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Published: March 15th 2014
If we had our time over again, we may have chosen to go to Munich rather then Berlin. It was good timing for us to need some rest time as we were both a bit sick, but if we were well it would have felt a bit of a waste. We spent our first day in Berlin wandering around and went to the Pergamon Museum. All the reviews on trip advisor said this museum was absolutely excellent but we both looked at each other halfway through and were both thinking the same thing - boring! We haven't been to a museum since.
We also tried to go to the Cathedral but for 7euro we decided we'd seen enough churches and were satisfied with just visiting the outside! We had some crepes for lunch sitting outside the cathedral and watching lots of dogs walk by.
We walked down the Main Street towards the Brandenburg Gate and had gelato along the way. The street was under heavy construction along the way, actually in every country we've been to there has been a lot of construction happening. We assume because it's the tourist down season. We saw the gate (which was just
a gate in the middle of the street) that marked the start of the tiergarten. Just a little way down the road there was also a Holocaust Memorial which was only recently built. It was essentially hundreds of concrete blocks of varying heights. Quite stunning as a piece of art.
Our general feel of Berlin was that it seems to be ignoring it's recent history. Apart from the Holocaust Memorial which eas only built 9 years ago we didn't come across anything in relation to the last 100 years. In fact, we saw a lot more in all the other countries we went to. We had expected a lot more of Germany. Upon reading more into it I understand there are some places that do look at recent history, but from what we saw you wouldn't even know Germany had anything to do with the wars.
We ended up not doing much else in Berlin aside from a bit of shopping, but were happy to have a break to try and get better.
We left Berlin to go to a smaller city called Bielefeld which was about 3 hours west. Bielefeld was bigger than we expected but
obviously smaller than the major cities we've been visiting. We were only there for one night and for one specific purpose - to visit with Paula and Fabian who are relatives of Matts and are a bit younger than us. It would have been good to have a bit more time to go shopping as I had a really nice shopping mall! They met us at our hotel and took us out for some traditional German food at a lovely wine cellar which was delicious. We were both still a bit under the weather so didn't get to eat too much but it was nice to be out and about again. After dinner we went out to a bar that had a lovely view over the town and had some lovely waffles and ice cream. It was definitely a great night out with some great people - when else will we be in this part of the world again!
The following morning we left for Amsterdam on the train. You could definitely tell when you'd hit the Netherlands as there were bikes EVERYWHERE. We stopped at a few stations along the way and the had triple decker bike racks
where we in Sydney would have a car park. I don't think I'd ever realised how much Dutch people rely on bikes but it was certainly evident in Amsterdam. We spent more time trying not to be run over by bicycles and mopeds than cars!
Amsterdam is a stunning city. Matt expected it to be a bit like Venice but it's not, aside from the canals it's not similar at all. It's got lovely wide streets and shops and lots of cafés with tables right alongside the canal, making me wonder how much silverware is on the bottom of the canals. There's also flowers starting to bloom underneath lovely big trees in the parks. I never wanted to go to Amsterdam, I think because all you hear from friends who've done contiki is sex shows, the red light district and legal marjuana but we didn't see any of that anywhere, except the odd hash cookie in tourist shops. Other than that the city was normal and even more so, beautiful. I fee like those people who have gone for the purpose and novelty of legal marijuana have completely wasted a beautiful city!
We took a canal cruise on
the first day and then on the second day went to the Anne Frank Museum and House which was a great insight into Amsterdam in the 40s during nazi occupation. We then wandered around the canals for a while, stopping at a little tea house cafe on the canal where we were lucky enough to get a table right alongside the water. We had lovely fresh food there that we would have expected to see in the inner west and also a pot of tea, because why not! We then spent the afternoon wandering around and shopping. We came back in for dinner and had a steak at a steakhouse which was nice, and wandered through some more shopping alleys late at night.
Overall I would definitely visit Amsterdam again, and would recommend it for a low key, beautiful city.
The next day we were back on a train to Brussels so we could catch the Eurostar to London. We had organised it so that we could spend the day in Brussels and have a waffle. We did just that! Brussels was what I expected, reasonably small and low key, with a hell of a lot of chocolate
shops! We wandered through their version of the QVB and bought some belgian chocolate and then had waffles for me and crepes for Matt for lunch. We also went to a beautiful church for free (see, why you charge 7euro in Berlin?!) and visited the Grand Place which had the Town Hall.
And that was our day in Belgium!
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