Berlin Begins

Berlin was about to happen, but it seems as though I cannot arrive anywhere on this 2019 holiday without a bump in the road.

For the second time on this trip, my suitcase did not show up. I’m now beginning to get some sort of luggage hand-over anxiety. You see, in Berlin as soon as you leave the plane you collect your baggage, you don’t go to a separate area, like most airports. If you ever visit Berlin, don’t be like me and get caught in the crowd and pass by the conveyor belt. Because you will not be able to get back in.

So, after realising what I had done, I turned to the security guard who said: “Nope, you can’t get back in. You now have to wait at baggage service”. Off to baggage service I went. Exiting at the very end of the main building, across the road, then over the bridge down the stair and to the right. Once I was there, I explained my trouble and would you believe it, it happens a lot. I for one am not wondering why. All I could do now was sit tight. Once they find it, they’ll bring it to me, I would pay my 15 euro and off I would go.

An hour passed, people had been and gone. An hour and a half passes and more people who arrived after me have been and gone, by two hours I was up and asking questions. The man explained to me that it is strange that it has taken this long for them to find it, but wait a little longer. At this point, my mind begins to wander. Two and half hours later; “It is now recommended you put in a missing bag report,” he said. There are the words I did not want to hear. After three hours and a missing bag report later, I finally left. With no suitcase.

My original plan was to catch the bus into Berlin’s main station but at 8:15 at night and after a day like mine. It wasn’t going to happen. A 45-minute plane delay, then three hours in baggage service waiting to collect my bag only to find out its missing. I was going in a taxi. Besides, this way I could shed tears of frustration in peace and privacy.

Day one came around and my bag; found and delivered overnight. What a relief. This was a much faster turnaround than the first time. If anyone ever needs baggage support because of baggage issues, I’m your girl.

My first stop of the day was the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. A chilling memorial piece indeed. Rectangular stone blocks all grey and different heights. These represent coffins, coffins for those who did not get funerals. You can also walk between all the blocks, standing on the outside it doesn’t look you could, they almost look joined.

As you begin to walk into the centre you are above the stones. Walking deeper into the centre, they begin to rise higher and higher. Until you’re swallowed and surrounded. I spent some time walking in and around the memorial. Taking in each block, thinking of each person it was in memory too. The more time I spent there the more emotional I became. Not only by the situation that caused such a memorial but the disrespect of other visitors. Running and yelling, playing games, treating the memorial as a playground. Children and adults. I know I should not concern myself with others, which I usually don’t but today I let it get the better of me. Perhaps it is because of my recent trip to Auschwitz.

Once I left the memorial, I wandered further down the road to see the Brandenburg Gate. A huge monument that I usually have seen as a default screen saver on computers. The ace is a large square crowded with people and bikes. Surrounded by some the old historic buildings that I love so much but have seen so little of in Berlin so far. I must have arrived at the attraction at the busiest time, so many bodies but all stationed in one place. Smack centre of the area, causing lots of pushing and shoving to get through. I did find out after though; it is because this is the meeting point of a free walking tour. So that explains it and is good to know for future visitors.

As I walked, I passed by a few of the monuments in Berlin before walking along the canal. Lined with restaurants; tables and chairs set up in the sunshine overlooking the water and some of Berlins most spectacular buildings. Tour boats passed by and onlookers waved to those sitting atop the boat. I then stopped for lunch and walked some more through many parks and along with more of the water and its views. Seeing many quirky statues dedicated to people and events.

As I walked and I walked for kilometres, I thought of how different Berlin is to my first few stops. So modern, resembling many cities I have seen before, but not European ones. A typical concrete jungle but with a touch of historic elements. As I was thinking this about the city, Berlin had a surprise for me. I took a left turn, turning away from the waterfront and I stumbled in Nikolaiviertel. The reconstructed heart of Berlin.

Everything I love about Europe here, in this one space. Cobblestone roads and lamps post you know are from another time. The mismatched buildings splashed with colour. Joined together and playing host to one of a kind restaurants and shops. Old signs that hang out over the doorways all in my view, reminding me that I am still in Europe.

Berlin Wall was my first activity for day two. Like many of my days, I decided to walk. You might be wondering why I always walk. There are so many faster ways to go about it. The reason I love walking is that I love to take in the city’s surroundings. I can discover more and to immerses in the culture that is around. Plus, the more you walk the more exercise you get and the more food that can be enjoyed. On me to the Berlin Wall, I passed over museum island and took in its grand architecture. During my time in Berlin, I found myself visiting museums less than I usually would. I did although visit many of the memorials around.

Moments before I walked over the museum island, I came across a very cool sight, one that I have not yet seen on my trip. It was a large open space, your average open area, but placed in the middle were lots of bean bags. I thought to myself, such curious seating for a public area. As I approached closer, I notice it was an outdoor library and books store. Here in Berlin, I have noticed they are big on books. I have seen libraries the size of phone booths and many, many book stores and I love it. It sure is a shame I couldn’t read any of the books. I should have brushed up on my German before coming.

My walk over was rather eventful; people asking me for directions, yes me for directions. A girl who without google maps has no sense of direction. I found many gluten-free restaurants, I wish I had time to go to and I avoided a potential pickpocketing situation. That’s right a pickpocket, aka, theft. Now that would have been bad.

It was the classic situation that tourists get caught in. Someone approaches you wanting you to sign something they fill your hands and keep you busy. In that time a friend sneaks into your bag or pocket and steals whatever they can. It is the classic, silly tourist mistake. The kind of story that ends up in those news articles that pop up on your Facebook news feed and you shake your head.

Finally, at the Berlin Wall and it reminds me what my favourite thing about Europe is. I don’t only love it for its beauty but its history. Their ability to preserve and acknowledge it, as well as educate tourists. Everywhere you go in Europe, history surrounds you, even if all the buildings and areas do not resemble it. Like Berlin.

The Berlin wall is a signification piece of history. The memorial is in the location where the wall once stood, showcasing and educating visitors. Every 50 metres or so, new pieces of information appear. Featured on signs and the buildings that line the memorial. These buildings have large images that are iconic to this specific time in history. They show the realness of the events that had taken place and in the very space. From dates to names and explanations, it is all there. The memorial is not the only you can see, part of the original wall is still intact and can be seen and touched. Along with a few pieces that played a role in the separation east and west.

By day three, I had already seen much of what I wanted. So, I began my day with a run around a park near my hotel. The weather has been perfect on my three days here so enjoying it with a bit of exercise was a great way to start the day. I then video called home, which I love most about my days when we get to do it. Then went to my favourite eatery, David and Dean for one last chicken avocado bowl. I am going to miss this place and not to mention the berry chia pudding, I’m drooling.

To say I have had a lack of food so far in Europe is a lie, thus why I needed a morning run. I then went over to Hackescher Markt. Your typical markets, fresh produce, homemade baked goods and handmade trinkets. A buzzing atmosphere and with the sun shining it made for a perfect market day.  I must add, I had beautiful pistachio, cocoa and hazelnut vegan gluten free brownie.

I also stopped by Berlin Mall. What a shopping centre, so many stores. Although a fancy and expensive looking shopping centre, the stores are the inexpensive kind. It is a three-story complex, split in two and in the centre, you can watch fashion shows take place. What a place.

My time in Berlin was very different from my other stops, but it was nice to have it broken. To be somewhere a little more city like. My next stop is a place I have wanted to go for a long time. Budapest. I can’t wait. Stay tuned, all new experiences to happen.

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