Last week I was in Berlin. I’ve never been and to be honest, I was
a little hugely ignorant of it’s tumultuous history. I sat down with The Boy and YouTube and did some research, of course. I didn’t want to be walking around like a fool going wait, what wall? So I thought I was prepared.
I wasn’t of course. The city itself is full of history. Everywhere you look there’s a memorial or museum-like piece of information. There’s so much to see that I definitely didn’t get to everything. We walked around Museumsinsel (literally: Museum Island) which was beautiful but didn’t have the time to go in any, sadly missing the famous bust of Nerfertiti. Below are some of the things I did see, and thoughts in general. Hopefully if you’re visiting Berlin I’ll excite you for your trip! (If you’re not, maybe I can inspire you!)
Points of interest / monuments
I don’t know if it was because I’d only just sat down and learned about the history of Berlin before we left or because serious places hit me hard but in a lot of spots, especially the Memorial of the Berlin Wall and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, I couldn’t help feeling very solemn. And unfortunately judgmental of people acting like idiots. I know I was a tourist too, but I was trying to be considerate. I saw people messing about on top of the holocaust memorial stones and stood at / leaning on remnants of the wall having pictures taken, pulling stupid faces with tongues out and peace-fingers, only metres away from signs explaining how many people had died literally right there.
It maybe due to me being overly sensitive but it felt disrespectful. Has anyone else encountered feeling like this in a macabre or serious historic location?
The Reichstag building was beautiful and I was disappointed that parliament was in session the week that we were there so that we couldn’t visit inside and up to the dome (although that just gives me another reason to go back!). Unusually, we didn’t see lots of other tourists around Berlin other than walking-tour groups. Those there were plenty of. The only place we encountered a huge amount of people was the Brandenburg Gate, which made for busy picture-taking, as you can see! Maybe due to the time of year or because Oktoberfest was coming to a close in Munich or because everyone we did see seemed to be part of a walking tour group – maybe that’s the popular way to see the city? Regardless it made for a lovely few days of not being rudely elbowed out of the way when looking at museum displays.
I was so excited to visit Berlin Zoo. I’ve only ever been to one zoo, in Dublin. That holiday, though, was mine and my friends’ first proper holiday together once we were all eighteen. Suffice to say I was either still drunk or hungover that day. I literally don’t remember being at that zoo. I know I went, but can I recall any animal besides a tapir my friend “A” decided to nickname Bob? Nope. So I was ridiculously excited to see the animals. I ran around like an overexcited four-year-old and I am not ashamed of it. The pictures I’ve included were some of my favourites. The zoo had a baby elephant only a couple of years old! Adorable. If you go to Berlin, go to the zoo! I was impressed with how natural and open they made it seem. I felt like I was exceptionally close to all the animals, which was really cool! Except the big cats, which were scary. The two male lions seemed to be having a roar-off while we were there and I nearly wet myself in terror.
We also visited Fassbender and Rausch chocolatiers, which as the largest chocolate shop in the world, is a chocolate-lover’s paradise. We spent so much money there. They have amazing, massive chocolate sculptures of famous Berlin landmarks like the Brandenburg gate (picture up there!) and the Reichstag building and a volcano spewing chocolate lava! It’s incredible and definitely worth a visit! I bought a bunch of chocolates back as presents that I’m considering keeping for myself…
The TV Tower Berlin (Berliner Fernsehturm) is something else you have to see! At 368m it is the tallest structure in all of Germany! There’s an observation deck that – if I’m honest – I found a little disappointing possibly because we went at night so it was dark. Windows on that level are at an angle that doesn’t lend itself well to seeing much without a lot of light. We had dinner in the revolving restaurant on the next level which was a much nicer view and experience. Contrary to my naive belief, the tower itself doesn’t revolve, rather a section of the floor with the diner’s tables on does, taking you past all the windows and allowing you to see everything during the course of your meal. We loved this, it was much nicer to sit and slowly see Berlin go past us with a drink and a meal. One rotation is equal to about an hour so we got to see everything, which was excellent! The observation deck level would have been better in the daytime I think!
All of the food in Berlin was glorious. I’m going to single out a few extra-special mentions and recommendations instead of giving you a week-long food diary!
Firstly, under the food comes Burgermeister, which I found highly reviewed on TripAdvisor. To say it’s a converted public toilet under an S-bahn track with padded bicycle rails for seating, it’s amazing. The burger was one of the best I’ve ever eaten, cooked fresh and well and served to a soundtrack of The Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper, which cemented this place as one of my favourite places to eat the whole trip. The menu is simple – burgers and chips with some topping options – tasty and cheap. The Boy and I had a burger each and shared a good-sized portion of cheese fries, more than enough for us! It was definitely worth getting the S-bahn a little further out of the centre to find this place and I recommend you do the same if you’re ever around!
I mentioned earlier that we ate in the TV tower’s revolving restaurant at Alexanderplatz. The restaurant was lovely and the food – while a little pricey – was good too. The Boy had steak which was glorious while the highlight of my meal was the potato soup starter (pictured!) and the best soup I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. Also
probably definitely the poshest.
Also at Alexanderplatz were the dwindling celebrations of Oktoberfest, selling various foodstuffs, beers and handmade items. We sat outside and had a bratwurst and rindswurst each, they were awesome. The market stalls won’t be up all year round but definitely try to find good old local sausages if you’re there!
Something else I found during my TripAdvisor research was Princess Cheesecake, an amazing cafe near to our hotel in Mitte. You can sit with a slice and a drink or take-away (we took three separate slices as we couldn’t pick one each) or even buy an entire cheesecake. You will want to. They’re gorgeous and delicious and the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten.
We had an amazing trip. There’s a lot to see and do in a famous city like Berlin and I feel we saw a lot of what we were aiming to! Of course there’s always more and I’m sure this won’t be the last time we’re there! I hope that if anyone is off to Berlin soon that I’ve helped in any way, or just that you’ve enjoyed reading about “What I Did on My Holidays”!
P.S. I was so glad to have the borrowed camera, some of these pictures turned out really well!