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Erasmus Shenanigans "Not all those who wander are lost"

Christmas in Berlin

GERMANY | Monday, 16 January 2017 | Views [685] | Comments [4]

Prologue

How exciting! This is my first ever travel piece. I aim to make one piece per city in the Winter Holidays 16/17 series...so that's 7 pieces. I'll try to keep my writing as fresh as my memories and I will definitely NOT sugar-coat any unfortunate experiences. You'll only be reading the realest of the real and before you ask, yes, omg, it did actually happen. So let's get this show on the road!

Berlin (23rd - 28th Dec 2016)

The beginning of our adventure. We planned it all 2 months in advance and took advantage of the extremely cheap flights. The other half of the “we” in my story is Gleicy. She's 22, from Brazil and is like a big sister to me. One day, she sat next to me during a class and started talking with me and the rest is as they say- history. Before this trip, we travelled to Budapest, a story for another time. She had been in Brno since July and I since September. Compared to our other friends, we hadn't travelled as much and so we decided to spend Christmas together (our alternatives were flying to Brazil and India, respectively, which would have been way out of our budgets). We perused Skyscanner during a lecture and by some sort of miracle found a £16 Ryanair flight from Bratislava to Berlin and then a £10 Ryanair flight from Berlin to Brussels! The first half of our trip was planned. We then found a coach from Brussels to Amsterdam and our 13 day trip together was sorted.

We reached Baxpax hostel in the centre just in time for dinner. The underground warehouse (containing 20 bunk beds) gave off a distinct jail-like vibe and was to be our home for the next 5 days. But I loved it! We joined a free walking tour the next morning which is by far the best way to get to know a city if you haven't planned out your days. Swear down, spontaneous trips turn out to be way more fun and memorable simply because you have no expectations to begin with. The free walking tours last around 2-3 hours and takes you around the main attractions in the city, so if something piques your interest you can come back the next day. At the end, you tip your guide according to the worthiness of the tour and that's that. The best benefit of these tours are the friends you make along the way. Almost immediately on the second day of our trip, I had befriended 3 other Indian girls, two of which were from Chennai and had attended Lady Andal school. What a surprise! This only strengthens my case of have no expectations.

We had arrived in Berlin just 3 days after the lorry crash in a popular Christmas market that killed 12 and injured 50 people. This was a city in mourning and as a traveller, the situation clashed with my inner mantra of “You can’t let your fear and anticipation of such attacks prevent you from travelling. They are unpredictable”. It felt unnerving at first because we saw an Islam-related demonstration (couldn't quite understand as it was in German) next to Nuremburg Gate, but after that it was all good vibes. We came across several Christmas markets during our trip but the only one we had to pay to enter was in Berlin. With the live band, the fairies on stilts and the dozens of shops selling goods from trinkets to mulled wine, it was totally worth it. One of the most famous attractions in this city is the Berlin Wall. Today, it is covered in weird and wonderful art (and even a spray painted 'F*** Donald Trump'). The history this wall has is chilling as it once divided East and West Berlin, separating families for an entire generation. I felt similar chills when I walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and stood in a carpark that was exactly above Hitler's bunker during WWII. Despite the constant reminders of the terrible war periods (bullet holes in walls), I really respected Berlin. It is not only acknowledging its past mistakes, it is truly sorry for what happened. I cannot say the same about the UK and British colonialism.

We went on a Pub Crawl on Christmas Eve and it was genuinely nice, seeing that we weren't the only ones spending the holiday season away from our families. There are so many brave young people travelling alone at any given time and in any random place in the world. I had a flashback to when I travelled by myself for the first time to Bratislava and felt really proud- proud of myself and proud of all the wanderlust kings and queens out there. It's such a liberating experience. Needless to say, Christmas Day was spent recovering in bed and also going to the Pergamon museum (Middle Eastern Art and ancient sculptures) which happened to be open. I love museums. I could spend all day in one, reading each label and absorbing all this interesting but useless information like a sponge. Therefore, I'd say the 1 and a half hour wait to get into the Pergamon on Christmas Day was worth it. Some may argue otherwise.

Our final day was spent souvenir shopping (a recurring theme). Gleicy especially took this very seriously because in Brazil there are several uncles who await T-shirts from every city she visits on this trip. I had no one to come home to and so whatever I bought was unashamedly for myself. I just had to buy actual pieces of the Berlin wall, whose authenticity I avoid questioning. Of course, we made sure to try the well renowned currywurst and eggnog (yuck!) before we left. Overall, Berlin set the bar high and I felt quite sad to leave behind all the new friends we'd made and all the memories (also a recurring theme). But that is the curse of travelling. And I wouldn't give it up for anything.  

Editor: Arya Harikrishna 

 

The most famous painting on the Berlin Wall

The most famous painting on the Berlin Wall

Tags: christmas, hostel, walking

 

Comments

1

Haaalloo!
Great idea! I will be soon asking for advice about Berlin, can't wait for the post about Brussels. haha
Keep it up!
Erich

  Erich Marx Jan 17, 2017 7:17 AM

2

Wow man keep going!!!!Your article is great and exciting, I'm waiting for the other articles.

  Sakthiya Jan 23, 2017 4:59 AM

3

As a regular co-traveller of yours I now feel like I've done Berlin too along with you dear ! ;) Thanks for the experience minus the cold ! ;)

  poongothai Jan 25, 2017 7:55 PM

4

Nice going!! A teen's view of Berlin. Enough info without getting boring....makes me want to plan a trip there...

  Senthil Kumar Jan 27, 2017 4:45 PM

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