Berlin is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a few years now, so when a deal popped up on Wowcher recently, I knew I had to book it for my time off work in January. The deal would allow me 36(ish) hours in Berlin, as well as entry into Tropical Islands – an awesome indoor beach/water park in a giant airplane hanger south of Berlin.
The kicker is that I almost didn’t go. The deal was booked for my ex boyfriend and I (long story there), but he dropped out a few days beforehand. However, since I sort of travelled to Mexico alone, I knew a short break in Berlin would be pretty easy compared to that. So even though I was a little scared and not feeling in the mood, I made the decision to go anyway, which saw me getting up at the early hour of 3am on Wednesday morning (to catch a 4am train to catch an 8am flight).
Still, eventually I found my way to my hotel early Wednesday afternoon, throwing my stuff in my room and napping for an hour whilst my phone charged. I stayed at Days Inn South Berlin in the Neukölln district, which was a little way outside of Berlin but was in a perfect location. It was pretty much across the road from a subway stop (meaning I could get into the centre of Berlin in around five or so minutes), as well as a giant supermarket. I was also told that the area of Neukölln was really trendy and had I had more time, I would have loved to explore some of the nearby bars. Though it was only a three star hotel, Days Inn South Berlin was actually really nice and I’d definitely stay there again.
I discovered that Berlin has it’s own dungeons (as in the London Dungeons but in Berlin obviously!), and you can take English led tours there, so of course that was on my first agenda. The Berlin Dungeons was fun – as always, the set’s were really cool and the history was great to learn, but I felt some sets/rooms were not as great as the others. For example, some of the actors had a sense of humour that I guess wasn’t very British (though being in Berlin, I can’t really complain!) so some parts were quite corny or just didn’t work. It was fun overall though.
Following this, I took some time to walk around that part of the city. I headed over to Museum Island just as it was getting dark. I strolled around the outside of a few of them, and gazed in awe at how pretty Berliner Dom is. It’s definitely one of the most stunning buildings I’ve ever laid eyes on.
I then headed to vegan restaurant La Stella Nera for tasty pizza. I chose a salami pizza (though the salami was more like sausage than pepperoni) with vegan cheese and herbs and a really tasty but doughy base (the crust was delicious). I also had a pate bruschetta which was yummy also.
Having had such a long day, I then headed off back to the hotel for the evening.
When I woke up on Thursday, the weather was grey and dreary with a bit of rain. Once getting up, I headed straight to a shop to stock up on some snacks, then headed into town to grab a ride on the City Sightseeing Traditional Tour. I love these open top bus tours (though because of the rain it was covered obviously), and having had these tours in both Amsterdam and York before, I knew it would be a great way to see the city.
Whilst I was waiting for the bus to arrive, I had a look around one of the most famous department stores in the city (I was told celebrities often shop there), and I took the lift to the top floor (I think there were seven floors altogether!) which housed tons of mini food courts. I visited a cute cupcake place and bought a tiny but very luxurious Oreo cupcake for later, then headed back down to start the tour.
The next hour or so I got to see all around the city, snacking away in comfort. We drove past remnants of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the TV tower, the The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and lots of historic buildings too. It was really interesting, and I stayed on an extra two stops after the full tour so I could jump off and visit Topography of Terror, a museum all about Hitler’s reign and the terror he caused. This exhibition in particular was very eye opening and sad. The museum also has a large part of the Berlin wall on it’s site too.
I spent some more time walking around Berlin afterwards, visiting a small museum right by Checkpoint Charlie, then headed back to the hotel to grab my backpack and set off towards Tropical Islands.
Tropical Islands is an amazing indoor beach south of Berlin. It is set in a giant airplane hanger and because of the way it’s built, it’s actually really warm inside. It also has a mini rainforest, a spa, a waterfall, waterslides, hot air balloon rides and outdoor activities and rapids too. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for so many years, but unfortunately I did not make it there.
When I bought the deal on Wowcher, the page failed to mention that the deal only included entry to the Tropical Island’s evening excursion which was four hours long. Still, an evening entry is better than nothing so I still wanted to go. The site itself was super complicated to get to, with over an hours journey and problems with one of the trains. When I ended up at a really rundown station to catch my second train but simply couldn’t understand or find out where to board, I kind of gave up. I didn’t feel safe being at that station alone, and after struggling to find wherever I had to board, I was running late. I did catch my first train back to another busier station, but had the same issue. The train I was supposed to get didn’t run very frequently, so even if I had managed to catch it, at this point I would have made around a two hour journey for, well, only about two hours there with how late it was getting.
It didn’t seem worth it to me so I turned back and have decided to try and go again later in the year – in the day, this time!
Instead I went back to another vegan restaurant I wanted to try; Chaostheorie Berlin. The tiny eatery is popular for serving vegan junk food and delicious vegan cocktails. When I visited, there was a set menu and I tried a vegan kebab with chips. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten – how they re-created a kebab as vegan I’ll have no idea but I kind of wished I had longer in Berlin so I could have gone back again and again. The low-lighting and steady pace of house music suggested that this place turns into a popular location for after-work drinks too, so next time I’m in Berlin I’ll certainly be making another visit.
On my last day in Berlin, I didn’t actually do much. I planned to go to Beelitz-Heilstatten – a creepy abandoned bunch of run down old buildings which include a hospital where Hitler was once treated. I love anything weird and creepy so I was super excited for this, but my Google maps took me the wrong way entirely, and then I got kicked off the train for not having a right ticket (even though it was checked previously with no trouble), then I got off the train and tried to buy a new one at a tiny station but the machine wasn’t working, then I got confused with everything being in German and missed my next two trains which were FOURTY MINUTES apart, so I spent at least a good three hours just getting on and off of trains and slowly freezing, ha. After an almost breakdown and a tearful phone call to my ex where I all but screamed at him ‘THIS IS YOUR FAULT, IF YOU HAD COME WITH ME I WOULDN’T BE LOST RIGHT NOW’, I eventually made it back to the original station, popped into Aldi for some snacks and got the correct train back into Berlin.
So my last day was a fail, but I managed to do a bit of clothes shopping until I had to get to the airport, so at least it wasn’t a complete fail.
Overall though, apart from the places I didn’t get to go, and the evenings where I had nothing to do, it was a good few days away. Berlin is a really great place with lots to do and see and it’s fairly cheap too, so I’d love to go back, perhaps in the summer so that I can benefit from some of it’s beautiful parks. I definitely felt that there were a lot of things I didn’t have time to do, but all in all, I did enough for my short break away and enjoyed my time travelling alone.
Have you ever been to Berlin? Let me know!