Sometimes, random factors in life can come together to create a special experience. Take, for example, that time Rammstein was on tour, it was easily -20°C in Berlin, and Ron wanted to add to his Olympic Stadium collection. The only reason we were in Berlin during the winter was to see Rammstein in concert, and it turns out that when it’s that cold, there aren’t many hardy souls willing to tour an outdoor venue. This led to us having the run of the Olympiastadion, without a single person in sight during our entire visit.
Berlin wasn’t the first trip Ron and I took together. We’d road tripped a couple of times, done the obligatory winter break in Florida, and even gone on a Greek cruise. But this was the first time where we weren’t travelling to places we knew well to visit friends and family, could make our own itinerary, and had more choices to make than which theme park we’d visit that day.
As part of my trip prep, I visited the Berlin tourism website and printed out the information for a whole whack of things that seemed interesting. I remember almost not bothering to print the info for the Olympic Stadium – I’m not a sports kinda person, and I didn’t know about Ron’s interest – then deciding it wasn’t like the extra sheet of paper was going to break my suitcase, and into the folder the printout went.
We arrived in Berlin in the afternoon, and, after getting settled into our room and grabbing supper at a pub, we spent a lovely evening at the hotel bar, sampling some local brews over a map and our printouts. We grouped potential stops together by geographic location, as we were only in the city for a few days, and wanted to be efficient, wasting as little time travelling between sites as we could. And when we’d gone through the ‘A’ pile and realized we had time to spare, I pulled out the ‘B’ pile, which included the Olympic Stadium.
Ron immediately moved it to the ‘A’ pile, and we slated it for a morning stop, to give us as much time as we wanted to explore. This proved to be a smart decision, as we were there for hours. Not only is it incredible from an architectural point of view, there’s an extensive self-guided tour, with numerous signboards in place, detailing the history of the stadium and its use as a propaganda vehicle for the Nazi party.
Not only did going in the morning give us plenty of time to take everything in without rushing. It also gave us beautiful lighting, the sun nothing more than a soft, hazy glow in the overcast sky. That overcast sky, I expect, was part of the reason we were the only ones there, as people hid from the weather. And yet I suspect the views were even more remarkable than usual because of it.
I’ve travelled enough at this point that people will ask me for suggestions of things to do when they’re going somewhere I’ve been. I always try to suggest something outside of the norm, away from the most popular spots that everybody’s heard of and are overrun by tourists. When it comes to Berlin, Olympic Stadium is always my pick.
But beyond the suggestion of a place, I always recommend that people consider the timing of their visit, as well. Don’t wait for the bright, sunshiny day. Venture out when it’s cold, or grey, or raining, or snowing. Stay up super late, or get up stupid early, and take in the city lights in the middle of the night when everyone else is in bed, or lie in a field and stare up at the sky.
You might just be building the best memories of all.