Subconsciously, we seemed determined to cover the streets of Berlin by foot, from our cool hostel digs in Kreuzberg, with its fanciful café’s and bars and with Mustafa’s world famous ‘Best Kebab in the World’ food truck around the corner, with a consistent 10 minute queue on the pavement, next to the ultra-hot – I believe – curry house next door, we were in the budget food heaven of Berlin.
The long miles of the now abandoned airport strip, where, nowadays, people come and hang out having a barbeque or riding their bikes around the oval airstrip was once a Luftwaffe base where war planes took-off from and in the post-war years, was where the US had an air force base. Now small businesses make container houses for refugees, the Berlin Baseball Team have their playing field, there are social programs where you can talk with refugees and help them integrate into German society and culture.
No visit to Berlin would be complete without seeing the remains of the Berlin Wall, a pretty insignificant 150 metres now and obviously only a tourist attraction, but the funniest thing we came across was Checkpoint Charlie where the USA and USSR forces were once the occupiers during the Cold War years. Today, there is a fake border crossing hut in the middle of this busy intersection, where some fake American soldiers pose for photos with tourists for 1 euro a shot, I think they were a couple of Turkish guys dressed up, but the tourists didn’t seem to care.
The Reichstag Berlin is where German Parliament meet and you can watch from the balcony, unfortunately, we could only get tickets to watch Angela Merkel kick some ass from the rooftop terrace and the great views across to Brandenberg Gate and around the capital. Free to visit with only a prior registration was a delight for us cheapo backpackers to learn more about the history of the parliament and the constitution of this relatively new yet hugely influential country.
We were on a friends re-meet in Berlin as we managed to hook-up with Magali from Paris who we had met in Varanasi, India in October 2015 and she has since relocated to Berlin where life is freer and less judgemental and definitely more liberal.
Benjamin, we had volunteered with only a couple of months earlier in Tulle, France and he had since finished his European travels and a native Berliner had just arrived back home the previous week to our arrival.