Trip Start Jul 08, 2011
Trip End Jul 19, 2011

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Flag of Germany  ,
Saturday, July 9, 2011

I purposely wrote the title of the city in all caps above because people...this city is BIG. I found out that 3 fellow Americans were on my flight from NY to Berlin TXL! It is definitely nice to have friends when traveling to your hotel in an unknown city, so if you can try to find people on facebook or the Contiki Forum I would highly suggest it! It obviously bumps the comfort level up 10 notches. To get to our hotel in Eastern Berlin (Best Western City Ost) we decided to take the bus to Alexanderplatz where we hung out for a little bit marveling at the huge square, and then took the metro to Samiriterstrasse. What was so wonderful about the hotel, was that when you stepped out of the metro station and looked up, literally the hotel doors are right there!! I think they let us check in a little early because we soon decided to take a nice stroll back to Alexanderplatz. The stroll took about 30-45 minutes. There wasnt much excitement on the walk there, just a couple of restaurants and LARGE buildings. Beware of the bike paths of death. They are unassuming paths on the sidewalks and just take our advice, don't even bother setting foot on one. You will probably forget here and there, but don't worry the whirling cyclers will toot their horns and yell to remind you.
While in Alexanderplatz, we went to a small outdoor "beer garden" if thats what you want to call it, where we ate currywurst and drank our first real German beers. The currywurst bascially tasted like curried ketchup and hot dogs, but hey when in Germany..just try it. After people watching for a bit we took the metro back to the hotel and rested until our 6pm meeting. Thats right, 6pm. Don't set your alarms for 6:30pm like I did. Side note: Make sure to read the Contiki hotel itinerary that the TM will hang up in each hotel. Better yet, take a picture of it. After the meeting the TM (Brett-best TM ever) instructed us when to meet for our first dinner and night out.
Dinner was excellent. I think a beer may have been included..either way we all got beers for basically every lunch and dinner haha. We had several choices for dinner, 1 of which was sausage and the most "bangin" (as my friend Nick would say) mashed potatos we have ever eaten. Probably because the ratio of butter to potato was 2:1. Yum. After dinner a bunch of us decided to buy some alcohol (there were a few convience stores/schnitzel fast food places around the hotel) and pregame in a hotel room before a night on the town. Where we ended back at the same "beer garden" in Alexanderplatz (I dont know why). I guess it turns into an outdoot bar/club at night, which was actually pretty fun. You can also drink in the street in Berlin, which we all got a kick out of and led us to being very drunk. While on the subway we had quite the adventure since we all decided not to buy tickets for the trip (what were we thinking?) One of the boys pulled the alarm by accident while leaning against the metro door and the attendant came over to fix the situation. We all held our breath and waiting for the attendant to leave. Even though he did not catch us, there is a large fine for not having a metro ticket with a time stamp...lesson learned with quite a scare. The following day we went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a very chilling experience but worthwhile. We had free time to walk around when we got back. That night we were free to make our own dinner plans and I think most of us decided to take it easy and not go out. The next day some of us decided go go to Pergamon Museum to see the Ishtar Gates of Babylon and the Pergamon Alter. It was a bit pricey, but if you have a student ID there is a discount. I would highly recommend this exhibit, because it was beautiful and only took about 30 minutes to see, great for people on the go! The 3rd night was the Eye Spy tour It was a walking tour where we learned the history of the Berlin wall. Our guide, Jim was the most engaging tour guide was really fascinating to listen to him and see parts of the wall that still stand. There were actually 2 walls that acted as a border, and in between the walls was a space called no mans land. If you tried to escape they were instructed to shoot=( After the tour was a game were we had to find clues to get to the first of 3 bars. It was kind of silly but the night ended at a really fun club called Matrix. Our last day in berlin consisted of another walking tour with Jim! It was a bit chilly and I was really hung over so I regretfully left in the middle of the tour and went back to the hotel. Don't drink too much, because there is no time to miss out. I think we left for Prague in the early afternoon, but I can't really remember. Onward!
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