Serendipitous Travel: A Layover Walking Tour of Berlin

After completing my teaching gig in Ankara, Turkey (more on that in a later post), an airline-initiated reschedule resulted in my having an overnight layover in Berlin on my way home to the States. I was scheduled to arrive at Berlin’s Tegel Airport in the mid-afternoon and then depart the following morning. I suppose I could have camped out at the airport, but having never been to Germany before (other than a layover on my way to Turkey), I decided to attempt leaving the airport and seeing a little of the city. I’m so glad I did! My overnight layover visit to Berlin ended up being really fun and highlighted the importance of taking advantage of the serendipitous moments that arise when travelling.

I found Eastener Hostel through HostelWorld.com and decided on it for two reasons: it seemed to be fairly centrally located, and it had high reviews. It was a great little hostel. Very clean, friendly staff, great shared kitchen, lot of nearby food options. It was also a quick taxi ride (with a cab driver who looked more like a university professor in his dark-rimmed glasses and cardigan sweater) from the airport. After checking in and dropping my bags off in my room, I went back to the front desk for advice. I explained that I was only in Berlin for one night and that I’d like to see as much as I could with what little time I had. After a good-natured scolding for not planning more time in his fine city, the guy working at the front desk pulled out a map, and started plotting out a walking tour for me to follow.

The Map, Berlin

The tour took me from the hostel, past Friedrichstadtplas, across the river, past the Reichstag, through the Brandenburg gate and the Holocaust Memorial, along the path of the Berlin Wall, past Checkpoint Charlie, past Humboldt University and the site where the Nazis had one of their infamous book burnings, past the Berlin Cathedral and the New Synagogue, and back to the hostel. I was wandering slowly, taking things in (and taking pictures), so it took me a couple of hours from start to finish.

Crossing the River, Berlin

The Reichstag

The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

Remnant of the Berlin Wall

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Nazi Book Burning Memorial, by Micha Ullman, Bebelplatz, Berlin

Berlin Cathedral

New Synagogue, Berlin

After returning to the hostel, I settled in for a good night’s sleep. The next morning, I picked up some coffee and pastries at a café around the corner from the hostel and made my way back to the airport, via a taxi arranged by the hostel staff.

I think I got a good little taste of Berlin. My brief adventure certainly made me want to go back to Berlin sometime, to see and experience more of the city.

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