I watched the ground grow closer and closer as the plane descended into Berlin. Looking out the window of the plane has always sparked my imagination since I rarely get to experience the cities I fly into. I always imagine what it is like wandering the streets down below. What is it like to see that building from a ground perspective?
Now, I had a month to explore a new place. A new city. A new home.
As soon as I stepped out of the airport, it was a crowded, congested mess of people waiting to take a bus to then take a train. We all had luggage to maneuver around and stand on top of since we were packed in like sardines.
The bus followed a road next to a river. People walked along the bank. And some of the young boys were throwing rocks into the wat.
My two guides and I piled off the bus along with many other people, struggling to get my luggage off the bus before the bus drove off again. And we made our way down the stairs to the train. We rode the train for a while, shuffling places with those getting on and off the train. It all passed by so fast. Before I knew it we were off that train and on another.
When one of the interns leading the way finally pointed out the apartment building. It was so close to where we got off the tram. The closer the better in my sleep deprived, jet lagged state.
They pointed out the grocery store and left me with the rest of the day to do whatever I pleased.
I walked the two blocks to the supermarket hoping to find something for breakfast and a snack later that night. There was some fresh warm rolls being set up for display as I got there, of course, I had to buy it! I also bought ham, and some disgusting cheese, like, really disgusting and smells like a dog’s behind and maybe something that crawled up somewhere and died. I went for the cheap stuff thinking it would be a good idea. The cheaper the better. The cheaper the grosser!
Later that night when my flatmates came home I told them they could have the cheese if they wanted, and the girl just laughed. She said they had bought the exact same cheese the month before.
When we went out for drinks in the evening I was struck by how much graffiti was everywhere. Walls, trains, shops, everywhere. Some of it was just vandalism. But some of it was, in fact, a work of art. When you really think about it, it’s amazing what some people can do with spray paint.
Another thing I was immediately shocked by was the number of beggars. Beggars would board the trains and ask for money. They would wander around the stations holding their empty cups out begging. A lot of them were holding what appeared to be newspapers in front of their bodies and a cup in one hand.
There was really only one place I immediately felt unsafe in when we passed it on the way to drinks and then later when we returned home. My feelings about that place never settled the entire month that I was there, no matter what time of day or how many times I went past there. Always trust your gut
Overall, living in Berlin was a great experience. This is going to sound super silly, but I didn’t really like it all that much while I was there to start with. I stayed in the East so it was all full of Soviet and Cold War era buildings. It lacked the European charm that American’s love.
Towards the end of my stay, though, I really started to appreciate the city and all there was to do and see. I also started to appreciate the history of the city. I found places that I really, really loved. There are a couple more things I didn’t have the opportunity to do that I really wanted to.
I think it is safe to say that Berlin is a destination that will remain on my list for a while. There is just so much to do, you simply cannot cram it into one month!
Have you ever found yourself wanting more from a destination only to find it a few days before leaving?
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