Week 12 & 13: April 7th – 8th
Berlin was my first stop in my 13-day adventure during the Easter Break. It was not even a place I really planned to visit for my trip, but I’m happy I visited the city. I spent my first day alone walking around the city and visiting all the major monuments around Berlin. It’s crazy and tedious to see how much Berlin highlights their darkest moment in history.
On this day, I visited the remains of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Charlie Check Point, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the history of Berlin by myself as I feel that you absorb more of the information and feel more emotions when you are alone.
Walking to through the Memorial of the dead Jews in Europe, the one feeling I felt throughout was the feeling of being lost. I was able to speak to a man that worked at the information centre nearby and we had a conversation about the memorial. I definitely learned a lot more about the piece afterwards. It was nice to interpret the piece with someone else and share your thoughts about it.
Things I learned: The architect of this memorial designed it so it was open to your own interpretation. The memorial was built in a way that there is no entrance or exit. You are free to walk through it any way you like. It is situated in the central part of the city, as it is a significant part of history that is to be remembered and has affected a huge part of the world and German history. The memorial is built with 2711 blocks and there is no significance or representation for this number. Some people interpret the number as the number of families that were killed. However, you cannot put a number of the people killed or affected by this tragedy. One block is 5 metres high and there are uneven grounds throughout the memorial. Seeing it from outside, there seems to be a lot of chaos. However, when you look at it from an aerial view, it is actually very linear. The linear look is similar to the concentration camps that Jewish people were put in. During the Holocaust, the Germans had a strong hatred for Jews and Judaism. In the religion, Jews are strongly against tattoos, being cremated, and believe in remembering the deceased. So the Germans decided to tattoo the Jews, numbering them and taking away their names so they cannot be remembered. Then, when they passed way, they were cremated. There is a cemetery in Prague for Jewish people, and the tombs are deliberately crooked. This is similar to the different heights of the blocks you see in the Memorial of the dead Jews in Europe. Overall, the memorial gave a sense of entrapment and loneliness, and I definitely felt this walking through and seeing the memorial for myself.
The next day, I grabbed breakfast with Morgan and Alice (my euroBUDZ). We went to a restaurant nearby our hostel name House of Small Wonders. It was a very earthy restaurant. The entrance to the restaurant was a spiral staircase full of life (plants). We grabbed brunch there and it was very tasty. I ordered two sandwiches with a side of soup and salad. One sandwich contained apple and brie and the other was avocado and feta. Although the sandwich was kind of small, it did fill me up.
Afterwards, we walked to the East Side Gallery to see the graffiti art. It was really cool to see the street art and try to interpret their meanings. Street art is very prominent in Berlin and it definitely livens up the city for me.
Although I did not have the opportunity to experience the nightlife in Berlin, I hear it is suppose to be one of the best in Europe, especially if you’re really into Electronic and House music. They have an exclusive club called Berghain, and it’s supposed to be one of the clubs that you should experience in your 20s/before you die. However, it is said to be very hard to get into, especially for tourists. It’s funny because some people go check this club out just to say they got rejected from it. They even have stands outside the club with t-shirts that says ‘I got rejected from Berghain’.
Overall, I learned a lot of Germany history from visiting Berlin but it was not my favourite city. The weather was very gloomy and cold when I was there, which is probably a normalized thing for people living there. I was also very surprised at how slow the city was in integrating new technologies in their services. For example, a lot of restaurant only accepted cash, and there are not a lot of free Wi-Fi areas in the city, even at Starbucks or McDonalds. It’s funny because Germany is supposed to be one of the most innovative and advanced countries in the world, but I did not really experience that. However, their transportation system is very efficient and easy to get around.
After my 2 days or so in Berlin, I was set to my next destination Prague. Read more about it in my blog post here
Thanks for reading,