At Home in Berlin

At Home in Berlin

Written by Heather

Topics: Experiences Abroad

This is a post in the series “the time I went to…” in which I highlight international travel destinations pre-Oz. Sydney is my home-away-from-home, but Berlin may give it a run for the money.

I fell for Berlin within a few hours of arriving.

For me, the vibe and energy of the city was calming and refreshing and energizing all at once. At the same time, if there is one word I could use to describe my gut reaction to Berlin, it is simply “home”. Sounds kind of odd perhaps, but Berlin felt as much like home as a city outside of your own can.

Gunther and I spent several days walking around the city, taking in the sites on foot. When I close my eyes and think back to five years ago, I remember a nice and relatively clean city, although construction projects and large machinery stood at nearly every street corner. Only a few times did we begin walking down a street to realize that the buildings had still not been touched since reunification.

East Side Gallery

One day Gunther and I were fortunate enough to meet up with a friend of his who knows East Berlin well. She took us down small streets and showed us bullet holes in the walls of homes and various buildings. To a funky outdoor cafe, tucked away from the main roads. To the top floor of her office complex that had a beautiful view of the local neighborhood.

And we took photos of the East Side Gallery, where some of the Berlin Wall remains.

The Ampelmann

In addition to falling in love with a city, I fell for the Ampelmann.

Think about the pedestrian traffic signals where you live and the illuminated figure that indicates whether you must wait or if you can cross. The figure that appeared on the lights in East Germany is known as the Ampelmann and he was so popular that he can still be found in the city today. Everywhere. And I couldn’t get enough of him!

As a chef outside of a cafe

On chairs in a park

HE HAS HIS OWN SHOP — and I’m inside

Another Olympic Stadium drama

Remember the “bomb threat” I survived at Munich’s Olympic Park? Berlin’s Olympic Stadium had its own adventure for me and Gunther.

Two beer vendors who were preparing for a weekend soccer game accidentally locked us inside of the stadium. It took a while for Gunther and I to realize we were trapped inside, and with no one in sight, we figured we might be around until the game! A security guard thankfully saw us and came to our rescue.

My favorite green space

I love green spaces in big cities. And in Berlin is a small, intimate park in the Museum Island/river/cafe area. I think one sign called it James-Simon Park, but I’ve always had a difficult time confirming it online.

It doesn’t look like anything special from this picture, but on the day I first discovered it, it was a quiet retreat for couples and two travelers.

Inside the Reichstag dome

Gunther and I were very excited to visit the dome of the Reichstag, the parliament building.

Inside the dome we learned about German history, took photos until my camera battery died, and people watched for ages.

Sites of Berlin

When I wasn’t busy relaxing in a park or buying Amplemann goodies, I was visiting many of the historical sites in Berlin. Later this week (and I mean it this time!), I’ll share more photos from the city that stole my heart.

13 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Gav says:

    Lovely post and great pictures babe, I enjoy hearing about your previous travels too :-)

    I can’t wait to hear about your next trip and see you at the end of March :-*

  2. I have a feeling I would fall in love with Berlin too! Great pics!!!

  3. Jaime says:

    Oh Berlin how I love theeee too!!! Such an amazing city… I too loved the Ampelmann. He’s just too cute & funny! Oh & completely missed to go inside the Reichstag dome. Well now I have more reason to go back. One day I will go back to Berlin that is for sure. Can’t wait to see more photos!

    • Heather says:

      That’s always a tricky thing for me — how do I return to all of the places I want to go when there are so many new ones to explore?

  4. Adam says:

    Yes! Loved this – I just went inside the Reichstag dome a few weeks ago and posted about it, too. I don’t think it’s nearly as nice as visiting during the summer, though…

    • Heather says:

      I love reading about your experiences in Berlin since I loved the city so much. I’m glad your short stint there turned into something much longer!

  5. Laura says:

    Oh my gosh, I love the ampelmann!! I only had one full day in Berlin, so I went on a free walking tour which gave me a lot of history in a short amount of time. But my last afternoon there I did manage to make it to the Eastside gallery. I need more time to go back to Berlin though!

  6. Nicole says:

    Ampelmann is so much fun – I want to go to Berlin just for that! :) And your pics of the Reichstag dome are amazing (as always!)

  7. I could see myself falling for Berlin as well :)

  8. I love the photos! Makes me want to visit Berlin!

  9. Deidre says:

    I’ve heard fabulous things about Berlin too! :) I’d love to go.

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