To get out of paying €7 to visit Berlin’s biggest cathedral, the trick is to go in at either 12 or 6 for the services. This is exactly what Maddy and I did. The lady on the door didn’t seem too impressed, as we were clearly tourists, but what can you do? Its a place to worship God – freely! Inside,though not that large, it’s pretty impressive. The enormous dome fills most of the ceiling and there’s a huge domed alter at the front. Each of the high pillars has a statue of a reformer at the top – including, of course, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. The service was interesting and not just because it was in German. It was lead by a woman, no one stood to sing the hymn – which was ‘We Plough the Fields and Scatter’ but in German (as it’s Harvest) – but everyone stood for the Bible reading and blessing. Very contrasting to the mass I experienced at the Notre Dam in Paris!
The Dome on the Reichstag
Visiting the dome is free if you manage to get an advance ticket – luckily I went to the kiosk at the end of the day so there was no queue and got one for the next day. Alternatively you can book online a few days in advance. This attraction is worth taking the time to do. Not only do you get some fabulous views of the city but the free audio guide gives very informative descriptions of the surrounding buildings as you wind your way up to the top. I went just as the sun was beginning to set – so I saw the city in both night and day – a good time to go! The dome itself is also pretty cool, it has a massive spout like thing in the middle which is completely covered in loads of mirrors – this is to maximise on sunlight during the day – but it does look awesome too.
I stayed at a hostel called ‘The Heart of Gold Hostel’. The beds were very comfy with proper duvets and none of this sheet/blanket malarchy which felt like a luxury. I paid 50 cents extra a night to not stay in the 50 bed dorm – money well spent – and at €9.50 a night anyway, I really can’t complain! There were no bunk beds and the rooms were very spacious, plus the bar was a good place to meet people and I stayed up late chatting to some peeps over a cheap beer on a few nights. Met some lovely girls in my room too – one girl from South Korea was really sweet and we chatted quite a bit – she enjoyed seeing all the arty and trendy sides to Berlin – very different to my historical side! Berlin really does appeal to anyone, no matter your interest, it reminded me a lot of London in a way.
One evening when I was walking back to the hostel I noticed a girl from Japan who looked rather lost. I asked her if she was OK – she was struggling to find her hotel. Her English wasn’t brilliant but I managed to locate it for her and took her there – she was ever so thankful. I know the feeling when you’re lost and in a foreign country, I simply couldn’t have left her there.
Potsdam – famous for its Palaces and enormous parks
Maddy and I took a daytrip to Potsdam together. It was an early start but well worth it.
Potsdam is on the Berlin S-Bahn and takes about an hour to get to. Its a delightful small town with a very quiant high street running through the middle. We headed to the palaces in the park – it was so beautiful walking around and enjoying the quiet surroundings – especially after the business of the city. It was very Autumnal with all the leaves on the ground and it also got rather chilly too! It reminded me a lot of England, with the tree lined paths with all the beautiful coloured leaves on the floor – it was really pretty. Maddy loved it as they don’t have trees like these in Australia.
After spending a lot of time wandering around the park and the gardens, we headed back to the main street of Potsdam for a cheap lunch.
This was a great end to a fabulous stay in Berlin and it was so lovely to meet Maddy and to see some sites together. We got on really well and it just shows how you can meet someone so quickly and have a fab time together – that’s when travelling alone has its benefits!