A recap of my 3 days in Berlin – what we saw, where we ate, and all the feels I experienced while I was there. Before I dive into what we did and where we ate, I feel compelled to tell you a little bit about my Berlin experience….
Berlin hit me hard.
I’ve never traveled to a place with such horrific history. Sure, you read about the Holocaust in textbooks in school, you see movies recreating the brutality, but to be there, to walk the streets, to see the hotel balcony where Hitler gave his speeches, to see the land which covers up his old bunker and the building where the SS was stationed, it all felt very close and real. Visiting the Holocaust memorial was intense too. Reading the letters of the victims in the concentration camps writing farewells to their families, it put tears in my eyes and left a pit in my stomach. Not just because it happened but because oppression is still all around us today. The first visual in the Holocaust Memorial is a quote from an Italian chemist and Holocaust survivor, which says, “It happened, therefore it can happen again.” And sure enough, there were Neo-Nazi protests happening that weekend in the streets of Berlin and on the streets back at home. I walked around Berlin with a heavy heart and unsettling feeling until our last day when we visited Mauerpark, which translates to “wall park” and sits in the place of the old Berlin wall and its Death Strip (the space in between the two walls). At this park, there was a community karaoke party. No Joke. People of all ages, races, genders, sizes and sexual orientations gathered in the park to dance together, sing together, cheer each other on, give standing ovations (regardless of their musical talents). It was a beautiful site to see. And it gave me comfort knowing that even though their is oppression and hate in this world, there is so much more love. And love always trumps hate.As I was leaving the park after a quick rain shower, I saw this quote, “Imagine human beings, all of them friends.” And then I looked up and saw a rainbow. You can’t make this shit up, people. It was like the Universe was reaching out to say it’s all going to be alright.
Steve “surprised” me in Berlin. AKA he tried to surprise me but despite his best efforts, my curiosity slash need to know everything got in the way. We stayed at the Titanic Chaussee Berlin, which was pretty central and within walking distance from everything. We found a great deal on Expedia and we had points saved up so it was a no brainer.
We decided to head towards the Holocaust Memorial (which is called Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) because it looked like it was going to rain and we figured this would be a worthwhile indoor activity. On the way, we passed by this cute, fast casual vegetarian-friendly dumpling restaurant, Momos, and sat down to eat lunch. After the Holocaust Memorial, we headed toward Tiergarten, a large park in the middle of Berlin and home to Cafe am neuen see biergarten, one of the oldest beer gardens in Berlin. This place was SUPER cute. Tea lights strung all around and situated right next to a pond with…SWANS! Also the size of beers in Germany is ridic. We managed to get day of reservations for dinner at the oldest restaurant in Berlin, Zur letzten Instanz, which opened in 1621! It was perfect. Everything you would expect a really old German restaurant to be. And the food was fantastic; in fact, it was the best dinner we had while in Berlin. Steve had this delicious meatball dish with capers, and parsley mashed potatoes.And I had a fish soup with crayfish, shrimp and root vegetables. The soup was a little salty for me so I ended up eating more of Steve’s dish :).And we couldn’t pass up the homemade apple pie considering it’s made to order and takes 25 minutes to make.
We started our morning across the street from our hotel at this cute little cafe for breakfast called Karaca. We got coffees, croissants, fruit and fresh juice until we realized they also served eggs – then we got some of those too.Steve’s a HUGE history buff while it was my LEAST favorite subject in school. I hate to admit it but history bores me. But since Steve traveled across the pond to visit me for 72 hours, we did the five hour walking history tour of Berlin :). It was super informative and a great way to see lots of the city with way more context than we would have had walking it on our own. I feel like history tours are a must when traveling Germany.
Altes Museum (Old Museum)
Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery)
Berlin State Library
Headquarters of the SS
Old Berlin Wall and Topography of Terror Site
After the tour, my cold started to show its true colors. I couldn’t stop sneezing for the life of me. So we started to head back toward the direction of our hotel but we stumbled upon all these peeps hanging out near Museum Island along the Spree River. They were listening to live bands and eating/drinking and soaking up the sun. Despite my cold, I was hungry so we stopped and had a snack, taking in the surroundings.We shared a salad and currywurst, which I had read was a must-eat while in Berlin! It tastes like a hot dog smothered in curry tomato sauce and it’s delicious. After some cold medicine, tissues and a break at the hotel, we ventured to dinner at Cordobar. This place was on Eater’s essential top 38 restaurant list and they described it as a wine bar where all the famous Chefs in Berlin flock to after hours. So I assumed the food would be good. Wrong. Most of the dishes we ordered were basically inedible. So we drank wine and ate bread. Example A of grossness below. That being said, they did have an impressive wine list so I’ll give them that. Come here for the wine. Don’t stay for food.
We took a long stroll in the morning (about an hour or so walk) to Markthalle Neun, an indoor food market with a ton of vendors. I HIGHLY recommend this place.It was bustling on a Sunday late morning/early afternoon. In fact, there were a couple places that were already sold out of stuff when we arrived. The food we got was awesome though. Quiche with greens, pizza with broccoli rabe, currywurst and fries and shakshuka.
After brunch, we decided to walk to the East Side Gallery because it was pretty close to where we were. Truth be told, I had no idea what it was, just that it was a tourist sight. I’m SO glad we went – it was one of the coolest things we saw in Berlin.
The East Side Gallery is an international memorial for freedom. It’s the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall, covered with 105 paintings from artists all over the world.After the East Side Gallery, we took a cab to Mauerpark, home of the Sunday flea market in Berlin. It reminded me of Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, tons of food vendors, artists, crafts, clothes, live music and tons of people. This is where we hung out and listened to the community karaoke I mentioned earlier. This is a must-visit if you’re in Berlin on a Sunday and want a taste of the local life. On the walk back to the hotel, we saw the third location of the remnants of the Berlin Wall, aka the Berlin Wall Memorial.For dinner, we headed to Prater Biergarten, Berlin’s oldest beer garden. The food was just meh. I’d recommend this place during the day to sit outside and enjoy the beer garden but don’t rush here for dinner.
We had potato soup.I got fish that was fried over a mayo-heavy coleslaw and potatoes. Wasn’t feeling it.Steve got meatballs with capers again but they were much better at Zur letzten Instanz. Oddly enough, I think these roasted beets with horseradish creme fraiche were my favorite dish of the meal. And that’s a wrap! Next stop: Munich and Salzburg!