Eurotrip 2011: Berlin.1

This Eurotrip just will. not. end. Or so it would seem. This is the last city on our three-week trip through several European cities! Read all about our other stops here.

The final train ride in this whirlwind adventure transported us from Prague to Berlin. We were awake long before the sun to catch the first train of the day (just to be consistent with the rest of our trip. I pity the fool that thinks vacations are for sleeping. I also pity myself for thinking this trip was a vacation.) I think I napped for most of the ride, until a Russian couple joined us in the train car as the day began to burst forth in all its sunshine-y glory. There was a bit of language barrier between the two couples, but we were all able to share a giggle when a little old non-English-speaking German conductor came around to check our tickets and collect our responses to a customer survey. Twice. The second time he chuckled to himself, realizing our foreign faces looked a bit familiar.

Not long after pulling into Berlin on a gorgeous Sunday morning, we took the suburban train to Alexanderplatz, where we were greeted by our next set of couchsurfing hosts. This surprised us, since we had been given door-to-door directions to their place, but due to a marathon event in Berlin which rendered local bus services inoperative that day, they'd opted to ride their bicycles from their home in Senefelderstrasse to pick us up at the train station. One look at our burdensome backpacks (mainly mine, since I couldn't even stand up straight to shake their hands), and they decided to grab a taxi for the girls.

After a quick tour of their flat and a chance to freshen up, we piled in the car for a road trip to take part in a traditional pumpkin festival approximately 40 miles away. What a change from all the cityscapes our trip had allowed us to take in, as the Autobahn directed us away from central Berlin and into the wooded suburbs.

Let me tell you: Being surrounded by the likes of all this autumnal produce made me feel closer to home than ever!

And by "home", I of course mean my Pennsylvania home, which has plenty of farmland and heavy Dutch- and German-influenced roots.

Huge bins of apples reminded me that in many places in the world, September is known as "Fall", not "Hurricane Season".

Blue skies absolutely melt away any stress or weariness from my mind and body. Just look at this brilliant backdrop!

Along with the traditional harvested items on display, the festival boasted an entire smorgasbord of German food.  I was all too pleased to sample.

Farm-fresh blueberries.
Remember: If you start with dessert, you'll always have room.
(Thanks for teaching me what's really important in life, Dad.)
 Although we would learn over the next few days that Berlin is quite the multi-cultural, multi-lingual city, being on a farm just 40 miles outside the city meant speaking in German while ordering our meal was not an option; it was a requirement.

Can't turn down a piece of fried meat!
Personally, I prefer to use as many local words as possible when traveling (as long as I don't end up murdering the language in the process.) NS would tend to agree with me, as long as he can stick with words like the one on this sign:

"Exit" just doesn't have the same impact as "Ausfahrt", now does it?

Away from the food stalls, we found even further evidence that Germany reminds one of the Pennsylvania countryside:

This deer might not be of the White-tailed variety, but I did recognize this German cousin.
 The family-friendly atmosphere was quite a nice, gradual way to be introduced to Germany.

Back in the city, M&S introduced us to their local Berlin lifestyle, where many residents use public transportation or bicycles to move about the city on a daily basis. One evening, our hosts prepared a delicious Thai dinner, right after the four of us walked to the small, local grocery store to buy fresh ingredients for our meal.

Of all the cities that we visited on our trip, NS would say that Berlin was the most "livable".  Overall, we left with the feeling that the city was alive with business, culture, green spaces, and young people. In my next two Berlin posts, I'll show you around the Berlin Zoo and take you on yet another Fat Tire bike tour, wrapping up this series with photos of the most moving monument I've ever encountered.

Hang in there with me! It's almost over!


  1. All the pictures here remind me so much of PA!