Faces of Berlin

A city full of history, diversity and feelings. For me, it was probably the city of feelings, most of all.

It was almost midnight when me and my best friend arrived in Berlin. The streets were empty, we were cold and hungry. We had only the GPS guiding us; it eventually led us to a warm, cozy place. We settled down, ordered some food and, as we always do, scheduled our two-day trip.

Day 1

Being new to the city and still a bit sleepy, it was quite an adventure for us to find the tour meeting point. Nonetheless, we met our guide and safely arrived to the destination. The first tour we chose was the ‘Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial‘ one – or as I like to call it, ‘a 6-hour history lesson about Germany’s past’. Torben, our guide, has given us many insights into the life in concentration camps and has elaborated on various aspects (a lot more than I expected, which was in fact, pretty amazing). Sachsenhausen was the first ever built concentration camp (1933), in the city of Oranienburg, 40 km away from Berlin. It was deeply moving to hear about and see the remains of this past, as it represents a very dark moment in history. With the day coming to an end, we returned to our cozy place, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the information we’ve gathered.

Day 2

Leaving behind the cold weather and the mixed feelings from the previous day, we were ready to depart on our second walking tour. We chose the ‘Top Attractions in Berlin’ tour which promised more than 50 stops. Again, our guide – Sam – was very knowledgeable and insightful. We walked around for almost five hours, gradually discovering new facts and places. As the tour promised, we stopped by the Berlin Wall, stood over Hitler’s Bunker, walked through the Brandenburg Gate, crossed through Checkpoint Charlie, and marvelled at Museum Island (OBW, 2016), and many many more. After the tour finished, we had only few hours left in the city. The sun was setting and it started snowing. We decided to catch a double-decker and enjoy our personal top-seats sightseeing tour, thus having a perfect closing to our short visit to Berlin.

I only needed two days to go through a series of mixed-feelings; I was excited, happy, curious, melancholic, sad, hopeful and thoughtful – all in one. Reliving the past, observing the present and thinking about the future made me realise that even if the world has been faced with many lessons, it still has a lot to learn. As the world is becoming smaller and better connected, affordable travel opportunities can arise on any corner. More than that, as people are getting closer to one another, we should all take this opportunity to learn and discover more about each other, rather than use our differences for any other ‘unorthodox’ purposes.

Nonetheless, on the way back to Brussels I realised, once again, that travel doesn’t necessarily have to be strictly planned in advance, but it can also be spontaneous. Maybe few years back I would have preferred a well-oraganised schedule of a trip, but as I’ve learned, planning doesn’t always work. So, step by step, I am getting used to the idea of spontaneity when it comes to travel – and I like it. Another thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to earn a lot of money or spend a lot of money in your travels. It is indeed true that a bigger travel budget might allow you to dig deeper, still, I guess it all goes back to priorities and how you prefer investing your money.

Learn to travel, learn to love and learn to accept. Don’t miss any opportunity to find out more about the world we live in because today is not about the past, it is about the future – everyone’s future. Until next time, open your eyes and your ears to what the world has to tell you! Safe travels ☺

Ioana Alexandra-Tache

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