A Weekend in Berlin, Germany and Szczecin, Poland
A Trip to Berlin and Szczecin
If you ever wanted to take a trip to Berlin, I’d recommend going in the spring or summer time. Unless you love frigid temperatures and wearing multiple pairs of gloves at once, then the warmer months will be the better choice.
Either way, Germany’s capital is a beautiful city, with stories to tell around every corner.
How Did I Get There?
Berlin was a follow up trip with my friend from my hometown, the same one that went to Oslo with me the weekend prior. She was doing a European tour and had spent the week in-between these two trips in Sweden.
With her going to Berlin, and that being a quick $60 flight away, I decided to join on that trip as well. I had never been to Berlin despite having lived in Germany for almost a year and a half at this point.
It was just a couple days this time, a Saturday and Sunday. I was losing vacation days left and right, so I was glad this one was contained to a weekend.
What Did We Do There?
After arriving to Berlin and getting set up in the Airbnb that we managed to snag for a great price, we started walking around town. We had very limited time, as I flew in Saturday afternoon, and was leaving very early Monday morning, like 5am early.
So by the time we got settled into the Airbnb and everything, it was already a little past 3pm. I remember the town being not busy at all, as we walked passed huge landmarks such as the Berlin Cathedral, there were very few people actually out and about.
Maybe this had something to do with the fact that is was below zero, with a bit of wind chill to top it off!
Either way, we didn’t get the chance to go into the Berlin Cathedral, unfortunately. It is located on Museum Island, and we were at least able to walk around Museum Island! It is exactly how the name describes it, and island with five museums on it.
One ticket gets you into all five museums, for only $20 per person, and free for anyone under 18 years old. If we had more time, I would have loved to tour all the museums. But we pressed on through the arctic cold and made our way towards the Brandenburg Gate.
On the way there, the cold just got too unbearable. I had multiple layers on, plus a hat and gloves, but my head and hands were still ice-cold. We found a pretty sweet gift shop, one of the largest and nicest ones I have come across over the years. I did end up being a typical tourist and buying a piece of the Berlin Wall. I know, how original!
Not only that, I bought a second pair of thick gloves, big enough to go over my current pair of gloves. See, growing up in New York, I was used to feeling cold, especially in January. However, I’ve never been so cold that two pairs of gloves at the same time didn’t keep my hands warm.
Well, Berlin proved that to be possible, as even with two warm pairs of gloves, the cold still pierced my hands. Either way, we kept moving, the Brandenburg Gate wasn’t too far from us at this point.
The gate is ginormous, and it was in perfect condition. As a big history guy, I started looking up historical pictures of Brandenburg Gate and tried to visualize them in real life. I love seeing history with my own eyes, and using my imagination.
After spending a good amount of time at the Gate, we determined that it was about that time to get dinner. Winter in Germany meant it got dark very early, as it was already completely dark by 4:45pm. We randomly walked around in order to find our restaurant, we didn’t want to just Google a place, we wanted to find a place.
That place happened to be really familiar, as we stopped by the Berlin Hofbrauhaus. I had been to the one in Munich just a few months prior for Oktoberfest, so I was 100% down to try this one out in Berlin.
I’m not the biggest fan of German food as a whole, but you put a schnitzel with some jam in front of me, and that perspective completely changes. And boy did they have good schnitzel and jam. The beer to wash it down with was amazing too!
By this time, it was getting pretty late, and we had to be up semi-early for a bus trip to Poland. So we made one more stop, the Berlin Wall. Considering we went when it was pitch black outside, it was tough to see anything. We couldn’t even find it for a while, but eventually we did.
Never did I think I would actually touch the Berlin wall, or see any of the original graffiti that was tattooed all over it. This was like a dream come true for someone that loves history, especially physical history.
On the second day, we took a bus to Szczecin, Poland. It was only about an hour or two away from Berlin, and we were able to snag a great deal on the bus tickets. Why not add another country to my list for only $20?
Szczecin is a pretty modest city, with only about 411,000 people living there. The place where the bus dropped us off at was right next to a small trolley station, so we were able to get a day-pass right away. Now, the main mission was pierogis. You can’t go to Poland without getting pierogis.
Since it was a Sunday, a lot of places were closed, so it took a while to find a restaurant that was open without actually Googling it. On our hike, though, we passed by the giant Waly Chrobrego, with its 100,000 steps. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but it had a lot of steps! The Waly Chrobrego is a giant historical landmark that offers great views and a few museums.
We were so hungry though, so pierogis was all that was on our mind!
We ended up finding a very small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was actually open. We went in and had to ask to see the menu to make sure they actually had pierogis. They didn’t speak any English, so this posed very difficult, but eventually we were able to confirm that they did have some.
They were the best pierogies I ever had, perfectly buttered and seasoned. I think about them every day. But either way, we were more than satisfied with our meal, and decided it was time to adventure a bit.
We just started walking in random directions, not with any real goal or landmarks to see. Eventually, the topic of tattoos came up, and I explained I really wanted a tattoo of a pigeon, representing Georgie, on my side. I had wanted it for months and months, and she managed to convince me to just pull the trigger and get it.
Since tattoos are serious business, I Googled tattoo parlors and read through a ton of reviews on various locations. I decided on one, and we hiked across town over to it. The place was super clean and modern inside, I thought maybe this place was TOO nice for my budget. But the staff were incredible and spoke perfect English, so I almost immediately felt at ease.
The place was called 13 Tattoo Studio, and the whole process maybe took 2 hours, considering it was a small tattoo. Either way, rib tattoos are very painful!
I was very happy with how it turned out, and I was actually my tattoo artist’s first customer, so I was pretty excited about that as well!
Following the tattoo, they wrapped me up pretty good and sent us on our way. It was getting into the evening now, but we still had a few hours to kill. It was blizzarding outside, wind whipping snow everywhere, and we were dealing with temperatures even colder than Berlin!
I felt like I was beyond the wall in Game of Thrones, honestly. But we hiked through it anyway, for a long time. Eventually, this giant building caught our eye, so we made our way to it to get some more information.
Turns out it was a Silver Hotel and Gokart Center. Who can say they’ve been go-karting in Poland? Not many people, so we jumped at that opportunity. After signing in and watching a safety video, we put on our issued ski-mask type head covering, got a helmet, and then proceeded to spend a good half hour going around this very intricate track.
If I’m not mistaken, we did it again after we finished the first session was up. We had plenty of time, so why not?
After this however, it was dark outside. And it had gotten even colder. We had to navigate back to where the bus was picking us up, but taking your hand out of your pocket met you with stabbing pain from the cold.
So we took turns navigating, and eventually made it back to the bus stop. Or so we thought.
As we were waiting, we noticed that it was already a couple minutes had passed when we were supposed to be picked up, and yet there was no other person or bus in sight. We knew something was wrong, so we ventured up the street a little and noticed our bus was probably a good half mile away, and was already loading passengers on.
Being late and getting left behind was absolutely not an option, so we started sprinting after the bus. Running in freezing temperatures sucks, and completely burns your insides, but at least we were warming up right?
After a half-mile sprint in layers of winter gear and big jackets, we managed to get on the bus right before it took off.
Eventually, we did make it back to the Airbnb in Berlin after an incredibly exciting day in Szczecin. What sucked was that my flight was so early in the morning, that to get there on time I’d have to rent a taxi for a lot of money.
So I decided just to take the very last train, and very last shuttle to the airport. It was very eerie navigating Berlin in the middle of the night by myself, and being the only person on the train and bus. But I managed to get to the airport about six hours before my flight, so I slept on the floor by the ticket counter until they opened.
I’d say it was a successful trip!
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