Our original plan was to head off to the airport around 5:30pm from London Bridge (where our office is) to get to the airport in plenty of time for our flight (gotta make sure to have some lounge time). BUT the world had some other plans. Unfortunately, there was an attack at London Bridge, which caused the whole area to go on shut down. I happened to have gone to a client meeting 10 minutes away when it happened so I was not stuck in our office during the shutdown, however, I did leave literally all my belongings there because I expected to be right back (this would include important things like my passport and literally any other form of identification). We had no idea how long the area would be on shutdown so me and Will (the two not in the office) decided to head to the airport and just wait for Alyssa and Ian there. If they made it in time then we made it and if not then we’d just head back to the city. We got a blessing from the world with a plane delay because… GET THIS…. the Berlin airport shut down for a few hours because they found a bomb from WORLD WAR 2. Weird day. Alyssa and Ian reached us about 7:25 (flight leaving at 7:55). We ran through security quickly, but OF COURSE our gate was on the farthest side of the terminal. No joke took 10 minutes of mostly running to get there. We were all dying by the time we got to the gate (thankfully perfectly on time!). We had no other troubles the rest of the night and were all relieved when we finally got to our airbnb!
Day 1 – Saturday
I booked a walking tour for us at 10am. We met at Brandenburg Gate, which was about a 20 minute walk from our airbnb. It’s a bit chillier in Berlin than London so finally pulled out my winter gear…. although when you are outside for 4hrs you’re bound to get cold no matter what you’re wearing.
Our guide for the tour was awesome! She was definitely super passionate about the history of Berlin, which you could tell when she told stories.
We had a quick history of the Brandenburg Gate, which somehow survived all the bombings during WWII. Literally everything else around it was destroyed. It is very cool though so I’m glad it survived!
We walked over to the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. It’s a bunch of cement blocks in different shapes (I believe it was about 2,000 blocks). It’s definitely very eery to walk through.
From the memorial we walked to a random parking lot… jk it was actually the parking lot they built on top of the bunker in which Hitler killed himself. Wild. They decided to fill it all in with cement since there are some things that don’t actually need to be tourist destinations. But there is a brief sign explaining what used to be below the parking lot for history’s sake.
We also walked into a random subway station…. not so random once again (are you catching on?). They made this subway station using blocks from Hitler’s office after the war was over. Rebuilding using materials from his main office. Pretty cool!
From there we got to see part of the Berlin wall! We walked from East to West (thankfully easy to do now). I definitely did not realize that the wall went up AFTER the war and was created by the Soviets (clearly I’m not a history major). The wall literally went up overnight and whichever side you happened to be on that night is where you ended up having to live. People were literally separated from their children, family, and friends.
Our tour ended in one of the squares where 20,000 books were burned. There is a memorial in the center in which you can see down into a room with empty bookshelves which can hold 20,000 books.
Our tour ended right by a Christmas market (Alyssa’s main attraction on this trip 😂). We had some lunch then walked around with some mulled wine to stay warm!
We went to our Airbnb to dethaw a bit after being outside for like 6hrs. Then headed back to the memorial for murdered Jews in Europe to go to the museum underneath. The museum had a little history, but a lot of stories of families and people which was really cool (and obviously sad).
Afterwards we headed over to another Christmas market near the TV tower. Very pretty area! Had some dinner (bratwurst of course) and some more mulled wine!
There was this sculpture of a clock which I really enjoyed. Basically the middle part with the numbers moves so you can walk around and see what time it is in different parts of the world!
Day 2 – Sunday
We started our morning back over by the TV Tower as there was ANOTHER Christmas market over there (I know seems excessive). Had some hot chocolate and some lunch.
Basically the markets are mini carnivals.
We ended up catching a bus over to the East Side Gallery museum, which is a part of the Berlin wall that they turned into art.
After the wall, we got the train over to checkpoint Charlie. One of the famous American checkpoints between East and West Berlin. We went to the museum built, which has A LOT of information, but the cool part was all the interesting stories about how people escaped from the East to the West (hiding in cars, zipline, hot air balloon… you name it they seemed to have done it).
They rebuilt the checkpoint so you can see what it would’ve looked like
We rested again in our Airbnb for about an hour before heading out to our last Christmas market! This one had a “snow” slide, that was only €1.50 so we figured why not. It was a quick fun ride.
We walked around the market for awhile and had dinner (cheesey pretzel this time) and some more mulled wine!
From the market, we walked over to the Reichstag Building, which is the parliament building. We were able to book free tickets to go on a tour of the dome at the top.
The dome came with an audio guide that played information based on where you were standing which was pretty cool.
The mirrors in the middle of the dome are to direct sunlight down into the chambers where parliament sits. There is also a shade that rotates so the sun doesn’t produce any glares. Super cool design!
To end the night, we walked back to our Airbnb and stopped one last time at the Brandenburg Gate- very pretty at night.