For my fourth trip, I decided to go out further…1,096km from Vienna is one of my favorite cities in Europe: Berlin!
This was the first time I tried the overnight trains both ways. It was possible because I took a late Friday night train to reach Saturday morning and took a Saturday night train back to return to Vienna by Sunday afternoon. Yes, the train rides were long, but I missed this city so much that I was willing to take the trip. Plus, I slept both ways, and when I wasn’t sleeping I was able to appreciate the beautiful fields and city views of Germany and Austria on the train ride, so there was not a single moment that I regretted.
The only minor drama that I experienced at the beginning of my trip was that I got on the wrong train. YES, this is probably one of the worst nightmares train travelers would experience. I got to the train station few minutes before my train, yet at the train station there was no sign saying “Berlin” but only “Warsaw.” I was totally confused. There was no way that a scheduled train cannot be there. Was I at the wrong train station? No I already came back from the another train station. Plus, it’s still leaving at the same hour as I looked up earlier. I got on that train…where people started to explain to me with worried glances that I’m on the wrong train. Eventually, I got off at the next stop thinking that my trip to Berlin will never materialize…then a young stranger (around my age) passed by informing me that THAT TRAIN was the CORRECT one indeed. It turns out that train was split into half: the first half, in which I was at. would go to Warsaw, but the later part would go to Berlin. Lesson learned, checked. But I was not going to go back home. No way! I was going to go somewhere no matter what. I don’t know where I’m getting the nerves to be more daring, but the more trips I do the more braver I was becoming. So when I learned there was a train to Munich in an hour, I decided to take that one. Surely, that train could help me…and it did.
Once I arrived in Munich early Saturday morning, I noticed there was a train to Berlin. I was glad to learn my spontaneity didn’t let me down. And that is how I still made it to Berlin! Though it was few hours later than what I originally planned, I still had the full day to enjoy. Since this was a return to the city, it was just good enough for me to go visit the places I enjoyed the last time I was here.
If you have never been to Berlin before, there are few things you should note.
First, though this is one of the most famous cities for its history and culture, it is also a city full of mixed emotions and communities. The old buildings and the new buildings, the East and the West, the young ones and the older generations, and the locals who still have to live through these challenges and the tourists who only come and take pictures…Because of this mix, Berlin is famous also for being a city that one either hates or love. Fortunately, I was happy to fit in the LOVE category. My first visit to Berlin in 2009 was memorable. The moment I saw how this mixed history and today live together, I was dazzled. Both were strong and unique. At the same time, it was one of the most metropolitan cities I have seen in Europe. While it was still Germany, you witness a diverse community here – both age, sex, race, and nationality. According to Wikipedia, there is about 4.5 million residing in Berlin within its metropolitan area and 3.4 million from 190 countries within the city limits. So that confirms that my impression was not false. The city is one of the largest city in Germany and has as many as 23 districts, which was reduced to 12 in 2001. Within history, the Berlin division during World War II is one of the most historical period in which many recall. The Berlin wall still stands in memory and its traces could be found everywhere within the city. In fact there are many areas that you can trace back the history. This was in hope to “not forget our past” and to “not repeat the mistakes we did in the past.”
But that doesn’t mean that the city is only searching for its past. It is a city that looks out for its future too. I was lucky again. The day I arrived in Berlin, not only was the weather amazing, but it was also the start of the EU Football, which meant Germans were going crazy excited for their first football game (which they in fact won that night!). Hence, the main park and city center was full of people dressed up, singing songs, and getting pumped up for the games that night.
So I decided to make a stroll along the main city center area (starting from the Berlin Gate to the museum island area). And here are some pictures I have captured of this colorful city. (You can tell how this weather really made a difference in the photos!)
And as you see, this photo was one of the highlight of my time there…Currywurst. Yum yum. It was a quick trip, but I’m not worried. I’ll be back again sometime for sure. (And I encourage you to if you haven’t!)