Well, it’s been about nine weeks, and my vacation is almost finished. I signed off my third contract on Radiance on July 29th, and the time flew by.
I was home for about a week, and on August 7 I flew out to England to meet up with Jason. We stayed for a night, and on August 9 we flew from London to Berlin. During my first contract on Radiance I was privileged enough to live with Anna, a German Adventure Ocean (youth staff) employee, and she became one of my best friends. We both signed off the ship in December 2014, and we met again in London in January 2015. She invited Jason and I to visit, and we made it a priority for my England trip this year.
Anna was working when we arrived, so we decided to find our way around the city a bit. First stop: FOOD! By the time we made it from the airport to Stadtmitte (city center) we had been awake for hours without any breakfast. I’m sure everyone who knows me will hear/has heard about my love and devotion to the first meal of the day. “Hangry” is a real emotion and I feel it hard. Eating breakfast makes my mood a hundred times better for the rest of the day. We found a coffee shop and had no idea what to order. I tried a bit of Duolingo German before we left, but I was not fully equipped to understand the entire menu. Kaffee Schokolade was pretty self-explanatory, so we started there. After that we ordered Leysieffer Frühstück, a huge meal with an assortment of meats, cheeses, veggies, boiled egg, and bread. What a feast!
After brunch we wandered around the city and got our bearings. We met Anna later that afternoon when she finished work, and we headed to her apartment. She made a tasty dinner, we shared wine, and we all caught up.
Our second day in Berlin started off with breakfast (of course) at a place Jason found called the Café Ole. We ordered Früstück, and let me tell you, that is a delicious but heavy way to start the day. The extra calories were put to use as we wandered around the city the entire day. We started with the Memorial for Murdered Jews of Europe. I took classes in college on genocide and Holocaust literature, and Anna said the museum was intense and powerful, and I really wanted to visit.
The entire outer part of the memorial looks like the above picture. The stones are all different heights, but visitors can walk through the rows and columns. It feels like you’re walking through a maze, and at times the stones will tower over your head. It’s eerie. We walked through the stones, and then we got in line to get into the museum underneath. I definitely recommend going if any of you get a chance to go to Berlin.
I’m a museum junkie, and we spent a few hours checking it all out. When we finally came up into the daylight, the afternoon was half over. Jason found a bar called Maximilian’s that was in the Stadtmitte area, and we decided to sit and have a couple of beers. After that we headed over to Checkpoint Charlie. This was a post and checkpoint between the West and East sides of Germany. Tons of people fled from East Germany to West Germany when the Berlin Wall came down. There’s a huge museum for the Berlin Wall, but it’s also pretty expensive. Instead, we checked out the piece of the Wall left behind, the checkpoint, and the free outside parts of the museum. There was a cool store nearby dedicated to the graffiti from the Wall, and I got some good postcards.
That night Anna took us out to dinner with one of her friends. Trattoria del Corso is an Italian restaurant with some of the best pizza I’ve had outside of Italy. We all split one diavola pizza and one with salmon.
On August 11, our second to last day in Germany, we still had to check a few things off our list. We went to the café near Anna’s apartment and had some kaffee macchiatos. After that we took a train and a tram and made our way to the Stasi Prison. Anna had been there with our friend Donna on her Berlin trip, and she said it was an intense place to visit.
The above picture is from inside the complex at the Stasi prison. It was a busy day, and there were many different tour groups offered in various languages. The prison was used from after WWII until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The prisoners were mostly political prisoners, and many had done nothing more than speaking against the government of East Germany. Many of the tour guides were former prisoners who were released as soon as the wall came down. We spent hours going through with our tour guide and then on a self led tour as well.
When we finished the tour and made it back to the central part of the city, Jason and I were starving! It was nearly 4pm, and we had left straight after breakfast. We headed back to our bar from the day before, Maximilien’s. Jason ordered a currywurst and I got a bratwurst, and we each had beer (of course!).
Anna was planning on having some friends meet us at her place for dinner, but she was feeling a bit sick as the day went on, so unfortunately we couldn’t do that. We looked online for some evening places to check out, and we found a brewery that looked pretty good. There aren’t many craft beer style breweries in Berlin, so it was great to find one. It was a bit outside the center of town, so we started walking, and we eventually made it to the Vagabund Brewery. It was delicious! They had long tables, and everyone sat together. The beer was tasty, and I should have written down what we got because I’m blanking now. I would go back if I got a chance.
On August 12, our final day in Berlin, the plan was to hit up the Tiergarten, shop a bit, buy some chocolate, and get a good lunch. We managed to do it all! The Tiergarten made for a long -ish walk away, but it was beautiful. Thank goodness for the tripadvisor app, because it led us to a restaurant called Flamingo Fresh Food Bar. Oh my gosh, the food was tasty. When we got back to Anna’s later that evening, she wanted to take us to get doner kebab. According to her, the Turkish people invented this type of food in Berlin. It reminded me of a gyro, but we got it in a bigger wrap instead of the typical pita-style bread. I’m glad we waited until the last day to try it, because I would have wanted to have it every single meal if I had known how much I’d love it!
Anna came with us to the airport, and Jason and I flew out that evening. We headed back to London-Stansted airport, and we were back in Cambridge in the middle of the night. I’ll write about the rest of my England trip and the last few weeks of vacation in my next post. Now it’s about time I start getting my things organized to pack since I head out in a few days. If you want to watch a video with some things Jason and I did last contract, here you go!