I have mixed feelings about Berlin and I think I’m hesitant to say “I loved it” ONLY because it was such a different Europe than what I’m used to. And we squeezed it between the obvious, in-your-face gorgeous cities of Amsterdam and Prague. I think if I had spent more time there, I would have fallen in love with it, but we definitely enjoyed our two days there and learned so much. The history is epic, and it was crazy to see how the city was divided for so long. My point is, Berlin is different. You know when you take a big swig of orange juice and think it’s going to be water? But, then you realize it’s orange juice? The taste of orange juice wasn’t bad, you were just expecting water… Well, that’s what Berlin felt like. A surprise, but a good one.
When I long for trips to Europe, I long for those grand historical buildings and quaint hidden streets. But, because parts of Berlin were badly bombed, they had to re-build. So, in some parts, we felt like we were walking around in a weird 1960s, Soviet concrete jungle. Here’s what we found…
We chose to stay in Gorki Apartments because…yeah, it’s the coolest place/concept ever. Gorki Apartments are an entire front and back house of apartments with individual names and designs for each. No reception, no room service, just you and your awesome apartment in the heart of Berlin. Our particular apartment’s was named Lotte and she was tiny and perfect.
Our first morning started out with some Father Carpenter Coffee followed by LOTS of walking around our neighborhood. We went to Monki (my european favorite), Scotch & Soda (Ryan loves their jeans), and Do You Read Me? (book and magazine shop). We were so wrapped up in exploring, we only made a brief stop to devour a street sandwich before continuing onward. After lunch, we found a street called Mulackstraße filled with cute stores like Papier Tigre, RSVP, and Walking the Cat.
That afternoon, we visited the single, defining structure of Berlin’s skyline, the TV Turm. For a city filled with history, we didn’t do a lot of touristy things, but this gave us an excellent 360 view of Berlin and also helped us get our bearings. It’s like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower.
That night, we ate at District Mot – an odd choice of Saigon Street food on our favorite street – Mulackstraße. It was delicious and the perfect spot to people watch. We chose an outside table and ate as the sun set.
The next day, we woke up and headed to a portion of the Berlin wall near Gorki Apartments that was set up so you could see how it was before the wall came down. It also had an existing tower within the “no man’s land” portion. I know the history of Berlin and the Cold War, but seeing it real life gave us a glimpse into their reality.
After the wall, we headed to The Barn for coffee and chose to check out Kreuzberg (the Brooklyn of Berlin). We visited Voo Store and I wanted to buy all of the pretty things. It was a bit expensive in there, but definitely worth the visit. We also searched high and low for Hard Wax – a record shop hidden on the top floor of an apartment building down a very suspicious alley – and eventually found it. This is just an example hidden Berlin.
The rest of our afternoon was spent at The Berlin Zoo. It wasn’t part of the plan nor was it something we had ever thought we’d do, but I’m so happy we did. I don’t typically like zoos because they make me super sad for the animals, but this was much different from the ones we have in the States. For one, the animals were exceedingly close to us…sometimes scary close. So much so, that they had signs asking us not to feed the gorillas…
Our final morning before heading off to Prague was filled with a bit more shopping. Although we didn’t stay there, we checked out Bikini Berlin and it’s shopping center + hotel and seemed like the place to be. Finally, we stocked up on some awesome patches and shirts from Dudes Factory. Those guys are so good at what they do. Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin!