Ok, so this one is a bit late, and probably waaaay too festive for March, but here goes…
My first stepping stone in the #12months12places challenge was Berlin, as a solo traveller no less. Both firsts for me!
I love Christmas, so I had to go in December and immerse myself in the home of Christmas Markets. I took to #Skyscanner (obvs), had a wee search for flights from Edinburgh to Berlin in the whole month of December, and got myself an amazingly cheap deal… for flights and 2 nights in a hostel (3 days full days in total over a weekend) in Berlin I paid a measly £62.00. I’ve paid more for a night out in Edinburgh, folks!
I highly recommend the Generator Berlin Mitte hostel. It’s central has great rooms, lovely staff and good bar space.
I opted for an 8 bed mixed dorm room and ended up sharing with a few great people (and a few odd ones… including one guy that binge ate fruit all night long!).
The rooms were clean and spacious enough for the time you spend in them. You’re allocated a number for which bed you’ll be sleeping in when you check in. Each bed has a drawer under the bottom bunk, so you can keep your suitcase in there as a whole, or unpack. You will need a padlock though, and it doesn’t take the smaller size padlocks!
The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer…
Buddy the elf was wrong, it’s not singing loud for all to hear… it’s going to Christmas markets, in Germany, in December. It was festive AF. Even the Grinchiest Christmas hating Grinch would get into the spirit.
WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt was bar far the best market I went to. Was so close to my hostel, had a band / entertainment and loads of food options and lovely trinkety things to buy if you want to turn your home into a Christmas grotto.
Potsdamer Platz is another hub for a massive selection of Christmas markets, as well as regular old shopping.
Christmas Dinner for one
In WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt, there are loads of pop up restaurants. The glass buildings are dressed up to the nines in Christmas decor, and are a festive retreat from the cold. I had to go to the most Christmassy one I could find, and was not disappointed – it felt like Santa’s living room. The food was Austrian, and was delicious… Duck leg, with cabbage and dumplings, with lots of Gluehwein.
The Touristy Stuff
Just walking around Berlin is the most fun ever. It’s not so big that it’s daunting (I saw Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall, etc. all in the one day). There are lots of museums and paid for tourist attractions, but you don’t have to pay to see all the good stuff. Checkpoint Charlie is free. You may have to pay to get into the “Topography of Terror” (Gestapo HQ), but you can walk around the outside grounds for free (pictured above).
The spy museum was pretty cool but not really worth the money for the amount of time I spent there. There were a few cool things to play around with (testing how secure your password is and how long it would take a computer to hack it, to how to hack a webpage). The gift shop is pretty cool and you can buy things like tins and lipsticks to hide whatever tin or lipstick shapped secrets you have.
Smack bang in the middle of the centre, there is a massive maze of concrete columns, 2,711 columns in fact, serving a Holocaust memorial. Walking though as the columns get higher and higher towards the center of the memorial. It was a strange feeling walking through all the concrete… and it was at times even more strange when you’d bump into various people posing for selfies…
Highly recommend the hop on / off Bus Tour. Was a great way to get your bearings, and see the city. The commentary was insightful, engaging and funny.
Wait… what about the food?
Aufsturz was really close to my hostel and had some great reviews so I ate in there the first night and was not disappointed. Currywurst and potato wedges (sorry Germany, they’re not chips) and Apple Strudel, followed by lots of beer. Had a lovely wee night to myself!
Although it’s not remotely German, I had some of the best Thai / Vietnamese food ever in Berlin at Naht Long. I ordered a Tom Yum soup and Vietnamese Summer Rolls – both were delightful! While the food was great, it’s the only place in Berlin that I actually felt like a tourist, as most people in the restaurant were couples (and I was alone), on a Saturday night.
Every single thing I ate and drank at the Christmas Markets was exceptional. I have only listed 3 meals when talking about food because that’s pretty much all I ate… I grazed the whole time on Christmas Market morsels, for a pretty decent price!
Top Takeaways (not the food kind):
- I was worried about going alone, but got a mixed dorm hostel and met a bunch of cool people. I was on my own most of the trip, but didn’t feel lonely at all, the hustle and bustle and friendly nature of Berlin means there is always someone to talk to!
- The hostel bar is loads of fun, and right on your door step if you don’t want to venture too far alone at night
Final Top Tip: Take the train from the airport right into Berlin – it’s cheap and quick
Liked this? Check out my March Adventure to Maderia!