After Amsterdam, we made our way to Berlin, Germany. We had booked our next living quarters at Berlin Plus hostel and it was by far the best hostel we stayed in for the duration of our trip. The hostel was huge! It had an indoor swimming pool with sauna, a big game room filled with pool, ping pong and foosball tables plus couches to hang out on, an out door court yard and its’ own restaurant and bar (which can hold at least 100 people.) It was amazing, I can’t recommend this place enough and the best part was that it was only 35 euros per night. It was located right next to the train station which could take you all over the city and near by was the best Thai food restaurant I have ever eaten at – Lemongrass. I’m not kidding, I must have eaten there about five times in the 3 days that we stayed.
The city of Berlin was not at all what I was expecting. For one thing, it is a huge city, much bigger than I thought I was going to be. I also was expecting all the buildings to have that old European feel to it, but no. Berlin is a relatively new city. During the World War II the city was basically leveled to the ground due to all the bombings, and from these ashes came growth for a new city.
On the first night of our stay, we decided to do the Berlin Plus pub crawl. We started at the hostel and had a tour guide lead us to ten different pubs each with a different theme. All of the people in our group were from the hostel so it was a great way to meet some of the people staying at Berlin Plus. Our guides were really awesome and a lot of fun! They kept us together without making us feel like herded sheep. Giving us warnings and tips about the best way to enjoy our pub crawl. In the end my travel partner and I were only able to go to seven of the ten pubs because we were so tired and kinda drunk. So we ended up taking a walk back to the hostel a little early.
The next day Katie, myself and two English guys Tom and Alex, who were also our roommates, decided to go to a Berlin football match. It was at the Olympic Stadium and it was an experience like I had never had before. To begin with, they don’t serve or allow any alcohol in the stadium which was kind of a surprise to me. Mostly because whenever I go to a baseball or basketball game, beer and garlic fries are the best things to enjoy while cheering on our team. The crowd was an impressive sea of white and blue colors; it seemed like no one, except for our small party, was wearing casual clothes. And during the entire game, the fans were chanting in unison from beginning to end. They were uniformed and unified in their team spirit. Unfortunately, they lost to the other team (I can’t remember who they played) but the final score was 3-0. I was a bad loss, but we had a great time.
Take a Walking Tour
We ended up hanging out with Tom and Alex a lot. They were really funny in their British mannerisms and language so since we got along so well we went out for beers every night and found fun things to do for free: like the walking tour of Berlin. This was a great walking tour! We had a great tour guide who told us a lot about the city. We went from where Michael Jackson hung his new born baby out of the window of a hotel, to the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, Humboldt University. I was surprised to learn Humboldt Universty was where people such as the Grimm brothers received their education.
We even saw the location of Hitler’s bunker where he hid from the invading soldiers and where he committed suicide. It was a great walking tour filled with so much information about the city’s past and present. Since I have always been fascinated by World War II, I was really enjoying all of the details of the city and the event that took place.
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
On the third day, Katie and I went to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp which was a captivating and haunting experience. As we walked into the camp, the words “Work will set you Free” was welded into the entrance gate. Our guide took us from the bathing houses to sleeping bunks, we saw where the prisoners were lined up every morning for the daily count off, and where they were taken for execution via firing squad. Our guide then took us to the medical building where some of the prisoners were treated and sometimes killed. The guide explained how the doctors would stand the prisoners against the wall for measuring and without the patient realizing the small hole in the wall where their head was placed a pistol would be pointed at their head and fired. The doctors never wanted to touch these prisoners so they would have other prison workers drag the body into the next room where the ovens would turn the bodies to ash.
If that didn’t give you nightmares there was a second building for scientific experiments. The rooms in this building were white tiled tables where the prisoners were lobotomized. On the floor were drains where they could hose the floors clean after the bodies were disposed of. Our guide told us a story of one doctor who had a fascination with tattoos. Whenever a person with a tattoo came into the camp they were sent to this doctor and he would collect the tattoo from these victims.
It was a crazy experience to be on this hallowed ground where thousands of souls passed through and never came out. While it wasn’t a happy day, it was amazing to witness the actual place where people were taken to and forced to work until their untimely death. It’s hard to believe that these things really occurred but seeing it with my own eyes I couldn’t help but imagine what life was like for the people who passed through the gate as recently as 70 years ago! While we mourn for those lost lives it’s important to remember as humans we must see that while we are capable of great evil, but we are equally capable of great good. As you get to know the city and meet the people you slowly understand that they still remember the past but are constantly moving toward a better future.
My time spent in Berlin was something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. There is so much history everywhere you look. There is so much to learn and see because of its past and the vast size of the city. I am sure someone could live there their whole lives and not see everything there is to see. I highly recommend see this city and explore its amazing past that still lingers amongst its people.