We flew in to Manchester from Denver (via Los Angeles) on 8 June and got home in Birmingham mid-afternoon. I made the mistake of taking a nap while Luke went out to vote. He returned with fish and chips for dinner. (What better for a first dinner in England?) He leads a group for his church on Thursday night, but I opted to stay home instead and immediately fell back asleep despite his warnings that I wouldn't be able to sleep until our alarms went off at 3:30 for our trip to Berlin. Turns out he was right. I woke up at 1:00 and couldn't get back to sleep.
Luckily I was able to sleep a little on the plane and was confident I could make it through the day if we stayed busy. We were meeting Luke's family, but we flew in first, so we had some time to kill before everyone else got there and we had access to our Airbnb.
We took the train into Alexanderplatz, where we found a bratwurst stand in a street festival, which crossed off the first of my three Berlin requirements: bratwurst, pretzel, beer. After we ate, we walked toward the apartment his parents had rented for the weekend, taking a short nap in a park on the way. (Yes, really.)
We met up with his brother, his sister, and her boyfriend as well as his parents at the apartment and we all headed out to explore the city. His parents went off to site see and we ended up at a canal-side bar drinking half liters of beer, enjoying the sunshine. Luke's brother Jack knew someone who was also in Berlin for the weekend, so we met up with his friend along the canal, drinking beer and playing card games in the park. That's one thing I'm not quite used to in Europe: drinking in parks.
Luke and I were getting tired and hungry, so we went back to the apartment where his parents had bought dinner from a nearby market. Bread, meat, cheese, fruit. A delicious European schmorgesborg! After thinking he could lie down for "just a minute", Luke passed out face-first in his pillow, glasses still on. Honestly, I fell asleep a few minutes later (glasses on the bedside table) and we slept for nearly 12 hours.
The next day, we planned to meet at the Berliner Fernsehturm, a 368 meter tower in Alexanderplatz with spectacular views of all of Berlin. (It means Television Tower in English.) While in line, I made friends with a little German boy who was extremely amused that his younger brother reached up to me thinking I was his mom. We spent the rest of the time in line entertaining each other by him doing something (like jumping or sticking his tongue out) and me mimicking. It was great fun that needed no translation.
At the top of the Fernsehturm, we discovered a 360 degree of the city with detailed explanations of the sites below in every window. It was a great first stop because we were able to plan out the rest of our time in the city from the little teasers we got from inside the tower. Everybody met up at the bottom for lunch. I tried Schweinshaxe (grilled version of Eisbein) and had a liter of beer. So very German!
Luke and I split off from the group and went on a boat tour of the canal. There are a lot of different companies to pick from and we didn't really have any preference other than one that was leaving shortly after we got there. We boarded outside the DDR museum, just after purchasing a pretzel from a street vendor. It was great to see more of the city, but we both agreed our canal tour in Copenhagen was better for two reasons: 1) We were able to see more of the city and go out into the harbor, and 2) We got more information about what we were seeing because we had a headset that allowed for language selection, rather than a live tour guide who translated between German and English. Though he was very entertaining, I must admit.
Afterward, we met up with his siblings again and got a drink on a rooftop bar. We had dinner at a pizza place nearby our apartment later that evening. And boy do I mean later! We basically fell asleep after we got back.
The next morning, unfortunately, I woke up feeling awful. I found out two weeks later that Luke truly believed I was hungover, but I standby that I was just ill, not hungover. The whole family went to a museum while I slept in the apartment, which was really upsetting considering we had less than 72 hours in the country! I tried to pick myself up late afternoon to meet them and go to the Tiergarten and Brandenburg Gate, but being out in the hot sun didn't help my condition, so as soon as I found Luke (which should be considered a feat since I had no way of contacting him or using Maps once I left the apartment), we immediately went back to the apartment and I fell asleep again. This was the only picture we took all day! Or at least that I took.
His parents wanted to take us all out for dinner that night and I was able to join since I was feeling slightly better. They all decided on a Vietnamese restaurant down the street, so I ordered pho, which as it turns out, is the cure I needed! We spent our final waking hours in the city teaching his siblings two of our favorite card games, Hanabi and Guillotine. The next morning we flew back to England and I was pleasantly surprised to recognize a handful of people who were on our flight to Berlin. Our seats home weren't together, but I was sat next to one of the few empty seats so Luke could come back and sit with me.
I was so bummed that I missed out on a whole day of exploring and discovering, especially since we had planned to pack most of our sight-seeing in on Sunday. In addition to wanting to see the Tiergarten and Brandenburg Gate, we wanted to see the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, and the Berliner Dom (the cathedral), to name a few.
We would love to go back to Germany again someday, but we both want to visit some of the smaller towns and villages instead of going back to Berlin right away.
Any must-see places in Germany that you'd recommend?