. It takes a bit longer to plan out your route than in Vienna, because you have so many options! Although the buses are not as efficient as the trams or trains, there was one bus route in particular that provided a more scenic ride. Bus number 200 is a double-decker bus that goes by some of Berlin's main sites. So one of the first things Jess and I did (recommended to us by our couch surf host) was to sit on the top level of bus 200, at the front, and see the city. It was great, we had an amazing overview of the city, it was included in our transit pass, and it wasn't crowded at all because it was a city bus at about 10am on a Tuesday.
Not only did our hosts tell us about the bus 200 route, but they also told us about some markets we could go to only on Sundays. Speaking of hosts, let me introduce to you our newest friends that we stayed with for four nights, Andreas and Anke, and their dog Paula. Andreas is originally from Germany, but moved to the U.S. when he was twelve. He loves travelling and has been all over the World. Anke is from Berlin, and she also loves to travel. The latest trip they have been on is to Argentina. They are probably one of the warmest couples you will meet, and they both would go out of their way to help anyone, if they asked. Andreas also has a very cool way of turning his life experience into very interesting stories. Jess and I spent hours with Andreas and Anke sharing the many things that have happened in each others' lives.
Back to the markets, the first market we went to, Andreas refers to as the trash market. This is because there are tables with heaping mounds of just stuff on them that kind of resemble trash
. This market also had a lot of clothes that were apparently "very unique and different." This was our first good look at the people in Berlin too because the markets were an accurate representation of the diversity that exists in Berlin. We would notice this diversity throughout our stay in Berlin as we saw numerous performers on different public squares all over the city. Jess and I usually choose one or two performers to drop a few coins in their collection baskets at each city. One that really grabbed our attention was a four person orchestra at a certain S-bahn station. These were no amateur players, they sounded beautiful! You could tell by their glances and smiles that were doing it to see people's reactions. For a second I thought we were a part of another flash mob. Maybe we were, but regardless, we enjoyed some amazing music.
Berlin is a city rich in culture and history. It has been through a lot, both bad and good, which has made it into the diverse mosaic of cultures it is today. Berlin had seen both extremes on the poltical spectrum with fascism and communism. It had been the centre hub on which Hitler's Nazis have launched their fascist campaigns to rule the World, and it had been a visible representation of the iron curtain with a concrete wall separating the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from West Germany during the cold war. All of that is now in the past, but it has made Berlin a very interesting city to visit. I will only be able to explain part of what we saw/learned in Berlin because there was so much. First off, the transportation system is amazing. Berlin is a city of 3.5 million people, but everyone can get to where they want to go, even in rush hour, in less than 45 minutes while using public transit. Just like in Vienna, we bought a seven day transit pass which included the U-bahn (underground tube), the S-bahn (a longer train that is higher up and has limited stops), the trams (rail cars on the street level), and the buses