In a scant 48 hours (give or take a few), Berlin easily snagged the top spot on my list of favorite places in the world. While I really don’t know how this happened—given that I had zero expectations of the impromptu trip (I still can’t remember how or why we decided to go to Berlin, which makes me think it had to have been fate)—I have now transformed into that person who won’t shut up about her magical, life-changing experience in another city and how she suddenly has a new outlook on life blah blah blah.
Just in case the mood strikes to hop on the next plane out, here’s what I/we did in our too-short time there:
Where We Ate
- The döner kebab stands and restaurants that pepper the streets. I have especially fond memories of Bagdad Bistro in Kreuzberg, where we split the #1—only I think they may have swapped in chicken, as they had run out of beef at that point.When they ask what you want on it, just say, “Everything.”
- I might as well throw in Aldi too, the supermarket chain where I picked up some pastries and fruit to supplement my steady diet of döner kebabs.
- If you’re craving a burgers and fries and feel like something other than the famous Burgermeister, head to Neukölln, and ok…so this restaurant, I have no idea what the name is. The sign says Misch Masch, but Yelp tells me it’s actually called Rundstück, warm. It’s a tiny place on the corner of Okerstraße and Weisestraße and whatever it’s called, promise me you’ll order one (whichever one, they’re all excellent!) of their burgers should you be in the area.
- Le Bon for coffees and brunch, which I have already gushed about at great length.
- When it comes to chocolate, they say the definitive place to try is Fassbender & Rausch. The thing is, I don’t think this tip applies to people who arrive a day early with no smartphone navigation. Instead, I popped into the first place that caught my eye in Mitte, a purveyor of ice cream and chocolates called Bandy Brooks. Grab a trio of the champagne truffles to-go.
Where We Nightlife-d
- Frollein Langner in Neukölln has great cocktails and music, as well as that unpretentiously cool vibe that so many bars try—and often fail—to recreate. Obviously, Frollein Langner doesn’t even have to try.
- The clubs in Berlin are legendary, so we had to see if they lived up to the hype. Not wanting to test our luck at Berghain, we settled on Watergate and danced to deep house ’til just before the sun came up (note: we left early). It ended up being unforgettable in all the best ways: crazy LED panels, awesome DJs, a sick sound system, good drinks at very reasonable prices (remember that I’m coming from London) and floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the Spree.
Where We Tourist-ed
- As my friend Rene pointed out, if you’re in Berlin, you have no excuse to miss the Berlin Wall. Not really knowing where to start, we ended up at one of the Bernauer Straße sites on the Berlin Wall History Mile. Of course, it was only after we were long gone that I discovered there are 29 other sites that make up the full exhibition. Moving on…
- What we miraculously managed not to screw up was the portion of the Berlin Wall known as the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße. This is the longest open-air gallery in the world: a 1,316-meter monument to the reunification of East and West Berlin, painted over by artists from all over the world in 1990. You can easily walk from start to finish without ever once getting bored.
- Some say that Charlottenburg Palace is Germany’s version of Versailles, but for my money, it took my breath away like the interior of Versailles (the exterior and gardens are another story) never quite managed to. Reconstructed since its bombing in WWII, the palace is split into the Baroque Old Palace (Alte Schloss) and the much smaller, Rococo New Wing (Neuer Flügel). Short on time, we solely explored the New Wing, which still took up a good few hours. Spend the extra €3 on a photography pass, which will rapidly seem more and more worth it as you work your way through the rooms.
- What used to be Tempelhof Airport is now Tempelhofer Feld, a former airfield turned into a massive public park. I came back a second time, having totally missed the urban garden my first time around—the most hilariously, authentically hipster garden I have ever laid eyes on.
- What I lacked in smartphone navigation on the first day, I made up for in wandering spirit! My intended destination was the Pergamon Museum on Museum Island, but once I arrived at the Friedrichstraße station and made my way toward an official-looking statue in the distance, I decided to stop pretending I had a plan and embrace the spirit of spontaneity. After purchasing tickets at a building that was a promising shade of pink, I discovered that I was standing in the Deutsches Historisches Museum. This is Germany’s national history museum, with an amazing permanent exhibition housing 7,000 objects and artifacts detailing 1,500 years of its history. Unfortunately, they closed before I could make it past WWI—all the more reason to return.
Any other Berlin favorites that are not to be missed? Share them in the comments below!