The capital of Germany is like a siren; the city lured us with her enchanting voice and has us in her power, from now to eternity. Okay, in the meanwhile we’re back home, but we just feel in every vain, that one day, Berlin will be calling us back to the mother ship.
What we liked the most about Berlin is that you don’t have to many obligations during your first visit. For example: you can’t go to Paris for the first time without visiting a whole list of museums and historical buildings. Berlin doesn’t ask anything, but gives you so much in return. If you really can’t do without historical landmarks go and take a look at the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Monument. The last one remembers you of the darkest page in recent history. You’ll be quiet for a while … and that’s the way it should be.
Where do we sleep?
That’s up to you, we’re no booking Nazis. We can only give you advice. If you go to Berlin by car, keep in mind that you have to buy a vignette to get to the city centre. Therefore, we chose Brandies Hotel (Charlottenburg), just outside the perimeter with a metro station just outside. The metro system is, no surprise, you’re in Germany remember, extremely well organised. The hotel was sweeter than a candy bar covered in sugar. We loved the forged-iron elevator (which took ages to get to the second floor) and the even nicer town garden, where we had breakfast every morning.
If your want to breathe some fresh air, you go to one of the many parks in Berlin. If you want to inhale exhaust fumes, you’re just a very bizarre person. If you want to breathe history you can go and see the remains of the Berlin wall who divided the city for almost 3 decades.
Today, you can see the remains of the wall on a few spots in the city. The most prominent and colourful monument is called East Side Gallery, and consists of a mile and a half of the original wall, heavily decorated with paintings by artists from all over the world:
What do we eat?
One thing we absolutely loved about Berlin, is that you can get real good food for cheaps practically everywhere. You really ought to try a Wiener Schnitzel when in Berlin. The original Wiener Schnitzel is made of veal, coated with a mixture of egg, bread crumbs and flour. The perfect Schnitzel is a golden brown disc that is covering up the entire plate and comes with a slice of lemon and potato salad. Ottenthal is a great place to enjoy this German delight. Also lots of Japanese in Berlin: so if you’re a sushi addict, you’re not in the right place for rehab. And while we’re at it, here’s another delicacy you should try: a curry at Curry 36, not to be confused with the traditional spicy Asian curry. No sir, the Berlin kind is as simple as it is tasty: a chopped-up sausage covered in curried ketchup. It comes with fries if you want. Conclusion: it comes with fries full stop.
Where do we shop and drink?
Everywhere. Berlin is like one giant mall and one big open bar. Kokomode’s tip: take the metro to the district of Prenzlauer Berg and discover this area on foot. If you’re not in a hurry, take it slow on Oderberger Strasse. If vintage shops are your kind of candy, you’ll be in seventh heaven. If not, ditch the misses and lose track of time in vinyl record stores, drink tasty coffee in easy going cafés or if it’s cocktail hour, enter one of the hip bars. Tip: it’s always cocktail hour.
Another nice neighbourhood for shopping and drinking is Friedrichshain. This part of the city (former East Berlin) is more intriguing than the look in the eyes of the Mona Lisa. If you’re up for a drink, focus on Simon Dach Strasse. If you’re planning on having a beer in every bar in this street, just be sure to locate the nearest hospital in advance. But Friedrichshain is not only a hot spot for alcohol loving party crashers, it’s also a place where young creatives find eachother. Most likely in a bar.
We celebrated Kokomode’s Marianne birthday by drinking champagne in a park, not a bar. Berlin is (or feels) like a very safe place, even at night and even at night in a park.
To end our trip in beauty, we visited the Helmut Newton Foundation. Newton, born as Helmut Neustädter, spent his first 18 years in Berlin before leaving for Australia in 1938. Later on, he became a world-famous photographer and worked for Vogue and Playboy. Helmut was one of the first to establish eroticism in fashion photography. Yes, naked ladies! The most impressive series can be seen in the entrance hall of the museum.
More info can be found here.
Fascinated by photography but rather on a limited budget? Then here’s our last tip: go visit Lumas. The mission of this shop is to make hand-signed original photographs affordable to everyone.
There are 3 Lumas shops in Berlin:
Quartier 206, Basement
Rosenthaler Straße 40/41