Europe, Germany

Berlin Weekend on the Cheap

London in the winter can get pretty depressing. So last weekend, I took a city break and flew to Berlin. Even though, I didn’t get to see much of it, Berlin is absolutely awesome. I’m already planning when I can go again.

Those of you who know me well, know that I hate spending a lot of money. As I was just home to Canada for Christmas and in Cork before that, I didn’t have much money to play with. I managed to only spend about £160 for the weekend, including flights, accommodation and everything I did. I only booked my flight about three weeks ago, otherwise I probably could have gotten it much cheaper.

In case any of you are planning to go to Berlin any time soon, I thought I’d pass on the services I used. Maybe you’ll be able to do it even cheaper than I did.

I flew Easyjet from London Gatwick to Berlin Schoenefeld for £77.84 return, including the £18 to get to and from Gatwick airport, the flights cost me about £95. If you get flights during the week, you could probably cut this price in half.

Because the friend I was travelling with had a gig Friday night, we decided to catch the 6:40 a.m. flight. What we failed to consider was that because the Tube doesn’t run overnight, we would have to wake up at 3 a.m. to get to the airport on time. This would have been ok, except we didn’t sleep again until 4:30 a.m. the following night, which means we were up 25.5 hours straight!

In Berlin, I stayed at the EastSeven Hostel, just to the east of the city centre. The hostel staff were really nice and I thought the place was very clean. We stayed in an 8-person dorm for about 16 euros and the beds were quite comfortable. We also got the chance to meet two Americans and two Brazilians who were also staying in the room. The Brazilians even invited my friend and I out to dinner with them! The hostel provided a breakfast of toast, cereal, fruit, tea and coffee for 2 euros, and also sold half-litre bottles of beer at 1 euro each!

Probably the best part of the hostel was that it is one of the pick-up locations for the Brewer’s walking tour. This tour made my experience of Berlin. Since I only had a day and a half to see the city, I was very excited by the prospect of seeing all the sites in one go. The tour is free, however, the tour guides don’t actually get paid by the company for their services. All of their money comes from the amount you tip them at the end. Of course, you don’t have to tip, but I found my tour guide so knowledgable that I ended up giving her 10 euros. (If you get Asoka, count yourself lucky!)

Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe

After the tour, and the dinner with the Brazilians, I went out on the town. A few things to note about going out in Berlin: The metro and trains run 24 hours on the weekends (win!), smoking is allowed inside the bars (major fail!) I ended up going to a fundraiser for the German Socialist Party… Not my idea, I assure you. (I mean I like socialism, but not for a night out!) The evening was kind of odd. While, the patrons were dressed pretty punk, and there were TVs playing protest scenes with police using tear gas and beating protestors, there was also Top 40 music blasting and disco lights.

I will have to experience one of Berlin’s full-weekend parties next time. For those of you who don’t know, there are places in Berlin where you can start partying Friday night and go until Monday morning. I presume the patrons use pretty heavy drugs to get through.

On the following day, I visited Mauerpark or Wall park. One of the public spaces that was created after the fall of the Berlin wall. At point the park was part of the death strip that lay between East and West Berlin. East Berliners would be shot if they tried to cross. Now it’s got a great market and a really cool play structure. Part of the Berlin Wall still stands too.

I finished the weekend at Dr. Pong, which is a bar with a giant ping-pong table on one side. Apparently ping-pong is very big in Berlin.

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