Hey Berliners!

And by Berliners, I mean people who live in Berlin, not the delicious jelly-filled donuts by the same name. 

I’m heading up to Berlin next weekend to visit my Praha bro, and I would love some tips on what to do/see, and what to skip! So if you have any suggestions, please drop me a comment or two. 

I’ve been to the city twice before, but the visits were very abbreviated. The first time I was there for 17 hours, and a big ball of stress as I was applying for my first Czech visa. The second time I was also stressed, but I had both of my Praha bros with me, and so it was a much better time. We were there for a little more than a day, but got around quite a bit. Garth had actually just returned from a 2-week stay in Berlin, and was happy to play tour guide. That sparked a love for the city and so when we all abandoned ship in Prague, he headed up there. But being that my last visit was two years ago, I’d like to make the most of this weekend. I’ll be hopping a train after work on Thursday evening, so I’ll have all day Friday, Saturday, and most of Sunday. So if you have some tips, please share! 

Since I sucked at blogging before, here are some photos from my first visit to the capital….

I love the history-consumerism combination.
I made a tiny friend!
But when my breakfast pastry was gone, so was he. Can you spot him?
Bear + wall.
Holocaust Memorial.
Bikes, bikes, everywhere.

As I mentioned, the second trip was a bit more entertaining. We had a rough start though. In true Praha fashion, we decided the best way to make our 6a.m. train was to stay up drinking all night. My visa pick-up appointment was on Monday morning so we went up Sunday morning so we would have all day Sunday to sight-see. So Saturday night we stayed up drinking, playing cards, and so on. But, as it so often happens with all-nighters, we crashed very, very late, and damn near missed our train. Luckily one of us woke up, woke the others, we all threw stuff in bags and ran to the train station. 

We made it, but were still decidedly not sober, so we found a compartment and passed out. This was actually an advantage, because I was super nervous and illegal on my first trip to Berlin and was freaking out silently for most of the trip. This time however, we slept pretty solidly, except at the border when our compartment door flew open, we heard “Guten Morgen,” and the door slammed shut again. Apparently none of us looked threatening. 

Since we had packed in about five minutes, I didn’t have my camera (or a hairbrush, or socks, and was wearing my tank top backwards), so here are some photos courtesy of my old flatmate….

The Reichstag: German Parliament
Czech Embassy/Consulate
Hungover faces with Heather
Berliner Dom
Wandering through some alley.
Karl and I wandering along the East-Side Gallery.
Karl and Garth prepping for some beers and Egyptian Rat Screw. Pretty much what we did the entire summer of 2009.
Karl doing a prom walk down from the bathroom.

We went to this bar called Belushi’s, which we now know is a chain and in a ton of European cities. They opened one in a Prague hostel not too long after this. After Belushi’s, we went to the Kunsthaus Tacheles. Basically it’s a huge old building that artists use, but also includes a nightclub, and a bar.* Garth had been there on a weekend when it was packed, but on a Sunday night it was pretty much deserted. We hung out on a patio area in the back of the building (which had a beach/tiki theme), and made friends with the two other people there. Oh, and some rats. After we determined that the only other people there were up on the club level, and we were all tired of climbing four flights of scary, graffiti-ed stairs to find a bathroom or more beer, we went to another bar. 

It was at the other bar where I became so tired that I actually fell asleep sitting on a bench, and eventually we decided to make our long way across the city to our hostel. We took about six U-Bahns or trams, and I think Garth got us lost at least 10 times. But in the wee hours of the morning we made it back. Three hours later, we overslept again, and made it to my visa appointment with not a moment to spare. Are you sensing a theme to the summer of 2009? Yep, me too. 

So I’m looking forward to next weekend, and again, tips please!!

*It did, anyway. I’m not sure if it’s still in operation or not. Garth mentioned something about it being shut down before, but I’m not sure. Feel free to correct me.


14 thoughts on “Hey Berliners!

  1. Well this is hilarious. I just got *back* from Berlin yesterday. A friend of mine from high school and her husband were there, so I hopped up for the weekend. I'll be posting some pics from the trip later today or tomorrow.

    I did the traditional touristy stuff: The Brandenburg Gate, the Berliner-Mauer stuff, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berliner Dom, and so forth.

    The Reichstag requires planning ahead as I understand it, because you have to sign up in advance to go in. I also wanted to go up into the TV Tower, but there was a two hour wait. Next time I'm in Berlin, I am totally eating lunch or dinner in the revolving restaurant at the observation deck level, but I didn't make it this time around.

  2. Hi, Heather. I'm Mandi from No Apathy Allowed, and I've been living in Berlin for about a year, so I have plenty of tips!

    – For one, I would highly recommend checking out the Gerhard Richter exhibition at the Neue Galerie — it's only running until mid-May and it is SO worth the time and effort. But budget in some extra time waiting in line, especially if visiting on a Saturday. http://www.gerhardrichterinberlin.org/index.php?id=1133&L=1

    – If you like flea markets, the one at the Mauer Park on Sunday is huge and fabulous. Lots of food and goodies and fun stuff to look at and buy.

    – In terms of restaurants, one of my absolute favorites is a Sri Lankan place called Sigiriya in Friedrichshain. It's small though, so you might want to call ahead and reserve a table if you're looking to eat during peak weekend evening hours. But SO delicious and reasonably priced, plus it's located in a great neighborhood with lots of bars for after dinner: http://www.restaurant-sigiriya.de/

    – If you're near Alexanderplatz and looking for a quick bite, Susuru is a great place for Japanese Udon soup — delicious! http://www.susuru.de/

    – If you're looking for culture, check out what's going on at Radialsystem (http://www.radialsystem.de/rebrush/index.php) or also Theaterkapelle (http://www.theaterkapelle.de/), both very cool venues.

    Have fun!

  3. Hello, hello, gosh, this is terrible but I am struggling to think of exciting places for you to try. Shall we start with shopping? Window or otherwise? Well, of course you must go to the KaDeWe for a quick look around the food section on the 6th floor. There are lots of nice little shops in Prenzlauerberg and Friedrichshain – if you like fabric then you will love Frida Hain (http://www.friedahain.de/), if you feel a strong desire to be immersed in a room full of English books then I would recommend the English bookshop in Dussmans on Friedrichstrasse. Also the Ritter Sport factory is just behind Friedrichstrasse, if you can pretend to be about 8, you get to don a white lab coat and make your own recipe! Or you can just go and buy some and I think it's quite a nice place to visit too. If you want a bit of history one place I have on my list to check out is the exhibition 'Border Experiences' – which I read about here (http://andberlin.com/2012/04/16/border-experiences-everyday-life-in-divided-germany/), ad oh, if you want to see Berlin in teeny tiny format then you might want to try Loxx Miniatur Welten on the top floor of the Alexa shopping centre at Alexanderplatz. Darn, now I have kid distractions, enjoy, whatever you do!

  4. And I wish I could have met up with you, but I appear to be spending my weekend at both Bambooland and the Dinosaur park outside Oranienburg to celebrate Stevie's birthday. Bambooland is 3 floors of softplay and slides and stuff, if you like that kind of thing and want to join us! 😀

  5. Must be the season!

    As I said in the post, I've seen a lot of that stuff as well. I think we had the same thought about the Reichstag when I was there with the guys, but found the same thing. So not sure if I'll get to that this time or not.

  6. Thanks, Fiona! Your pictures have definitely put KaDeWe on my list… and I would like to get to that Loxx place too! (What can I say, I love tiny things). Chocolate and history sounds like a good combination as well… oh decisions. That fabric store looks adoooooorable. I might have to swing by there… my mom is a quilter and has a birthday coming up. 🙂

    That's too bad… it would have been lovely to put an accent to the comments! I was on a slide a few weeks ago and it was a good time, I hope you guys enjoy! There is a (roughly) 50/50 chance I'll be staying until Tuesday… since that's a holiday a few of my Monday lessons are 'pending' at the moment. So if I'm there, that would be super. 🙂

  7. I wish I was a berliner… but I'm not. I've been there a few times, but all I did was the touristy stuff, so I'm sure I'd be of no help!!! Hope you have a blast, though…. I love Berlin!

  8. If you're coming to the WEBMU this year, you get a second chance, because Berlin's the host city! If you haven't checked in in a while, visit http://forums.expatbloggersingermany.com (and make sure you log in with your username and password to get to the hidden area just for confirmed members, of which you are one).

    We've known it's going to be in Berlin this year for at least a couple weeks, and now we're just about to nail down a particular weekend. September is coming out particularly strong in the polls. Hope you can make it!

  9. That sounds great… I think I did log in and throw a vote towards Berlin, but will have to go check out the latest. September would be lovely and a great opportunity to hit all the stuff I missed this round (seems to be the theme of Berlin trips for me).

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