Ain't No Party Like An S-Bahn Party
So you're finally going to Berlin.
Most likely your check-list includes getting past the infamous doormen at super-club, Berghain, drinking an inordinate amount of German beer, and visiting a few WWII sights and memorials.
While these are all worthwhile, Berlin has 1001 more activities to keep you interested and smiling. In my opinion, the best way to find some, is by getting lost. And trust me, it's easy to do.
After about my fourth attempt at locating a recommended hot spot one Friday night, a Berliner advised me to "blame Napoleon" for my difficulties. Apparantly the emperor thought it made sense to number buildings in opposite directions on each side of the street... I'm still trying to figure that one out.
While it was mildly frustrating and greatly befuddling managing to get lost nearly every day, a witty new friend and ample songs on my iPod made my never-ending journeys on the S-Bahn (Berlin's metro train) an unexpected delight. Even when we found ourselves on the opposite side of town to where we had originally set our compasses, there were giggles to be had and always German pastries and ice cream close by for a consolation prize.
However, in between getting lost, there are certainly some places well worth successfully navigating to.
Here are a few items that should definitely make it onto your Berlin check-list.
- The Berlin Wall. This one may seem incredibly obvious but too many tourists overlook the various ways in which you can learn about, honour, and appreciate this vastly important part of our history. Head to the East Side Gallery and admire the longest remaining section of the wall and the 101 images that have transformed it's once gray facade into a now inspired picture of hope and healing.
- Have a pilsener in the park. One of my must-dos in any new city is finding a park to spend a relaxing afternoon in. Turns out Berliners like to do the same. On a sunny summer day, park lawns are where you can find them enjoying a cold brew. Don't even try showing up without a bottle of suds in hand. Seriously. Do as the locals do. Always.
- Take a free walking tour. With a knowledgeable and engaging guide at your side, your chances of getting lost are next to impossible. These educated folks will give you wonderful insight into the history that's imbedded into this now re-imagined metropolis.
- Schnitzle, spatzle and sausage. Get ready to pop your pants button people - Germany is home to some of the most drool-worthy dishes in Europe. Indulge in warm apfelstrudel drizzled with creamy vanilla sauce after you devour a rich, savoury plate of sauerbraten. Worth every calorie, I assure you.
- Pay your respects to the lost generations at The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold arranged 2,711 slabs on a sloping field to create an "uneasy, confusing atmosphere" in which to honour Jewish holocaust victims. It's striking, cold, humbling, and heartbreaking - a place to mourn and remember.
- Party. Hard. If there's any city in Europe worthy of your bad behavior, it's the home of the hedonists. With a bar or nightclub fit for every whim and desire, you'll certainly have no trouble finding a spot to let loose. Start Friday night and be prepared to not let up until Sunday evening. No joke. Be sure to purchase your travel insurance before this trip. You're not in Kansas anymore. ('A Pilot's Daughter' always recommends you indulge responsibly. Safety first people. X)
Click the photo below to see some more shots from my weekend in Berlin.