Berlin: "Boy, you really can’t swing a stick without hitting a hipster around here, can you?"

Yep, I went with the hipsters. Thanks for the input! 

So last week I spent from Thursday evening to Tuesday evening in Berlin. If you’re looking for pictures of the Brandenburg Gate, please see my earlier Berlin post, because I didn’t take any this time. Whoops. Fact is, I already had pictures of it that were decent – and most importantly – didn’t have 1o88308 tourists in them. Because by the time we finally wandered near the Gate, it was chock full of groups and I have that problem where I don’t like pictures with people in them. Picky, I know. But if you still want to know what we got up to, do click away….

I arrived late Thursday evening so really there was only time for an U-Bahn ride, a tour of G’s new flat, and a bit of a catch-up before bed. So I’ll start on Friday….

This is why I need to write things down… I just had to go through pictures to figure out what the hell I did on Friday. We started off by sleeping late. Good way to kick off the weekend. Then it was off to do some grocery shopping, pick up beer, the usual business. G had to do some work and so he sent me off to wander around on my own. I decided a good place to start would be with the KaDeWe, aka the super-snazzy department store. I didn’t take any pictures inside (whoops), but some people (like Fiona) have done it muuuuuch better. Go look, I’ll wait.


After a good wander through the assorted departments, I picked up a map in the book section, and headed back out. Now, G had given me reasonably good directions from the U-Bahn, but he neglected to tell me one thing. I knew that when I came out, I wanted to head in a direction that would take me past this very, very, famous church….

It’s the bombed-out Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a well-known landmark left over from World War II. I’ve seen it before (on the Amazing Race, my benchmark for most things), and so I was looking for it along the route to the KaDeWe. Fun fact: it’s covered by another building. I somehow didn’t get a picture, but there’s another building similar to the one in the photo covering the whole damn thing. Hence my confusion. Eventually after seeing signs for it, wandering around once or twice, I went looking for an entrance. (side note: there was also some sort of fancy party involving suits, cocktails and waiters going on outside it, so that added to confusion.) But today you can visit the inside, which is now a WWII memorial.

To find the entrance, I meandered between guys in suits, went inside and saw this….

If I remember correctly from the signs, the outside is under renovation until the middle of the year. But the inside is open, there are tours – I eavesdropped a bit on an English one – and there is a lot of information on display about the war. If you really want to see what it looks like, here’s a representation in chocolate from the fancy chocolate store we went to…

Pretty sweet, right? Ok… done. 

After that I decided it was beer o’clock as I still had some time to kill while G was working. Problem was, the weather was sunny and beautiful and every cafe was full. Finally I found a spot with no view, but at least a fountain to distract me from my magazine. 

I particularly enjoy the reclining ox in the second photo. 

A little window-shopping and wander followed. I had a vague idea of maybe going to the zoo and walked over to the entrance, but decided against it as I didn’t have that much time to spend there. I headed back towards home and spent the evening having a nice chat with G’s flatmate, a delightful French gent, while G was at football (that’s soccer, kids) training. We had some possible plans to meet a friend of G’s in the evening, but instead got distracted by a case of Altenmünster bier, which hit both of us like a ton of bricks. We ended up drinking half the case and watching The Art of Flight, a ridiculously awesome HD snowboarding movie. Darn you Altenmünster. A quality Friday night in one of the most exciting cities in Euro-land, am I right? 

It was slow going on Saturday morning. Again we did some shopping, because G felt that I needed to see the new Hollister store that had opened up in a shopping mall near his house. Important things. But that did lead to me taking these pictures…

Sorry the second one is a bit blurry. But why don’t more stores in the U.S. feature thousands of glasses hanging from the ceiling with disco balls? Seriously. Super fun.

After the shopping we had to haul ourselves to a football game for the team that G is currently training with. No photos of that… the stadium wasn’t particularly scenic, sorry. And they lost, but I guess that’s not unusual.

I ♥ this logo.

When the game was over, it was off home for a couple of Radlers and to get ready for BBQ time. G’s flatmate C had proposed that we inaugurate the grilling season that evening, so we handed him cash and trusted his shopping capabilities. I have to apologize, I should have taken photos of the food, but trust me, there was a lot of it, and it was fantastic. Starters included hummus, pepper spread, assorted olives (stuffed and non-stuffed), and fresh French bread. After that we had grilled zucchini, eggplant, roasted mushrooms, and meat. Holy buckets, did we have meat. There was marinated chicken pieces, sausage, steaks, and I don’t even know what else. C’s co-worker joined us and had apparently asked him how many people were coming. It was one of those. We all stuffed ourselves slightly indecently, and washed it down with beer, wine, champagne, etc. Fancy, right? And for dessert? Well… were you aware that absinthe and strawberries go together? Because they do. Or at least they did. I don’t have a ‘bucket list’ but I guess if I did I could now cross off ‘drink absinthe with a Frenchman.’ Check. That may or may not have led to watching portions of French films (they don’t make movies you know) from the 60’s until the wee hours of the morning. Odd. Fun, but odd.

Sunday was time to be productive. I had gotten such lovely suggestions from people and we were going to do at least one of them, darnit. After a solid breakfast, we pulled ourselves together and headed to the Gerhard Richter: Panorama exhibit at the Neue Nationalgalerie. Or, as I like to call it, “these are the people who go to art galleries on a Sunday.” G was about ready to call it a day when we saw the line, but it moved pretty quickly and we were even able to snag a student discount (Tip: never throw out your IDs, kids! Especially if there’s not a date on it… thanks UWEC). 

The exhibit was really interesting, and represented the variety and scope of his work well. The downside was the fact that it was Sunday and there were far too many people there. With headsets on. Standing in front of a painting for five minutes without moving. Grumble. But what can you do? Take pictures… that’s what.

How many pretentious art faces can you spot?

There was also a very cool mirror sculpture I wanted to get a photo of, but people were all up in my way. Grumble. 

After the gallery we had to get some food in G. Irritation at people makes him very hungry… it makes sense that we get along, right? We headed for a burrito at Dolores California Gourmet Burrito at Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 7, near the Hackesher Markt S-Bahn. I’ve been there twice now, and G says it is alllllways packed. But an enormous burrito and a beer for not bad prices will bring ’em in, I guess. This was squarely in the middle of East Berlin, aka Hipster Central, so we thoroughly enjoyed the street traffic as well as our burritos. If I had been more stealthy, I would have some pictures of the traffic but I wussed out. 

We thought after that we should go to the Loxx Mini Railway at Alexanderplatz. But when we got there, we kind of balked a bit at the price…. 12€ seemed like a bit much. G was a bit worried at the fact that there was no-one else in there. Mostly I think he just wanted to do another lap around the mall… especially since it was open for some reason on a Sunday. So we scrapped the railway (next time!), and did some more walking about. 

“Fashion show! Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch!” Prize to anyone who gets that.
Berlin TV tower and Marienkirche. There are aliens in that church.
See? Aliens.
Altes Museum
Berliner Dom

Building G thought was cool at Gendarmenmarkt.

At Gendarmenmarkt is where we popped into the fancy-dancy chocolate store. It’s called Fassbender & Rausch, and I recommend a visit. If nothing else, it’s something to see. 

Brandenburger Tor from chocolate.

Reichstag from chocolate. 

The smell in that place was insane. Go. 

About the only thing I really, really wanted to do in Berlin was go to the Pergamon museum. I wanted to go last time we were there, but wasn’t able to get there. So Monday was Pergamon day. Slowly. That place is going to get it’s own post because it’s amaze-balls (real word), but here’s a picture of me throwing peace signs first…

But more Pergamon at a later date. 

We took a very round-about way to get to Museum Island. 

Dome of St. Hedwig’s.

Good weather brings all the kiddies out to play.

Bikes at Hackesher Markt
Hackescher Markt is a very cool S-Bahn station so I wanted a picture. And of course I wanted G’s elbow in it.

Monday was a little different, because Tuesday was Maifeiertag, aka Worker’s Day. So this meant that a whole lot of people took a Brückentag, or Bridge Day on Monday. Also the reason I was able to stay in Berlin until Tuesday evening. This was great, but really upped the amount of people everywhere we went. Luckily we had a good escape because Monday evening G was playing in a football game and there was no-one there. Boom. Roasted.

Kidding. It wasn’t an important game or anything, he’s a sort of ‘ringer’ (his words, not mine), on a mens league team for a friend’s company. So after our museum day we made our way home from the city center, then all the way across town again to get to the game. They played on a half field of what appeared to be felt. Weird. But here they are..

Yay sports! I was slightly distracted by making sure no kicks went past the goal onto the hill I was sitting on, and the sky, which was doing some sweet stuff…

 Also I found these amusing…

How organized are Germans? Well…. that tree is labeled. Think about that one. 

At the end of the game, we had planned on going to a bar to watch the Manchester United vs. Manchester City match. This is what happens when you hang out with G… there ends up being a lot of football involved. But one of his teammates invited people over to his new place for a BBQ and to stream the game, so we headed off with a few of the guys. 

A tram ride took us deep into Kreuzberg, aka the home of all that is hip, cool, and edgy in Berlin. Fun fact: G says that’s also how you know you’re in the old east Berlin… there were no trams in the west. The tram was packed full of people who had apparently started celebrating the holiday a bit early. Before we went to the apartment, we had to stop and get supplies for the BBQ. That was possibly the longest I have ever been in a supermarket in Europe. For one, this was a pretty big grocery store. Secondly, the guys were not sure what they wanted, but they wanted a lot of it. We were all fully loaded with food + football gear and it was less than easy to maneuver with all that. When we had finally settled on all 52 kinds of meat they required, plus a few veggies, and a bit of alcohol, we had to wait in line for probably at least 20 minutes. It was a long time. But good people watching because that store was nothing but hipsters. And us. My favorites included…

  • Four kids behind us who had a cart filled with the following: cake, Coke, cookies, candy, chips. All C’s, and looked like what would happen if you took a 5-year-old shopping. Prepping for holiday munchies…. just a guess.
  • Girl in short cowboy boots, daisy dukes, ripped sleeveless t-shirt, and fur vest. + tattoos. Lots and lots of tattoos. Which I’m cool with (I have three), but the general effect was impressive. 
  • Girl in black leggings, biker boots, black shorts, black studded leather jacket, dyed black hair, assorted facial piercings and blue lipstick. 
  • At least three shirtless guys. I guess security doesn’t care about hygiene. Also at least one girl with no shoes. This was a theme in Berlin. It was hot, but come on. You’re in a city, put on shoes.

While we waited in line, the guys filled us in on typical Maifeiertag celebrations in Kreuzberg. Apparently it’s pretty standard for people to run around, throw stones at cops, and light cars on fire. I wasn’t too worried about it, but was hoping that whatever followed, we wouldn’t have to do any running because I was wearing flip-flops and my running skills are non-existent on a good day. Much less in crappy plastic shoes. So if cars are being lit on fire, I want to be a safe distance before it happens. Danke. 

Finally we got through the never-ending check-out, handily remembering last minute items like matches as we went. Then it was back to the guys house to carry all this crap and a grill up the five flights of stairs. The reward was the fantastic flat on the top floor, complete with terrace. And handy for him, he’s one street over from the Kreuzberg street with all the nightlife. Which we planned on hitting later. But somehow that never happened. It was one of those rare occasions where somehow we never ran out of food/drink, and ended up hanging out chatting until about 4a.m. G and I were the only English speakers, our host was French, and the rest German, and the conversation slipped into and out of English and German all night. As per usual, the more that was drunk, the more that English was spoken. All around, an enjoyable night. G was eyeing up the couch, but I convinced him that it was better to haul across the city at night than it would be in the morning. No one likes the Walk of Shame, right? So we were off on our very long way home. If you ever wanted to know what the Zoologischer Garten U-Bahn looks like at 4:30a.m., here you go.

Our trip was enhanced by the variety of colorful characters out and about. Personal favorite goes to the dapper young gent who sat across from us on the S-Bahn sporting his finest holiday ensemble. It included a smart navy blazer and scarf over his faded Confederate flag t-shirt. Not cool, hipster boy. Sigh. Kids these days.

For the last day in town, we hadn’t really planned on anything besides possibly going out to Potsdam. But after rolling in at 5a.m., anything involving an early start didn’t seem like a great idea. Instead we decided to go out to Krumme Lanke, a lake a bit south-west of G’s place in Steglitz. His flatmate told us some directions to get to a beer garden that G hadn’t been to yet, and off we went. 

They have some sweet U-Bahn stations.

When we got there, it was just like a Bavarian beer garden, right down to the sign that said Servus und Gruß Gott. Not to mention the beach, where people were already swimming and boating. Our conversation went something like this…

me: “Oh man, I am so jealous of you right now.”
G: “I’m really mad we just found out about this. We should have done this all weekend.”
me: “Do we really only have time for one beer? Crap.”
G: “I feel a Prague coming on.”
me: “What?”
G: “A Prague. Like you’re going to miss your train.”
me: “Well if I do miss my train, we’re coming straight back here and drinking the rest of the night. There are always trains tomorrow.”

Sadly I did have a train to catch, and being that I missed out on 9 of my 14 classes by having Monday and Tuesday off, it was really in my best interest to go back to work on Wednesday. Boo.

I quite like the Tor motif in the train cars. And it’s a bit hard to see, but I promise that the name of the station in that second picture is Onkel Toms Hütte. Was?? Yep. A good end to the weekend. Weekends are five days, right? 

Anyway… G lives in Steglitz and it was a really nice area, so here are some random pics of that…

Lots of gorgeous Art Nouveau buildings and tree-lined streets. The only real downfall to the area is that it’s a bit far out, so every time we went somewhere it seemed to take 2+ modes of transportation to get there. But, small potatoes. It was a good weekend. 


7 thoughts on “Berlin: "Boy, you really can’t swing a stick without hitting a hipster around here, can you?"

  1. Oh, Dolores…I get dolores del corazon just thinking about their burritos. We have (had) good friends who live in Berlin and are reason enough to visit. But when it's down to the wire and you've got to fish or cut bait, go to the town with a decent burrito, I always say.

  2. Looks like you had a great time! It's slightly odd seeing so many places I am so familiar with, and seeing you marvel at things which are now very much the norm. Man, I feel settled in! I must go to that chocolate shop though! You are the second or third person who has recommended it, so it's just jumped right up to the top of my list of things to do. Anyway, glad you had a great time! yay, Berlin! (But where are the hipster photos????)

  3. I love Berlin!!!
    These are great photos.
    And… that place with all the chocolate… probably gonna have to go there now, just because you told me to.

  4. Seriously. I opted for this over the promise of a truly good burger. It's a danger to the expat life… you really never know where the next good burrito is coming from.

  5. As long as settled in doesn't mean that everything is old hat. 🙂 And how have you not been to that chocolate shop?? Maybe just don't bring the kids… you might never get out. And thanks, it was a good time… just sorry I missed you!

    As for the hipster photos, despite their flamboyant plumage, the hipster is a very camera-shy creature. That's why they wear the giant black glasses, to improve their vision (when they are prescription lenses, that is), and thus avoid cameras. Sadly my camera is much too large to take stealth stalker photos. Someday when I have a smartphone…. But if you're really jonesing, just go to Kreuzberg. It was ridic.

  6. Thanks, it was a lot of fun! I recommend visiting someone who knows what's going on and going for more than 24 hours. I think that was a key part missing from my previous visits.

    I figured that chocolate shop was a good substitute for not doing the Ritter factory thing. But it's important to leave things on the list, it ups the chances of future visits. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Sunday Snapshots: Museum Love | Heather Goes to Deutschland

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