Part two in a four-part series on our recent trip to Berlin.
We hit Berlin with little more than a rough plan: See things, have fun. This is generally the same plan we have in every city we visit worldwide, whether we’re in North Dakota or Catalunya. To be fair, we do always have a map at the ready (grasped tightly in my sweaty fist) and we gladly take suggestions from friends, hotel staff, waiters, buskers and dogs as to which sights are not to be missed. On Monday, we checked into our hotel, took notes on which bus line to use to get home at night, and set OFF. We hoofed it past all the major sights. We shuffled up the ramp to the top of the Bundestag, battling vertigo. We maneuvered through the Brandenburg Gate and down to Checkpoint Charlie. We caught a bus again at Potsdamer Platz and found our way to Museum Island. All this was accomplished in two days, with only a general aim and no regimented strategy.
I’m not going to preach against guided tours or even annoying tour buses. With a limited amount a time you can use those methods to learn about your surroundings and see the major monuments. I’ve been on some killer bike tours and I do love a good British tour guide. And it could be said that the wandering theory causes you to ‘miss’ a few things. But so far all my best adventures have been involved some map-assisted wandering, and anything I missed was more than made up for with things that I didn’t even know I was looking for. It allows you to stumble upon unforeseen favorites and get a little bit lost. It takes the stress out of seeing, and gives you the feeling that you really are on vacation rather than a death march.