I visited Germany in January of 2019 and met a wild traveller called Aaron (he was taking a break from his business, Pedleys Solar). We enjoyed a four day stay at a bed and breakfast in the East side of Berlin.
As a history buff, this was a dream come true for me!
The remnants of the divide, despite being removed decades ago, are visible for all to see. The feeling of walking on a Western street is completely different to that of an Eastern street; the East has much more space to breathe as well as an abundance of public land to enjoy the sun in.
As my visit was in January, we were lucky enough to have a night or two marked by heavy snow, it put the city in a whole new light; the sharp angles and pristine architecture covered by a blanket of white.
It is obligatory when visiting Germany to look upon the relics of the Second World War, there is no place better for this than Berlin. The
Topography of Terror gives you the most in depth walk through Germany’s darkest years you’ll find anywhere. Nearby is the harrowing
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a gigantic concrete maze of towers varying in size from waist high to several stories tall. It is impossible not to get emotional when visiting this area of the city, the historic weight is palpable.
The German DDR museum is a must for anyone interested in Cold War history, you can visit replicas of East German flats and immerse yourself in a completely different way of life. Despite the immense quality of this section of the trip, the true highlight was the East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that remains standing. It is truly humbling to stand next to one of the most important parts of 20th Century history, the graffiti is an added bonus too! Following from this, Checkpoint Charlie is a fascinating look at the tensions that used to divide the city, it features road markings that show you exactly where the wall would have stood.
Finishing off the historical section of the holiday, the Soviet War Memorial is a gargantuan monument to the lives lost in the liberation of Berlin; parked in front are the first two tanks to enter the city. The monument stares triumphantly at both the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, it’s located perfectly to visit all three in one day. I would recommend paying for a guide to walk you through this section of the city as it is so full of history that it is easy to miss things!
As a lover of a good night out, I instinctively looked around several of the bars that the city has to offer. Looking past the prices that are inevitably going to be high in a city centre, there were dozens of pubs with great atmospheres and friendly staff. My personal favourite was a quaint Irish bar near the BnB which specialised in whiskey. For those looking for something more exciting, there are many clubs in the centre of the city with a fantastic reputation.