Tom Beaton

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Lucy and Tom go to Berlin

To celebrate Lucy’s student loan and to take a break from the hectic winter sales time at work we decided to go on holiday! The first stop would be to visit some friends and see the sights of Berlin! Berlin has become pretty trendy since the wall came down, especially amongst artists. It is famous for techno and in the east site at least, being a very affordable place to live and go out to eat.

Easyjet whilst always disappointing does always seem to offer the best priced flights. I think with sub 2 hour flights it is worth dealing with. Before we knew it we were there, being met at the airport and getting on a train to head back to where we were staying just off Frankfurter Allee. The first impression is definitely the abundance of graffiti. Luckily i am a big fan of grafitti/street art. Lots of punks too – I dont think it matters how you look in Berlin. You could wear anything and no one will look twice.

Our first full day in Berlin was spent wandering and seeing some of the sights. It was still pretty cold so the cafe culture and outdoor chilling was the city is famous for in the warmer months was not really happening. We did a good few miles and the highlights were definitely the East Side Gallery and the Schnitzel bar we had lunch at. That night I caught my first glance of a Romanesco broccoli or Roman cauliflower. It is a mad looking thing and later that night after some cocktails etc I tried to draw it.

The next day we wanted to get a bit further afield so after an epic breakfast we hired bikes. Our first mission was to head to Templehoff. This is a former airport now turned into a massive public park. I knew of the spot as it is the local kiteboarding spot and there had been an event there last year – however I did not manage to attend. It was good to see the site myself and watch people having a light wind session. The airport is famous as it was used by the US and other western nations during the cold war to fly in supplies for West Berlin.

Moving away from Templehoff and heading into Kreuzberg, which is a big turkish area. We had a pretty epic ping pong session there on a public table whilst a protest of some sort swooped past us. Then we moved back up towards the river to the turkish market. There was some bargains to be had here. One fruit stall offered us 90 punnets of strawberries for 100 euros. What we were meant to do with 90 punnets of strawberries I dont know. Instead we took 2 for 3 euros. Still a bargain considering it is typically easily £3 for one here.

Day three was our last full day. We took the morning easy cycling into town, having a look at a couple of parks, and having lunch in a cafe. We were a bit saddle sore given we dont cycle often and those rental saddles were savage. It was good to rest though as that afternoon we were going on the walking tour of east Berlin. Walking tours are exactly what they sound like they are. It is pretty interesting though as they are completely free, and last for 3-4 hours, then at the end your expected to make a donation based on what you think the tour was worth. It is easily worth 10-15 euros each too!

The walking tour is something I would recommend 100%. The guides are cool and know their stuff. I am sure if you got the same one twice he would tell the same jokes but then that is no surprise. You get a tonne of info on the older buildings, such as the museums and libraries, as well as more modern stuff. They have a lot of funny little stories about various buildings and landmarks too. Berlin has a lot of history however you cant help but focus on fairly recent stuff given it was the centre of Nazi Germany, and then one of the major battle grounds of the cold war. A lot of this is very evident in the buildings. They had to do a whole lot of rebuilding after WWII. The city has other quirks such as the numbering of the public trees.

I would like to go back to Berlin in summer. I reckon we would see a different, more fun and vibrant side to the city.

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