Filled with a lot of joy, hope and happiness we decided to begin our 42 days long trip in Berlin. Since this city is close to where we live (Poznań, Poland), we expected the trek there to be really quick and easy; and that’s exactly how it started. We crossed the border with Germany without any problems but then we had to change our ride. Our driver left us “just before Berlin” and that’s where everything became complicated.
Still filled with a lot of joy, we started hitchhiking on a petrol station- standing just before the highway opening. We thought that it was a perfect spot as there where quite a lot of cars going out; but the clock was ticking and no one was stopping. After about two hours and many people passing us by, we were hit with the feeling of “hey, something is wrong”. There was definitely something wrong! So many cars, a great spot; why was no one taking us? Fortunately, after some (long) time a car stopped. “You are standing on the opposite side of the highway” a neat looking guy in a uniform told us. It turned out that we were just past the exit to Berlin; we drove too far; we should have left just after the border, on the only petrol station before Berlin. We were lucky; the guy decided to help us and he dropped us in a place where we could change the side of the highway. From there everything went smoothly; we arrived to Berlin in 30 minutes; exhausted but ready to spend amazing 4 nights there.
Our first sightseeing day in Berlin started with the most famous tourist attractions. Although we love art and exhibitions, visiting museums was impossible since we were travelling without money; we had to focus on what is free. Although, Dominika’s been in them before and can totally recommend; they’re amazing!
Our first stop was Reichstag– the parliament building. It hit us with its grandeur; Aleks spent some time taking pictures of this beautiful building. It’s magnificence is complimented by the nearby square- Platz der Republik – huge, flat, and covered with grass. We decided to lay there, rest and admire the surroundings. Then, we went to see the Brandenburg Gate, the landmark of Berlin, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The architect did his job well: walking around, not knowing what will happen and what awaits you behind the corner really fills with the feeling of trepidation; An uneasy, confusing atmosphere hangs over the entire place. Walking back to the U-Bahn on Potsdamerplatz we decided to reroute and see Checkpoint Charlie. During next days we also visited Tiergarden and saw the Berlin Victory Column.
In Berlin, we met a lot of nice and friendly people who inspired us in many different ways. In front of Brandenburg Gate we met two Polish travellers who earned money by blowing gigantic bubbles to entertain tourists and children. Traveling from one place to another and not having any cash, they were doing that to earn enough to make ends meet. That got us thinking: why don’t we try something similar? Why don’t we try to earn money?
Our hosts from couchsurfing also got us really inspired. One of them, Vince, invited us to a ‘creative meeting for the members of the LGBT+ community’ organised by them in a nice gay pub. There, we met many interesting people, and had very heartening conversations about art and our insecurities. Another host got us interested in yoga since both she and her flatmate were yoga instructors. We even had a chance to see them in action in a park next to their house.
In Berlin, our journey with freeganism and dumpster diving started. Having never done it in Poland before, we were completely inexperienced. Our first day was a nightmare – not having enough food with us for a whole day of sightseeing took away all of our energy. Because of extremely hot temperatures it got so bad that Aleks was feeling really unwell- almost to the point of fainting. That was the time when we had to take that first terrifying step. Dominika- having nothing to lose- decided to ask for some food at back entries of a few restaurants. Receiving our first two bananas from an older lady working in one of them brought us our motivation and energy back. That was the first time when we saw that our trip and our goals really were possible.
We also tried to ask for food at a farmer’s market – it turned out to be an amazing way to gain fruit and vegetables. During our first time – after explaining that we are travellers and had no money – we got two crates filled with still edible food.
We also learned of two additional ways to get free food; social gardens – places where anyone can grow and share plants (we found one in Tempelhofer Field); and foodsharing – an idea to prevent wasting food by putting shelves and fridges for everyone to leave or take some free food. We found the former to be so incredible that we decided to do the same in our city when we came back from our trip. We met up with some people with similar ideas and that’s how Foodsharing Poznań was created. Now we’re looking for a place to put our first fridge and we hope to do so before December.
Even though Berlin had more to offer than those couple of landmarks that we had seen, we mostly focused on exploring the city without any specific route or plan in mind. We were just walking, deciding where to turn just before the roads crossed. This is why we spent quite a lot of time resting in beautiful parks or just wandering around picturesque neighbourhoods. Spending time like this gave us the possibility to relax and let go of all stress from previous days.
Apart from exploring the city, we also attended Christopher Street Day, and you can read how amazing it was here.
- Couchsurfing: 5/10
- Hitchhiking in and out: 8/10 overall
- Freeganism: 6/10
- Busking: N/A
- Blackriding: 9/10
It was difficult for us to find hosts in Berlin since all of them get a lot of requests daily. Hitchhiking out of the city was very easy and we didn’t have any trouble finding a ride. When it comes to freeganism we didn’t do it too much so it’s hard for us to judge, but since it was our first time trying it we think we did pretty good. Blackriding is very easy in Berlin since ticket control can’t do anything to you if they catch you riding without a ticket; they can’t stop you if you decide to leave or run away.
Poznań -> Berlin: bus stop Bojanowska
Berlin -> south: petrol station near Nikolassee S-Bahn stop (as on hitchwiki)