My trip to Berlin did not start as expected.
I was in Germany. My toothbrush was still in Poland. First task in Berling: go shopping. It did mean I kept walking, and walking, and walking… seeing parts of the city I didn’t expect to see.
It took me a couple of days to take to Berlin. Everywhere it was tours. Walking tours. Segway tours. Rollerblading tours. Bus tours. I’m a tourist but when I’m surrounded by nothing but tourists and their touristy ways I find it frustrating. I quietly cursed them all as I stood in a queue of fellow non-German people to order an overpriced currywurst at a stand near the Brandenburg Gate. Incidentally, I ordered it in (“perfect”) German but the lady serving asked me to repeat in English. Confidence well and truly knocked.
Berlin is massive and certainly doesn’t need me to say too much about it. It isn’t the most walk-able place, purely because of its size (and I say that as someone who walks pretty much everywhere) but it is well served by other means. In a touristy sense, certain aspects of Berlin follow the New York “Times Square” style of pointlessness. Checkpoint Charlie, for example, is an utter waste of time and a tourist trap preying on historical significance. However, other areas, despite some being rammed, are certainly “must sees” – Museum Island, Victory Column and the park at Tiergarten, the poignant Neue Wache. Above all of these, the Museum of Terror was an incredibly insightful visit focussing on an era that cannot be forgotten.
My visit coincided with the Festival of Lights, which made for some interesting changes to landmarks after sunset and a nice atmosphere around much of the busier parts of the city centre.