The weekend before last, I had the opportunity to go on an ISA excursion to Berlin, Germany. We left Prague bright and early on Friday morning and were back in our cozy Czech beds by Saturday night – needless to say the trip absolutely flew by. It was about a 4 hour drive on our coach bus to Berlin and when we got there, we took a “bus tour” a.k.a. ISA drove us around the city and pointed out some major landmarks. Unfortunately, it was less than stellar since we were on a crowded bus and I didn’t have a window seat, but we did manage to hit some hot spots. Although, now all my Berlin pictures are either blurry or angled, so bare with me!
After our mini “bus tour”, ISA took us on a walking tour around the city, which was better for my motion sickness and picture taking abilities. Phew. One of our first stops was the Brandenburg Gate which is known for many things, but to Americans can mostly be associated with Kennedy’s presidential speech there in 1963 where he proclaimed, “Ich bin ein Berliner”. What he was going for was “I am a Berliner” – what he ended up saying was, “I am a donut”. Ain’t nothing wrong with that in my book! I love donuts.
I had heard and read over and over again that Berlin was a “hipster” city and it is super industrial, modern, full of graffiti and street art and the like. However, I definitely wasn’t expecting to see Storm Troopers walking the streets – I didn’t read anything about that in Rick Steves! It was awesome and it made my think of my (now) 6-year old nephew who is going through a Star Wars phase.
My favorite place in all of Berlin was probably the Berliner Dom or the Berlin Cathedral. I’ve fallen in love with the “old”-ness of Prague and it seemed the rest of Berlin (besides the cathedral) was modern and very city-like. It almost reminded me of Chicago in that sense. But Chicago is better – because it has Portillos and Gino’s East. But! One thing that stood out was this gorgeous, large, curved cathedral. I wish we had the chance to go inside because I bet it is just as, or even more beautiful than the outside.
Once our walking tour was complete, we had the remainder of the afternoon to do what we pleased and run around the city like crazy Americans. Naturally, we headed straight for the food and beverage stands and decided to try some Bubble Tea. It was the strangest thing I may have ever eaten/drank. It’s basically tea or a yogurt-y smoothie with different balls, or bubbles in the bottom. I opted for the strawberry smoothie thing with tapioca balls. It was like drinking watered down yogurt with gummy bears at the bottom. It was bizarre and tasted alright, but after about half the drink I started spitting out the bubbles. I just don’t think you should have to chew your juice, but maybe that’s just me. Fun to try, but never again.
That night we ran around the city with some people my roommates knew studying there and it was not the greatest experience. Mostly because no club or bar would let us in the door because we were American. So our night ended about as soon as it started. Note to self, make German friends before attempting the city at night. It ended up working out well though because we had to be up early to visit a museum with ISA.
After our trip to the museum, we only had a few short hours until it was time to load back up on the bus and head back to Prague. So, we walked and walked and walked the city from one end to another – literally. It was probably the most relaxing part of the trip just walking down the streets, seeing the trees changing color and just enjoying being in Germany.
I do wish that we had more time to see the city because I have heard great things, but my experience was mediocre. I didn’t run into any of the hipster things or street art that everyone had been talking about and I left feeling a little bit disappointed. However, my sister went there just a few days ago, so I can’t wait to hear how her trip went. Hopefully she had a more “hip” experience (ba dum chhhh).