I arrived to a very cold and rainy Berlin, but a very warm group of new friends and one old one. My friend Dan was also doing some long term travel in Europe and we met up to start our respective trips together.
Immediately upon checking into our hostel in Kreuzberg we made a friend. Chanel, a college professor from New Jersey (who finished her Phd just after this trip, woo!) was in our same room and we instantly all hit it off. She is a frequent solo traveler who has an incredible ability to take in all the advantages of the places she visits. We set out sightseeing together the next morning amidst precipitation that couldn't decide if it wanted to be rain or snow.
It happened to be snow when we wandered through the moving Holocaust Memorial. The stone slabs that appear so unassuming from the outside, slowly grow taller and taller as you make your way through them. They swallow you up, cut you off from the city and easily make you loose your companions in their maze. It was an impressive memorial, and a very effective thought-provoker.
In what was now rain, we visited the East Side Gallery, the longest stretch of of the Berlin Wall still intact, which is an incredible collection of street art. I will have a whole post just on the street art from Berlin, so more on that later.
The next day Chanel left Berlin, but we have stayed in touch. Dan and I got to spend time with his friend from college Gabriel and her German boyfriend Tim. We stayed at their beautiful apartment in Mitte, on a street that used to have the Wall going right down it. They took us out for some delicious German food where I got pork, red cabbage and this wonderful breadcrumb ball. We had a lovely breakfast spread with them on Sunday morning, with rolls, cheeses, meats, and tomatoes. Apart from the excellent German food, Tim who is an great cook, made us lasagna one night, and we went out for Chinese dumplings another.
The few days we stayed with Gabriel and Tim were spent wandering the city. We visited the Pergamon Museum, and saw the Ishtar Gate. We went to an exhibit of Pete Souza, the official White House photographer for Obama, which felt a little funny to go to Germany to see photos of an American President, but it was so worth it. We went by Checkpoint Charlie where my grandparents, like so many other American tourists, had crossed between the West and the East. But mostly we just took in the city. Thoroughly covering it by foot and by the U-ban. I loved taking in all the interesting details and small moments. I also for some reason could not get enough of the TV tower and took an exorbitant amount of pictures of it.
Even with the wet and cold weather I totally enjoyed Berlin and was happy to have it kick off my new experiences on the trip.
kaitlin k walsh
Adventurer armed with a camera.