Four Nights in Berlin

Berlin. One of my favourite European cities. Probably my second favourite overall after Lisbon in Portugal. It’s one of those places where you sense the friendly party atmosphere and feel alive at night. And it’s a very cool place to go. It wasn’t my first visit as I’d been here during a whirlwind Contiki tour one year ago. Only catching a quick glimpse of the city which was enough to make me vow to return again.

The first night I arrived was a public holiday celebrating Day of German Unity. Meaning that there was a wee festival in the Brandenburg Gate area for me to check out.

I discovered this night that Germany does indeed have delicious fruit beers beginning the start of a beer-drinking frenzy for the duration of my Germany trip.

Over the next few days I checked out the old usual tourist sites including places like the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery, Topography of Terror, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust museum. And a bunch of graffiti street art.

The area I stayed in called Friedrichshain mostly looked like this everywhere

On the East Side Gallery

Further along the gallery

My favourite section of the gallery

Jewish Holucost Memorial

The museum is underneath the memorial itself and very moving

Brandenburg Gate again during the golden hour. You can see the festival Ferris wheel still set up from the previous night

A picturesque church near Mitte

Street art poking fun at tourists

Berlin Cathedral Church

From a different angle on my way to the DDR museum (also worth a visit)

For another day I hired a bicycle and rode around Berlin. This was definitely a great idea. Everywhere in Berlin it’s easy to spot bike rental shops for really reasonable prices. I paid a mere €10 for 24 hours for a decent bicycle with a comfy seat. There are cycle lanes absolutely everywhere making it an easy healthy option to get around. I never once felt unsafe from the traffic while riding. I dedicated the day to visiting parks.

Looking up at the monument in Viktoriapark

It was a beautiful leafy autumn during my Germany trip

My ride for the day. Parked on the runway in Tempelhofer Feld which used to be an airport but is now a city park

The old runway is perfect for activities like wind-surfing, kite-boarding, roller blading and cycling

It gets pretty windy there (my bike blew over oops)

But was still fine for riding through the last park Planterwald. A lovely forestry park with an abandoned amusement park in the middle. You had to climb a fence to see the old rides which I chickened out of doing

The 100-foot Molecule Man sculpture on the Spree River. One of the sights on my river-side bike back to the hostel

And then of course there was the night-life. I did a couple of different pub crawls while in Berlin. One with Sandemans which was okay. The group of people attending was far too big and the tour went to bars that were generally empty on our arrival. But the second one was excellent with the Berlin Alternative Tours company and I highly highly recommend. I also did a free walking tour with this company which was equally amazing. I just wish I’d had more time to do more of their tours.

At a ping pong themed bar on the second pub crawl

An Absinthe themed bar was next. And then I forgot about taking photos after this shot

My ‘gang’ during the crawl

My cool friend that I made in Hamburg accompanying on the first pub crawl

I wanted to stay in Berlin for longer. I can honestly say I had the best time during my four days. Seeing and experiencing so much more compared to my last visit was a glorious feeling. And realising this city I still liked this city just as much as the first time. But I had to move on with only having a limited time in Germany to travel. I felt it would be good to see more than just two German cities. Plus I was finding that with the exciting night life, and my noisy dorm room, my sleep wasn’t that great. If I continued on I would have worn myself out with exhaustion which I didn’t want. So a little bit hungover the next day, I headed to the bus station to head on southwards.

Where I stayed: The Sunflower Hostel
Price: €17 per night in an 8 bed dorm
I booked this hostel through Airbnb as it was strangely cheaper on there than Hostelworld. Never hurts to compare guys! It was a cool hostel. Probably more of a party one though as my room mates were coming in at all hours from their various night time activities. There is a friendly bar on the bottom floor with some interesting decorations as per below photo. The breakfast is one of the best hostel ones I’ve ever had. Just simple but exactly what I craved with fresh baked rolls, yoghurt and muesli etc. The neighbourhood looks dodgy initially as there is graffiti absolutely everywhere, but that’s normal for that part of town and I felt safe walking around at night. The hostel itself is a mixture of groungy and modern. Just depends on the part your room is located. I felt happy enough staying there.

The reception/bar. There were stuffed toys on the ceiling among other decorations

Guten Tag Hamburg!

My flight from Dublin was far too early in the morning. Like way too early for any sane person to wake up.  It was nice watching the sunrise through the plane windows as my plane flew towards Northern Germany. But not so nice saying goodbye to my good Irish mate. I hate goodbyes.

Arriving in Hamburg, I settled into my hostel and had a chilled cheeky few hours catching up on this blog. You made have noticed I’m just a little bit behind on posts. I’m actually in New York City typing this at the moment about a month later in this trip. But don’t worry, you’ll catch up to me eventually. But I did enjoy a nice stroll and some really good Thai lemongrass soup later in the afternoon.

My neighbourhood

A cool little ‘beach’ bar area that I found next to the river

The main view over River Elbe

See the cranes and boats in the above photo? Hamburg is known for being the second largest port in Europe. There was a lot of activity happening in that shipping yard. It was interesting to sit and watch for a while. And then I kept walking until my feet hurt.

The next day, just to punish my feet a little more, I did a Sandmans walking tour and learned interesting things such as the fact that swans are protected in Hamburg. You aren’t allowed to hit them or even insult them. As a result the swans have a bit of a habit of grabbing food out of people’s hands. But there’s nothing you can do unless you fancy a hard punishment. We also walked past some lovely architecture and many many canals.

This building was impressively pointy

Lovely canal buildings

Yet another European love-lock bridge

The warehouse factory/millionaire apartment area

Overall I didn’t find Hamburg terribly memorable. It was muggy and overcast for most of my stay which isn’t terribly inspiring for my photography or mood I find. Plus I had had a few very tough goodbyes in the last couple of weeks so needed some time to process and mope. I also found that some of the attractions I was interested in were difficult to get into. One being the Dialogue in the Dark museum. This is one where you get to experience what it’s like to be blind. Sounded super interesting but the museum runs very few English tours each day which fill up quickly. I wasn’t able to do one to my frustration before my Hamburg time was up. But some parts were cool. I made a good friend at my hostel who I ended up meeting up with again later in my trip. And I discovered that good soup place. Win!

Where I stayed: Meininger Hamburg City Center
Price: €21 a night in an 8 bed dorm
Overall: More of a hotel than a hostel with the setup and clean modern-ness of it. Didn’t really have that friendly groungy hostel feel but was fine to stay in for a couple of nights.