It would appear that February is just not a good month for me, writing-wise. However never fear, as I am back with a vengeance to continue telling you about my recent adventures in Berlin!
Now where was I...
Ah yes, we arrived in Berlin, were really sleepy and most of us crashed pretty early on the first night. So we had some serious making up to do the next day, starting with the classic trip to Alexanderplatz and of course the compulsory tourist picture in front of the World Clock. We also treated ourselves to our second Bratwurst of the trip for breakfast. I seriously cannot get enough of that stuff.
After we'd finished munching we headed of in the vague direction of all the touristy stuff. We did the classic trying to get a picture in front of the Berlin TV Tower and failing because it's pretty impossible to fit into the picture frame whilst standing on the ground, before wandering down 'Unter der Linden'.
On our way down we came across Humboldt University, the place where a lot of my course mates will be spending their year abroad. Outside there was a DDR (German Democratic Republic) thrift-stall-type-thing, laden with all sorts of old medals, comic books and school certificates from the former state. As massive German nerds, we of course had a bit of a nosey. There's something strangely enchanting about seeing the propaganda first hand. It's like meeting a person for the first time after hearing their entire life story; you know everything about them, yet they still don't quite seem real until you actually see them in the flesh. Having a small part of the DDR's history materialise in front of me really did, in the least cliché way possible, bring history to life in a way I hadn't really experienced before. I suppose it was different to a museum, since it was so tangible and almost day-to-day, not having been glorified by some fancy museum stand with a placard attempting to minimise the reason for it's existence into just a few small sentences. You could touch, hold and analyse to your hearts desire, imagining your own back story to the particular old photograph and its previous owner. History really is quite magical.
En route to the Reichstag we saw lots of other cool things...
We met Lenin himself inside a museum that was too expensive to pay for so we just took seflies and ran.
The be-a-utiful Catholic Cathedral
The Branderburg Gate, of course, with a slightly intimidating group of Hungarians protesting something-or-other outside if it
And then came the platter, which has a story all to itself. Unfortunately this may of been a 'had to be there' moment, however I haven't cried so hard from laughter probably ever as I did at this, so I can't possibly miss it out. The story goes that whilst Greg, Imogen and I had fallen behind for some reason, the others headed off to find a restaurant for a brief chill with a beer and a bit of food. Once we'd arrived and ordered our steins of the local brew, Jess, Anna and Rhia eagerly awaited their sharing platter at just €20.99 between the three of them. Or so they thought. *Dramatic pause* DUN DUN DUUUUUUN.
Jess suddenly had a harrowing thought that perhaps they'd read the menu wrong and hurried to double check. To her absolute horror, it turned out the cost was actually €20.99 per person. With a minimum of four people. Bringing the total cost of the meal up to €83.96. Even worse was that it was way too late to cancel it and we had no way to run as three of us had ordered a litre of beer each (never try downing a litre of beer kids, believe me, it's not as fun as it sounds). So we waited with baited breath for the monstrosity containing: a shoulder of pork wrapped in bacon, a whole roast chicken, sausages, slices of leberkäse, a gammon steak, a fried egg, a large portion of chips and a large side salad, to arrive.
As I couldn't afford to pay a portion of the bill, watching three people eating that incredible plate of food without being able to dig in myself was a particularly painful and will-power challenging experience. They had a pretty good go at it though! Even if we couldn't get away with playing the 'silly foreigner' card (which, for once, was genuinely the truth) and had to pay the entire bill.
Once we'd managed to successfully execute our Indiana Jones-style escape from the evil platter wielding restaurant from hell, we headed off slightly more intoxicated than planned to visit the Reichstag, outside of which we decided to take the most attractive blind selfie* known to man. As I've been before I spent most of my find taking silly pictures outside the various fancy buildings in the area and causing general mischief.
*Definition of a blind selfie: basically a selfie the old fashioned way. hold the camera up without flipping the lens and snap. For the best results, don't plan the position of the camera, bringing it up to about the right position and pull a silly face. Voilà, pure perfection.
Still not ready to throw out touristy caps away for the day, we went in search of the Holocaust memorial and Potsdamer Platz. As with my visit to Auschwitz, I think it would be better if I were to write a separate piece on the memorial, rather than including it amongst all our tom foolery. However Potsdamer Platz was really cool and we'd been lucky enough to run into another group of the girls who were on the trip with us to all get a lovely picture together.
We eventually made it back to the hostel after our insanely busy day to get ready to go out and experience some of Berlin's (in)famous night life. I was also lucky enough to meet up with an old friend who I met on the first ever exchange I did in high school at just 14 years old!
Me and Paul, old friends reunited!
I won't go into too much detail of our antics but I think Berlin lived up to our expectations on the night-life front, with none of us returning home much before 5am, covered in marker pens and each with a different story to tell.
I'm sorry this post turned out so much longer than I expected, we really did get a lot done in one day! I'll try and write about our final day as soon as possible :)