I’ve read Hamlet enough times to remember that I must speak daggers and use none and thus I must be dreadfully honest about the next leg of our trip; I just didn’t like Hamburg. But before we get to that we must get inside one of my favourite stops of our Interrailing adventure; Berlin.
Stop 2: Berlin
First by plane and now by train; we arrived in Berlin to be mesmerised by the sheer scale of the railway station that sat before us. With it’s own showering area and the cleanest toilets in all of Europe (trust me, I’ve been in like 85% of them now), arriving in Berlin was worth the 5.5 hours it took to get there. We first stopped in Warsaw (where we spent a whole 30 minutes and took in the sights of one tower and a few American tourists eating strange sausage on sticks). This leg of the journey required 2 reservations (trains inside Poland are some of the few that require these). We paid nothing for our first leg (Krakow to Warsaw) but we did require a reservation ticket and the second leg (Warsaw to Berlin) required a small fee which I think equated to something around €7
We stayed in the Generator Hostel Prenzlauer Berg, a short tram ride to the center of town. Here we stayed in a 6 bed dorm, having met with our friend Chloe who was studying in Germany at the time. Our spare bed was on one night taken over by a seemingly nice American who quickly lost our favour when he closed all the room’s windows while we all boiled in the 27 degree night time heat. The second night brought us a much nicer roomie from Switzerland. In general the hostel was clean, the communal showers and toilets were spotless (though quite small for tall people like me) and the room was bright and uhm…. warm? The food is definitely overpriced however and our lockers were broken leading us to channel our inner macGyvers and create a sort of super lock to keep our valuables safe. Travel savvy we are!
Food and Drink
I am only going to give two food and drink recommendations for Berlin but you cannot leave Germany without trying BOTH (regardless of budget, you can splash out this time)
Number 1: The Fairytale Bar
I am going to preface this by warning you that, although unusual for a review, I can’t tell you too much about this place; It’s an experience that you just won’t get unless you are willing to pay a visit yourself. Located in what looks like the downstairs of an apartment block from the outside, ring the bell and enter an entirely new world of fairytales, magic and adventure. We drank from a shoe, fell in love with a bathroom and woo’d and awe’d our entire night away while the real world zoomed outside. Take this Disney lovers word for it – this was the greatest find of the entire interrailing trip.
Number 2: Lily Burger
Have you ever eaten a burger bigger then you entire head? I have (Attempted to). Being the only vegetarian in the group, I was worried when reading reviews of this Berlin Hotspot; I wanted a burger too! Upon arrival, I was thrilled to see that not only were vegetarians catered for; there was an entire vegan section of the menu too. Lily Burger is hip, the waiting staff are fun and so hipster it may hurt your heart but the food is amazing. A little steep in price for some burgers (and budgets), Lily Burger is more of an experience then anything. I tried the curly fries and the Veggie Cheese Burger. Yum.
We also ate in Pasta Deli a really lovely and affordable Pasta joint and I fell in love with Raspberry Beer which I duly miss here in yeasty bear loving Ireland.
The To-Do List
Have a Bear Hunt
Dotted around the streets of Berlin are the United Buddy Bears. Part of an art project and popping up in the most random of places, these bears are great for a photo op (and I had great fun documenting everyone we passed!)
Meet the Berlin Wall
After extensive walking (and frantic googling) we found that the best place to see the Berlin wall was The East Side Gallery. Stretching about 1.3km, this is apparently the longest open air gallery in the world and like any good gallery, some of the “exhibitions” were closed off to the public (by this I mean behind barriers, blocking any chance of a proper view. I did enjoy the variety of art styles on show and it was definitely enjoyable to finally be able to see some of the amazing street art I always see online, in person.
Chill at Charlie’s Urban Beach
I am a girl who loves her island and a girl who loves the sea…. being from a coastal city, I’m never too far from the seaside and thus no interrailing trip would be complete without a trip to at least one beach. Charlie’s Beach, located conveniently next to Checkpoint Charlie was my first ever visit to an urban beach and certainly won’t be my last. Stepping through the gates and onto the sandy coverings of the inner city beach is in reality a chance to step into a different world. Outside, is certain to be chaotic with the hustle and bustle of tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the famous checkpoint but inside there is a little oasis that provides an opportunity to relax and enjoy the sun, sand a really cute cocktails! Woop Woop ice-cream also have a mobile van here – a must try especially for the seasonal ice-cream lover. What makes this sweet treat even more special is the fact that it’s frozen with liquid nitrogen right in front of you. We bought flavours on offer and mixed and matched!
I’m on a Boat?
This is my Andy Sandburg moment, leave me be. Berlin is beautiful by foot but sometimes it’s nice to take take the weight off your feet and see the city from a different point of a view. We took a boat from museum island and swept along the river for an hour of seeing the sights from a different perspective.
Visit a Chocoholics Dream (And Make Your Own Chocolate Bar!)
As a self-professed chocoholic, Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt Berlin was a world of wonder. Enter a world of chocolate goodness, pick up virtually any flavour Ritter bar at really great prices and if nothing is to your fancy, make your own creation for as little as €4.50! I tried a white chocolate, raspberry, lemon and almond bar which was incredible! My only wish is that I had of bought more!
Other Things to See
- Behold the Brandenburg Gate
- See the Reichstag (and visit the dome if you can stand the que!)
- Pay your respect at the Holocaust Memorial
Stop 3: Hamburg
Of course as we were interrailing, we arrived at Hamburg HBF by train; getting horrendously lost trying to find our accommodations which it turned out was seconds away.
We stayed in the Sleephotel in an area near St. Georg. Although the hotel was clean, our room was small for 4 people and the staff were downright rude when we had wifi trouble (read, no wifi at all). The area itself was a little dodgy and not somewhere I’d visit alone.
Food and Drink
The first day we arrived in Hamburg, we happened upon the final day of the St Georg Street Festival (Stradfest St Georg). Here we enjoyed street food and drinks in the sun while watching traditional Turkish dancing on the main stage. In a small square very close to our hotel there were a number of cafés and it was here we ate the most. I also had an amazing happy hour cocktail called a Zombie in Kyti Voo; an aptly named concoction that contained a huge alcohol concentration (my hazy memory says something was 64%…) that left me a little words for ware half way through.
On the ice-cream front, Luciella’s is incredible and I adored the idea of being able to sample a taste of another flavour on top of your creation.
The To-Do List
Walk along the Alster
A beautiful lake surrounded by lots of areas to sit and relax, it’s definitely worth a stroll around this beautiful area. Stop for ice-cream, watch the bad-add ducks but be careful of evening runners who show no fear in the face of slow moving walkers.
Stroll in St Pauli
Energetic, quirky and full of fun St Pauli is a street art lovers paradise. I particularly enjoyed snapping pictures of the manifestations of stickers that seemed to be pooled on every free space.
Things to Note
- The tram system in Berlin is so useful but the ticket machines, not so much. We missed at least 3 trams because we just couldn’t use the damn machine. Take note – you need exact change!
- No matter what your level of German is, german people just don’t care and will speak in English to you.
- Hamburg is very spread out and from where we were based most things were too far of a walk away – base yourself some place more central if you’d like to see more sights