Date I was there: 27-28th June 2014
Last summer, I spent a month in Berlin at a language school. I lived in a flat in Kreuzberg with one of my besties from home, who was doing the same thing, and it was amazing. It was the only place away from home where I could actually see myself moving to. Leaving was hard so you can imagine my joy at getting to go back for a weekend, nearly a year later. I can’t lie, I didn’t love it quite so much. It was hard to relax when I was there for such a short time, but I’d seen pretty much everything I wanted to see. All I wanted to do was have a lie in, wander casually around some markets, relax in the park, eat some good food and drink some good bear. Of course, I did all of that (minus the lie ins) but being a tourist in a city I had come to think of as home was tricky.
I arrived into Schönefeld airport at about 9pm, slightly delayed, and after a slight wait at passport control and baggage reclaim, I headed off to find the train station. I got my ticket and found my platform easily enough but in typical fashion, I seemed to always just miss the last train, so it took another hour for me to get to Gendarmenmarkt to meet my Dad, who was already making a dent in Berlin’s beer supply without me. After a nice chat with someone on the train and marching around the square, peering into the bars, I finally found him at Newton Bar, where the long bar itself spilled out onto the street and lots of people were buzzing around. After a beer, our stomachs started to get the better of us. It was about 11.30pm but we were optimistic we could find food. Thankfully, the Hilton Hotel bar was still serving so we ordered a big plate of nachos and another of currywurst (I had been craving it for a year- now was the time) and inhaled the tasty food before going to bed.
The next morning was a relatively early start but that was okay; I was just so excited about breakfast. Hotel breakfasts in Berlin are something to behold. There was everything from cooked breakfasts, pastries, meats, cheeses and cake. After a three course meal of fruit, meatballs, egg and bacon and meat, cheese and bread, we ventured out onto the streets. Helpfully, our hotel was very close to all the tourist sites- unhelpfully, we had both seen most of them. After a bit of a discussion, we realised that neither of us had visited the Deutsches Historisches Museum- which I had found using Foursquare– and it was close by, so that is where we went. It was well worth the visit. Although I have been taught a lot about German history around the World Wars, I knew nothing about anything beforehand or afterwards. It put German history in a different perspective, seeing one thing lead to another, but I have to admit I was serious flagging by the end. There is just too much to see and read about, so I’m not sure how much I took in!
Around the museum, on the Saturday we visited, was a market selling jewellery, pictures and other bits and pieces. Walking down a bit further took us to another market of books and antiques. We didn’t come back with any purchases but it was nice just to explore.
Afterwards, we found a restaurant by the antiques market and Museum Island and settled down for a much deserved rest and food. Surprisingly for such a touristy area, the food was reasonably priced and delicious. I had a massive, colourful, delicious plate of tuna salad. It was a good find.
Although we had both seen the Brandenburg Gate and The Reichstag, you cannot go to Berlin without seeing them and they were only at the end of the road, so that was our next stop. Sadly, like last time, a stage had been erected in front of the gate so we couldn’t walk through it. We went to discover what the fuss was about and found a big screen and lots of food and beer stalls lining the street, as far as the eye could see. This was where Berliners were enjoying the World Cup football games. There wasn’t a game on as we wandered down the road but I could see the appeal. If you couldn’t make it to Brazil, Berlin seemed like a good alternative. After lots of photos and selfie attempts in front of The Reichstag, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel for a break.
We stopped off at Cafe Einstein on Unter Den Linden for some ice cream. We’d picked the right place, with bowls of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, complete with chocolate bits and a mountain of whipped cream, being delivered to us as we sat on the street, watching the world go by, and hoping that the forecasted rain didn’t make an appearance- it didn’t.
After a pretty decent nap in front of Wimbledon, it was dinner time. We didn’t feel like venturing too far so we tried the chocolate restaurant, Fassbender and Rausch, but found it only had limited serving hours, before settling down at a Bavarian place, Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt- not quite local cuisine, but close enough. My beef goulash and Augustiner beer dinner definitely hit the spot and we spent a while just sitting outside, listening to the cheers of people watching the football and craning to see the screen. We then found ourselves back at Newtons, to end our first day with cocktails and beer.