Friday, June 12, 2015

Berlin: Ich bin hier!

What does the title say? I don't know, but according to google translate, it means "I'm here"!  This is technically my 2nd night here, but...details.

So typically, I do a ton of research before I go anywhere, but clearly didn't happen here.  I am literally in Berlin because my friend Drew went, "You should go to Berlin." So I did.  After I landed at the airport, I think I just froze there for a couple minutes.

What It's All About:
Bikes, foreigners, history, artsy things. It's such a cool city; it's the kind of place that gives off kind of a Brooklyn-y vibe but in a more metropolis sort of way. I was worried about not being able to speak a word of German (self-assessed literacy level = tragic), but people here speak English better than I do. Everyone rides bikes. The food is delicious. There's a huge expat community. And the history is fascinating.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Last night, I arrived to my hostel around dinnertime (after navigating the public transport system, which is super amazing/easy to use/convenient, except that German is really hard to read and why are the words so long with so many consonants?). One of my new roommates invited me to dinner with him and another guy at a burrito place down the road. It was amazing, especially because I asked for guacamole and my bowl was like 90% guac, 10% everything else. Suck on that, Chipotle and your stingy guac portions.
  • After dinner, my friend Kate had put me in touch with her friend Ella, who (who? whom? What is this rule?) she had met in Cambodia years ago, is from Australia, but recently moved to Berlin with her bf.  Anyhoo, Ella and her boyfriend Ben met me at my hostel, then we walked to this adorable biergarten nearby called Prater Garden for some beers. It was seriously the most beautiful night, and such a great atmosphere with tons of happy beer-drinking Germans. And probably foreigners. Ella and Ben were both so great, and I loved getting to hang with them.
Thank you for indulging me in this terrible quality photo, Ella and Ben

Um how cute are you, outdoor hanging lights

  • This morning, I slept in, then trekked over to West Berlin to meet up with another friend-of-a-friend for lunch (Berlin is so awesome that a ton of people move here??). Pat took me to a secret biergarten near his work that's in the park - you walk a ways into the park near the zoo, then boom! There's a biergarten right next to a river.  He was also great. Friends-of-friends are my new favorite.

Thanks to Pat for indulging me in a not-as-terrible-quality photo

  • I went to go see the East Side Gallery, which is a long section of the Berlin Wall where famous artists have painted murals and paintings. There's been a lot of graffiti and vandalism over time, but they've managed to restore a lot of it. 
Berlin Wall + art

I only took a photo with this one because it's the most famous

  • I then went to the Topography of Terror, this awesome open-air museum about the history of the Nazi regime, located on the former site of the SS/Gestapo headquarters. Above the museum is also a restored portion of the Berlin Wall. 

Topographie des Terrors

The Berlin Wall had bars going through it

Fun Facts of the Day:
  • Everyone here rides bikes. Bikes are literally everywhere. And don't stand in the bike lane, because they will run you over and kill you, and it will be purposeful
  • I had a bratwurst for lunch today and a currywurst for dinner because I am a champion. The hostel had recommended "the best currywurst" at this place nearby, and even though I didn't know what currywurst was, I just heard "the best" and wanted it. There was also a long line; double proof. As far as I can tell, currywurst is a brat with ketchup and curry powder, though I also sacreligiously dunked mine in mayo.

  • So, so many international people here. Just riding the train or wandering the streets, you will hear so many different languages. There seem to be a ton of Brits and Americans as well. I don't think I could feel out of place if I tried

The Hostel:
EastSeven Berlin Hostel - granted, my first hostel experience, but it seems great and the lounge room is great (I've met the most interesting people!). The hostel is close to the subway (location win!), the front desk is incredibly helpful, there's a cute outdoor area, and this morning I got free toast because the water in our bathroom was out. FREE. TOAST. nom. Win in my book.

I turned down a hostel where the door was part of a lion's open roaring mouth for this place. So you know it's good.
I arrived last to a room with 3 dudes. Also, guess which bed I got stuck with


  1. Serious jealous of your adventure. Love the spontaneous side trip. And really is your first time in hostel? There's no better way to travel when you're on your own. Thanks for the great stories again. More cities to add to my bucket list!

  2. Little behind on my reading here these days, but it so great that you have been able to share the trip with all of us through your easy and enjoyable writing style. Also, huge congrats on the site itself which is really professional.

    It was so great that you were able to meet up with my brother as well. Glad you enjoyed Berlin though I had a feeling you would.

    Can't wait for more posts from the Middle East in the coming weeks.


    1. No worries, Steve - you're only a month behind! =)

      Thanks again for setting up the meetup - it was so great, and Pat was awesome!

      Stay tuned for the Middle East! Hope all is well in D.C.!