The long road

Travelling on a budget is such a vicious cycle. After the two months I spent practically living on busses in the USA and Canada I swore I’d never do it again. Then when time comes to make another travel decision I tell myself “you’ve done it all before, what’s just one more night on a bus”?

So we made arrangements to jump on a coach from Amsterdam to Berlin. EuroLines were the cheapest option available, it was only 10 hours and it was an overnight trip so it’d save us accommodation for a night.

And that’s when I swore I’d never do it again, again.

We arrived to Berlin and were at our hostel by about 8 or so in the morning so we dumped our stuff and freshened up a little bit before heading out. While getting ourselves together I noticed a lanky, afro-d guy with a distinctly Australian voice and realised it was Brad from Gyroscope. I turned to Bee only to notice she was wearing her Gyro t-shirt. Of all the cities in the world, of all the hostels in Berlin, and of any of the times she could have been wearing it, was a pretty funny coincidence for the embarrassment of both her and Brad.

We stayed in EastSeven hostel which was cheap, comfy, and considering Berlin’s transport system it was also very easy to get to. The first mission was to check out all the usual tourist things such as the East Side Gallery and TV tower, and generally just go for a stroll around the place.

The next day we went on one of the “free” city tours, and I have to say these are highly recommended, at least in a place such as Berlin with such a storied history. It’s free in the sense that you’re supposed to tip what you think the tour was worth, but it was easily worth a good few €€€ for the 3+ hours it went for. We were taken up past Museum Island, down Unter den Linden to Bebelplatz (site of book burnings by the Nazis with an underground memorial viewable through a glass sidewalk panel), past various war related buildings and landmarks (Ministry of Finance, Berlin Wall, site of Hitler’s Bunker), through the Memorial for Murdered Jews of Europe and finally winding up at the Brandenburg Gate with a view of the Reichstag.

Bebelplatz

What's left of Hitler's bunker

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The next day we headed out of the city on a half-day trip to Sachsenhausen, the site of a former concentration camp. I’ve mentioned this in a previous entry from a couple years ago and it’s surprisingly changed a little bit since; the wall around the semi-circle has since been removed and they’re currently marking out areas and doing earthworks that would suggest they’re maybe going to start re-constructing some of the old demolished buildings to more accurately represent how the camp once looked.

For our final day we took ourselves back out to Museum Island as per Damien’s recommendation to go see the Pergamon Museum.The museum houses a bunch of ancient artefacts that were ‘liberated’ (read: stolen) by German archaeologists. We were guided by the ever delightful Jonathon, the voice of the audio guide. It’s actually quite impressive the things you’ll find in here such as the Pergamon Altar and Gates of Babylon.

We actually achieved quite a bit in our short stay. Looking back on it, for what we saved maybe the bus wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Written on January 18, 2012