As we started our week long stint in Berlin, it wasn't long until we found Germany's most iconic man...David Hasselhoff. Sipping on coffees in a nearby hostel, Joe decided to use the facilities downstairs and upon his return was out of breath and smiling ear to ear (an interesting way to return from the restroom). He quickly told me to grab my camera and follow him downstairs...now I was definitely nervous. To my surprise, there was a shrine-like hallway dedicated to the Hoff with pictures, murals and paraphernalia everywhere the eye could see. We knew then that this would be a good trip and the almighty Hoff would bless us with fun travels.
For this excursion we decided to stay in an Air BnB about 20 minutes outside of the downtown area. We were just a short metro/bus stop away from the city-center and didn't have to deal with as many crowds. On our first full day, we wandered around, visited Check-point Charlie, and stumbled into Charlie's Beach which was an outdoor bar with food trucks, lounge chairs and sand - a perfect beach oasis in the middle of Berlin! We downed a few brews, ate some wursts and headed to the Olympic Stadium to watch a Hertha BSC match. 2 for 1 culture day - an historical stadium and a football match!
A football match was high on Joe's to-do list, and seeing as this was his first trip to Europe, I happily obliged. We had amazing seats right in the middle of the pitch and scored some sweet gear on the way in! Good news, Hertha won!
The following day we put our (matching) sneakers on and hit the pavement! Before leaving for the trip I had booked us a free tour of the Reichstag Building, which I recommend doing ahead of time if you only have a few days in Berlin. The Dome at the top of the Reichstag was very impressive and there was a very detailed audio-guide available as well.
We popped over to Monkey Bar and enjoyed some cocktails while looking over at the monkey pavilion in the Berlin Zoo...I mean, how many times can you say you did that? The vibe was nice, the view was good, the drinks were fine, the service was poor.
Berlin Cathedral Church was our next stop and we climbed to the top to get wonderful views of the city (and attempted to get our bearings of the city). We were able to get into the cathedral at a discount rate because we had purchased the Berlin Welcome Card upon arrival at the airport. We opted for the 6 day ABC zone card which took care of all of our transportation, several entries to museums and discounts around the city for under 50 euro.
Berlin is known for its night scene and while we had not planned on going to a club, it just kind of happened. We found our way to Matrix Club and ran into two women our age who were also hoping the bouncers would check their ideas. We all went in without IDs being checked and immediately felt old...yet ready to show the world that we were still able to party! The many corridors in the club brought us to a variety of rooms with different music playing...and we obviously settled on the 90s room. At 5:30 we called it quits, found some kebabs and went home to sleep forever. The following day would be filled with sleep, Italian food, and lounging.
This was the first time in a long time that I had actually stayed put on a trip. I wasn't living out of my pack, I wasn't checking into hostel after hostel and I wasn't constantly on the move trying to see everything in a day and a half. So a day trip was in order to shake things up a bit! Grabbing croissants and coffees to go, we jumped on an early morning train to Dresden for the day and man was I annoyed that we weren't bringing our packs, checking into a new hostel and hanging out for a day and a half because it was so beautiful. Alas, we had one day and decided to do a two hour walking tour of the old city with Dresden Walks.
The tour was perfect and explained the history of the city and brought us around (and inside) a few gorgeous buildings. We visited the Frauenkirche, the Opera House, Zwinger Palace and other places in Altstadt (Old Town). When our tour had finished I promised Joe we would get a stein of beer. The Germany he had envisioned was Bavaria, where we would drink stein after stein until our hands hurt and we couldn't stand, but that was not the case in Berlin and so we had to settle on an Augustiner.
After our tour, we walked across the Elbe to Neustadt or New City, which was filled with amazing art, graffiti and little alley ways. We wandered through the Kunsthofpassage, stopped into a local art shop and visited a craft beer store to chat with some locals.
The art would not stop here! Oh, no! I had to see the East Side Gallery before we left Berlin. The gallery, which is completely outdoors alongside the river Spree, showcases murals painted directly onto part of the wall that divided the East and West borders.
Our last day, we happened to bump into Joe's dream come true. A spring festival full of wursts, a carousel and steins. Not only did we drink a stein in Berlin, but we bought a classic one to bring home.
We did one final walk around our neighborhood that night before heading out for a few last drinks. Walking along a random street, we saw some bars and decided to pop in. We did not expect to spend the night with a guy who looked like Billy Idol and a man who looked like Frankenstein in ass-less chaps - but things happen. At Wild at Heart, we casually sipped our drinks while taking in the ambiance and then realized that there would be live music. The rest of the night we listened to covers of Bowie, The Clash, and Electric Six and said goodbye to Berlin through dance.
We sadly boarded our plane to London on a rainy morning, but spirits were quickly lifted when Joe dubbed the lounge in Heathrow his new favorite place on earth.