A German Getaway
This week I was fortunate enough to go on a little trip to Germany. My roommate and I found tickets for this weekend at an incredibly cheap price. We had the option of going to Munich or Berlin, we chose Berlin. This would be the second European country I visit, since I have only really traveled around Italy and haven’t gone elsewhere. However, I was very excited to add Germany to my list. Germany has been on my list of places I want to travel to for a long time. I even went as far as taking three German language courses in my home university, just for fun. Therefore, I was more than ready to spend a weekend in Berlin.
Our flight left early in the morning from Bergamo, which is about an hour away from the city center of Milan. Therefore, we had to be up early to catch the shuttle bus from the train station to Bergamo airport. That part ended up not being a problem since I couldn’t even sleep because I was so excited. The plane ride was calm, except for the toddler kicking my seat the majority of the time. We arrived to the hotel and were greeted by an older lady. I attempted to speak my best German, but it was very rusty since I hadn’t practiced it in months. Luckily she understood me and spoke English as well. The hotel looked like something out of 1960’s East Berlin. That’s not saying it was bad or old or any negative comment. On the contrary, the hotel was very quaint and comfortable, it seemed stuck in time, but in a good way.
After we settled in, it was time to head to the city. We decided to try our luck navigating the German public transportation, luckily another elderly man helped us by giving us a map of the routes. The nearest train station was only a 10 minute walk away from the hotel. We got to the platform and found the ticket machine. We read online that Germans were very strict about tickets and validating their tickets. Coincidentally, as soon as we arrived to the platform we saw a foreign woman (spoke English) getting a ticket for not having the proper boarding pass. In Italy, we know we can always fall back on “we’re American, we didn’t know,” but that doesn’t fly in Germany.
Once we had our all-day pass, we headed to the center looking for a quick meal before we started our touring around. I searched a few notable places to eat and we decided on Konnopke’s Imbiss, which was known for its currywurst. Once we had ordered we were talking about what we should do first an how good the food is when we noticed someone standing in the same table as us. We didn’t think much of it until she spoke up and asked us if we were traveling. An American! We smiled and answered her yes, we then proceeded to ask where she was from. This is where things got interesting. She said shes from the US but was studying in Milan for the semester. To our shock, that is exactly what we were doing. We ask her what school in Milan she’s studying at and she said, not joking, Bocconi. What are the odds! We were all from the US studying abroad in Milan at Bocconi. We then learned that she is originally from Kentucky but goes to school in Berkeley.
A duo turned to trio
With our new friend we decided to explore Berlin together. The first stop was Check-Point Charlie. It was really cute to see the stand that still stands in the middle of the street. Then we headed to German Spy Museum. This is an interactive museum, so we got to touch and experiment with a lot of the exhibits, and pretend to be a spy. I felt like a little kid again. We then proceeded to go to the Brandenburg Gate. However, we were distracted by a winter festival that was on the way. We had no idea they started winter celebrations this early in November, but we were completely delighted. They had winter drinks and lots and lots of food. Xaiowan (our new friend) and I decided we needed to try authentic Glühwein in Germany, and what better way than in a Winterwelt event. I am happy to report it was actually very delicious and warm.
After we bought way too much food and drank a bit, we made our way to our original location, Brandenburg Gate. Pictures really don’t do these places justices. It was absolutely breathtaking. After a quick photo-session, we decided to go to one of the oldest biergartens in Berlin. You obviously can’t leave Germany without going to a biergarten and drinking a German beer. I had a dark beer and couldn’t help myself and ordered an apfelstrudel. I had eaten so much but I could not leave Germany without eating an apple strudel. We had a pretty long journey back to the hotel so we had to part ways with Xaiowan. After exchanging social medias, we said our good-byes and headed to the hotel.
Meine Berlin Erfahrung
I still have much to talk about, but per-usual my post is very long. We were there for two days but I decided to only talk about the first day because of the experience that I never thought I’d have. I had only really seen this happen in movies, where people from the same place meet in a completely different place. It is an experience I never thought would happen to me, especially not in Berlin. However, I am very happy it happened because I met a lovely person and had a lovely experience with. Another thing I want to point out is that I knew before arriving, because of my German professors back home, that Germans are not as they are stereotyped to be like.
Many people have this idea that Germans are tough, coldhearted, stoic people. From my experience, I did not see that at all. I don’t know if it was because they appreciated that I tried to speak German first and not expect them to speak English right away, but everyone I encountered was very friendly. My spoken German isn’t the best, but I always made an attempt to speak that first before going to English. Back to the Germans, every person we encountered was very friendly, open, and funny. It is truly an unfair stereotype that Germans have, because my experience in Berlin paints a completely different picture. I leave Berlin with a heavy heart and look forward to the next time I’m there.