So who knew trains could go onto ferry boats? So that is how we got to Germany from Copenhagen. We made our way to Berlin after entering Germany. Apparently Germany is very trusting when it comes to S-Bahn usage. S-Bahn is the above ground urban railway system. You can just jump on without going through a turn-style and in effect never have to purchase a ticket. Of course, we didn’t do this, we were able to use our Eurail passes for free S-Bahn all throughout Germany.
Anyhoo, Berlin. We stayed in East Berlin very close to the longest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall. This however, is basically the only remnants left of Soviet occupation (that we could see anyway). Outside of this area, the wall or where it used to be anyway is symbolized with brick pavers along its entire perimeter. There has been so much construction that it looks as modern as any major US city. We were expecting big concrete lifeless buildings, but we saw modern buildings with modern architecture.
One of the best things about East Berlin was the prices, which along with the rest of Eastern Germany is apparently still trying to catch up to the economic powerhouse of Western Germany. We could get Doner Kebaps and pizzas for 2 Euros. Anywhere else in Western Germany is almost double that.
Outside of our budget crisis (OK not really, but Europe is expensive), Berlin is a fascinating city: Tons of museums, tons of history in the streets from Brandenburg the principality to Prussia to Otto von Bismarck’s and Kaiser Wilhelm’s unified German Reich to the Third Reich to behind the Iron Curtain to modern and free Berlin – You get it all. We ended up going to the German Historical Museum, which apparently is pretty new, and encompasses German history from about 500 B.C. or so. We spent the majority of the day there learning about the aforementioned societies of Germany. We also hit up the main tourist spots like Checkpoint Charlie, the East/West Berlin checkpoint during Soviet Occupation, Babelplatz, the area of the infamous ‘30s book burning, and Brandenburg Gate, where Reagan demanded to Gorbachev to tear down the wall.
Back to the budget crisis, our hostel we stayed at was running a promotion for Americans only called “ThxAmerica”. This meant that we paid US dollars instead of Euros, same number, switch the currency sign. We immediately booked a few more nights in Berlin and our stays in Dresden and Hamburg with the same company to take advantage of what amounts to a 60% savings. This allowed us to catch up from the “extravagant spending” in Scandinavia, London, and apparently Tanzania, which somehow cost us tons of money. We still don’t know why our hostel was thanking America.
By the way, currywurst is the best, which is basically a bratwurst with a savory ketchup type sauce with sprinkled curry powder on top. Yum yum. And where are the Doner Kebap stands in the US, or at least in Michigan? So good. But then again, nothing tops Qdoba.
After 5 days in Berlin, we decided to move on to Dresden.