Thursday 18 – Monday 22 October 2018
Sometimes I wonder how much more of the world I would have seen by now if I had never discovered Berlin. This thought is always shortly followed by another – that I don’t really care. As much as I love travelling and discovering new places, going to Berlin for me now always has a sense of going home and that’s lovely.
Once again, I was off to Berlin for a long weekend with my Dad. He had announced a few weeks before that he wanted to go and wanted a buddy and who was I to deny him?
Our flight was early-ish at 8.40am. I made it to Gatwick without delay but my Dad got a bit caught up thanks to delayed trains. He still arrived with about an hour before the flight (probably a bit more) but for someone with constant paranoia when it comes to missing planes that was too close to the wire for me and I had started to fret.
Of course, the flight ended up being delayed for a bit anyway (we were flying EasyJet) but we still arrived in Berlin with much of the day ahead. It wasn’t warm in Berlin but not as cold as I was expecting in October and the important thing was that the sun was out. We made our way from Schonefeld to Wilmersdorf, dumped our stuff and did the activity we always have to fit into a trip here – shopping on the Kurfurstendamm. Not the most cultural activity but a local one.
We prefaced our shopping trip with a visit to Curry 36 near the Zoologischer Garten. We’d had a recommendation that this place was one of the best places in town for currywurst. We arrived to find the place was a stall near the U Bahn station with some standing tables, as opposed to a cafe, and the number of people milling around on this Thursday afternoon was a good indication that it had not been oversold. Although I have since been told this is more of a currywurst option for tourists rather than locals, I can confirm that it was not oversold and was very good.
My subsequent shopping trip was equally successful and I came away with two new coats from Mango (I got carried away) and some earrings from & Other Stories which miraculously do not irritate my ears like the rest of their earring brethern currently in my possession do.
We decided not to worry about doing too much today and so attempted no further activities other than dinner. Our destination was just around the corner, a Greek restaurant called Nea Knosso. Dad and I had gone before and found a very busy restaurant which seemed to be a favourite with the locals (an excellent sign). The menu was extensive but I wasn’t feeling well so just had a salad. It was nice but not what I really wanted. My Dad’s lamb cutlets looked much more like it. This time I wanted more but I still didn’t choose the lamb cutlets for some reason and instead opted for the feta salad to start (a great choice – I was rewarded with huge slabs of tasty feta) and moussaka for my main. It was good but I was defeated and my Dad had to step in to assist.
The next morning we went for breakfast at the Kerszberg Cafe. I’d passed this place before and saw breakfasts being served on those cake stands used to serve afternoon tea. I wasn’t quite ready for so much food at the time we arrived so instead ordered the kind of interesting sounding “At Mom’s” combo which included scrambled eggs with chive, Gouda cheese, boiled ham, herbal cream, jam, fruits and salad. I’m not entirely sure it’s a combination I’d ordered again but each thing was nice and it was a nice cafe with friendly staff.
After breakfast, we headed over to Treptower Park. In autumn, the place was beautiful. The trees were red, orange and yellow and the ground was covered in their leaves. We also spotted a swan on the river that ran passed. We were here to visit the Soviet War Memorial which turned out be a very large, impressive and yet peaceful site – which will be much better described by the pictures adjoining this post.
My first ever trip to Treptower Park was followed by my 5,000th visit to the Neues Museum on Museum Island, which is filled with (mostly) ancient Egyptian artefacts, including the beautiful bust of Nefertiti. This is one of my favourite museums but I must admit that, since the last time I had thoroughly looked round was only back in April, I think I might be all Neues Museum-ed out for a little while.
For dinner, I had made reservations at Schnitzelei in Charlottenburg. This was another restaurant I liked because of the busy atmosphere and very friendly staff. Not to mention the German tapas they serve for starters which is the best part of the meal (in my opinion). Despite schnitzel being the restaurant’s namesake, I do not eat veal and I wasn’t a massive fan of the pork schnitzel I’d had on my last visit so instead I went for the cordon bleu (chicken filled with ham and cheese). It came in breadcrumbs so I figured it was basically a fancy chicken schnitzel. It was nice but like my last visit the highlight was the atmosphere and the German tapas.
On our third day in Berlin, we decided to go over to Potsdam, a little out of town but easy to get to on the S Bahn, and visit the one time royal residence of the Sanssouci Palace. We arrived off the bus at the Sanssouci Park to find that apparently entrance to the palace was staggered and tickets had been sold out for the next few hours. My Dad was not impressed (we’d already arrived late thanks to me oversleeping) but it turned out that the Sanssouci Park was filled with palace and sites to see – so much so that it turned we didn’t have nearly enough time to explore it all.
First we went to the Orangery Palace (where confusingly you couldn’t actually look around the orangery inside the palace and instead could just go up to the roof terrace for views of the park). We had been heading in the direction of the New Palace. We’d been told if we wanted to fit in a visit here before the Sanssouci Palace we’d have to hurry on over there but, not only did we stop off at the Orangery Palace, we also then got lost en route. Citymapper was not helpful in navigating this park.
Eventually we found the palace but as we entered we were immediately directed back out again to go and buy a ticket. Entrance to this palace was staggered too but since it seemed to be less popular there was no wait and, given the time on our ticket for the Sanssouci Palace, the guy at the ticket desk told us to be quick and not take the whole audio tour around the New Palace. This was fine by me because I don’t really like audio tours – they take forever and I lose interest. Instead we both enjoyed just wandering around the impressive pink, baroque New Palace. I particularly liked the Grotto Hall which had walls encrusted with shells. It was the most extra room I have ever seen.
Although we did have to move at a decent speed, we didn’t feel like we had to rush and we left with more than enough time to get to the Sanssouci Palace and without having to skip any rooms. Given the amount of time we had spent wandering around the area waiting to go in, we didn’t actually spend that long in the yellow, rococo palace but it was very pretty.
By the time we were done, my feet were killing me but as we left we saw signs pointing to the Picture Gallery and we decided to explore. What we found was a huge room, with walls covered in paintings. Here I would actually have liked to do the audio tour to find out about the painting but, considering how much pain I was in, we just walked up and down and then headed back to the bus stop and then to the S Bahn so we could go home.
We spent a chilled night having dinner at our favourite local Italian, Franceso Forgione, which we go to on nearly every visit due to the lovely staff and the warm, comforting Italian food.
I was very happy that Dad suggested my favourite Berlin activity on Sunday – a trip to Mauer Park. On Sundays, there is a flea market and – when the weather allows it – an outdoor karaoke session. Now nothing on earth could persuade me to get up there and sing in front of the many, many people who show up to watch but I do love being one of those many, many people.
We arrived at Eberswalder Straße U Bahn station and walked in the direction of the park. We passed a magazine shop called Rosa Wolf, which I recognised because I knew it stocked my friends’ magazine – which is one of the many beautiful independent magazines I spotted when I went in. We stayed for a (what turned out to be very good) cup of coffee, which we drank on one of the benches outside, before making our way into the park.
The flea market was typically busy but I came out with a sun necklace which I’d been looking for after I lost the one I’d bought in Thailand. I also found another pair of earrings that were kinda cheap but that still don’t hurt my ears. Apparently Berlin earrings are my ear saviour.
We ventured out of the market and over to the amphitheatre. The karaoke started from about 3.30pm but before this there was a great street performer who did various entertaining things with fire sticks. Once he was done, we grabbed some lunch from one of the street food stands in the market. There were so many good options so I was even more disappointed by the fact that the pastrami sandwich I chose for both of us was only average.
As the clock ticked closer to 3.30pm, we headed over to the karaoke. The seats were filled so we stood by the basketball court so we have multiple forms of entertainment. We stayed for a couple of song sets before deciding to say goodbye to Mauer Park and walk the short distance to another venue – Prater Biergarten, for a beer in the chilly sun and, in my Dad’s case, a pretzel.
We spent the evening back in Wilmersdorf at Egger’s. Egger’s is a restaurant which from outside looks quite weird – I don’t know who their interior decorator was – but that serves excellent steak. Ours were served on griddles still sizzling. My mouth is watering as I remember back and write this.
We didn’t much time for activities before our flight on Monday. We went to our usual breakfast haunt, Weyers, which we had yet to visit on this trip. Instead of my usual order of either fried eggs and crispy bacon or, if we feel like sharing something filling, the breakfast for two that is comprised of meats, cheeses and bread, I went for something sweet – pancakes with fruit and maple syrup. Given our the shared breakfast usually puts us both in a breakfast coma, I think I may have found my new regular dish.
I ended my trip to Berlin with a return to the Kurfurstendamm to return one of my coats. I loved one of my buys but was less fussed about the other so it seemed like a waste. I optimistically went into the KaDaWe to see if I could find a replacement and wandered around the incredibly expensive designer lines, whilst feeling like I was about to be chucked out on account of not belonging there. Eventually, I gave up and went back to meet Dad so we could make the somewhat easier return journey to Tegel airport this time and then home to London.