Day 3 (Bike Day!)
Weather Sunny & Hot
Sights Mauerpark Flea Market, The Berlin Wall Memorial, Topography of Terror, East Side Gallery
Eats Princess Cheesecake, Lemon Leaf
Day 3 was probably my favourite day in Berlin, partly because we explored the city by bike. Berlin is mostly a flat landscape, so cycling is really popular and a great way to see more of the city. I felt really safe when we were riding around (I always feel nervous on a bike in London), even on the busier roads – they have loads of cycle paths throughout Berlin. You can rent bikes from hotels, cafés and shops.
After re-familiarising myself with how to actually ride a bike, we cycled over to Mauerpark where every Sunday they have a Flea Market – Flea Markets are apparently becoming really popular in Berlin for both locals and tourists. We got there around 12pm, and it was really busy – so if you’re wanting a bit more shoulder room head there before 11am. They have stalls selling bikes, vintage clothes, antiques, vinyls and some delicious smelling food stalls – I’m still feeling sad I didn’t buy any Baklava. After a bit of browsing, we took a short ride to the Berlin Wall Memorial. It was established in 1998 in memory of the city’s division. You can walk around the grounds, and they have a great outdoor exhibiton. You can see remains of the wall in several places around Berlin, but there you can get a real feeling of how the wall stood, with the watch tower and both sides of the wall.
Feeling hungry, we navigated our way to Princess Cheesecake (there was lots of stopping and map reading – thank you Year 7 Geography). The cheesecakes looked and tasted great – we both opted for a German style cheesecake that was a bit thicker and fluffier. Looking back, it may not have been the best food choice for a hot day… But their home-made lemon was a perfect addition (I had the elderflower lemonade). They have a huge selection of teas too; it’s a cute stop to make if you have time, maybe on a more overcast day.
Trying to cycle off some of the cheesecake, we rode South, towards The Topography of Terror. Again, cycling around Berlin was such a great way to see more as well as get a better feel for the city – plus, I only-almost cycled into someone once much to Steven’s delight. The Topography of Terror is an indoor and outdoor museum. Be prepared to dedicate a at least an hour or two here, the exhibitions are absolutely fascinating but also heartbreaking. It’s actually built on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS. If you’re in Berlin and only have time to visit a couple of museums, this would be on my list.
There was an outdoor, vegan beer garden then I wanted to check out that I’d read about online – after lots of cycling I was in need of sitting down on something other than a bike seat (cycling off the cheesecake didn’t go well). It’s called Wilder Hasse (https://www.facebook.com/wilderhase), and located in a previously unused and abandoned industrial space. It’s a strangely beautiful but quaint setting, filled with wooden crates, hammocks and a ping pong table. Although Berlin didn’t feel as “busy” as New York or London, it was nice to take yourself “out of the city” for a short while. I opted for a vegan coke, but you can also grab a bite to eat (vegan, obviously).
At Wilder Hase, we weren’t too far from the river so cycled down to the East Side Gallery, just as the day was starting to cool off. It’s the longest open air gallery in the world, along a 1.3 km stretch of the Berlin Wall. The Gallery has 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, designed to document “a time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better”. Many of the paintings now have graffiti, but the power of the images still stands strong in my opinion.
After a walk along the river, we decided to grab an early dinner at a great Indochinese Restaurant called Lemon Leaf – the food was all cooked fresh and smelt amazing. Aside from the odd currywurst, I have to admit we didn’t eat much German Cuisine, something I’ll be trying to do more on my next trip. But either way, this was probably my favourite meal of the trip (I had a Laotian Green Curry). Either way, a great end to Day 3 in Berlin.