Berlin 15th- 20th of March
Written: At different intervals while we were staying in Amsterdam (not quite sure when but hopefully it makes sense!)
Berlin was a weird city for me, it was as though we didn't do anything and didn't really meet anyone. A lot of our time in Berlin was spent around the hostel,sleeping, fighting and for me there was even a night wrapped around the toilet. We were both really tired from Prague so Me and courtney had a few arguments in Berlin, and this was not helped by the fact that we were by our selves for most of this city. The good news is is that we are still traveling together and this what we got up to in Berlin!
The first day we arrived in the late afternoon so there wasn't much we could do, so we decided to grab some dinner and call it an early night! After waking up rather late the next I morning when down to do some research on what there is to see and do! I found out there were free walking tours running every day so we decided to go on the 2:00 one (because we missed the earlier one). So when 2:00 came round we were in the foyer waiting for the tour guide to pick us up as the receptionist told us they would, only to find out from the other receptionist that you have to make your own way to the starting point for the afternoon tour! So basically we had just spent a whole day doing absolutely nothing but we made the most of the situation and decided to just have a relaxing day off and just spend it hanging around the hostel and watching movies. It would have been a really relaxing and refreshing day if i didn't spend the whole night wrapped around a toilet! Yep I got food poisoning! It seems that I had eaten some bad food (courtney obviously has an iron stomach because even though we both ate the same food she was fine!). I did learn a great lesson that night though, if you are sick do NOT stay on the top bunk because its a long way down at 3 in the morning! I literally had to vault off the bunk to get to the sink in time (another lesson- don't throw up in a sink!) So obviously I spent the the next day getting over the food poisoning and catching up on the sleep that i missed during the night. I woke up the next day feeling a lot better so we decided that we would go and visit Legoland. Yay I always loved lego! It took us a while to get there because the train system in Berlin is really complicated and there are train tracks going in every direction, which means we may have caught the wrong train a few times! whoops no matter we ended up there with plenty of time. Legoland was wicked! I felt like the biggest child ever, honestly we were the only people over the age on 8 that didn't have a child with them! It was great fun and there were some really amazing displays, which included a mini Berlin, an Indianan Jones display (watch out lego set at home because when I get back I am so making a lego snake!) as well as mini haunted house ride (strictly PG). After making our own lego cars and racing them against each other and a few random children (mine was the best by the way!! ah yeah!) Courtney decided to drag me to a 4D movie. What she completely forgot to factor in was that we were in Germany and so for the next 20 minuets we sat and watched a Bob the Builder episode that was entirely in german! haha it had great 4D effects though and that scarecrow is still hilarious! And what trip to lego land would be complete without a trip to the lego store! I could have gone wild in there, there were so many cool lego sets and lego accessories. Unfortunately backpacking has its down falls and that is you have no room. So I settled for a key chain light in the shape of a lego man, just some thing to remember it by!
OK so by now I have eaten a bowl of cereal and a bun in the last 24+ hours so I am getting pretty hungry, so I basically settled for the first food shop that I came across, which was a kebab shop! Not the best thing to eat when your recovering from food poisoning I know, but I was super hungry and this kebab was freaking delicious! best kebab ever, I am pretty sure I managed to eat a box of chips as well.
I woke up feeling fantastic so I came to the conclusion that I had gotten over my sickness, so we decided to try and do the free walking tour that we had been trying to get to for the last three days. We finally made it to the tour and had a great time, we even got to see the hotel were Michel Jackson held his son over the balcony (which was in the presidential suit and this room will set you back 15,000 euro a night!!) The tour was great way to see the city, it wasn't very insightful but i gave you a great basis to the city's history! I am truly amazed that the sight of hitler's death bunker is under a dirt car park, there are no photos of it and the only way that you can even tell it's there is because there isa sign at the end of the car park, which was put not that long ago and only because tourists couldn't find it and so were constantly asking about it. I have to say that the berlin wall was over rated as well. The part that we saw was just a crumbling wall with a fence around it so it wasn't very interesting. I know that it isn't the best thing to say about a structure that not only divided an entire city but the country and the world for so long, but it was really just a wall there was no plaque, sign or even graffiti. Apparently there is another sight that has the some of the death strip still intact so if you venturing into berlin any time soon, try and find that part of the wall!
So by now im really ready to move on to another city because berlin hasn't been the best experience for me so far, but as we sit down to plan where was are going off to next courtney and I realised that we have no idea were we want to go! We have been in berlin for four days now doing jack all, and never though that may be we should decide were we are going. So after several hours on the internet, a few to many arguments and large amounts of coffee we decided that brussels sounded like a good place to spend a few days. This of course ment that we were going to spend another night in Berlin so now Im really getting over this city! But as a very grumpy Caitlin was storming around the room a new roomy arrived who invited us to joint him and a couple if Australians for a few quiet drinks at the bar. This isn't exactly how the night turned out and so a few too many drinks later we found ourselves attending yet another bar crawl! We also found ourselves accompanied by not one but two bucks groups which had the best themes, one was of different super heros and the other Charlie and the chocolate factory and all of them were fully dressed up! Needless to say we had a great night during which we witnessed a scottish guy scull 4 beers in the space of about 5 minuets, a group of Oompaloompas try and squeeze on a train (sadly half didn't make it!), Spiderman climb a traffic light, as well as any other climbable object, possibly the grottiest bar/pub I think I have ever been in (it was actually a great bar!!), a scottish guy NOT being able to hold his alcohol! As well as the experience of trying to find your way home via a public transport system that is so complicated you cant find out where to go sober, let alone drunk! haha it was a fantastic night and I have to say Berlin is back in the good books! Thats what I am already finding about traveling, that great experiences happen when you least expect them to and so that extra night that I was soo grumpy about turned out to be the best night in berlin!
The next day however all three of us weren't thinking that last night was such a good idea because of the massive hangover that we all had. This wasn't helped by the fact that we had to check out by 10:30 and we had also decided that we would spend the day on the concentration camp tour. I cant say that it was really worth it because we were feeling sick even before the tour started and by the end of all the walking and all the stories about what happened at Sachsenhausen, I was not only very hung over, but depressed, sickened and mortified as well AND I had to pay money too feel like this!! It was an experience though i have to say, I didn't like it at all (personal if you did then there is something really wrong) the whole place had this cold oppressive feel about it that wasn't helped by the massive concrete monument that towered over the whole camp site which closely resembles a nuclear cooling tower! As soon as I walked through the gates I felt exposed and uncomfortable from just knowing what went on here 60 years ago, this isn't helped by the the first fact that the guide tells you which is a story about how the camp leader decided one fine freezing morning to order every single prisoner to stand in the middle of the role call area for 8 hours straight while he sat in the guard tower and watched as slowly one by one the prisoners fell to the ground dead from either exposure or starvation. The 20th of March would have to be the worst part of our trip so far, but its a day that I will never forget. I never knew I would be so effected just from a tour. It wasn't a crying physical effect, it just left me depressed and sickened but I think more than anything I was angry, angry about how one person could do something so cruel to another person, that atrocities like it are still happening in the world today and that there are still people out there that share the same views as the people responsible for that place. Just going into the rooms and trying to figure out how the men and women lived their lives for the duration they were imprisoned was impossible, how some of them managed to survive I have no idea. Not only were they treated worst than rodents by the guards , they had everything take from them that can possible be taken food, possessions, personal space, hygiene, free will, their identities, their family and this list goes on. All these little things at are taken for granted every day, like your name, imagine dying as number 17834 and only a few people know your real name and those few people will most properly be dead as well in a couple of weeks. You would just cease to exist, without any body knowing or caring you would just become part of the masses that went before you.
The train trip back to the city was a very quite one, i was defiantly tired but more than anything I was too busy thinking about the day.
The tour of Sachsenhausentook most of the day so we didn't get back to the hostel until 5:30 and we still needed to get to Brussels. After looking on the internet for train time we realised it is a bit further to belgium than we though. it was going to take us 9 hours to get there, so we decided to give the night train a go. Now let me start by saying NEVER go on the night train without getting a cabin or a lay down seat. Our train left at 12:30 and then we had a 6 hour journey to Cohn which we though would be fine, at least we would get 6 hours sleep, this is were the cabin comes in handy, because our train was fully booked there were no free seats so we had to try and sleep sitting up with two strangers on either side so we got no sleep. By the time we got to Cohn some of the people had gotten off the train and me and courtney had 3 sets to ourselves so we got a little bit of sleep, the only problem was when I woke up we had stopped, I had no idea how long the train had been sitting there for so i quickly asked were we were and the lady said that we were in Cohn i was so tired that i though she said something else so i sat back down to go back to sleep. I was just about asleep when I finally remember that Cohn was were we had to get off. FAR OUT we literally got off the train, took 5 steps and then the train moved out, talk about a close call! So if we do have to get the over night train again we will be forking out the cash and getting us a sleeping cabin because neither courtney or I are the happiest when we haven't had any sleep!
So this was berlin for me, it defiantly wasn't the best city. It didn't have the same charm as the others we had been to because it is a very new city due to the fact that nearly the whole city was bombed into the ground during WW2. I had some great experiences here as well, not always good but still educational.
Off to Brussels next!