NEW YEAR IN BERLIN | THINGS TO DO

You may have read my blog post about winter travels where I explain that my bestfriend and I for the past few years have been away for New Year. I didn’t write about last year as I wasn’t too well so we didn’t really manage to do much however I have written about our trip two years ago to Prague, if you’re interested.

This year was no exception to the travel rule and we decided to book Berlin! We booked back in July and managed to pay around £500 each for flights and accommodation over 5 nights/6 days.

I had originally thought that I would just have one super post about Berlin however I felt like it would be too long and boring so I’ve decided to split up our activities and food into two posts – hope you don’t mind!

Walking Tour

When we were in Prague we discovered a company called Sandemans which offer free walking tours around many cities and Berlin is one of them! These tours are great for learning information about where you are but also really helpful for learning your bearings. Our first stop was at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

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This memorial was opened in 2005 and was designed by New York architect called Peter Eisenman. Peter drew inspiration from many different memorials and graveyards one being the graveyard in the Jewish Quarter in Prague. You can’t really tell from the picture but the ground actually sinks in places and you are completely surrounded by the big concrete blocks.

The next stop was actually Hitler’s Bunker which is now completely covered over with sand and has been made into a car-park. For this reason I did not take any photos! They decided to fully block access to the bunker in case it became a shrine for Neo-Nazi’s.

Checkpoint Charlie was next in the tour which is identified by the huge picture of a soldier.

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No that soldier is not called Charlie! It actually comes from the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie) and this became the most famous crossing point between East and West Germany.

The tour in total lasted about 3 hours with a 15 minute coffee break. I would highly recommend these tours even if you aren’t really into history because honestly, it is so fascinating and the events in Berlin should never be forgotten.

Winter Market

I believe there was 3 winter markets still open when we were in Berlin and they all varied in size and attractions. I would 100% be lying to you if I told where we went but it was the biggest one we found.

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There was a huge tree covered in lights, a live band, loads of indoor and outdoor stalls selling a variety of things, heaps of different sweet and savoury food options and of course bars/restaurants.

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Of course we found ourselves a cosy corner and some mulled red wine – I specify red wine because they also had mulled white wine which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before? Not going to lie we didn’t really explore the market, we just sat and had a really good chat!

Magicum 

Magicum is a Magic Museum and we kind of went there on a whim since it was near the hotel and the weather was rubbish – oh my gosh this was so good! It was absolutely nothing like we expected and we ended up being there for 3 hours! It was not magic in the sense of card tricks, it was more aimed at olden day witches and wizardry. It wasn’t all that though so don’t let that put you off. It is a super interactive place with tables dotted about that are all for different activities. You find out things such as your magic number, name meaning and astrology meanings too. You can even read your own fate with tarot cards.

These were the 3 readings I got from different packs of Tarot cards.  The fairy card tells me to initiate fun into my life by singing, dancing and celebrating. The butterfly card tells me to transform myself. The card in the middle says “Hatch out. It takes time and patience. Have confidence that something wonderful is about to emerge, even though you don’t know what the egg contains. Care for yourself ” – Sounds like 2019 is going to be pretty eventful for me!

If Tarot readings aren’t your thing, I’m sure a bit of arts and crafts will be! There was a little bench that you could decorate your own ‘magic bag’ and it teaches you how to execute the trick too.

Zoe and I were both very proud of our designs – I even unintentionally matched mine to my jumper!

East Side Gallery

This is something you just absolutely have to do if you visit Berlin.  I believe that there is still 3 sections of the wall standing and this is the longest stretch. Each segment of the wall is covered by a different and un-connecting piece of artwork and it is truly beautiful.

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Just be aware that getting a snap of this wall is pretty difficult! There is always so many people going about but it is most definitely worth going.

Brandenburg Gate

You definitely cannot go to Berlin without checking out this monumental structure. A lot of important political moments happened at this gate and it also became part of no mans land when the wall was constructed.

DDR Museum

On our last day, we had a couple of hours to kill so decided to hit up the DDR Museum. We didn’t really know what it was but read loads of reviews saying it was a must see museum. The Museum introduces its visitors to the history of everyday life in the DDR and the realities of life under Socialism. It is incredibly interactive with lots of things to do, touch, listen to and read.

We watched a short film on the living conditions in Berlin, rations and the different jobs that were available. We also got to walk through a reconstructed flat that people would have lived in. For 10 Euros it is definitely worth visiting – I would suggest pre-booking your tickets because we waited over 30 minutes in the queue to get in.

If you visit Berlin, be prepared to walk your socks off! There is so much to see but it is all pretty far apart so definitely be comfortable. I highly recommend Berlin to anyone who loves learning because there is of course an immense amount heavy history there.

Keep an eye out for my second installment all about the food we ate.

Bye for now,

Holly (1)

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