Time for another Thanksgiving Europe trip! It took a bit of back and forth and different options but Nilufer and I finally decided on Berlin and Prague for this trip. We met up at the Berlin airport and made our way into town.
Our hotel (NH Freidrichstrasse) ended up being in a fantastic location – near an U-bahn, S-bahn, and tram stop. And not too far from the Brandenburg Gate. Our room was on the second floor and overlooked Friedrichstrasse, and while it was noisy at times, overall it was fine. After dropping our bags we knew it was time to eat!! We made our way over to the KaDaWe store for some schnitzel, as well as shopping. We weren’t too far from the Victory Column and so to help keep me awake we walked over and up the 270 odd stairs to the top of the Victory Column. It was dark by then, but still a beautiful view of the city lights.
The last time I was in Berlin (which was nearly 10 years ago!!) I visited the Reichstag, but I had no recollection of needing tickets in advance. Fortunately the tickets were fairly easy to sign up for (although the website is not the most user-friendly). They had day of tickets available and we requested a pair for the 5:30 time slot and made our way over in the pouring rain. Sadly when we arrived they couldn’t find our reservations (apparently the system doesn’t always update when you reserve online for day of tickets). The only ones available for that one were for later that night so we made a reservation for the next morning.
The Brandenburg Gate is a short walk from the Reichstag and we enjoyed the gate at night as well as the exhibit in front of the gate (three city busses standing up, signifying unity) before heading back towards our hotel.
Neither of the restaurants close to our hotel had any room (we were encouraged to leave rather than wait) and so we took the recommendation of the waiter to try a restaurant (Da Vinci) a few blocks down. It was Italian so I was definitely okay with it. And their pizza was absolutely delicious!!
The other good thing about our hotel was the fact there was an ice cream shop next door! We finished the night with ice cream. Because what’s vacation without ice cream? Even when its cold out!
Finally it was time for bed! I was proud of myself for making it until 8 PM!
The next morning we made our way over to the Reichstag, stopping for breakfast at Brotzeit. I had avocado toast for the first time, and it was delicious!
We finally made it into the Reichstag and up the elevator to the bottom of the glass dome. It really is amazing to see up close. From there we made our way back to the Brandenburg Gate to see it in the daylight and over to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Our last stop of the morning was Checkpoint Charlie before making our way over to Kreutzberg. When I was last in Paris, I had taken a photo class/tour and enjoyed it so much that I decided to take another one in Berlin. (Why Berlin vs Prague? Because Berlin was at the beginning of the trip and hopefully I could use what I learned the rest of the trip!)
I went with the same company as the one in Paris (Aperture Tours) and Katrin was a great instructor – I really liked how she explained how to use my camera. We explored some of the Berlin Wall remains before heading over to a market hall to continue the tour.
After the tour ended, Nilufer and I made our way back over towards our hotel and the pizza restaurant. Because again, I really enjoy pizza on vacation (well anytime really).
Our last day in Berlin started off very similar to the previous day with breakfast at Brotzeit. I knew it was going to be a good day because there was a design in my coffee!! We decided to split the avocado toast (but added eggs and bacon to it) and the pancakes. The pancakes were not American pancakes, but were still delicious.
We took the S-bahn to Oranienburg, and began the 20-ish minute walk out to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. The museums were closed, however the grounds were still open. It is such a sobering experience to visit and yet I continue to visit concentration camps as I feel it helps to keep the memory alive as well as honor those who died. And even today, I feel like we need to remember the past so we are not doomed to repeat it. The familiar Arbeit Macht Frei (work sets you free) greeted us as we walked through camp entrance. The camp was massive and had a good number of signs to help depict life at the camp.
We made our way back to Berlin and over to the Hackescher Market area for some shopping and exploring (and where we tried currywurst!) before making our way over to Potsdam Platz where there was just the beginning of a Christmas Market. Of course I had some gluhwein!
We were up early the next morning and took advantage of the Starbucks next to the hotel before taking a cab over to the main train station to catch our train to Prague. Berlin to Prague via train was about 4.5 hours. Why the train vs a plane you may ask? Well I was having difficulty finding a direct flight from Berlin to Prague and so when you add in connection time, 4.5 on a direct train really wasn’t too bad. Plus the tickets weren’t super expensive and I like traveling on trains! I took advantage of my time on the train to get caught up on my Lightening Round of Races recaps.
Stay tuned for Prague!