It was finally time for Jordan’s first day at his new job and my first day exploring Berlin alone. Thankfully, the hotel we stayed in the night before was only a couple of minutes away from Jordan’s new office in Mitte. Since we had only booked one night in Hotel Augustinenhof, we checked out together before he headed off to work.
Once Jordan had left, I sat in the hotel lobby for a little while, organising where I was going to go and how I was going to get there. I decided to spend the day walking around the city rather than taking public transport. My first stop was the Tiergarten – a massive park in the centre of Berlin which is beautifully green and hosts a range of sculptures and memorials. We had walked through the Tiergarten when we visited back in 2014 by following the main road that runs through it. This time I wanted to walk within the park grounds.
On the way to the Tiergarten, I passed by the Reichstag building – Germany’s current parliament building. Although admission is free for the Reichstag, you do have to register in advance to enter so it was nearly impossible for me to go inside at such short notice (getting admission on the day wasn’t worth the queuing or the hassle since I’ve visited before). If you get the opportunity to book in advance, I’d do so just for the view from the top of the dome alone.
After passing by the parliament building, I headed across the road – past the seemingly excessive security – and into the Tiergarten. There were barely any people around, not only because it was early, but also because it was freezing. The ground was icy and no matter how thick your gloves were, your fingers were still numb. Throughout the park, there are streams, statues and plenty of plaques to read up on the interesting history of the place. I stopped along the way for a bite of the sandwich I had packed in my embarrassingly-geeky backpack and watched the crows (which were the size of small dogs) harass passers-by for food.
I got about halfway through the Tiergarten by the time I turned back. My shoes were rubbing like crazy and my fingers had gotten their feeling back in the form of pain. I was heading back towards Brandenburg Gate when I came across an entrance to what looked like a complex of office buildings, but since there were loads of tourists coming out with cameras, I thought I’d take a look.
What it turned out to be was the Sony Center – a huge collection of high-rise buildings containing Germany’s Sony headquarters. During World War II, it was part of No Man’s Land but now it plays host to film premiers and events, and contains restaurants, an IMAX theatre, cinemas and even a Legoland Discovery Centre. I spent a few hours sat in Starbucks catching up on my writing, complete with a hot chocolate or two to warm me up a little.
Walking back to Friedrichstrasse to meet Jordan should have been easy – it’s a simple straight road. However, Google Maps decided to tell me I was somewhere that I definitely wasn’t by which time it was dark so I hadn’t noticed that I had been walking in the opposite direction for twenty minutes until I was deep into Kreuzberg and I was meant to be meeting Jordan in less that five minutes.
Being the ‘Panakin Skywalker’ that I am (thank Jordan for that horrendous nickname), I, well…panicked. I couldn’t find a taxi to flag down and I still hadn’t changed my phone so that I could make calls in Berlin so the only option I had was to run. If you’re wondering why I was panicking so much, I knew that I was going to be at least twenty minutes late which meant Jordan would be waiting for that time. Jordan knew that I was only fifteen minutes away and had left with plenty of time to spare so I didn’t want him thinking the worst had happened when I didn’t show up.
After a lot of sweating, feeling like my lungs were going to explode and annoying a taxi driver for asking him to take me from one end of the street to the other (sorry random angry taxi driver), I made it to Dussmann twenty-five minutes after I should have, to find that Jordan wasn’t even there yet – he too, was late. Typical. Ten minutes later and Jordan turned up to find me a sweaty mess on a bookstore floor, trying to let my lungs recover.
I should have put money on something going wrong on my first day in the city on my own – I would have ended up a millionaire. Although it definitely could have been worse, I still had a really nice first day…I went on a really pretty walk, paid a quick visit to the Reichstag Building and discovered the Sony Center. Hopefully, Jordan’s day was as successful as mine!