As the titel suggests, I have been to Berlin and…well I wasn’t very impressed. It sucks to say that, because after hearing so many people rave about the city, I really wanted to love Berlin! I’ve pretty much been putting off writing this Travel Journal for
days weeks now, because I just really don’t want to come across as naggy or ungrateful! Because how cool is it that I am in the financial position to travel to Berlin (or at all)?!
But I want this blog to be a a place of honesty, so that means that I will sometimes have to put out content that isn’t exclusively about my positive experiences. Because the reality of travelling -and life in general, really- is that it won’t always meet your expectations. Along with the fun adventure times, you will probably have some bad or disappointing experiences too and that is OK! When something like that happens we just learn more about what travel destinations and/or activities are for us and which aren’t. Besides, we don’t all have to like the same things!
I don’t think it’s fair to blame it all on Berlin itself for not meeting my expectations. It was probably a combination of several things, like:
▷ being grumpy from our flight being delayed (literally every time I fly with easyJet!)
▷ being really, REALLY cold (temperatures were below zero)
▷ every Berliner we asked for information (except one) was very unpleasant
▷ having very high expectations after the ravings of friends, family and favourite Youtubers (like The Mustards)
But most of all: not being very well prepared. Anyone who’s ever traveled with me knows that I do not like to go unprepared. I always research the must-sees, the must-dos and especially the must-eats weeks or sometimes even months ahead before actually going somewhere. Not only because I really enjoy researching my destinations, but also because I’m afraid I will otherwise experience the worst FOMO ever! Bully for me that the one time I thought “I should just wing it!” didn’t work out very well. I just vastly underestimated the size of Berlin and how spread out everything is. I love to explore cities by foot (and food), but that’s not something I would recommend for Berlin. Especially not if you’re staying for a short amount of time, like I did. Just buy that day ticket for public transportation, it’s so worth it!
That being said, it definitely wasn’t all bad! We saw some impressive buildings and enjoyed some delicious foods as well! I haven’t given up on Berlin yet. I very much want to go back, because I think I didn’t experience Berlin in it’s full glory. But definitely when it’s warmer, though!
Well that was a long -and slightly depressing- intro…let’s get into some of the highlights of this Berlin trip, shall we!
Where we stayed
We stayed at The Cat’s Pajama’s Hostel* in Kreuzkölln, which according to Visit Berlin is “the new ‘in’ district of Berlin”. I have to admit that, besides it’s convenient location and great ratings on Booking.com, it was the name that pretty much drew me in. But can you blame me? It’s so cute!
We had a bunk bed in a two bed dorm room (so basically a private room) with a shared bathroom. The room was really clean and quiet and the bathroom was also very well kept and had a nice, big shower (without a timer!). After all that walking and exploring we did, I can’t explain how amazing that shower before bed was! I slept like a baby after that!
The hostel has a spacious guest kitchen with good amenities and a seating area with some nice industrial vibes.
The Cat’s Pyjama’s hostel also has a common seating area for travelers that like to cozy up with a good book or like to socialize with other travelers.
Overal, I had a very comfortable stay at The Cat’s Pyjama’s and I would definitely recommend it for your next stay in Berlin!
What We Saw
The Reichstag building: the seat of the German Parliament. Quite an impressive building!
Just a little walk from the Reichstag, we saw the famous Brandenburger Tor.
The magnificent Berliner Dom, or Berlin Cathedral.
We crossed the beautiful Oberbaum Bridge from former West Berlin to former East Berlin to see the East Side Gallery: an open-air art gallery on a 1316 metres long section of the Berlin Wall.
The wall itself is a lot thinner than I had imagined. Such a strange idea that this thin concrete wall is what divided the city!
Checkpoint Charlie: the most (in)famous Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin.
The Jewish Memorial was one of the sights I really wanted to visit. I was quite surprised by it’s central location: it’s very close to the Reichstag and the Brandenburger Tor. But that’s probably a good thing, because we should never forget the horrible acts committed against the Jewish people during WWII. Something that some tourist already seem to have forgotten when they’re having their pictures taken standing on the slabs or in other poses that I personally find really disrespectful *waves walking cane like an old granny*. Anywho!
When you approach the memorial, the concrete slabs don’t seem very tall. But when you enter, the ground slopes and becomes uneven. I read somewhere that it was created that way to give visitors a feeling of uncertainty and to disorientate. I can tell you that it does just that! Especially when you stand somewhere more in the center. It was quite a chilling experience!
After visiting The Jewish Memorial, we took the tram to Mauerpark to stroll around the flea market. I kind of forgot to take pictures, but it was quite lovely, really! A good last stop for our Berlin trip!
What We Ate
After getting some tips from the staff of The Cat’s Pyjama’s, we went into Kreuzberg to find a place to have dinner. We ended up in Chaapa, a Vietnamese & Thai food restaurant, where I had Khao Phad (fried egg rice with onions, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, pak choi) with the best crispy duck I’ve ever had! Loved the atmosphere of the restaurant as well!
The next morning we went to Café Bakery Süss (which translates to “sweet”) for a nice cup of coffee and some delicious pastries!
Will you just look at these?! They were SO good! I wish that 1) I had taken some more home with me and 2) someone would open a German bakery in my neighbourhood, so I could have these heavenly pastries more often! The German sausage and beer culture might not be for me, but oh my dayum these pastries are everything!
When abroad, I like to try the somewhat more bizarre foods when I get the chance! Before we caught our flight back to Schiphol, I saw a piece of toast with a layer of white “stuff” on it at one of the Airport establishments. I was equally excited as somewhat unsettled by the idea that I had the chance to try Griebenschmalz: pork lard with, in this case, herbs and walnuts, on toast. My initial thoughts: “That’s a lot of lard…but it looks pretty good?”. And, like my childhood hero Andrew Zimmern always says in his tv series Bizarre Foods, “if it looks good, eat it!”.
It turned out to not be so good. At all actually. It was just too much lard! And it ended up upsetting my stomach. But hey, at least I tried it!
P.S. My first meal in Berlin was -of course- a sausage on a bun. It was actually pretty tasty! I was too hangry from our delayed flight to bother with taking a picture though…
To be continued!
That was pretty much our trip to Berlin! After editing all the pictures and finishing up this post I actually feel a lot more positive about the trip! 🙂
Like I said at the beginning of this article, I plan to go back to explore some more and experience Berlin more like the locals do. Some places that I would really love to eat at during my next visit(s) are:
▷ Kimchi Princess, a Korean restaurant which receives very good press. I love me some Korean food!
▷ Sardinen.Bar, a restaurant that serves canned sea food. I already enjoy having sardines from a can on garlic toast on my free days, so I am very interested to see in what other ways they serve their canned goods! Also, I saw Antony Bourdain visit a similar restaurant in Lissbon and I am just obsessed with this concept ever since
▷ House of Small Wonder: probably the most hipster lunchroom ever! We actually tried to have brunch there, but there was quite a queue to get in! I *claps* ain’t *claps* got *slaps* time *claps* for *claps* that *claps* when I’m hungry! Because trust me, you won’t like me when I’m hungry o.O
A sweet friend of mine who lives in Berlin has already volunteered
as Tribute to show me around, so I am sure that my next visit to Berlin will be a grand succes 🙂
Have you ever been to Berlin? What were your experiences and do you have any tips for my next visit?
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