A Winter Visit to Berlin, Germany

My love of Berlin is well documented with many blog posts extolling it’s virtues. I thought I’d finish on one final post covering some of the best things I think there are to do and see if you visit this glorious city.

 

Get your portrait done in a PhotoAutomat.

There are numerous photoautomats around the city. They are old fashioned, analog portrait booths and as part of a project, these guys are working to keep the old film booths alive. The prints you get from them have a beautiful feel and we found 5 booths around the city. This one below is just near Mauer Park but you’ll also find them in Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg and central too.

photosautomat Mauer Park, Berlin

Take a selfie at Brandenburg Gate. 

However trendy we think we are, everyone loves a bit of a tourist trap and Brandenburg gate is just that, probably one of the most famous German landmarks there is. Post WW2 when Berlin was split into East and West, the gate sat right on the edge of the border and from what I’ve read and seen, was very symbolic when the wall came down in 1989.  Just around the corner you’ve also got the Reichstag – home of the German government but the queues are always massive so I’d say, have a look and move on! 

Selfie at Brandenburg GateTrabi outside Brandenburg Gate

Drink all the Glühwein. 

This is definitely a winter activity but if you find yourself strolling the streets of Berlin on a cold crisp day, you absolutely must stop at every chance for a cup of steaming glühwein. A great tip is to also ask for a shot of amaretto. Perhaps it’s not the best advice to drink it before lunch but it’s so warming and totally moreish, I have to admit we did have one boozy mid-morning!

Glühwein in Berlin 

Visit the wall. 

You can see parts of the wall all over the city but the main touristy bit can be found at Potsdamer Platz. Of course take your time to read the exhibits and view the sections of wall but I prefer to look down at the pavement and see the snaking path of the wall and where it once ran. Also look out for the little red and green men on the traffic lights – they are different in West and East Berlin to this day.

Feet either side of the wall in Berlin

Eat crisps on a stick.

We loved this – basically a man with a drill and a wooden skewer – he spiralled a potato using the drill before deep frying and covering liberally in salt. I’m sure you can find these stalls all over the more touristy bits of the city but we found this stall (next door to some great glühwein) in Mitte just near St. Nicholas’ Church.

Crisps on a stick in Berlin 

Go to Mauerpark flea market & eat Currywurst. 

Situated in Prenzlauer Berg (where we were staying), Mauerpark is huge and every Sunday they have a big flea market, with live music and stalls elling everything from old cameras to vintage clothes. There are food stalls there too and of course, currywurst. You can get this all over the city as it’s basically an institution but we enjoyed having it here because the atmosphere was just great.
Mauerpark portrait
Currywurst
Turkish food at Mauerpark Flohmarket
Cameras at Mauerpark Flohmarkt

Drink cocktails and eat Pork Knuckle in Kreuzberg.

People bang on about Kreuzberg so special and trendy? We visited twice – in search of the trendy bars and supposedly, some of Germany’s best coffee. Seek and ye shall find – erm… nope. Not in our case.  Prenzlauer Berg is definitely, for us, a better area. I would make the comparison of Kreuzberg being Shoreditch – full of wanky types loving their own hype and Prenzlauer Berg being Brixton (although this time, not south of the river). Foodie, fun, a little bit rough around the edges but with a real charm.

 

Bateau Ivre, Kreuzberg

That said, we did visit a couple of cool places in Kreuzberg. Bateau Ivre with its Chinese lanterns was fun for a couple of drinks, as was Bar 39 for excellent cocktails. Dave also enjoyed earwigging into Korean phone conversations outside Angry Chicken – a bizarre little Korean takeaway just down the road.

For food, we looked at Kreuzburger – featured on the Guardian’s guide to the area but we opted for Max und Moritz instead. An old fashioned ‘Wirtshaus’ on the edges of the district. On first attempt we couldn’t get in, they had some kind of concert on and were fully booked despite it being a weekday. My advice – book ahead. Anyway, we returned later on and got a table.

Max und Moritz
There was one thing on both of our minds – pork knuckle. It looks (let’s face it) – rank. but actually tasted pretty good. With a bratwurst sausage, gammon steak, mustard, sauerkraut, potatoes and gravy this was not a light meal but I’m glad I had it. Definitely one to tick off the list.

 

Walk around Prenzlauer Berg. 

This is where we were staying and we loved it as an area. Lots going on, plenty of bars and restaurants (including Spreegold and Blumencafe).  Also lots of Asian and Korean restaurants which is great if you like that kind of food. If I moved to Berlin, this is where I would live. Just take time to walk along the streets and soak it all up. Walk for around 20 minutes and eventually you find yourself at Alexander Platz and in the centre of town. We also managed to find Jablonski Strasse, made famous by one of my favourite books Alone in Berlin

My final thoughts: 

Berlin is great city and I plan to go back to soon. We loved the unpretentious feel of the bars and as a history graduate, there’s more than enough history to keep me occupied. As a city, Berlin has a feel about it – it’s alive in a way other cities haven’t felt to me. Perhaps it’s the U-bahn raised above and below the streets –  providing the beating heart to this city.
Have you been to Berlin? Please share your top tips with me so I can learn even more about this great city on my return! 

Leave a comment

  1. 5th February 2016 / 10:46 am

    Berlin is super high on my travel wish list this year – some friends have just booked a trip there and I'm so tempted to book a flight to join them! It sounds like such a fun city with all the things I love from a city break! Those old photo booths are just darling, and what a lovely project to keep them going.

  2. 5th February 2016 / 12:08 pm

    I absolutely love Berlin! I didn't get to do all the things you did but you have definitely given me a few ideas if I decide to go there again. (I loved the potatoes on a stick!)

  3. 5th February 2016 / 3:49 pm

    It seems that everyone is going to Berlin at the moment and I am very jealous. I have still never been to Germany and I really want to go this year.

  4. 5th February 2016 / 4:49 pm

    I love this post – I'm always hearing about how great Berlin is to visit and this is such a digestible list of ideas on what to do!

  5. 5th February 2016 / 9:28 pm

    Thanks Kerry! Glad you enjoyed it! I bloody loved Berlin, I advocate that everyone goes there 🙂

  6. 5th February 2016 / 9:28 pm

    The potatoes on a stick are fun! I am a sucker for salty things so they were right up my street!

  7. 5th February 2016 / 9:29 pm

    You definitely should, it's a very cool place. The photo booths are AWESOME! We have around 5 or 6 strips of pictures and they are such a lovely keepsake of that holiday.

  8. 19th January 2017 / 10:29 pm

    Many people choose to get a book just so they can get some more information, but you might only want to do that if you have enough time. Reading a book instead of a travel guide is also for people who want more knowledge. Labyrintoom Berlin

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