We loved Berlin. It was close to perfect. So perfect we thought about looking up how much it would cost to rent a place and wondered how hard it would be to work remotely indefinitely. Alas, we can’t move there (not now at least), but we remember it all fondly and hope to return someday.
Museums and Sights
The Reichstag building is the meeting place for the German parliament and its glass dome has a wonderful 360-degree view of Berlin. The informative audio guide gives a great introduction to the city and its layout, and provided an excellent and stunning start to our trip in Berlin.
The memorial along Bernauer Strasse informs and reminds visitors about the time of the division of Berlin and Germany. The history is explained through stories, sculptures and a remnants of the wall that provide a tangible impression of how family, friends and city were divided. We found it both informative and moving, and when standing next the wall with border strip and watchtower we were overcome with silence.
The Hamburger Bahnhof is a former railway station that now serves as a museum for modern and contemporary art. In addition to Kiefer, Rauschenberg and Warhol, we found some challenging and intriguing temporary exhibitions, and enjoyed Dan Flavin’s colorful light installations.
The museum takes a thorough look at the history and influence of the Bauhaus movement through its collection of art pieces, items, documents and literature from the Bauhaus School. We really enjoyed seeing the broad spectrum of work from students and masters and listening to the audio guide’s insight into the school and its members. It was perfect for a Bauhaus geek like Bryan.
This interactive museum shows everyday life in East Germany, also known as the GDR. The cars, clothes, music, homes and other elements of life in East Germany are displayed and through “hands-on” experiences you are able to step back in time and learn in an innovative way. If the movie Goodbye Lenin could be turned into a museum, it would look like the DDR Museum. They were able to walk the line between serious and humorous, sad and ridiculous, which is a very, very difficult task.
This gallery is a portion of the east side of the Berlin Wall and has 105 paintings by artists from all over the world. As one walks alongside it, you can’t help but think about those who experienced the change of this wall from something that was created to contain to something that now serves to inspire. The variety to the work reminds us of freedom from past control and the need to remember the past but continue to look forward.
The Martin-Gropius-Bau is a beautiful hall that originally was a museum of applied arts and now hosts high quality temporary exhibitions. We were able to see two very different, but equally interesting shows about Dennis Hopper and Olympia. The exhibitions were presented brilliantly and we can now say we have a much greater understanding of Dennis Hopper’s creativity and the surprising mystical origins of the Olympics.
Dennis Hopper - The Lost Album
Olympia: Myth - Cult - Games in Antiquitiy
KW Institute is a contemporary art institution that has no permanent collection, it instead focuses energy on innovative exhibitions and creative programming. We happened to be in Berlin at the time of Wael Shawky’s exhibition Al Araba Al Madfuna, and were blown away by the quality, scale and thoughtfulness of the work. He is a storyteller and artist that draws you into his narratives, and then shows the connection of past and present.
The Berliner Dom is Berlin’s Cathedral and we were able to attend their vespers service in a week that had been full of museums and photography from the moment we woke up. We were reminded that the best time to visit any cathedral or church while traveling is for a service where one can fully experience the intent of the space, instead of just looking around and snapping photos. Taking time to slow down and contemplate is just as important when we travel.
Food and Drink
This is the kind of place I would want to go on any rainy night. It is cozy and warm, the food is delicious and the wine recommendations are spot on. They were down to earth and helpful (since our German is extremely limited), and it is the only restaurant we went back to on our entire trip. We are still dreaming of their charcuterie and wine.
A lovely lakeside location in Tiergarten where we enjoyed tasty soup and flammkuchen with refreshing beer. They have a biergarten and restaurant, making it perfect for a warm day or cold evening, and after going to Munich we would say it feels like a bit of Bavaria in Berlin.
A great place to consume bio currywurst, fries and beer. I don’t think we will be attempting to make currywurst at home anythime soon, but we still found it a intriguing combination that we can imagine one would get a craving for. Sidenote: as a people who really don’t like mayonnaise, we love fries and mayo when in Europe, why is that?
A restaurant and biergarten that serves up really big and super yummy beers. Sadly we came right before closing (no food) on a cold evening (no one outside), but we would love to be at this place on a warm summer evening. Who’s ready to go back to Berlin? Us!!!
The market hall reminded us of the San Francisco Ferry Building, with beautiful food items, but smaller and more charming. We wanted to buy everything, but stuck to lunch from one vender and pastries from another. The massive crowd did result in a long wait, but the food was fantastic and unique. I only wish we had more room in our stomachs to try additional items. Did we mention we would love to go back to Berlin?
Rachel and Michael, our awesome Airbnb hosts, recommended this place if we were craving falafel wraps. We were in need of something vegetarian, but satisfying and were crossing our fingers there would be some spiciness (we were going through salsa withdrawals). Zweistrom delivered everything we wanted and more. Thanks R&M.
This joint brings New York food culture to Berlin, and as west coasters who rarely enjoy good pastrami we were pulled in by the delicious smells and design of the space. The food really was fantastic and the architecture of the building (Jüdische Mädchenschule) is definitely worth the trip as well.
We heard brunch was big in Berlin, and it turns out brunch is really big in Berlin. At Anna Blume we ordered the special for two which was more food than we could dream of eating (meats, cheeses, eggs, breads, vegetables, fruits, jams), but it was all very good. It was also fun to experience the charm of Prenzlauer Berg at this buzzing location that made for a great last meal experience in Berlin.
Berlin coffee culture was absolutely fantastic, and to be honest led us to feel a bit disappointed with any coffee we had on the rest of the trip. Sorry Vienna coffee houses. A few of our favorites include:
Roasters that make a mean espresso. It appears to be a place everyone wants to be on a lovely sunny afternoon.
A delicious flat white and lovely place to sit outside on a beautiful fall day.
Lovely people, relaxing vibe and good taste in music. Oh yeah, delicious coffee and pastries to go along with it.
Cafe au lait and delicious pastries. Best place to spend a Saturday breakfast/brunch and relax.
We loved loved loved this place, the charming Prenzlauer Berg and the owners, Rachel and Michael. They design beautiful furniture and have great recommendations for restaurants, museums and anything else you can think of. They quickly felt more like friends than hosts, and were thoughtful to buy us a bottle of sparkling wine for our anniversary and coffee and pastry during a morning hang out. If we could go back to Berlin, we would definitely stay at the Recycled Design Apartment. Honestly, we would live there permanently if we could.