Life Travel

An Adventure in Berlin

Adventures in Berlin Travel Guide Cover Page via @BryJaimea bryjaimea.com(2)

If you were following my InstaStories last week, you’ll know I spent my days luxuriating in Berlin drinking a lot of beer, and eating a lot of food.

When my coworkers found out I was heading to Berlin, they were all incredibly excited for me. Everyone loves Berlin, and after spending 5 days in Germany’s capital it’s easy to see why.

Berlin is an incredibly modern city, which is not a common thing in Europe, though in Berlin’s case completely understandable given its history over the past 100 or so years. Berlin has been through hell and back, more than once, yet it stands tall and proud not despite, but against its past.

The city is full of wide streets, modern architecture that contrasts more historic facades, and respectful nods to its history wherever you go. It is still easy to see the historic regions of East and West Berlin, with the west offering a far more modern scene than the east, that still bears scars from its Soviet past – in fact, a winding cobbled line still divides the east from the west like a scar, serving to remind us of the Wall, lest we should ever forget.

Berlin still seems to be under reconstruction from both war and segregation, and each and every turn you take will provide a new construction site to be seen, with blue or pink pipes pumping the surface water from the site gaily. Although you would expect construction zones to be an eyesore, these brightly coloured pipes distract you from the actual works, as you stroll past them on way to your adventure.

And trust me, when in Berlin there is plenty of adventure!

History

No matter where you go or stay whilst in Berlin, there is evidence of its turbulent history nearby.

The Brandenburg Gate, which marks the start of the path to town of Brandenburg an der Havel, looms large near the verdant Tiergarten and sombre Holocaust Memorial, its copper angel and chariot looking out over the city streets below.

The Reichstag Building is nearby the Gate and Tiergarten, with its glass dome easily seen from a distance. If you register in advance, you can visit the Dome which provides views far into the distance, view of Berlin unlike any other.

However, there is more ruin than rumination in Berlin, with many buildings bearing the scars of war and Soviet occupation. Remnants of the wall can be seen at places such as Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz, and the Kaiser Wilhelm church that once stood tall and proud along Kurfurstendamm still wears its broken, copper crown.

Yet, despite these reminders of the past, Berlin is writing a new story for itself with beautiful architecture and monuments celebrating its rebirth and continued growth.

Nature

Berlin was built on the edges of the River Spree and it’s tributaries, and there are many cruises which provide you a leisurely tour along its shores. Although perhaps not as grand as the Thames, the Spree is lined with weeping willows, and crossed by more bridges than Venice itself!

We were lucky to spend a morning sitting by one of the Canals, enjoying the music of a busker whilst the sun shone down and cruises passed us by, enjoying the contrast of the wild green of the trees, and the languid deep tones of the water.

However if you prefer to keep your feet on firmer ground, then one of Berlin’s many beautiful parks for you, though none are quite as resplendent as the Tiergarten. The park covers a massive 210ha and was once the hunting grounds of kings, though unfortunately suffered from deforestation after the war where there was greater need for firewood.

It has since been reforested, and is once again a beautifully lush green landscape held within the arms of the city.

Shopping

One thing most people don’t tell you about Berlin is just how amazing the shopping is – better than London or Sydney! There are several distinct shopping destinations such as Mall of Berlin, Kurfurstendamm (which is the German equivalent of the Parisian Champs Elysees), and Alexanderplatz which offer your usual High Street retailers such as H&M and Zara but also a bevy of boutiques you won’t find back home.

There’s also, every Tuesday and Friday, the Turkish Markets which offer a variety of homewares, fabrics, clothing and food. Set alongside the Landwehr Canal, this is a great market for spending a couple of casual hours indulging in a cacophony of colour, aroma, and entertainment.

Although I am not typically a fan of brick and mortar shopping, I loved the sheer volume of options when it came to shopping  and almost bought myself a Dirndl, cause well, it was the beginning of Oktoberfest! However, I resisted and instead bought myself a cute mini-stein covered with bears, which is features on Berlin’s coat of arms, and a gorgeous mustard scarf from Zara for Ben’s birthday (which is today, actually. Happy Birthday Ben!)

Food

(I know some of my readers are vegetarians, so just a wee warning that there are images containing meat below).

“German Food” conjures imagery of sauerkraut and sausages, which may not excite most people, but when you’re in Germany – it should! Street vendors sell Wurst on street corners, or you could have a more gourmet rendition at a restaurant or pub, however no matter where you go sausages will be on the menu.

There’s plenty of variety too, however the most popular does seem to be currywurst, which is exactly what it sounds like. During one pub crawl, we stopped to buy currywurst and trust me when I say it’s absolutely delicious!

Schnitzel, thinly sliced pork fillet covered in breadcrumbs and fried, and Spaetzel, hand made noodles covered in cheese, are also both easy to find and delicious, and should be on the “to eat” list for anyone visiting Germany. Just a warning though – the Schnitzel is typically served with a fried egg which is much tastier than it sounds, especially from any of Berlin’s many GastroPubs.

However, Berlin isn’t just about sausages and sauerkraut, it’s also about Turkish food.

Berlin has a huge Turkish population, and at the Turkish Markets (mentioned above) you’ll find plenty of authentic, delicious Turkish food – I was finally able to introduced Ben to Gozleme which iI have been craving since I left Sydney!

On a final note, when in Berlin you must indulge in a beer or two! Although not particularly big beer drinkers, we ensured we tested several local Pilsners and even indulged a little further and had a massive 1L stein of ale each to celebrate Oktoberfest.


Have you been to Berlin? What do you think of this once divided city, finding itself anew?

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  • I want to visit sooo badly. Anytime I see the pedestrian friendly cities of Europe I get so frustrated with the States. My neighborhood is fighting to get a sidewalk put in. 1. 1 sidewalk. Have you been to the states?

    • Miss, you need to pack your bags and get yourself over to Europe!! Berlin is friendlier to cyclists than pedestrians though – I was shouted at regularly to get out of the way despite, you know, being in the right of way haha
      YES! I was in Portland a few years ago and absolutely loved it, and we’re planning a trip to NYC next December!!

      • Portland is one of the more walkable cities, I really enjoy it there. I knoooowww I need to get to Europe! Well, if Trump keeps egging on N.K, maybe I can get refugee status lol

        • I am still in love with the food from Portland. So good. So delicious.
          Do you have any relatives from Europe or the UK? You might be able to get an ancestry visa and escape!

          • No. I’m pretty sure I was created in a lab with a mix of golden retriever and monkey DNA 🙁

            • Damn. Well…. er… I got nothing.
              Although, must’ve been a damned gorgeous and clever mix of DNA xx

  • Was in Berlin in August, great city, I love the atmosphere!

  • I was just in Berlin a couple of weeks ago for my 30th.

    I enjoyed it but felt the people were a bit cold towards us. Maybe cause of Brexit? Who knows.

    xx

    • Happy belated birthday!

      I hear what you mean – people were either very friendly, or a bit rude to us whilst we were there, depending on whether or not they realised we were tourists! x

  • I have never walked as much as I did when in Berlin. I wish I remember more about the city, as I was tied up in some major early 20s angst at the time – I’ll need to plot a return visit, since it’s so easy to get to. And I’m fascinated by the place, and its role in 20th century history.

    Lis / last year’s girl x

    • Make sure you have plenty of spending money for all the shopping! I honestly look forward to getting back there, just for a shopping spree x

  • Berlin fascinates me and is somewhere I really want to visit. I loved seeing your photos and reading your description of how it’s history has shaped it to the modern city it is today.

    When I’m back on my traveling hype, I’ll be asking for more Berlin recommendations for sure!

    • When (not if) you get there, just make sure you have a VERY large shopping budget. Trust me on that one 😉

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