What does one do with an unexpected three-day weekend? Check Skyscanner for cheap getaways. Unfortunately, my husband was stuck on duty for this one, but I was grateful to have a lovely weekend to myself to explore a new city.
The weather was unbelievably perfect the whole time I was there. My first evening was simply spent watching the sun set at Brandenburg Gate with a beer and some currywurst. After all, I needed to fuel up for my walking tour the following day.
The tour began at Brandenburg Gate, where we learned about the Prussian period of the city. Shortly afterward, we moved forward in both time and distance at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The monument is made up of about 2,700 cement blocks, each made with different dimensions (perhaps intended to symbolize the unique beauty of each individual that was killed). The monument is beautiful and interesting, but also very sobering. Berlin does not have an uplifting history.
I was also fascinated by Berlin’s Soviet history; though admittedly very dark, it was interesting to hear about how people managed to escape into West Berlin, how unceremoniously the wall came down, and how the divide impacted the city in terms of culture and architecture. Honestly, I can’t recommend SANDEMAN’S tours enough.
After my walking tour, I decided to explore a bit more of the city on my own. I headed for the East Side Gallery, a strip of the former Berlin Wall that is covered in artwork, followed by a journey through the lively Kreuzberg neighborhood.
Something that struck me about Berlin is how many green spaces can be found in the middle of the city. There were picnics happening EVERYWHERE and it was amazing. If I had had more time, I would have run to a supermarket and joined in on the fun.
If I had to sum up Berlin in just a few words, I would call it a city in transition. It has a varied and tumultuous history, though it is now one of the most progressive cities in the world. It has changed very fast in a short amount of time. I think my tour guide said it best when he said “Berlin is always in the process of becoming Berlin.” It was a city unlike any other I’ve been to. While it has a pretty dark past, it also has a very promising future.