I SPY: Berlin

Nov 30, 2016

Back on track after Thanksgiving?  I'm still a little fuzzy with the time difference, because while you were feeding your face I was in BERLIN, Germany feeding my soul!  Short trip I know.  But hey, when a review is called, your kid free for the holidays, and you land a great deal, you just go!



Didn't take much convincing to hop on that plane because there is so much hype around Berlin lately, and I was curious.  In two words I can describe it as grungy cool.  I wouldn't call it a pretty city, nor a city for everyone.  I found it very grey; the weather, the buildings, the grit.  But the street art and graffiti give it a colorful edge and a vibe which attracts the artsy kind.  Overall it felt young.  The people were really friendly and laid back, and there's an influx of many young investors since Berlin is currently the top city in Europe for start ups.  So much so there are such a thing as start up tours.  Have an idea?  Move to Berlin!

Just like NYC there was a big foodie culture, hipster fashions, pop ups, contrast between old meets new, cafe and club scene, emphasis on the arts, reliable public transportation, posters and ethical opinions, 24 hour shops…so much freedom and creativity I felt right at home.  Obviously!  I love all that stuff.  Besides their trending man buns and techno music!  HA.

SEE + DO

BERLIN CATHEDRAL:
Built in 1905 this Evangelical church is set along the canal, on Museum Island.  I didn't go inside but the outside was beautiful from all angles.



BRANDENBURG GATE:
An 18th century neoclassical city gate that use to mark the start of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg.  The gate symbolizes peace and unity.



EAST SIDE GALLERY:
The East Side Gallery was my first must, because this freedom wall is what springs to mind when people mention Berlin.  Happens I also have a thing for walls and street art too, so it was a pleasure to walk the 1km long wall, and view over 100 murals in the brisk cold.



JEWISH MUSEUM:
It was moving to learn about the Jews in Germany during Hitlers time and see personal artifacts, and the garden of exile.  But standing in the dark Holocaust tower and experiencing the Fallen Leaves exhibit by Menashe Kaddishman is what made my hair stand.  10,000 iron plates with cut out faces, representing the victims, which the artist encourages you to walk on because he wants the lost to feel visible.  The loud metallic sounds of the plates when walked on mimic the cries of the tortured.







REICHSTAG DOME:
I've never seen a cooler Parliament building!  Tickets must be reserved in advance.  If your there during peak tourist season I would advise you to secure tickets way ahead of time.  It is free of charge, but online registration for tickets is required, and time slots sell out quickly.  Do it on their website.



TEUFELSBERG:
This was on my list and I never made it because I missed the boat not realizing that it is an hour away from the city center, and tickets need to be bought in advance.  OOPS.  So plan for it in advance if you wish to visit this former cold war spy station.  Tickets can be purchased online.

Photo Credit: IG @dangjessicaa


TV TOWER:
A main landmark in Berlin, that helped me gain my bearings.  It is 368 meters high.  The tallest structure in Germany and the second tallest in Europe.  You can ride up to the top, but I didn't.  The fog every morning covered the top, so it was pointless.  But maybe you will have good weather when your there.  I'm sure the city views are amazing from up top on a clear day.



SHOP

BIKINI BERLIN:
Shoppers paradise if your looking for local designers and something unique to add to your closet.  I'm glad I went on my last day, otherwise I could've wasted my whole trip in there!



EAT

FLOHMARKT:
If your there on Sundays try and catch this flea and food market located in Mauerpark.  I unfortunately ran out of time before catching my flight home.  But that's ok, saved me calories and money!

Photo Credit: IG @vic_blk


HOUSE OF SMALL WONDER:
As mentioned in a separate post it's a super cute cafe.  Go for breakfast, brunch, lunch or tea.  Closed for dinner.



MUSTAFA'S GEMUSE KEBAP:
Doner kebabs are readily available street food in Berlin.  However, I heard from quite a few locals claiming this to be the best.  It was definitely yummy.  However I am no doner kebab expert.  P.S there is a line so go early or avoid peak times.



SOHO HOUSE:
Their concept shop is set up like a cafe / library with communal tables to plug in and do work, grab a coffee, smoothie or light fare such as soup, salad and sandwiches.  It's such a nice comfy space.  Also their restaurant downstairs is open for dinner and accessible to non members too.



STREET FOOD:
A must try is their currywurst which they're famous for.  It is just as easy as finding a hot dog on the streets of NYC!  Also their pretzels, and waffles are other faves of mine off the streets.





SLEEP
I stayed in an old KGB building!  It's service apartments.  Nothing fancy but clean, modern, and in a convenient location in the Mitte area.  The 'value apartment' I stayed in was tiny.  But the configuration was amazing.  Somehow in that small space they were able to fit in everything including a kitchen sink and stove!  The staff at the reception were helpful in guiding me, and there was a lovely coffee shop Type Hype next door to get your caffeine fix and breakfast.  Would totally stay there again.


Lux Eleven
Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 9-13
10178 Berlin
T: +49 3093622800
website

TIPS

BICYCLE:
If you want to be like a local rent a bike.  There are plenty of rental kiosks around the city, and it is the best way to tour the city.

SNEAKERS:
Huge sneaker culture over there.  Everyone is wearing them.  Rarely see high heels.  Probably because they're got many cobblestone streets, which would mess up your nice shoes.  So get comfy.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS:
If your there around X'mas time attend a Christmas fair that's set up like a winter village.  There were a few going on in the city with carnival rides, cute stalls, where I ended up buying my X'mas ornaments, street food, and many Gluhwein stalls. Gluhwein is a common drink in Europe, usually a apres ski drink.  If you haven't had it before it is essentially warm red wine.  Keeps your soul warm and friendly!



Three nights in Berlin wasn't long enough, but was an appetizer.  Since it was my first time I did take the touristy route, and could really only cover the East side Mitte area.  There is definitely a desire to go back and make a Berlin Part II to have a chance to explore the other neighborhoods.  But it was a good start and introduction to a new city which I really enjoyed.

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