Berlin – the other love

Written by on June 11, 2010 in Blog, Europe, Germany, Reviews, Travel - 6 Comments

I may love Madrid, but Berlin … man, it comes in a close second.


It may have been really cold … and windy … and rainy in Berlin, but after escaping Borris‘, I was hit smack in the face with all of its awesomeness.

First, it was Hostel Aloha. It didn’t even bother me I had to climb countless flights of stairs each time (it’s all about building endurance, right?). The hostel was awesome. The people there were awesome. The breakfast was … you guessed it … awesome. (I’m talking fresh bread, Nutella, bananas, PEANUT BUTTER!!!!)

Then, it was the New Europe free tours. I took the East Berlin tour with Paul (an Israeli I had met in Prague) my first day in the city and it was fascinating. I am not one for countless churches or museums, but the minute you start talking about World War II and Hitler, I get really into it. At one point, we stood where Hitler’s bunker was, the place where he killed himself. Now, it is a parking lot surrounded by some nicer Communist apartment buildings. (Quite fitting cars now park where Hitler took his last breath, if you ask me.)

Later on the tour, we stood where a vicious gun battle had broken out once Communism had taken hold. I looked from a mural depicting everyone smiling because of living a Communist lifestyle to the reality — columns and walls riddled with bullet holes only recently covered up. And then, the Wall. Well, the remnants. And then … Checkpoint Charlie. Reconstructed, but still Checkpoint Charlie.

The next day, I fell deeper in love with the city. Armed with my 48-hour train pass and my iPod, I took the Sbahn to the Zoo (home of Knut, the once adorable baby polar bear who morphed into a moody grownup) and walked back to Alexanderplaz. A hefty walk. But, beautiful. The sun  had come out for the day (!!!) and the weather was mild, so walking through Tiergarten was perfect.

That evening, Berlin got even better with Chris (@TheAussieNomad) arriving from Amsterdam and joining me for a pub crawl. The pub crawl, not so great, but Chris’ company was.

The next morning, he checked into Aloha and we headed to another walking tour — this time of the colorful graffiti and squatter haunts of Berlin. Even in the pouring rain and cold, it was fascinating. We walked around “beach” bars, went to a warehouse riddled with colorful graffiti and artists’ studios, and learned about the sub-culture that makes Berlin really interesting and different from … oh, most places.

We even went to an indoor skate park near an old train depot that was bombed during the war.

And then, there was Chris’ and my search for the perfect kebab. We found it at Mustafa’s. A delicious combo of chicken, fried veggies and potatoes topped with spicy goodness. Loved it.

Even that night, just making pasta and hanging out with everyone in the hostel was a good time.

Sadly, the only day with sun was my first real day in the city. It was hard for me to leave — I wanted to experience more of the sub-culture of Berlin — the graffiti laden beach bars, the markets — but the sun never came out enough to make it possible.

My first day in the city, I had met two Aussies who were planning to be there for a week.

“That’s a long time,” I had said.

“This city is absolutely amazing,” they replied.

At the time, I hadn’t felt it. But, by the time my train to Amsterdam was pulling up at the station, I knew precisely what they meant.

Berlin, I will be back. Promise.

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Spain. Previously, she lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked for Save Elephant Foundation and Elephant Nature Park, an organization dedicated to rescuing elephants and raising awareness about responsible elephant tourism. A former career breaker and long term solo traveler,  today, Diana is a responsible elephant tourism expert and is the co-founder of #RTTC, the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, which includes a weekly chat on Twitter focusing on responsible tourism. She has spoken about responsible tourism at TBEX and has appeared as an elephant tourism expert in numerous documentaries. Recently, Diana was featured in an episode of House Hunters International. She is a regular contributor to Top 10 Vegas, and her writing has appeared in, Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Luna Luna, Vegas Seven, World Nomads, Viator, CheapOair, OneTravel and more.

6 Comments on " Berlin – the other love "

  1. Chris - The Aussie Nomad June 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm · Reply

    Ah the fun we had D. Berlin was indeed awesome and I will be back to stay at Hostel Aloha and to see more of this city that even while raining managed to entice me with its charm.

    Just make sure your there too, Berlin wouldn’t be the same without you.

  2. Chris - The Aussie Nomad June 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm · Reply

    Ah the fun we had D. Berlin was indeed awesome and I will be back to stay at Hostel Aloha and to see more of this city that even while raining managed to entice me with its charm.

    Just make sure your there too, Berlin wouldn’t be the same without you.

  3. Adam July 14, 2011 at 5:41 am · Reply

    Wow! I’ve pretty much just had the same experience. Arrived here when it was cold and rainy despite it being JULY, and now I’m so in love with the city…I’ve just taken a one-month apartment here! Can’t wait to see more of this city.

    And you’re right. I loved Madrid, but it seems Berlin surpassed it for me by just a little bit.

    • The Adventures of D July 19, 2011 at 1:35 am · Reply

      Yay!! Did you do the free “underground” Berlin tour yet? If not, do it. That city … I just want to go back and wander for days. Such amazing neighborhoods and life! Plus, I love how environmentally aware they are.

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