After partying it up in Amsterdam over New Years, Messy and I continued our travels to Berlin. At first, I found Berlin to be a little harsh and chilling. This was partly due to the to the bleak winter weather, but also the abruptness of the cities architecture. It was very jarring, especially in comparison to the gezelligheid of Amsterdam. (Gezelligheid is a Dutch word that encompasses the feeling of a cozy and friendly atmosphere). But now I look back and revere Berlin.
My most distinct memory of Berlin was the eclectic mixture of architecture. There were many different styles of buildings, and they were all shoved on top of each other. This meant that the city had a very different feel from what I’m used to, there was so much going on. There were these impressive modern buildings, so it felt like a business city.
When Messy and I first arrived in Berlin we were met with awe. Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station) left me speechless. I had never seen such a humongous and extensive train system. There were never ending platforms above and below us, everywhere we looked lead to more trains. You’d look over the edge of a platform and you’d see a labyrinth of more platforms set out beneath you. I ended up seeing a number of central stations through Europe, but none of them compared to the set up of Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof.
On top of this modern feeling, Berlin had the normal historical sites of any European city. You could find the old historical buildings, churches and palaces, which gave Berlin that quintessential European charm. In the picture below it’s the Oberbaumbrücke, a double decker bridge.
But then shoved among the modern and old were these old houses that were still in a state of disrepair. You could see where the buildings had been bombed and ruined. It felt like you could see the scars of the city.
At times this could be a little chilling. However, I quite liked that the buildings were kept the way they were. It showed the history of the place which gave Berlin a certain rawness. I saw buildings with bullet holes in them that still haven’t been covered up.
Then, littered through the city you could see parts of the Berlin Wall. Sometimes the Wall was left bare, others like the East Side Gallery were covered in art.
I believe it was the history that made me feel a chill towards Berlin at first. Prior to here, I hadn’t been to any places that were obviously touched by war. It surprised me by how much I was confronted by seeing the Berlin Wall. It was surprising how thin it was. We spent some time at the Berlin Wall Memorial to better understand the Cold War, so I found it to be one of the more affecting and haunting time of the overall trip.
All of these different styles through out the city made Berlin a really unique place. It felt like you could walk through Berlin for years and still find something you never noticed before. I think that’s what I most respect about Berlin, it is rich historically, but has lots of cool underground things going on.
Messy and I did not spend much time in Berlin yet we still found some amazing places. We found a coffee shop that was serving a delicious German breakfast. They bought out platters of meats, cheeses, fruits, breads, jams and spreads for us to share. I love sharing food, and German breakfasts, so the combination made me a very happy Jacqui. It was delicious. I’m also quite a fan of outdoor markets we were lucky enough to go to the Flohmarkt am Mauerparkt. We spent a morning perusing the stores and sipping at Gluhwein to keep us warm.
The city had a very distinct feeling, one that I had never experienced before, and have yet to experience again. I’m very excited to return to Berlin and see what more this city has to offer.