As last week’s blog post announced, I have recently returned home from a trip around Germany and Poland. As always we completed the entire journey travelling on the trains, from the high-speed Eurostar and ICE trains, to local and regional trains which chug through the countryside at a much slower pace. Leaving London behind, our journey took us to Brussels where we had a short overnight stop, before we travelled onwards to Berlin.
After leaving London and crossing the Channel, we arrived into Brussels without any problems and had just a few hours to spare before it would be time for bed. Having visited the Belgian capital before there was no need to rush around seeing the sights of Brussels, so instead we settled for a more leisurely evening, strolling through the area surrounding our hotel and finding a nice place to eat. We settled upon a traditional Brasserie and all opted for Steak and Chips – just the fuel we needed after a long day on the move.
Before we knew it, it was morning again. The alarms rang at 5.30am and we promptly made our way across to the station where we nibbled on pastries whilst we waited for our train. Thankfully the train was on time and at 6.25am we pulled out of Brussels station and headed in the direction of our next stop, Köln.
Once in Köln, we had just enough time before the next train to sit down and enjoy a decent breakfast. Whilst my parents tucked into their open sandwiches and cups of coffee (so continental!), I nipped out into the fresh air to see the beautiful cathedral and of course, take a few snaps.
The journey from Köln onwards to Berlin took approximately 5 hours and we passed through a number of cities on the way, including Wuppertal, Hannover and Wolfsburg. As always the trains provided a comfortable seat from which you could watch the world go by, as well as catch a few winks if needed. Soon enough we were on the way into Berlin and, out the window I spotted a number of the city’s main sights. The train took us through the district of Charlottenburg, where I spotted the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church out the window, past the Tiergarten (Zoo), across the Strasse des 17. Junis with the sparkling Victory Column visible in the distance, through the Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichsstrasse and Alexanderplatz. Finally we pulled into the final station, Berlin Ostbahnhof and we were able to get off the train and stretch our legs.
Our hotel (Ibis Ostbahnhof) was no trouble to find and we were soon checked into our room for the night. Having stayed at the hotel before, we found it a convenient location for heading east across the border to Poland and it is also well connected to the different parts and sights of the city. The first thing to be unpacked was our handy mini-kettle as we were eager to enjoy a nice cup of tea and refresh before we set out for the evening.
A short walk from our hotel brought us to Mühlenstrasse and the start of the East Side Gallery. We followed the length of the wall as far as Oberbaumbrücke, enjoying the various paintings of different styles and colours. Having taken loads of photos and completed research on the different paintings, I thought I’d do a post focussed on the Gallery itself so that will be coming soon!
Once at Oberbaumbrücke, we crossed the river Spree to Kreuzberg, one of Berlin’s most famous districts and home to the creatives! A little research on the district uncovered that it used to be one of the city’s poorest quarters in the late 1970s, during which it was an isolated section of West Berlin. Enclosed on three sides by the Berlin Wall, the neighbourhood drew immigrants, hippies, artists and squatters while the city was divided. While the area is more gentrified and upscale these days it still has a revolutionary spark and it is often described as one of the city’s cultural centers.
We had a little look around but as time was rather limited we did not venture too far. However, the bursts of street art and murals adorning the sides of apartment blocks, along with cafes, bars and eateries as far as the eye can see, it was soon clear that Kreuzberg is the place to be for Berlin’s young and trendy! Next time I’m in Berlin, I will definitely be spending more time in the area to properly explore.
Crossing back across the bridge, I was excited to meet up with my university friend Rebecca who I hadn’t seen since December. Rendezvousing by the Fotoautomat on Warshauer Strasse, Rebecca and I decided it was time for a drink and so popped into a nearby café just across from the Warschauer Strasse station. We then found somewhere to sit and catch up on the gossip! An hour or so later it was time to say goodbye, and I set off back along Mühlenstrasse to reunite with my parents who had discovered a cosy Italian restaurant not far from our hotel.
The Italian, Trattoria La Bruschetta, was on Andreasstrasse and was a nice cosy restaurant offering plenty of choice. After some umming and ahhing, I opted for a bowl of pasta with mushrooms and pancetta, in a creamy sauce. A very good choice!
With our stomachs full, we slowly made our way back to the hotel ready for a good night’s sleep! The next day was going to be another early morning!
Next Stop: Sopot, Poland