Berlin (a whirlwind)

While millions made their way to Munich, Germany this weekend to celebrate Oktoberfest, I took the opportunity to travel inexpensively to Berlin.  And by inexpensively, I mean, really inexpensively.  My friend found us a bargain with a company called FlixBus, allowing us to travel from Copenhagen to Berlin for around $48 round-trip.  To minimize cost, we decided to take the overnight bus into Berlin on Friday night and then take the overnight bus home on Saturday, so we wouldn’t have to pay for lodging in Berlin. We anticipated that this would be truly exhausting, but we ultimately decided it was worth it to have seen another city. And so, at 11pm on Friday night, we boarded our overnight bus and began our whirlwind 33 hour journey to Berlin and back.

Even though we were interrupted around 1:00am to board a massive ferry (complete with duty-free shopping and a full dinner buffet), I was able to sleep surprisingly well on the FlixBus to Berlin.  We woke up as the sun was rising over the city, eager to begin our day of tourism.

Our first priority upon arrival Berlin was CAFFEINE.  For breakfast, stumbled upon a little hipster paradise called the Steel Vintage Bikes Café. We snuck into their bathroom to wash our faces and brush our teeth, and got some funny looks from our fellow diners. After this (very necessary) refresh, we enjoyed the most delicious coffee and breakfast in the quirky Berlin café.  This AMAZING croissant french toast was exactly what we needed after a long night on the bus.

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breakfast in Berlin

After finishing our breakfast, we walked around some of Berlin’s major tourist attractions–the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and the gorgeous Tiergarten.

Next, we walked to the German Spy Museum where we learned about the history of espionage. The museum had fascinating, interactive exhibits on everything from invisible ink to truth serum to Edward Snowden.   I particularly enjoying learning about how bees, dolphins, pigeons, and dogs have all been used in various spying capacities. We also learned that, at one point, they tried to train cats to gather intel, but their behavior was too unruly for them to be effective spies.

Upon recommendation of one of my professors at DIS, we then walked to the Ritter Sport Museum in Berlin.  The flagship Ritter Sport store is like one giant ode to chocolate, with a vibe similar to Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City.  At the shop, we got to make our very own chocolate bars.  Though it was surprisingly difficult to decide on a combo of ingredients for my chocolate bar, my personalized combination of coconut flakes, caramelized almonds, and rice crunch turned out to be delicious.

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Next, we began to make our way to the DDR Museum, stopping for lunch at a German restaurant on our way.  There, we enjoyed the classic currywurst sausage dish–the perfect way to recharge before our next museum destination.

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views from our walk around the city

The DDR Museum offers an immersive look at life in the former East Germany.  It was so interesting to walk through this exhibit and view the artifacts and replications of everyday life in the DDR.  In particular, I was fascinated by their temporary exhibition, “Love, Sex and Socialism.”  Here’s an official description of the exhibit from the DDR Museum wesbite:

“‘Love, sex & socialism’ shows the connection between highly private interpersonal relationships and the states’s expectations of love from its people. It highlights ideologic, social and economic relations in the DDR which influenced gender relationships, family planning and every day life. Furthermore, it makes the ruling party’s demand of love, devotion and eternal loyalty from the party members as well as all the people of the DDR a subject of discussion.”

I was glad to have received a refresher on the historical context of the East/West Berlin divide at the DDR Museum before I visited the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining remnant of the Berlin Wall.  This open-air gallery is 1316 meters long, and contains 105 different murals by various artists.  The East Side Gallery was incredibly powerful, and definitely the highlight of my trip to Berlin. Here are some of my favorite images from the day:

After enjoying a dinner by the river, we boarded our bus back home to Copenhagen. And even though I am totally worn out by this weekend’s activities, I am so glad that I experienced this chaotic whirlwind.

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