what it said unfortunately. From our hotel we now had a map and so used that to map out our route. Berlin, is huge and so crowded with buildings NW of us was a big park which we set out for straight away. On route there we came across the Memorial for Murdered Jews, although we didn't know that at the time. We walked towards an eerie area, where slabs of grey rock rose from the ground at unequal heights and angles. I'd like to repeat at this point that we were both unaware of the meaning behind the area. We were walking trying to get good picture of it all when a guy early 30's shouted at us for climbing apon one of the slabs of rock. He was furious, and us, bewildered. 'Have you no respect?!' 'I come here and all I see are people running around, playing hide and seek and clambering on the memorial. 'Do you have any idea where you are?' I couldn't believe it. Tom chose to ignore him, while I tried to defuse the situation by asking him to explain the importance of the area. So then he told us all about the resemblance of the stones creating a sense of uneasiness and how it was supposed to make you feel trapped with great looming walls around you. I said sorry again and we quickly walked away, still feeling odd about what just happened. It was however an incredible area and it did certainly give you a sense of uneasiness as you walked around surrounded by shades of grey and black. We soon carried on and easily came across more big buildings - of some importance I'm sure - along the way. We stopped off at a fast food stall for some lunch, which was pretty vile I have to admit although just about edible, and then made our way into the park. It was there we began our walk to the Siegessaule. A big long road led us to the mighty statue of a golden angel upon a very tall pillar. That was good, and at least we could say we managed to see a bit of Berlin, whether they were the main parts we didn't know. From there we realised we were relatively close to the Haupbahnhof (central station) and so made our way in that direction. The walk was actually really pleasant as we walked along the river. Our train was at 3pm and it was to take 2.30hours to get to our next destination - Bad Schandau, home of the Saxon-Switzerland National Park (how exciting). The train we were due to get was the Prague one and we soon realised it was ridiculously busy. So busy infact that all the seats were reserved. We were crowded into the corridor and once the train pulled away found a spot on the floor between carriages to sit. It wasn't too bad I swear and we got talking to some other corridor dwellers (who also hadn't reserved seats) along the way. As for our experience of Berlin, certainly incomplete - we decided a city break was much in order to fully experience Berlin (and its nightlife!!). 



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