Bochum is in a central position in Europe in my opinion, by being in a more or less equidistant from many great cities including Paris, London, Vienna, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and of course Berlin, the last of which I and a group of other exchange students at RUB visited this past weekend. Not having classes in honor of Easter the last Friday and Monday, we were given a short holiday of four days. I could not imagine a better destination, as someone who is new to Germany, than its capital city, and one with so much history and culture, all of which could not be experienced in the short time we had there, but which we made an wholehearted attempt to.
My first night in Berlin I spent wandering the streets alone after checking in with my host for the night, with whom I stayed after being subject to the result of an influx of tourists in the form of a fully booked hostel. To find this host I used a popular couch-surfing website, one which I have used on a few occasions in the past, all of which have turned out to be positive experiences. This one was no different, as I met a friendly Swiss man as my host, in addition to another traveling American who happened to be staying there for the night as well. Not to mention, the apartment was situated just above the Spree river, presenting a beautiful sunset from the balcony (pictured above).
The rest of the weekend went by quickly, as I now look back, although it was probably the longest four days I have ever had, consider the total number of hours I spent awake. Which brings me to the subject of Berlin culture – a phenomenon which truly awakens after dark. Berlin has many clubs, which are famous for their minimalist techno music blasting into the ears and brains of the local and foreign youth well until dawn.
Daytime was spent exploring the city’s history, which centers around the Brandenburger Tor, a huge stone arch which represents hundreds of years of German history. Other notable sites include the Reichstag, the Victory Monument, the Congressional building, and of course, the Wall, which formerly split the city in into an East and West district, marking the dichotomized government during the post world war two era. The wall was intact in some areas, therefore, making it a very popular tourist attraction, and also a good canvas for art, giving it a new and more peaceful purpose.
As such a hugely populated city, I was surprised at how spread uncluttered it was (in contrast to many cities in the US), being covered with many trees and grass and other forms of nature in even the most “downtown” of areas. For any young tourist, I would recommend the Kreuzberg neighborhood as a place to spend a lot of town, at it contains many “trendy” establishments, including some well known cafes bars, shops, and restaurants. It is also one of the grittier sides of the city, possessing a coat of graffiti on most outdoor walls and many vagabonds busking for cash on the streets, all while maintaining a generally peaceful atmosphere.
Berlin was one of the most memorable cities I have visited, and one I hope to return to in the future. For now, I must get back to studying, as that is, after all, why I have come to Germany.
Check here for some complementary video diary entries from my trip: https://vimeo.com/channels/718092https://vimeo.com/channels/718092
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