If we learned anything from our first day of roaming around Berlin it was that it is not really nice to walk through the concrete jungle while the sun is at its highest. Did this mean we got smarter at planning our daily exploits?
Day 2 – Botanical Garden
On our second day we decided to first go to the Botanical Garden which was about 5 minutes on foot from our hotel. The entrance was quite cheap (student discount alert!) and you can easily spend the whole day there; the garden expands over 43 acres and has more than 20000 different species. We spent most of our time in the glasshouses and took a nice long stroll through the grounds. The gardens are definitely something I would recommend visiting; you can visit in colder time of year as well. There is also the Botanical Museum on the grounds.
Once we have had enough of greenery and nature we went onwards to the DDR museum. Not much to say here, it is exactly what it is advertised as; it portraits the life in the DDR before the fall of the wall. Some of the artwork and principles I could connect to the stories from Yugoslavia and from our time in Cuba. I really liked the museum and would definitely recommend it especially if communist and socialist societies and politics is something you are into. Another plus – it has an interactive Trabant simulator ❤
Next stop – Reichstag/parliament. I have no idea how I found out about its dome, but I did and I am glad I did. There is a complete 360 degree view from up there and it is brilliant!! There is a lot of space so you can always find a spot to take in the full magnificence of it without many people in your way. The dome itself looks very interesting and has the timeline of the building’s history.
Our last stop for the day was Tiergarten – it is a massive park. I think it can easily be called woods in the centre of Berlin. If you grab a tourist map from somewhere, you’ll be able to see the different sculptures and monuments marked on it; it is full of them. We walked its length all the way down by the zoo to Banhof Zoo where we met a friend for drinks. You could easily spend half a day walking the paths of Tiergarten and discovering hidden alcoves and romantic spots.
Day 3 – What happened to the memory card or I have no idea how we spent the first half of this day
Our third day is a bit of a blur. Why? Sometime late afternoon something happened to the memory card in my Nikon and all the photos from half way through the Botanical garden up to that point have been corrupted. We both remember we have visited a DDR motorcycle museum; separate museum just for motorcycles, interesting to visit if you are into bikes. It was about €6 and it’s a couple of rooms – it takes about 30 minutes to go through it. After that we just bumbled around the area and had cold drinks. For the card, there was no way of fixing it there, in the middle of Alexanderplatz where it happened. To be able to take more photos with the camera, I’d have to format the card and lose all the photos from Berlin and the wedding. I was furious! And at that moment a magic sign appeared in front of me – Media Markt.
10 minutes later, a new card was in the Nikon, there was a big smile on my face and we were on our way to Treptower Park where something else brought an even bigger smile to both of our faces – the beer was half price of the one in the centre. We each got a nice cold bottle and sat by the river Spree. It was by far the best part of our day, just relaxing with the breeze from the water cooling us down, people milling around enjoying the day, boats swaying in the rhythm of tiny wind made waves. We walked in the shade of the trees and saw kids running through the fountains to cool themselves down. In the middle of the park thee’s a massive soviet sculpture – they really love megalomania structures, just see Linnahall in Tallinn.
Our day ended meeting our friend at lake Schlachtensee all the way to the west. If you have some free time and the heat of the centre gets too much, the lakes are a really good place to visit.
Day 4 – The Berlin Zoo
This was our last day. We had had grand plans; we would leave our luggage at Banhof Zoo as that is where we would get the bus to the airport and finally go and explore Kreuzberg, a popular, hipster, student and Turkish area in the time we had left. When the last day arrived, we were knackered, the sun was relentless and just thinking of having to use more public transport would’ve made us cry if our bodies had any liquid to spare. The solution? We dumped the bags at Banhof Zoo and crossed the road to visit the actual zoo. No public transport, no running around. Surrounded by trees and nature and we saw pandas, a polar bear, an okapi and many other animals. Usually I am not a massive fan of zoos, but even thinking about it now, it was the best decision we made that day.
Even though we spent the whole day there, we did not manage to see everything, the grounds are really extensive. I cannot tell you about the food prices as we had leftovers from the days before. Our lunch was sitting on a bench in front of the Orangutan enclosure eating brie and crackers (Wallace and Gromit would have been proud). However, I can tell you they have fresh water fountains in the park so it is easy to refill your water bottle and keep hydrated.
We really enjoyed our time in Berlin and believe we saw most of what we wanted to. If ever the road takes us back that way, we will probably use the time to visit Kreuzberg, drink more beer no matter the price and explore lesser know places. Or we’ll just lose ourselves between the trees of Tiergarten or Treptower park.