An unexpected joy. That is what we found in Berlin. Amongst its streets of perfectly organized apartments, canals, gardens and downtown history we rode bicycles. Even in the rain we enjoyed our visit with Berlin.
After 24 years, the differences can still be seen between East and West Berlin. East Berlin with its eclectic yet friendly atmosphere which made us feel at home. West Berlin with its upscale shopping and white collar workers made us feel under dressed. A small memorial of where the wall once stood is located just outside the Potsdamer Platz Underground station. 155km of wall once surrounded West Berlin and now only a few pieces remain as a reminder of what once was.
We rented our bicycles from Potsdam per Pedales which was located at the Potsdamer Platz station. Navigating Berlin on bicycle was surprisingly simple. The city has designated bicycle lanes and plenty of pathways along the canals and through the parks. We spent our time randomly riding around in bliss.
Tiergarten Park is a huge park in the middle of the city. It has streams, statues and a musical bell tower. The western edge connects to the Zoo. The eastern edge holds the Brandenburg Gate, along which the wall used to run. We spent over an hour riding around there and still didn’t see half of it. In the evening at Brandenburg Gate (located at the far East end of the park) we found musical talents entertaining the tourists as well as neon lite pedicabs (similar to a rickshaw but more pod like) waiting to zip you around town.
We visited the Reichstag building. A building which was originally used to house the Imperial Diet until it was damaged by fire in 1933 and then fell into a period of disuse. It was partially refurbished in the 60’s but was reopened in 1999 after a full restoration and now houses the German Parliament. The restoration included the addition of a giant glass dome at the top which gives a 360 degree view of the city. We know nothing about politics, but the dome was really cool.
We enjoyed the Botanical Gardens complete with 16 greenhouses! I believe the grounds would be much nicer to visit mid-summer as most of the flowers had already bloomed and faded away when we were there in early September. Bring your walking shoes, you could easily spend 3-5 hours there!
We favored East Berlin. We loved its pub and restaurant lined streets in the Friedrichshain community. It was vibrant in the evening without a clique type vibe that you can get in some trendy areas in other cities. People were enjoying food along the table lined sidewalks, chatting and laughing. Others enjoyed watching the soccer game that was televised from inside some of the restaurants. Open alcohol is most definitely allowed on the streets and in the malls…and everywhere, which is a shock for someone from North America. But it was definitely a welcomed change in culture.
We hope to visit Berlin again. We’d like to stay a little longer next time!