Germany was the first stop on our two week excursion and honestly, we couldn’t have stayed in a better city. I loved every moment of it. Basically all of our time in Berlin was spent walking all over the city while we checked out different historical sites. We didn’t have a chance to look up some of these sites and buildings until we were either back at our hotel room or actually back home after the trip. One of my favorite buildings we passed on that first day was covered in graffiti and posters and honestly just caught my eye and I couldn’t stop staring. On the side of it, in giant letters, it simply said:
HOW LONG IS NOW
It wasn’t exactly posed as a question but didn’t necessarily seem like an existential sigh either. Once we were home a few of us looked it up and it it is called the Tacheles building. Apparently it used to be a large shopping complex and then switched hands pretty rapidly for a few years. The Nazis used it as a central office for the SS and was abandoned after the war. Now it is covered in graffiti and while it is still in ruins and locked up, it is a pretty awesome building to check out. My only wish is that we were able to look at the inside of it too.
The longer we were in Berlin, the more in love with it I became. Almost unnerving at first, the quiet even in the streets was a welcome change. This was a city that had so much activity happening around us, and yet the sound of life wasn’t overwhelming like cities like New York and even Indianapolis can be. Instead there is a hum of activity constantly around you, something that pulls you outside and makes you want to explore. Even though our first day was mainly spent just walking a solid 10 miles on what seemed like the the same two roads back and forth, it was a pretty neat experience.
I could really use recommendations on what to do the next time I travel to Berlin though because we were only there for three full days and there is more to the city than what we were able to see.
One thing that I absolutely loved in Berlin was the public transportation. We took just about every time of public transit while we were there: trams, the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses, and taxis. Even with the obvious language barrier because only a few of us knew enough German to be dangerous we all had no problem getting around during our afternoons and evenings that we had free to go off on our own (except actually in small groups because no one travels alone).
There was only one incident where a friend and I got on the wrong tram and ended up going about twenty minutes in the opposite direction of our intended destination. At the stop we ended up getting off at we saw this store front that just had “Who Killed Bambi?” written on it. In our slightly anxious state (because we had no idea where we were) it seemed almost ominous. We got in the first taxi we saw and drove away. It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel lobby that we realized that the “Who Killed Bambi?” storefront wasn’t graffiti but instead was an actual clothing store. Other than the moment we realized we may have gotten into a vehicle that we weren’t sure if it was an actual taxi or not (spoiler, it really was a taxi) the time we spent on Berlin’s trains, trams and other transportation vehicles was seamless. We were grateful for that because traveling with a group of 16 isn’t always the easiest to manipulate.