Interrail diaries- Getting lost in Germany

August 30, 2016
With its diversity and tolerance, alternative culture and nocturnal stamina, Germany is a country with a refusal to be shackled by its past. We stayed in Germany's two largest cities, Hamburg and Berlin, and fell in love with the modernity and hipness they had to offer.

We headed from Copenhagen to Hamburg, the maritime capital of Germany. Boasting of Germany's biggest port, it's been dubbed as "The Gateway to the world". We stayed in the vibrant neighbour hood of Sternschanze, although I provided us with the opportunity of a  magical mystery tour of the infamous district of Reeperbahn, after having noted down the wrong hostel address. Europe's biggest red-light district, complete with dim bars, erotic shops and peep shows, it certainly wasn't what I had been expecting from the wealthiest German city. It was only when arriving at the Pyjama Park hostel- yeah, dodgy name, I know- that we were redirected to the much less seedy area of Sternschanze which was aplenty with al fresco eateries, graffiti murals and hipsters. At night we drank with locals in the outdoor beer halls, sipping at the amber jewels of Germany and soaking in the hazy summer evening heat.

During our stay in Hamburg, we visited the concentration camp of Neuengamme some fifteen km north of the city. Of course, it wasn't a fun experience, but I am certainly grateful to have had the opportunity to visit the memorial and learn in depth about the persecution of the Jews and other nationals during WW2. Something that I like very much about Germany is that it doesn't try to hide its past- neither swept under the rug nor glaring in your face, opportunities to learn are omnipresent should you choose to take advantage of them. (That sounds vaguely similar to a Dumbledore quote.)

In Berlin, I found myself really having to use my imagination to picture where historical buildings once stood, now replaced by trendy, gentrified streets. So many of my friends had told me of their love for Berlin, and it didn't disappoint; fleshy with both nightlife and history, no wonder people are flocking to see its offerings. Being a self-confessed history buff, I loved visiting the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Tor. We did, however, give Checkpoint Charlie a miss; having read so many reviews of it being a "tacky tourist trap" and it not even standing in the original location anymore, it hardly seemed worth a visit.

The East Side gallery certainly didn't disappoint; being both heartbreaking and sombre at the same time, analysing the political graffiti was an integral experience in trying to understand the history of Berlin. And, despite being united almost 30 years ago, the disbelief that Berlin Wall cut through the city was something that I really couldn't digest.

Much like the United Kingdom, Germany was pleasantly awash with foreign eateries that I have yet to find in many other European countries, such as Indian and Chinese (France and Spain, get yo' act together!) Of course, a visit to Germany wouldn't be complete without trying the ubiquitous Currywurst- the sliced and tomato sauce drowned sausage, aka the ultimate hangover prevention. Personally, I'll probably stick to my cheesy chips after a night out, but each to their own.

All in all, I found Germany to be the cool kid of Europe; swimming in mullet-sporting girls, facial piercings and street art. Trendy and inexpensive, I really enjoyed our eclectic short stay in the two cities, and am already itching to return. Our next stop is Prague, where I'm keen to sample more (delightfully cheap) local beers and go further east than I've ever been.
1 comment on "Interrail diaries- Getting lost in Germany"
  1. I always wanted to study in Germeny but somehow I couldn't. This post is amazing and I really liked. Thank you for the share.