In a desperate need to get away somewhere and break the working 9 to 5 routine I treated myself with a 5 day long trip to Berlin. I didn’t know a lot about the city except that it’s the capital of Germany, has been divided with a wall for 30 years and is a scene where We kids from Banhof Zoo took place.
I wanted it to stay like that, I wanted to travel like a proper explorer and let the city tell me its history through sights, pictures, people, art and food. I went to the extreme and let the intuition and my co traveler guide me which in the times of crisis pissed her of.
The story begins on a sunny Wednesday morning on a new Zagreb airport (really nice and clean, I don’t get the shape though and please try to ignore the English version of signs). As usual, I was extremely nervous which combined with a burrito from last night had a very unnerving effect on my stomach. After the initial croissant, mint tea and espresso we managed to board last because we were sure we had more than enough time for everything.
Flight was calm and quick, enough for me to bathe in cold sweat for 90 minutes. We baptized our Berlin adventure with SOMEONE leaving their backpack in the toilet. After that we had a discussion with a super ”nice and servile” ticket seller. BTW 4 day public transport ticket is costs 30 euros. We rented a room in an apartment in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. It was rented to us by the most beautiful couple in the world. The goal for that day was to walk around the neighborhood and get familiar with the streets (3 days later, still lost without any navigation system). First thing you may notice are the graffiti, not the usual junk, but real artsy fartsy graffiti and Berlin is full fo them.
Kreutzberg is filled with galleries, restaurants and green areas. I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t try to find the best places where to take a quick bite. First place I can recommend is Prinzessinnengarten, small green area that within a garden icorporates a coffee house and a restaurant which serves only one dish a day for 5,5 euros. It’s usually something vegan or vegeterian. First time we had rice with chickpea mousse, grilled eggplant, spinach, radicchio, tomato hot sauce and feta. In a coffee house another trick, if you want a herb tea you get a glass and a knife and pick your own herbs. Ingenious. so a plate full of food + espresso + mint tea = 9,5 euros. Solid choice for a budget traveler.
Next stop was a small Korean bistro Mercosy with only a couple of things on the menu. They serve miso soup, bibimbap (Korean dish made of rice, vegetables, egg/meat/fish etc) and an invigorating green tea. The ambient gives a lovely feeling with unicorns and tulips all over the place. Food wise, awesome! We had (twice) spring bibimbap with sushimi salmon and sea beans. Very tasteful, rice perfectly cooked with a sauce that rounds up everything nicely. Our method was to order one plate and share it so we could eat at as many places as possible. Bibimbap + green tea = 5,00 euros per head.
After that we cruised the hood and like proper women ended up shopping on our first day. (un)Fortunately for us Berlin is full of small conceptual stores we adore. We recommend Chaos in form where A. bought a shirt with a smoking cat and I bought a Komono watch. The whole street is hip and trendy with a slight back to the 90s flashbacks due to colors and style. With a couple of stops at Turkish pastry shops just to keep our sugar levels up we headed towards the ”party”zone also known as Culture container on the river Spree. Since it’s not the season yet it was closed but the ambiance is perfect for gazing around.
We ended our day in a Persian restaurant called Safran. We came back to life after eating their delicious lentil soup with flatbreads which we rounded up with Cello djudje&kubide: beef and chicken kebabs with rice, potatoes, salad, slow roasted tomatoes and mint&yogurt dressing. The beef was perfection. Couple of sips of water and dugh (yogurt based drink) = 10 euros per head. Budget friendly.
Thursday we spent browsing Mitte, ”centre” of Berlin where Alexanderplatz, Brandenburg doors and everything linked to classic torusitic browisng is placed. First stop was Alexanderplatz where you can climb up the TV tower. We didn’t go. I must say the platz is quite dirty and super full of tourists. Right close by you can find the Neptune fountain, one of the most facinating ones I’ve ever seen, grotesque and joyful at the same time.
After that we stopped at Amorino, the BEST ice cream place in the world. You can have it in a plastic cup or cone but the best part is, they don’t do classic ball shaped ice creams, they make it as a flower. Quick tip: the flavor you wan best order as first because you’ll get most of it. A price of a medium cup is 5 euros. My choice: pistachio, mango (!), coconut, hazelnut and stracatella. Heaven.
With a light step and messy cheeks we continued down the Rosethaler street, a perfect place for shopping. There we found our way to a complex of buildings where in every corner is a small gift shop, conceptual boutique or a gallery. We were smitten by Lumas gallery with all the graphics, designs and interior. Warm recommendations.
Since we walked all morning it was time for a bite. Thanks to couple of friends and their awesome recommendations we stopped at a fusion restaurant Dudu. I’d say that that was the peak of our foodventure. Although we used to share plates in other places here we selfishly indulged in full portions. For starters we had Vietnamese Pho soup (beef stock, rice noodles, coriander, sprouts, spring onions, Thai basil, tofu and chili). A. had prawns in tempura sushi with salmon and I had fish which I can’t remember (something like Israely hass) with prawns and avocado. They serve it with guacamole, salad and dipping sauces. Absolute perfection. Best sushi I ever had. Price: 20,00 euros per head.
After the food abundance we had we took a light stroll to the Holocaust memorial. It’s a ”sculpture” made out of gray concrete blocks, different sizes, and I suspect they represent variety of victims (children, male, female, elderly). It shapes a labyrinth so you can get lost and feel all of the emotions and lie to yourself that we do live in a better world today.
The it factor, the one thing that Berlin fascinated me the most is the art that lives in every aspect of life. The whole city is full of greenery, unusual people, good music and excellent food. Wherever you look, there’s at least a tiny detail, a graffiti, oddly shaped chair or colorful bag of tea. A little bit of everything in a nice, cozy sense.
With all the picture taking and moving around, the night fell and it was time for dinner. Stepping up the pace since we were starved and our bladders were full we reached our destination: Syrian restaurant Yarok. Naturally, when you have to pee badly and your starving that all of the places in the restaurant are taken but the universe smiled down on us and we managed to get a table pretty soon.
We ordered a plate for two that combined all of the bestsellers: hummus, falafel, grilled vegetables, beef, hot sauce, cream sauce, salad, couscous with vegetables and flat breads. While the girls next to us chit chatted and were mildly interested in the fortune that was served in front them we dived in like champions. It was eat or be eaten. To be fair i promised A. that I’ll clean the plate so much, she’ll be embarrassed. Mission accomplished. Price: 7,5 euros per head.
After that it was only natural to go to a Raingold bar, which is decorated in prohibition era style. So, big, full metal doors you have to ring on so they let you in. Everything is under a redish light, the waiters wear suspenders (and look like Javier Bardem), quiet jazz music is on and cocktails. I had orange thyme daquiri but honestly I was more into the ambient than the drink. We barely made it home and collapsed.
On Friday we rented bikes and drove around the city. When it comes to bike renting: in Kreuzberg we paid 5 euros per bike for the whole day. The more to the center you go the higher the price, up to 12 euros a day. They have bicycle tracks everywhere so you drive smoothly without fearing for your own life (yes, I’m thinking of you Croatia). First stop, well f course, shopping, I bought a Mozart style super colorful jacket (every time I travel I either buy a jacket or a ring, sometime both). Then we continued our journey towards the Berlin wall. It’s fascinating and horrible at the same time. A lot of notes are there now, quotes about love and peace which strikes me as a complete difference from what the wall itself represented. Next to the wall is a memorial center where I got lost in the tears and the stories. Here’s the part of the emotions I felt:
We continued towards the Brandenburg door. We had luck and there was a festival of some kind so the main road was closed for traffic. Honestly, it was amazing to just ride a bike in the center of Berlin with no worry on my mind. The doors are AMAZING. We stood there and gaped at them in silence for quite some time with only one thought between us, well here we are in Berlin.
Then some more shopping (man A. we only spent money there) at a Bikini shopping center where A. had existential crisis with will I/won’t I buy a leather jacket. She did. If you’re looking for out there style and different designs, Bikini is your place. Also if you’re a teaholic like me, stop by at Kusmi tea store and buy yoursled BB detox green tea. Best tea I ever had.
We wrapped it up early so we could rest at home and prepare for our night out. Strong headed as we are, we decided to get into Berghain. For those who want to know more: Berghain is an exclusive night club, one of the best in Europe, known for being tough to get into. When I say tough, I mean that there are guards in front deciding whether you’ll get in or not based on your mojo/charisma/look/destiny. Tips I can give:
- wear dark clothes, preferably black
- high heels are a deal breaker
- no giggling or talking while you’re being judged
- put your cellphone away
- groups of men (more than two) don’t stand a chance
- light, breezy shirts are a no go
- if they reject you don’t fight with them, just walk away
- look like you don’t care
- don’t look scared
We got in. That’s all I have to say.
The next day was our last day so we visited the places we liked best.
We came to a conclusion that me knowing Turkish is quite fortunate. First time when we were stopped by the train control and they told us that even though we bought tickets they are not validated so therefor we should pay a fine. It was all pretty messy but when the guys started talking Turkish and I got in on that, well let’s just say we all laughed in the end. Second time when we went for the best kebab in town, Ali Mustafa kebab. I gotta say, as good as in turkey. They offer a classic bagel and a flat bread (not a TORTILLA) with all kinds of salads, meat, falafel and feta. The first picture is the line of people waiting for their kebab.
Then we finished the Saturday with some greasy Chinese which was the very worst and talked to our hosts. Sunday was move it day. We got up pretty early, around 4 am and got to Tegel 2 and a half hours before the flight. But the organization there was horrible. We stepped in a line for check in. Waited 45 minutes because only 3 officers worked. Then we stepped in a line for security check and waited for almost 2 hours when someone said our flight is due and took us out of the crowd. We tried our best, but we were last to board yet again. At least the pilot was super nice and talkative so he made my day. Eurowings I give you thumbs up.
Where are we headed next, no on knows. Until then,