Recently, we had the opportunity to go to Berlin for a few days. Cheap flights, a friend’s place to stay at, one of our favorite artists playing a show… it took about 5 seconds for Bobby to twist my arm. And if you read my posts from last Christmas in Munich and Salzburg, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Germany and will do anything to see more!
My friends… this is Berlin.
First impression: Berlin is old, modern, vibrant, artistic, bruised, beautiful, rebuilt, rebuilt, and rebuilt again. Berlin is resilient and you can feel it in the architecture, the people, the art, the quality of life. There is a profound history that, when illuminated by modern culture, reveals a rich narrative for this place. If you come to Berlin, you need to care about this or you will miss 99% of what Berlin is (I totally made up that percentage, but I hope you know what I mean). 🙂
First off, I need to say that we stayed with some friends in Berlin (Spencer and Jamie) and they were the most incredible hosts we could have had! Besides letting us stay in their spare room and cooking us amazing meals, Jamie gave us a 3-day bike tour complete with seeing the must-see landmarks of Berlin, a wealth of historical facts, visits to some of her local favorites and great photo ops. It’s a bike-friendly, bike helmet-free society, so we rolled with it! The captions of the photos will explain more about what we saw (in no particular order).
Konzerthaus Berlin located in Gendarmenmarkt square, damaged in war, now a beautiful place for locals and visitors to enjoy live concerts and coffee in one of the many open air cafes in the square.
Had morning coffee with Andy, an old friend who lives in Berlin!
A part of the Berlin Wall in an outdoor exhibit at Checkpoint Charlie
What remains of the SS Headquarters is the brick background behind this beautiful outdoor exhibit, a timeline of WW1, WW2, and through the end of the Cold War.
Hitler killed himself here in a bunker underground. In an effort to not, memorialize him, they covered it up and turned it into a parking lot.
The Victory Column (located in the Tiergarten), build well before the WW1 to commemorate the Prussian victory. It managed to survive WW1, WW2 + Cold War with few repairs here and there. (Don’t be fooled by my relaxed vibes on that bike, I was a bit nervous the first day on the bike- I don’t think I’ve ever biked through an urban setting before- HA!)
Stopped at this adorable outdoor cafe in the Tiergarten to have lunch. My smoothie was amazing!
This cafe in the Tiergarten had beautiful interior decorating… and hilarious art.
Is this art for sale?
Kaiser Wilhelm “Memorial Church”, was damaged in a bombing raid in 1943.
Another side: this church was left this way to memorialize what Berlin had been through.
We stopped at the Monkey Bar (a bar on the top floor of a tall building) for some coffee, tea, and a dessert to share.
This is called the Monkey Bar because it overlooks the Monkeys at the Berlin Zoo! (We could see chimps, gorillas and orangutans from where we were sitting!
The other side of the Monkey Bar had a beautiful view of the city as well as and aerial view of Memorial Church
Taking a break.
This is what Bobby was doing when we were at the Monkey Bar. An absolute must for visiting Berlin!
Brandenburg Gate (18th Century), one of Berlin’s most loved landmarks
We almost crashed into horses while trying to pull off this bike-selfie with Brandenburg Gate in the background. 🙂
Spencer, Bobby, me and Jamie behind the camera – having an iced coffee break on a sunny day!
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral): Looked online to find when it was built, not surprised to see that it was actually built 4 times. “1451 (first building) ca. 1345 (2nd bldg) 1750 (3rd bldg) 1905 (4th bldg) 1993 reinaugurated after removal of war destructions” (Wikipedia)
Last but certainly not least, we got to the visit Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Church in Berlin. His strong resistance against the Nazi’s had him (and others) hung. In the short life he lived, he left an incredible amount of writings and letters that have been well loved and respected for many decades. I could write a whole post about this man!
In terms of museums, I could have gone to them all! But seeing the Holocaust Memorial was an absolute must. There are two parts to this museum: the outdoor memorial, a lot of towering beams that can be explored and interpreted as you wish, and the underneath informational exhibit and the names of over 3 million Jewish victims. It’s hard for me to explain how meaningful this exhibit was. But I’ll say this, they did a brilliant job of capturing the humanity of individual stories, yet the weight of the impact this made on the entirety of the Jewish culture. Click on the photos to read more.
It was a beautiful day. These pillars start low, and you don’t realize how tall they get until you walk through them.
This holocaust survivor spoke at the inauguration of the museum. She is pictured here with the man that rescued her!
Faces of victims.
We had such a good variety of experiences on this trip! The original purpose (or excuse) for coming to Berlin was to see one of our favorite artists (Teitur, he’s a singer-songwriter from the Faroe Islands) play at show! It was incredible!!! On our last night, we got to see Spencer play hockey (Eisbären Berlin). We got to the venue a bit early so we could see the East Side Gallery (the part of the Berlin wall that is used for modern art, current events photography exhibits). Enjoy!
Teitur paying some crowd favorites!
Playing with a band and quartet- so beautiful. Absolutely loved this venue but failed to take pictures of it.
Art on the east side gallery.
Eisbärens getting ready to play and win a game
One last picture of the Berlin Cathedral, courtesy of Bobby (instagram)
Tip for travelers: if you catch the flight sales in the summer for travel in autumn, you can find some incredible deals… like £16 for a flight from UK to EU cheap! We live right by the airport in Aberdeen, so for us, transportation costs to Europe can be the same as paying for petrol to spend the weekend in Edinburgh (only 3 hours away)! It’s not always that way, so sign up for sale alerts!