So I have a good friend, Jules who I’ve known since school. She asked me to join her for a get away, and I jumped at the chance as I thought that it was a great way to spend time with her. It has been a long time since we had a vacation together.
The place where she chose to go to was Berlin – and in all honesty, till a couple of weeks before the flight I didn’t do any preparation at all. I know of some people who tried to learn the local language and did loads of research about the place that there wanted to visit. Me? At most, I just did a deposit at my hostel and bought a travel pass.
On the day of the flight itself, I woke up really early to play tetris with my hand luggage. It’s late Autumn at the time, so we needed to wear bulky, wooly clothes which could take up a lot of space, but in the end I had the idea of putting each clothing individually in ziplock bags and squeezed the air out of it to compress it. In the end, I was quite proud of my little handiwork.
(5 wooly tops in one hand luggage!)
A few hours later, Cart drove me to Ciampino airport, and I was feeling rather unusual. I’m not even sure why, considering that I flew all by myself from Singapore to Rome over 10 years back. But luckily for me, I had the company of lovely people on telegram to distract me and keep me calm.
While the airport was quite crowded, the flight itself didn’t take long. I watched some videos I’ve downloaded on my phone, listened to some music and at length, I reached Berlin! Woah. Hearing the language, seeing all the signs in German … It was so unreal. I’m really here!
(Who is the naughty person who pasted this black strip?!)
It surprisingly easy to navigate around – I already had my travel pass printed out, and the directions to reach my hostel was pretty clear so I had no problems at all. The bus was practically right outside the airport exit, and as soon as I boarded my bus, I settled down and admired the view from the window and looked at the scenery – kids coming back from school, how triangular and rectangular their buildings were, seeing friends chatting with each other, while I did unique visits on Ingress.
Everything feels so unknown and new, like the first time I ever visited Rome.
Eventually I reached my hostel and met Jules who was having her lunch. As it was still too early for me to check in, I deposited my luggage and went for a walk around the neighbourhood. The area where the hostel was at is in an area called Hermannplatz which was close to the U Bahn and a lot of public transportation.
One thing that you could immediately feel was how cold it was! When I reached there, it was about 1 degrees celcius! My hands has never turned so red as it was when I was that week.
Nevertheless, I had a nice walk, passing by interesting shops, with all the strange fonts and language.
(I will have to blog soon about the amazingly
cheap affordable stuff that Jules and I found. We are totally in love with it)
And that was where I stumbled upon the Turkish Market which was quite cool to see, so many people selling their colourful wares and food right next to the river.
There was also a lovely vegan bakery in that area. So many colourful doughnuts! Of course, I had to get a box to try – so I chose Boston Creme and a Chocolate and Orange one for breakfast the next day.
And then I headed back to the hostel to do my check in and to finally see my room. Staying at Cat’s Pajamas was pretty affordable and public transportation was close by, the beds comfortable, there was a place to shower and even a working kitchen to cook in. I had a pleasant stay throughout there. I’d recommend this place if you don’t mind sharing a room with others.
Sidenote, I happened to catch this German soap opera while having dinner the other day and was extremely amused at how calm the characters were compared to Mexican telenovelas. Even when a woman poured a glass of wine over one of the male protagonist, he didn’t react at all and just walked out of the room.
I wish I knew the title of the show, it would be such a riot to watch a small segment and do my own dub over it.
Travelling with Jules was pretty easy going I found out. While we had different ideas of what we wanted to do – she likes social dance, and I don’t … in the end, we managed to find a happy agreement where we spend the days together and in the evening, we do our own things so while she goes dancing, I get to play ingress which was perfect for the both of us.
And thus, my first evening was having dinner at a Vegan place called – H&D Chay, a Vegan Vietnamese restaurant. Not very German, but it was near the hostel and the plate of noodles that I had was really yummy and I loved the crispy, fresh and colourful vegetables accompanying it.
Food wise, I never had any issues in Germany as I’ve always found the country very veggie friendly so you can do a quick search on happy cow or google. And after our lovely dinner together, we went off to do our own separate things.
I decided to go for a mission banner which was in the area which lead me to see the Museum Island. It was so pretty seeing the statues and the monuments by the river.
(By the way, I was surprised to see that there is a Mobike bicycle in the area. I still have the app from when I installed it back in Singapore, and lo and behold, it works!)
By the time that I was done with the banner, I found myself in the area called Alexanderplatz. Here is my banner by the way :
And Alexanderplatz is famous because this is where the TV tower, the Fernsehturm is located, and this is the tallest building in Germany.
There happened to be a nice Christmas Market going on in there too. It was such an interesting sight, looking at all the colours and the lights of people selling local food and trinkets.
There was even an ice skating rink in the middle, framed with a huge ferris wheel in the background.
I thought it very cool, and quite magical.
By the way, I keep seeing a lot of bears like these :
And that’s the end of day 1.
On the second day, Jules and I decided to go for a walking tour starting from the Brandenburg Tor.
I like walking tours because they are pretty easy going – you don’t really need to book in advance and you’re in the good hands of the guide for the next two hours or so.
For today, we did the “Free tour of Berlin“. And we walked to the Holocaust memorial, we saw the area where over 20 nobel prize winners studied, we passed by the place where a carpenter tried to blow Hitler up, we even walked to the area where Hitler’s underground bunk used to be.
I can’t remember everything that the guide told us, as it was an overload of information for me, but some of the things that did stick to me was this particular monument which was a memorial to a person who tried to blow Hitler up.
And here is the Humboldt university where 20 thousand books were burnt during World War 2. In the picture below is a memorial with empty shelves with space for 20,000 books. We were told that at night, there will be an orange glowing light which represents fire.
There were so many sights to be seen – I feel blessed and it feels incredible that I was fortunate to be able to see what I saw.
By the way, while walking, I saw these restaurants side by side – it’s amusing to me because Va veloce means go fast, and Va piano means go slow.
The day was still quite young, so we decided to head to the Victory Column, where the guide recommended, to have a look at the view from the top.
It was an impressive building, with the Golden Goddess, Victoria right at the top of the tower.
One thing that I didn’t expect though, was how much climbing was involved. I think it was a good 15 minutes of us climbing up. I was so out of breath!
(Don’t look down Marina!)
But boy, was the view from the top so spectacular. Everything looks like miniatures from up here. ❤️
Evening befell, so we headed back to the hostel. I felt a little tired and decided to take a 15 minute power nap before going out to do a mission banner. Unfortunately, that ended up being two hours! It was starting to be a little late, but I decided to continue going for the mission banners anyway.
The area where I was at was called, Adlershof which I found out, was known for media and technology. There were quite a number of interesting buildings that I saw which reminds me so much as if I was walking through secondlife.
One thing that I didn’t expect, was it to be so cold though. I was shivering and it was tough to type on the phone, and I kept wondering if it was such a clever idea to be going out at this time … that was when I saw how the cars were – with snow and ice on top of them.
You can probably hear me raving like a lunatic on Instagram stories
Nevertheless, I trudged along and was finally done at about 2.30 am. Yes! Finally! And here is my mission banner :
Unfortunately it was then that I found out that U Bahns stopped functioning at midnight during the weekday, and the next functioning one will run at 4 am. Fortunately, for me, there was the night bus that I could take and it brought me all the way back to Hermannplatz, the area where I was staying. I think I reached back at about 3.30 am?
It was a cheerful bus ride for me anyway, there was a group of people at the back of the bus singing and playing the harmonica, which was extremely amusing to me.
But you can imagine how stoned I felt in the morning. I still wanted to maximise my day though, so instead of walking, I thought that it could be nice and relaxing to just take the bus.
But first things first! One can not go to Berlin without eating something local. And Jules and I had currywurst!
At least the vegan version anyway. I found out it’s called currywurst, because of the curry powder sprinkled on top of the sausage. The place where we went to was called Bergmann Currywurst. And by the time we finished ordering, there were loads of people who queued up for their lunch there.
I’m not sure how my tofu-seitan sausage compares to the meaty counterpart, but I really liked my meal. It was really good. And you could choose from a lot of different hot sauces there.
We then took the bus number 100, which in my opinion is a great way to see the interesting sights of Berlin and if you have a travel pass, you can just hop on and off anywhere you like. I really like that with the combination of google maps, you can calculate when your next bus will arrive.
(Even if, it might not be the most accurate app. There was once when we had the bus late and it arrived like two at one go)
In the evening, I decided to visit a group of Resistance agents in a clubhouse called C-Base.
(This colourful mural can be seen when you reach the nearest U Bahn)
It was a tough place to reach, first time visitors would definitely have a challenge – google maps lead me to a barricaded building, and then the guard told me to walk to the bridge which was completely the opposite direction.
(Where are you?!)
But after consulting with the locals on telegram chat, I managed to reach the place eventually.
It’s a cool place, full of tech paraphernalia and pop culture. It was there, I met some Berlin Resistance agents. While it was difficult to communicate since I don’t speak German, but they were really nice and I had a really lovely evening.
It was here where I met Eumeline, who is actually in a two year relationship with a guy from another faction. I never thought it was something that was possible! And next to me here here is Zorig, who was the top player on The Grid. When I asked, what was his secret to having so much AP, (he had over 600 Million at the time) he said that he only plays for 2 hours a day. I find that a little hard to believe 🙊
And that is the end of day 3!
The next day, I woke up pretty early considering my late evening. It’s just that I’ve always been a morning person. And look at what greeted me at 6 am.
Such a glorious sky.
And here I am with freshly washed hair! #vain #voluminous #natural #haha
Jules and decided to go for another walking tour. And this time, it was the Schasenhausen memorial. This was one of the location of the concentration camp during the world war two.
To be honest, I wasn’t really keen to visit the place at first, because I was sure to feel l very sad when I see the place. But in the end, since I was in Berlin, what other chance would I have, so I went ahead.
Together, the guide and the small group that we were in took the train together to an area called Oranienburg – which was slightly outside of Berlin
The gravel area, which you see here, is the size of an individual prisoners barrack.
It was definitely sad for me to hear about how prisoners were abused for the smallest thing that they did. Like how 400 people had to wash themselves in this small communal area. And how some were left in the cold in their regular prisoner clothes as punishment while we were already shivering in our puffy jackets in the rainy, 0 degree weather.
This was a table where autopsies were done
Here is a room where special prisoners were kept
One of the rare, few colourful things which I saw at the concentration camp, paintings done by the prisoners at the dining hall.
Instant death for prisoners who step in this area
In the end, as sad as I felt to be there, I was glad that I did, because it made me feel blessed to be living in a more tolerable world. Nevertheless, there are still some areas in the world which is still at war.
When we reached back to Berlin, I had a quick dinner and decided to do another banner in the area called Frankfuter Tor.
(Falafel wrap, banana, salad and juice for a well balanced meal. Nom nom nom)
Frankfurter Tor is an amazing place – so interesting and full of pubs and places to eat. Since it was a Friday, there were a number of people out with friends and I really liked seeing how interesting their outfits were. I saw a number of people with punk-ish attire.
(This building had such beautiful mural, it’s a pity I can’t take a better shot of it as it was so dark)
Unfortunately, it was cold and raining. Which made my internet connection wonky and slow. It was really frustrating.
Luckily there was mephx, a res agent who happened to be in that area that evening and he gave me hot spot, and accompanied me while I finished my banner. Thank you so much! You are so kind. 😊
And here is my banner :
I told him about my visit to the concentration camp earlier in the morning and he said something interesting about how both factions made a pact together to not accept any portals there out of respect of the area.
And that was the end of day 4.
For our last full day, Jules and I went for another walking tour. This time round, to Potsdam.
We took a train and arrived in Potsdam in about an hour or so. Potsdam is so pretty!
(And also full of green portals too, so bring loads of xmp with you if you’re heading here)
Practically everywhere you go, makes you feel like you’re in a set of a movie. I wouldn’t be surprised that there were many movies that were shot here.
There were so many types of influences on the different builds, like there was an English area, a Dutch area, an Italian area and others…
One of my favourite would have to be this charming Cecilienhof Palace. So pretty!
We then had a quick lunch and had a walk at the Christmas Market
I was starving at this point of time, didn’t even had breakfast yet so this was a half eaten bagel before I remembered to take a photo of it. But look at how christmassy the cafe looks like! Tea lights and little fir trees at every table.
(I’ve never seen a Vegan Nutella before)
And finally we saw the Sansoucci palace where the remains of Frederick the great was.
Sansoucci in French means, without cares or worries, which symbolises that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a place for power.
So great was Frederick, that unlike other rulers, he didn’t want to have a fancy grave. Opting to have just a simple one. And if you are puzzled to see this mound of potatoes on his grave, it was because Frederick was also known as the potato king because of his insistence that potatoes be grown and from there, it became the popular food is is today.
Potsdam is very pretty. Definitely worth going for a day trip if you’re ever in Berlin.
Juli and I rested a while when we reached back to the hostel in the late afternoon. While she got busy packing, and planned to go dancing afterwards, I wanted to have a nice final meal in Berlin so I decided to head to a place called Vincent Vegan which was in the area where I wanted to do my final banner.
Ordering my meal was an interesting experience as everything was in German and I felt overwhelmed so in the end, I just chose the name which looked interesting to me. In any case, I loved my “cheesy one” with the sweet potato fries and the garlic sauce. Oh it was so good.
And thus, my final hurrah, a last mission banner and this time, I chose the area where the East Berlin wall was. Unfortunately for me, this particular banner required some pass phrases which was in German, and I had to ask visitors chat for help.
It was rather entertaining to see so many people in the chat helping me out along the way, it was so heartwarming to have people accompanying me while I’m doing my challenges. I felt as if I were a competitor in the Amazing Race.
This mission banner even brought me to the harbour, which for a wild moment, I thought that I couldn’t complete because it was gated. I contemplated on climbing over the fence.
But I was advised to continue, and eventually I found an opening and managed to continue with the banner with not much problems at all. I did meet a very chatty person there by the way, who wanted to talk to me about pokemon.
Eventually, I reached the colourful area of Kreuzberg where I met picoh3rtz, a really sweet resistance agent who lived in the area and helped me and gave me to much motivation to complete the banner. 💙💙💙 (And also xmp haha!)
(Try to type the street name in your phone)
And not before long, I was back at the Oberbaum bridge and was done with the mission banner! And here is what it looks like :
It was such a high for me to have finished this, with so many people in the visitors chat cheering for me. That was extremely heartwarming for me. My last few hours in Berlin was definitely unforgettable.
And with a few hours to spare, I decided to rest a little before my flight back home. And since I packed relatively light, I didn’t have much left to do.
Thank you so much Berlin, for your hospitality, your warmth, your amazingness. I had a beautiful, beautiful week and you will always be in my heart. And I look forward to return.
P.s. If you’re interested, you can see my Instastory so you can watch little videos of my trip there 😀