June 12th & 13th were hectic days of prep and travel. When I got off the train in Enschede, NL I had been awake for 24hrs. I had flown to Amsterdam from Montreal with a connection in Iceland. During my layover in Keflavik, Jonathan messaged telling me the installation he had to go on for work in Lauchhammer, Germany had been moved up.. to that very afternoon. So what did we do?
He asked me if I would be willing to join him and I agreed! So after getting off the train in Enschede, we did another 7 hours of driving to this small East German town. While he worked I slept and conquered my jet lag in just 1 day. That evening we decided to have supper in Dresden, which was only a 30 minute drive south.
We really wish we had more time to discover Dresden. It was absolutely beautiful. When we arrived we saw hot air balloons being launched with a backdrop of medieval architecture it was quite the sight to see.. I need to get better at taking pictures in these moments! We will definitely be back.
The next day Jon and his coworkers finished their job early and we left Lauchhammer around noon. His coworkers kindly dropped us off near Berlin. We took a sweltering train ride to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and then cooled down for a moment on the banks of the Spree.
We had lunch at the only beer garden we would end up going to during our short stay in Berlin; Zollpackhof Restaurant & Biergarten. It was here when the beginner European traveler in myself started to fully realize that English & French did not always help you get you too far. I was very happy that Jon could speak some German!
After some bratwurst and sauerkraut, we decided to take in the city views and walk the 5km to our Airbnb. The walk was interesting but definitely not the most pleasant in +30 degree heat with both of us carrying our laptop lugging packs.
Our Airbnb was right across from one end of Volkspark Friedrichshain; a huge park with many fountains and paths. For our first evening in Berlin, we headed to the Friedrichshain area, on the popular Simon-Dach-Straße on the suggestion of my boss back home. We then walked to the Spree to see the city lights over the river. It's while sitting at a picnic table on the side of the river at 11pm on the 15th of June that we finally learnt that we would be moving to The Netherlands for minimum one year!
The next day was a bit of a rainy one so we just wandered around Alexander Platz and talked about our future move. That evening we met up with an old friend from Montreal who took us to a Mexican restaurant in Friedrichshain that had happy hour prices on margaritas; Santa Maria Eastside. We caught up with her and also met quite a few of her expat friends! We later migrated to a bar area that is set in an old factory setting, with brick walls full of graffiti, artsy murals and ivy creeping up its sides. It was a night to remember!
Our plans for Saturday slightly shifted when we had to leave our friend nap off her hangover from the previous night. We decided to walk the city ourselves! We grabbed a 3 euro döner and walked around Museum Island. We wanted to visit the Pergamon museum but the line was too long. Little did we know we would be travelling to the actual ancient city of Pergamon in just a few weeks!
We walked to Brandenburg gate, going through the many markets along the way. There was a Velothon in progress with a kiosk expo of cycling related products that was pretty neat to browse through. To get away from an overzealous megaphone-using promoter, we ventured into the Tiergarten park while Jon tested out his newly purchased zoom lens that he had just picked up from one of the markets.
Not really knowing where to go next, I decided to take a look at the places I had "starred" on google maps, results from searches on Pinterest & Youtube (yes I'm a millenial!). We decided on Viktoria Park. Walking there you could notice when you were in East or West Germany according to the type of pedestrian traffic lights, with the Ampelmännchen in the East. We grabbed a beer each at a Späti and just chilled in the park next to longboarders filming themselves performing tricks. Park life in Berlin is pretty great and all inclusive; here you see people of all ages. We then checked out the Prussian National Monument for the Liberation Wars, only to find there were people climbing it! We walked back down the hill to get a view of the artificial waterfall with the monument at the top. Under the right light this place must seem almost magical.
We walked 16km that day and got a little sun-burnt on our faces so we therefore chose to call it an early night.
On our final day in Berlin, we woke up early and packed all our bags. We then headed to the East Side Gallery, to see the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin wall.
We then later met up with our friend and she took us to an indoor food market that holds themed events. We happened to be there during the Japanese food event and got some very yummy Hawaiian Poke...one of the things I miss the most from our Maui trip back in August 2016!
We then headed to the "it-spot" on Sundays in Berlin; Mauer Park. There we tried a few things at the stands, and then we headed to the coloseum-esque outdoor seating area and watched an Aussie acrobat performer and then got to witness the famous open-mic karaoke.
We grabbed supper in Potsdamer Platz and lounged in the park until we had to head to the bus station to grab our overnight bus back to Enschede.
It was a great way to quick off my second time to Europe! There is still much to see and do in Berlin, so we will have to come back :)