We spent our longest stretch so far in Berlin. 12 days. We wish it were longer, but we hope to be back. Given that this was our fifth time here, it’s safe to say we will be.
Why do we love Berlin?
It’s hard to say exactly why we love Berlin so much. Yes, we love big cities. Yes, it has a wonderful public transportation system. Yes, it’s very flat and walkable and bikeable. Yes, we know a little bit (and we mean a really little bit) of German. But it’s not the prettiest of cities by any means. And German food isn’t the best. We think it’s more an overall feeling we get when we’re here. Everyone and everything just feels very relaxed. Which is interesting and cool for such a big city. Maybe it’s because you can drink on the street. 🙂 In any case, just walking around this place makes us very happy.
We stayed in an apartment in what we think is our favorite neighborhood – Prenzlauer Berg. It’s in the Eastern part of the city. Parts of it are beautiful and parts of it are gritty (much like this city as a whole). The prettiest part of Prenzlauer Berg resembles Park Slope in Brooklyn with its stately, prewar buildings and big trees and small parks and cafes lining the streets and lots and lots of families.
One of our favorite things to do in the neighborhood is to (try to) watch the sunset from a bridge over the S-Bahn tracks. It’s right next to a bar where people sit outside in a square of sand that serves as a mini-beach. Kinda dirty, kinda weird, very Berlin.
Our apartment was a block from Mauerpark, which translates to “Wall Park” since it is right where the Berlin Wall and the Death Strip used to be. Now it’s a popular place to grill (in most supermarkets in Germany you can buy disposable grills) and hang out with beers from the Spätkauf (convenience stores with great and cheap beer selections). Sundays, there’s a flea market and karaoke.
But there are a ton of great neighborhoods in Berlin. Our friends just moved here (we are jealous!) and they live in Schöneberg in the West. They live near a huge, beautiful park where you can see everyone just enjoying life.
There are so many things to see and do in this city, but you can also just hang out and live. We tried to do both.
We did the typical sightseeing walk around Mitte (with our friend Jess who came to visit!) to see…
Museumsinsel (Museum Island)
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
There are a few places to see the remains of the Berlin Wall. We re-visited all of them on this trip, and would recommend all to anyone visiting the city (note, they’re all free). It’s still hard to imagine this amazing city being divided in two – families and friends separated – but it really wasn’t so long ago.
Berlin Wall Memorial
East Side Gallery
Topography of Terror
We visited the Reichstag thanks to our friend Jason who booked for us in advance. We visited the dome, which you walk up and around on a gentle incline (very doable for Sarah especially since you want to walk slowly to enjoy your surroundings) and the outdoor area where you can see great views of the city. Tip: register for free tickets online a couple weeks early to get your desired timeslot – it’s free
Note above, Sarah with her favorite German TV star, Bernd das Brot. Note below, the view of the Brandenburg Gate from the top of the Reichstag.
Eats and Drinks
We didn’t really explore Berlin’s restaurant scene since we just wanted to relax and eat casually when we weren’t cooking. But we ate and drank very well (per usual).
- Our favorite food in Berlin is the döner kebab. It’s actually one of our most favorite foods anywhere. We mentioned it in our wedding ceremony – that’s how serious this is. On previous visits we’d already tried most of the most well-known kebab shops, so this time we tried one at a new spot right near our apartment, Dubai Gemüse Kebab, and one new to us place in the döner kebab hub of Kreuzberg, Kottiwood. We would recommend them both! But then again, we’ve rarely eaten a döner kebab in Germany that we wouldn’t recommend 🙂
Not gonna lie – we were babies.
- The street our apartment was on was home to countless Asian restaurants. Our favorite, which we had tried during our last visit, was Onkel Ho – a Vietnamese restaurant with delicious pho.
- We love Prater Garten – the oldest beer garden in Berlin which also happened to be a 10-minute walk from our apartment. It’s fun during the day and at night. The food – especially their delicious bratwurst – is much better than they could get away with since they also have great beer.
- Sarah’s favorite spot is Anna Blume – a combination flower shop + cafe which serves AMAZING cakes. Kaffee und Kuchen is an afternoon German tradition and this is a wonderful place to enjoy it. They also do a mean brunch, but good luck trying to get a table outside on the weekends.
Travel Breathe Repeat… with friends!
We were very happy to see old friends and make new ones during our stay in Berlin. As mentioned above, two of our friends, Jason and Todd, just moved to the city and were kind enough to hang out with us a bunch and show us some new things. And one of our friends Jess came as part of her vacation. And another friend, Kate, surprised us by joining Jess! And last, we were thrilled to meet and hang out with Sina, another woman with LAM. Thanks to all for making our time in Berlin even better.