Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Berlin Chronicles: Part I

As we know, I was in Berlin last week. And needless to say, I was pretty psyched about it. Prior to the trip, I hadn't been to Germany's capital. I'd done some travelling around Nordrhein-Westfalen but that was about it for German adventures. So it was a trip that I was looking forward to, and the opportunity to spend a couple of days in a different country with my friends at the end of semester was pretty much all I could ask for.

Before we went off to Berlin, there was a bit of evening excitement for Adventsonntag. Realistically, this was just an excuse to eat a lot of German biscuits and cake before flying. Though really, I don't think I need much of an excuse to eat a lot of cake and biscuits. It's rather my thing. Good fun though, and I even got to wear a nice Christmas hat and display my affinity for elf culture by alternating between happy and sad elf.

I'm pretty indifferent to flying really. I've not flown that often in my life and I think that the two flights were maybe my fourth and fifth times on a plane. So that's really not so often. There are people in life who love being on planes and there are some who really dislike it, but I really couldn't care. It could just be that by the time I was flying for this trip, I was so sleepy that I just wanted to grab a bit of sleep, but it's easy enough to just continue talking to friends or stick in the iPod and doze off for a while.

Once we got to Berlin, it was a pretty good day. The weather through the entire week was pretty good with the exception of some rain on Wednesday afternoon/evening and pretty strong winds throughout. Compared to England at the moment though, Germany definitely won in the weather stakes. Well done!

I think everyone who was there would agree that the rooms were pretty awesome. They were BIG. There were 8 beds in our room and a lot of floor space to prance around and get up to other childish antics (as I'll get to in the next entry). My room mates in the hostel are also some of my favourite people in the world, which definitely helped. Admittedly, it was a bit strange sharing a room with 6 girls (yes, I said six) but it was hilarious and I don't think I could have picked a better bunch of people to have shared with. We spent part of Monday night dancing around the room to some rather terribly excellent boyband music which just wouldn't happen with other people.

Monday was a fairly relaxed day once we got to Berlin really. We had time to kill before we could get into the rooms, so we went for a quick wander down the road and stopped off for some lunch since we were all pretty hungry after not really eating all morning. And it was here that the hunt for the waffles began. Kenny and Susan split a waffle which was apparently rather scrummy, and after that, there was the frequent talk of waffles among the group and the idea of starting a waffle tour to discover the best coffee shop in Berlin. Sadly, that will have to wait for another visit!

Once we got into the room, I think we took an hour or so to sleep. Well, that was the plan. I think we slept for the best part of two hours (though no one really seemed to mind since we were collectively destroyed). It was such a nice sleep too...I thought my bed was pretty comfortable, though as it turns out, it wasn't as comfortable as other beds in the room!

In the evening, we all went for a group meal which was really nice. It also gave me a good opportunity to speak to some of the first years, since I've really not said much to any of them this year. They're a pretty cool bunch though which is really good to know. And the food! Oh, the food. I'd forgotten just how marvellous a proper German meal was. Definitely going to have to start getting more food in next semester. I tell you something, I'm going to end up getting fat when I'm away next year if I eat as much as I think I probably could. Not that that would be a major problem though, my mum commented earlier on how I've continued to lose weight.

Tuesday was a really interesting day too. We were up relatively early (well, I'd like to think it was early) and we managed to get plenty of stuff done. Of course, this means that we were able to start the day with the awesomeness that is a German breakfast. Oh, I'd forgotten how simply fantastic a breakfast of bread, cheese and salami was, and it goes a bit further when it's helped down with plenty of apple and orange. I don't really have breakfast that often, but if I could bring myself to make sure I constantly had this sort of stuff in my fridge, I'd probably be going for this as a way to kick things off most days.

Anyway, once we got out into the streets, our group went for a nice wander. As you'd expect, it was all new to me and it was quite cool to recognise street and area names like Unter den Linden, Karl-Liebknecht-Stra├če (though that's where we were staying, so I'd already spotted this one to be honest) and Potsdamer Platz. We went and had a look at plenty of cultural stuff around the city including the Brandenburg Gate, and the Jewish Memorial . So I got plenty of photos of these things, as did everyone else with us. If you don't believe me, just look at the hundreds and hundreds of photos that were put on Facebook over the last few days by people on the trip. I'm thinking I could well have been tagged in about a hundred photos myself. Considering I tend to not take many photos, or being in photos that often, that's a pretty big thing for me.

It really was good to explore Berlin though, and once the sun went down, we went for a wander around Potsdamer Platz and got to see the awesomeness of life size Lego statues. These. Were. Amazing. As someone who is sometimes mistaken for a six and a half year old child, this was brilliant to see a gigantic Lego snowman, bear and Santa's sleigh complete with some reindeer. As a 20 year old, it was probably even more fantastic. This was possibly my highlight of the day, and I think the only thing that matches it would be the walk back to the hostel after we'd had dinner. Given the choice of hopping on the U-Bahn or trekking back, I think we made the right decision. Seeing the Brandenburg Gate at night with the gigantic Christmas tree lit up just in front of it was something to behold.

What better way is there to conclude a Tuesday in Berlin than with a bar crawl though? I know what you're thinking, a bar crawl isn't really my ideal vision for a night out since there's that rather large stumbling block regarding the fact that I don't drink. Still, when you're with some really good friends, you've got a chance to just do nothing but hang out and relax for the night and you're wandering around some bars in Berlin playing some fairly good music (especially for dancing), then what more could you want?!

I had a really fun night, proving that it's possible to enjoy yourself on a bar crawl despite not drinking. I'll assume everyone else did too, though there were some shenanigans that are best suited to the category of "What happens in Berlin, stays in Berlin." They will not be spoken of by me. The night ended in a fun way though as I got to swap beds for a reason that I'm not totally sure of. All I know is that the mattress on Hessie's bunk bed was far more comfortable than the one I had, so I was clearly the winner in this location change. Success!!

I'll leave it there and do the remainder of the trip and some after thoughts within the next day or two, though I'll have already written it by the time you read this. Call it building suspense or something...it'll add to the excitement when you find out what happened on Wednesday and Thursday. ;)

Take it easy, thanks for reading. If you don't read Part II, or I do forget to post it, Merry Christmas.

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