Last Day in Berlin
I had a leisurely last morning in Berlin. My train to Hamburg was not until half past noon, so I had breakfast at my favorite little bakery around the corner from my AirBnB, then went to see one last attraction – Hackesche Hoefe.
These are a series of courtyards connecting restored buildings in the Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) style. The courtyards are full of shops, restaurants and there’s even a cinema. Many of Berlin’s apartment buildings are connected by courtyards like this – they are the apartment building version of back yards. In one of the Hackesche Hoefe, there is an Ampelmann store. Ampelmaenchen are the little guys on street lights all over what used to be East Berlin. They almost disappeared during an attempt to standardize lights in East and West Germany. They’ve become such a popular symbol of Berlin that there are now several Ampelmann stores in the city.
Afterwards, I strolled to nearby Hackescher Markt. I had already walked by it on Monday but it was much more lively today. There were food and clothing vendors, and I noticed several groups of people gathering to start on their Berlin walking tours. Due to its history and vastly different neighborhoods, Berlin lends itself to tours with all kinds of different topics – there’s a Third Reich tour, a Nazi tour, a Cold war tour, a culinary tour… There is much more to do in Berlin than I had time for in three-and-a-half days, but I feel like I got to see all of the main attractions.
My train to Berlin departed from the main train station, which came to fruition after the fall of the Berlin Wall but did not open till 2006. The train ride took about 2 hours and I didn’t see much other than open fields and blue skies between Berlin and Hamburg. At the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, I caught the S-Bahn to the an area South of the Elbe river called Harbrurg. Here, I met up with my friend Kristina, whom I’m visiting for the next 3 days. We went to high school together but we hadn’t seen each other since graduation. We share a love of travel, and before her recent trip to Florence, I shared with her some tips I learned on last year’s trip to Italy. While we were talking, she said “You should come visit us in Hamburg”… and here I am. This whole trip to Germany was inspired by her invitation. 🙂 I look forward to catching up with her and exploring Hamburg with a local.