Hallo! Wie gehts? I have recently returned from the most amazing four days in Berlin on a school trip run by Adaptable Travel. I jumped at the opportunity to visit a city with such a vivid and turbulent history, and as a German and Art student, the chance to practice my language skills in a friendly, real-life environment and visit a selection of world renowed galleries was an opportunity I couldn't miss.
Taking the ‘Discover Berlin Walking Tour’ was the perfect way to see the city. Stops included the Berlin Cathedral, the Brandenburg gate and even remains of the Berlin Wall. Our tour guide was full of not only interesting facts to inform us but jokes to keep us entertained too! We also visited the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, a location embedded with historical importance. I learnt so much from the tour in just a few hours and already felt like an expert on Berlin! Another personal favourite experience was stopping off for an amazing hot chocolate, much needed as it was rather cold.
Art is my favourite subject and visiting galleries is something I love. During the weekend we visited five galleries, each with unique characteristics and displaying a wide variety of artists and mediums. Seeing other people’s work allows me to better reflect on my own efforts, as well as providing inspiration for the future. At each gallery we could take our time and really explore, which was perfect because often school trips to galleries can be a whirlwind tour with little time to fully appreciate the works of art. My favourite gallery was the Martin Schoeller photography gallery, his up-close and personal portraits of celebrities and famous figures were fantastic to see. Having recently completed a unit on portraits and with portrait artists having a big influence on my final piece, the visit hugely complemented my studies.
Visiting the Holocaust memorial, completed in 2004, was both an emotional and a humbling experience. It was intensely powerful and gave us time to reflect and remember those who were brutally murdered by the Nazis during a darker period of German history. I found it particularly poignant that there is no definite explanation behind the memorial, allowing everyone to interpret and appreciate it in their own individual way.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was our visit to a former Stasi prison, now known as the Hohenschonhausen memorial. We were given a guided tour by an extremely interesting and knowledgeable guide, who described to us a number of the horrors performed in the very place we were standing. It’s often difficult to comprehend such horrors when merely reading about them in a textbook, so seeing first-hand the terrible conditions and the terrifying prison cells which the inmates endured was incredibly eye-opening. I would also highly recommend visiting Kurfürstendamm, one of the most famous avenues in Berlin. We had time to look around and do some shopping, although some of the designer fashion stores were sadly out of my price range!
In the evenings we ventured out and chose our own restaurants to eat in. This gave us great opportunities to practice our german skills and time for me and my friends to relax and discuss our busy days. My favourite was the Hard Rock café in Kurfürstendamm, it had a great atmosphere and the food was delicious. We stayed at the friendly Industriepalast Hostel, which had lovely rooms and great breakfasts. The Hostel was only five minutes walk away from the nearest train station which was extremely convenient and allowed us to make the most of our time.
Overall, I would urge anyone who gets the chance to visit Berlin. The city has a great mix of history and modern culture and there is definitely something for everyone. As a school trip it was extremely well organised and great value for money, we had just the right amount of activities and visits planned, always getting the most from our time. I learnt so much and felt far more confident with my language skills. Certainly a weekend to remember!
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