For Bank Holiday, me and my Boyfriend travelled to Berlin. It’s one of his favourite cities, but I’d never been myself. I loved the idea of exploring the city’s history, as well as seeing how this has impacted modern day Berlin. Of course, I had lots of food spots I wanted to try too. I’m gonna’ split up my trip into two posts: days 1 and 2, and day 3 and 4, so look out for the second post later in the week if you’re interested.
We stayed in Friedrichshain, formerly part of East Berlin (our nearest U-Bahn was Samariterstraße). It’s largely known as one of the “trendy” districts of Berlin, and home to various Media and Design companies. There’s a huge amount of bars and restaurants, but with a much more relaxed vibe than other areas of the city. I noticed a lot of similarities with places like Shoreditch and Williamsburg. Either way, I’d definitely recommend it whether you’re staying in a hotel or hostel.
Weather Cloudy and Overcast
Sights Berlin Cathedral, The Fernsehturm, Flak Tower Humboldthain, Berlin Aquarium, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Bikini Berlin
Eats New Day
We arrived in Berlin at around 9.30 am – eaaaarly flight. We checked into our hotel, and set out exploring getting the U-Bahn straight to Alexanderplatz, where we saw the TV Tower and Berlin Cathedral. For lunch, we grabbed a burrito by the river and mapped out the afternoon. Some sunshine would have been great, but there are loads of rainy/cloudy day things to do in Berlin too. We headed towards Wedding to check out the Underground Tours – unfortunately you really needed to book in the morning, but it’s definitely on my list for next time. Whilst in the area, we went to the nearby park where they have an old (and mostly destroyed) 7 storey bunker – Flak Tower Humboldthain (read more here). I took a couple of pictures of the view, but the pictures don’t do it enough justice to post them.
We took the U-Bahn towards Tiergarten and went to the Aquarium – they also had an Insect and Reptile Section which was pretty cool. If you go, make sure you check out the leaf-cutting ants installation even if it did make me feel a bit itchy. Having decided not to partake in any shopping during the trip (deep breath), we still wondered around Bikini Berlin, a newly opened ‘concept mall’. If you’re in the area it’s worth taking a look and grabbing an ice cream from La Luna.
Across the road sits The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which was heavily bombed during the war, as well as the new Church that stands beside it. By now, we were starting to hit a bit of a wall after a long day so headed back to the Hotel. For dinner, we stayed local and ate at a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant called New Day – their spring rolls are probably the best I’ve ever tasted.
Weather Sunny and Warm, with a breeze
Sights VW Gallery, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, Memorial to the Sinti and Roma National Socialist Regime, Soviet War Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie
Eats Chums, Santa Maria Mexican Diner
The weather was muuuch better on day 2. Walking down to the Brandenburg Gate, we stopped at the VW Gallery and Exhibition Space which was interesting, designed to demonstrate the brand’s traditions, visions and cars of the automotive group (they had a Lamborghini that’s gone straight on my wishlist). We carried on down towards the gate, before heading to the Reichstag. The Brandenburg Gate formed a key part of Hitler’s plans for “World Capital Germania” – he wanted to reorganise Berlin along a central 5 km-long boulevard known as the Prachtallee.
We couldn’t go up the Reichstag building – it was fully booked for the next few days, so do book beforehand if it’s something you fancy doing. There’s several memorials in the surrounding area that you must see, including The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma National Socialist Regime, The Soviet War Memorial and Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Later in the afternoon we visited Checkpoint Charlie. It was fascinating to learn more about The Berlin Wall and The Cold War that followed World War II; Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the most well-known crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin, during the Cold War. Some of the stories about families helplessly split up and divided by the wall, and tales of successful and unsuccessful escapes were truly moving.
We had eaten on and off during the day (lots of ice cream) so had some light bites near the Hotel in the evening – around Boxhagener Platz. I had an amazing Mason Jar smoothie and some Vietnamese Spring Rolls at Chums, followed by cocktails and chips & dip at Santa Maria. We did try catch some of the Premier League in one of the surrounding bars but had to settle for the Bundesliga (it was only the Spurs game anyway…) Next time, I’m definitely grabbing more drinks at Chums and the Quesadillas at Santa Maria.
After food, we jumped on the U-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz, which looks great all lit up at night. Instead of grabbing a drink here (they have loads of restaurants and bars in and around Potsdamer Platz), we each bought a bottle of Berliner Kindl and sat in front of the Brandenburg Gate – how romantic (L).
Days 2 & 3 to come…