Berlin, Done That: The Sights

After what feels like a lifetime I finally made it to Berlin. JP tours for a living meaning he's there at least six times a year, but one slow Friday spontaneity took over and the next thing I knew I'd booked flights plus hotel via Expedia for less than £200 each for 5 days.

The Art'otel was a perfect location for exploring most of Berlin being opposite the U Bahn. Alexanderplatz is just two stops away (think Kings Cross) so we managed to see pretty much everything on the tourist checklist.

Side note - There aren't any barriers in train stations but do not risk it as there are travel police in plain clothing who will march you to a cash machine to withdraw the 60€ fine. Get the less than 40€ 7 day ticket for zones ABC and be thankful you did.

Monday - Alexanderplatz

Walking out of the station to the sight of a huge Primark, I got the jist of where I was. Towering over is the iconic Berliner Fernsehturm where you can go up to see the incredible Berlin skyline.

A short walk away is what I'd call a hipster's paradise. Vietnamese and coffee shops rule the streets, not to mention having a Monki and Vagabond next door to each other with probably the best Carhartt shop I've ever seen. Beautiful area and lots to do!

Tuesday - Friedrichshain

The East Side Gallery is one of the main attractions of Berlin. Once part of the infamous Berlin Wall, now stands an important part of European history. Sadly most of the artwork is fenced off now (pictured), but in fairness the unprotected parts had a lot of shit graffiti on top.

Urban Spree is almost an art collective. Within in minutes are skate parks, Cassiopeia (music venue), bars and bursts of colour everywhere, although on a Tuesday afternoon this site was almost abandoned adding to the overall feel.

Record Shop to visit - Bis Aufs Messer Records, best selection of vinyl I've seen. 

Wednesday - Pariser Platz

Every European city has it's most touristy area when it's realistically just a square with a landmark in the middle. Wednesday we had a very deserved lie in before taking a long walk through some of the oldest buildings in the area.

These included the Berlin Cathedral (pictured), Alte Nationalgalerie (early modernest art in a bloody lovely building), Neues Museum (Egyptian/Prehistoric museum),  Altes Museum (Roman and Greek museum), Pergamonmueum (Roman and Greek arts, as well as Babylon and Persian), Zehaus (European), Bode Museum (Sculptures) and of course the very famous Brandenburg Gate.

Something had happened and you couldn't get within 100ft of the Brandenburg Gate, but I found a foursome of bears along the way.

Thursday - Friedrichstraße

Another benefit of our hotel choice meant that the iconic Checkpoint Charlie was on our doorstep.

Even though the original booth had been taken away to a museum, it's mad how it really wasn't that long ago since it was in full use as a Berlin Wall crossing point. It's worth going to see as it's surrounded by so much history.

As well as the various plaques to read there's also the Mauermuseum with a bunch of cool stuff on the Berlin Wall, as well as BlackBox Kalter Krieg which is an exhibit on the cold war which might have been my favourite in the area. It has part of the wall to show tactics used to stop people climbing over, which doesn't seem that far off in the future since there are certain politicians out there who think walls are a great idea.  

Kreuzberg isn't that far away which includes the very expensive, but beautiful Voo Store and Coretex Records if you're after some punk records (basically Camden in a shop).

Friday - Hardenbergplatz

The only thing we did in this area is go to Berlin Zoo because it's absolutely massive and for 20€ you get both that and the aquarium. Our flights weren't till 10.30PM so not needing to be at the airport till at least 7.30PM meant we needed to waste the day.

Apart from one very sad looking rhino and a lonely polar bear, a lot of the animals seemed content with their open and spacious areas. Usually zoos make me feel a bit uneasy due to all the annoying kids who tap the glass, and there was a point when me and JP shouted at a family for letting a flash off within inches of a meerkats face, however Berlin Zoo seems to have made their animals happy.

My favourite part was the petting zoo where sheep expectingly come up to people for food. Boy where they disappointed with me.

Coming up next, eating and drinking in Berlin.