A weekend in Berlin

Sonal Gupta
July 4, 2016

Changing things up a bit for this post – it’ll be English only this time because there’s too much to say to fit both versions!

This past weekend I took a trip to Berlin with Cathy, Katya, Irais, Julia, and Clare – it was my first trip technically out of Spain since I’ve been here (Canary Islands, Madrid, and Ibiza were the others). It has been one of my favorite cities I’ve seen so far, even though I was only there for a couple days. We had a perfectly packed weekend full of beautiful views and lots of history lessons. We checked into our hostel, Amstel House, late Friday night – if you’re going to Berlin I highly recommend staying there – great service, accommodating lounge area and very clean and comfortable! By the time we got to the hostel (a little late since we decided to figure out the metro from the airport), we went out to find some dinner. Most restaurants were closed at that time, so we stopped at a street place for Doner kebabs. It was a hilarious experience for all of us since we didn’t know any German, and the one place we picked to eat of course didn’t understand English. Half of us didn’t even know what we ordered, but it ended up being delicious. The next morning, we woke up early and got delicious pastries, coffee, and freshly squeezed orange juice at a little café that was close to where we needed to met for our tour of a concentration camp outside the city. We took two trains to get there with our tour guide – the passing views were very green and beautiful. The former concentration camp that we visited, Sachsenhausen, was primarily a labor camp. The inmates were incarcerated for mostly political reasons rather than religious, although both cases still occurred – of the 200,000 inmates the Jewish population was around 6,000. It was interesting to hear about all of the other reasons people were sent to the concentration camps – opposing the Nazi party, speaking out against Hitler, war refugees, etc. One thing that really stood out to me was that the watchpoint and entrance to the camp was called Tower A, and they said the only way out was Platform Z, which was also the crematorium. The sights of the bunkers with tiny washrooms where 400 men or women were squeezed inside, the areas of gravel outlining the numerous bunkers that existed at the time, and the descriptions of the malnourishment and maltreatment were disturbing and sad, and seeing that part of history in front of me was also very eye-opening and interesting. There were so many stories that the guide told us and exhibits throughout the memorial that recounted memories of some of the survivors. Being there made me think about something like the 9/11 memorial – I am part of the last group of people who can actually remember the day as they lived it, and I thought about how for years and years in the future, people will be visiting the 9/11 memorial to see and learn about events that they’ve only ever read about in textbooks, much like we visited the concentration camp.

Saturday felt like two different days – when the tour was over we headed back to the hostel to freshen up a bit and then left to go see more of Berlin. Julia was the MVP of the trip, navigating the metros and always having the map on her, so we followed her to the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall. It was amazing to see all of the artwork on the wall and to follow along the line that had once split East and West Berlin…that day definitely brought out the history nerd in me. Here are pictures of artwork and quotes that stuck out to me:

Being next to the wall was incredible and humbling, and although I wish I could’ve read all the German that was written across the different pieces, it definitely left a mark on my experience. After walking along the gallery, we crossed the Oberbaum Bridge into West Berlin to grab some food and watch the football game! We went to a biergarten with a great atmosphere, drank German beer and feasted on brats and French fries while we watched the first half of the Germany vs. Italy EuroCup game – the atmosphere was amazing and German pride is incredibly strong. Later in the night we heard fireworks and cheers everywhere as a result of the German victory in overtime of the game – glad we got to be there for that win!

After the biergarten we went to the top of the TV tower, which had an amazing view of Berlin at night. It was beautiful to see all the lights of the city in a 360 degree view. That was a perfect end to an extremely packed day – while we were up there we got to catch a little bit more of the game at the bar, and then we headed home to rest up for the next day. Yesterday we woke up on a mission to go to Wonder Waffel, which was a recommendation from a friend, and found it inside of the Mall of Berlin…unfortunately for us, it was closed when we got there, as were most of the shops and stores we saw due to it being a Sunday. We bounced back and got breakfast at a small café down the street, where I still got to enjoy a waffle with my coffee. Afterwards, we went to the most amazing flea market I’ve ever seen – everything you could imagine you could find here. I got lost multiple times between the rows and columns of booths. Jewelry, clothes, shoes, souvenirs, artwork, home décor, everything was there and we found some great deals! I had the best fries I’ve ever tasted, had another delicious brat and some more German beer to end our short trip there. Berlin definitely made an impression on me, and as I think about wanting to live abroad in the future, Berlin would definitely be on the list of possibilities. I love how clean and calm it is, especially for being a high tourist traffic area, and how green the city and the country is in general. The metros were relatively easy to use, most people there speak English (my Spanish minor may go to a bit of a waste if I were to live there for awhile), and the population in general was very friendly and helpful. Nothing bad to say about the weekend I had there. More to come about my last couple weeks in Barcelona soon!


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Sonal Gupta

<p>Travel enthusiast, creative thinker, and lover of all people and food. I&#39;m a hard working business student, environmental supporter, and music lover looking to creative positive change for the world. Sharing my experiences through an 8-week journey in Barcelona, Spain through IES Abroad as I work for an innovative, socially impactful startup, take classes, learn the dialect, and immerse myself in the Spanish culture.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Ohio State University, The
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