I’ve travelled quite a lot before starting this blog, and I figured it would be nice to have all of my travel photos and experiences in the same place. I’d love not only sharing some of my older photos with anyone who might stumble over this blog in the future, but also giving myself the chance to access the best of my photos easily whenever I feel like taking a trip down memory lane. So, let me introduce you to an upcoming set of posts: #TB, throwback posts!

Some of my travels I’ve already documented in my old blog, so in some posts, I’ll migrate parts of the text from the old blog. All of the blog posts will be new, though – as years have gone by, my memories have probably been shaping themselves into different kinds of forms in my head, so I’ll have different kinds of things to say. I might also edit the photos anew.

First up, we have Berlin.

We visited Berlin with my family in December 2013, during those days between Christmas and New Year which, for most people, contain nothing eventful, but for me, are known as the best time of the year because of the 29th 😉 It was a nice time for a visit, since there were lots of Christmas markets around with pretty lights and cups of glühwein.

Berlin was my first proper visit to Germany, because stops at Frankfurt airport and driving on autobahns on a choir bus don’t really count. When you visit a new country, there are some small things that catch your eye and what you’ll remember the place by – the little notes I made in Germany were that wurst and other grilled things smell everywhere, restaurants don’t accept card payment and it takes forever for the light to turn green. The prices are much lower than in Finland.

We had a great time with the fam, walking around seeing all the major tourist attractions and eating good food. Berlin is an interesting city very much due to its history – the old divide can be seen in the architecture, which represents a large spectre of everything from neoclassical to Soviet, and the museums and landmarks that remind us of the horrors of the second world war. The spirit, however, is far from grim; on the contrary, Berlin has cherished its freedom in the past two decades and become wonderfully multicultural. The streets, especially in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area, are littered with restaurants representing countries from all over the world. I really regret missing out on the bar scene, which means that I have to visit the place again later with friends!

But now to the photos. One of our first stops was the Denkmal für die ermordete Juden Europas, the memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe. Not a very cheery start to the trip, but such an overwhelming experience. The 2711 stone structures are like tombstones for the 3 million people who lost their lives in the most inhuman way imaginable.

From the memorial it was only a short way to Pariser Platz and Brandenburg Tor (which was under some kind of construction for a concert or something), and from there, we took off to see the Reichstag Building (the home of the German parliament with a neoclassical façade and a modern glass dome). The security guy at the Reichstag congratulated me on my birthday at the sight of my ID 😉

Now follows a mixture of street art at the East Side Gallery (what’s left of the Berlin wall), Christmas market feeling, and street views.

Phew, that’s it for the photos! If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, here are my tourist tips in a nutshell:

  • Brandenburg Tor and Pariser Platz. Massive and historical.
  • Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (=the memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe). Heart-stopping.
  • Reichstag Building, the German parliament building.
  • Gendarmenmarkt, a beautiful Italian-style piazza with two old churches (a German and a French one) facing each other.
  • Oranienburger Straße in Prentzlauer Berg, where the old Jewish blocks are set. You’ll also find the gorgeous Neue Synagoge with its golden dome.
  • East Side Gallery, a memorial of the Berlin wall.
  • Checkpoint Charlie, the place where police used to check people passing to the other side of the wall. Nowadays there’s a museum, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, where you can find out about the ways people used to smuggle their loved ones from the East side to the West.

For shopping:

Kurfürstendamm and Tauentzienstraße are the biggest shopping streets in Berlin. You’ll find Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Bershka, Pull&Bear, Adidas, Esprit, Zara and all the other basics over there! I’d recommend getting off the U-Bahn at Wittenbergplatz – right next to it you’ll find KaDeWe, a great department store. Then you can start walking Tauentzienstraße northwestwards and you’ll eventually come to Kurfürstendamm.

Kleidermarkt Garage, on Ahornstraße 2, is a big vintage store. If you’re into second hand, you should definitely pay it a visit.

There’s also a shopping area close to Alexanderplatz (which I personally liked the best), and streets worth mentioning are Münzstraße and Alte Schönhauser Straße.

For eating:

  • Monsieur Vuong at Alte Schönhauser Straße 46. Best spring rolls ever, seriously.
  • Café Oliv at Münzstraße 8. Incredible breakfast with crisp croissants and yoghurt-muesli-fruit bowls.
  • Kamala at Oranienburger Straße 69. Despite the name’s unappetizing meaning in Finnish, this restaurant serves awesome thai food!

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