berlin in admiration
The first thing that must be said about Berlin--is I had it completely wrong. As I could only guess that most Americans do. The second, and more important to the visit, is I left Berlin with a sincere admiration for what I experienced. Berlin was clean, very well organized, friendly and extremely diverse. A diversity thats enjoyably organized within surrounding districts and easily navigated by foot and public rail. With each district a different texture of Berlin is exposed while ultimately echoing a togetherness that is only Berlin. All are welcome.
To start, really wrap your head around the transportation system beginning from the airport. It really is quick and simply to get the hang of and you can do it all with an app now. The airport express brings you right into the center of Berlin so it makes for an easy district to explore first. A great value and stylish hotel just a short walk from the station is Hotel Amo. A very smooth and cool welcome to Berlin. By this time its evening and you'll be prime for some sleep after the flight but a welcome dinner is essential. You really could just stay around the hotel with its two eateries and bar but I had my eye on something traditional just up the street. Schnitzelei Mitte sits hidden in the courtyard of surrounding buildings with fantastic outdoor seating and always cheerfully busy. A modern take on traditional German tavern eating and the perfect evening to start your trip.
And with that, lights-out after a night cap back at the hotel. I awoke early the next morning, with an 8hour recharge, in great anticipation for my first day of journey. I checked out with a hold on my bag, grabbed a lite bite at the hotels fantastic breakfast spread and was off. First stop to the east just a short walk away is The Barn Cafe. A local roast brewing up a great cup with rustic style. With a fresh cup in-hand the city starts to sing its industrial-chic notes. Just a turn to the south and you're at Alexanderplatz and Berliner Fernsehturm. Now headed west to the steps of the Spree and a water front view of the Berliner Dom. A quick cool retro stop here is also the DDR museum that has a pop culture feel of old German life. Then onward west through the main strip of Berlin with fantastic historical structures to the left and right as you carry through.
The stretch walks you up to the Brandenburg Gate but instead I hung a left on Friedrichstraße. It was nearing lunch time so just steps down the street is Lindner Esskultur. A great deli to grab some fresh goods and a mini bottle of bubbly for a park lunch. Then continuing south to hit Checkpoint Charlie, then west over to Potsdamer Platz and back north to the Jewish Memorial and steps further the Brandenburg Gate. All throughout this stretch is greenery to enjoy your lunch, and enjoyed indeed it is. A chance to relax and absorb your walk mindfully. And what really comes to mind is how calm and spacious the city feels. Really just a pleasure of a walk. Then just a bit further north you arrive at the Reichstag Building along the Spree that walks you back to the hotel. Its a good 5-6hour day so I was ready to get to my next stay. Put my leather slip ons to the test with that one.
After grabbing my bag from the hotel I jumped on the U back south to Gat Point Charlie Hotel. A funky industrial/space inspired hotel with a great value and great positioning for my needs. My needs being, a close walk to dinner, a Covid test next door and further south, now my direction of exploration in the morning. So after some earned relaxing I anxiously headed up the street to my dinner at Crackers. And wow did not disappoint in anyway shape or form. Crackers is a spot-on expression of Berlin and hands down a visitor-must experience in the area. One that is better left unsaid for others to enjoy for their own. After hours of enjoying my seating I strolled back through the lovely chic city streets of the area and called it a night. A new texture to the Berlin experience would begin in the morning.
After another good recharge I awoke early for another breakfast spread, really gotta love Europe visits for that, and popped over for my 3 day prior covid test for reentry. Then I was off, again checking out with a bag hold, and a quick ride south on the U to the Hallesches stop. Here to start the day just across the bridge at Hallesches Haus General Store. A fantastic morning stop for anyone, but particularly for rustic minimalist fans. I saved breakfast room for their fresh banana bread and a cup of coffee. The stop really sets the stage for the new area of exploration both in comfort and style. Rustic is now the prevalent them throughout Kreuzberg as you make way east along the canal. A fantastic morning walk that draws you all the way to lunch time. And lunch in this area is a no brainer for a visitor: Kabob. My suggestion is to go for quality over fast food. And that lands you at the long standing Adana Grillhaus.
After lunch it was far into the afternoon so it was time to head back and reset base camp. Just a quick back and forth on the handy U to grab my bag and I was at my next stay at Michelberger Hotel. The third texture to Berlin that is the East Side. But first I wasn't done with Kreuzberg, and really you could spend days enjoying all the hole-in-the-wall finds. Its a solid foodies haven with a very enjoyed rustic vibe. Which is why after relaxing at my new spot I was back on the U over to Kreuzberg for dinner. Just a short walk from the U stop you make your way to ORA Bar. Rustic at its best, a converted 19th-century apothecary with a refined speakeasy sort-of-feel with fantastic small dishes to enjoy with their wines. The evening was a real pleasure to end my time with Kreuzberg.
Back on the U to the Michelberger and a night cap in the lobby bar. It was a Friday so its completely alive with great music and friendly faces. A mood that could easily be enjoyed far into the night but I had exploration to attend to in the morning. The Michelberger is like a warm, friendly and very cool handshake that says welcome to the eastside. It continues with the rustic minimalist mood felt throughout Kreuzberg but now an added touch of edgy. You really could come to the eastside and just stay and enjoy yourself at the hotel. But it would be a mistake not to explore. And thats exactly what I intended to do bright and early. This time skipping breakfast to save for the walk, but a cup to go of course. So again checking out with a bag hold and off to explore the fantastic edge of the eastside.
Just steps away, with your coffee still fresh and warm, you have the one-and-only Eastside Gallery to stroll and enjoy. A powerful display of individual expression both modern and historic in tone. From there I took the back streets to loop back into the festive Saturday morning streets of Friedrichshain. What a wonderful thing. It had lightly rained, endless brunch spots filled the air with flavor and friendly faces past in pleasure alike. Again, a tone both rustic minimalist and edgy converging in a very welcoming atmosphere. A Vegan's dreamland and an artists oasis. After strolling through the streets I settled at a locals favorite for my brunch: Silo Coffee. I really couldn't have imagined a better spot to enjoy in the Saturday morning atmosphere of the eastside. And after I strolled through the edgy RAW-Gelände area looping back to the hotel. A memorable goodby to the area with a convergence of-all things-in a repurposed industrial complex.
And within a blink a grabbed my bag and was headed on the S to my 3rd and final texture of Berlin. The well-to-do area of Prenzlauer Berg and home to the Mauerpark flea market. It was not by chance that I was arriving to the area on a Saturday afternoon. And I highly recommend it. The best way I can describe this last texture of Berlin is classical. A lovely community filled with streetside cafes, dinning and historic buildings. Like my final stay at Hotel Oderberger, a repurposed 1902 public bathhouse now a refined choice in the area. I was early for my 3pm checkin so I dropped my bag and took a walk south. I was headed back into the Mitte area to see Hackesche Höfe. A great shopping area of old intermixed courtyards with contrasting sections of luxury and edgy moods.
By the time I arrived back at the hotel it was already late afternoon. So I washed up, relaxed a bit and was headed back on foot now a little north for dinner. I picked this spot for a couple reasons. For one this is an unforgettably charming neighborhood to walk around on a Saturday evening. I mean for an American visitor really something special. And second because both Vegan and Vietnamese are very popular in the area. So after a wonderful walk through the bustling neighborhood of countless streetside dinning pleasures I arrived at the humble Chay Long. A little nook where the sidewalk has been transformed into a wooded place of mouthwatering vegan Vietnamese dishes. A true neighborhood gem. And returning back to the hotel that evening was of equal pleasure now in the low light of the night.
Back at the hotel I enjoyed a night cap in the study-styled bar and called it a night. I awoke the next Sunday morning carless of time and enjoyed coffee from my window. My last day and couldn't be more pleased to enjoy lazily in this area. I eventually grabbed a lite bite at the hotels breakfast spread and was off for the flea market. I can't express enough how enjoyable this day is and how perfect it is for a last. The togetherness felt amongst the community for a visitor is truly felt enjoyed. That evening I was lucky enough to have MaMi's Food&Wine just steps from the hotel. With a recent opening it was a grateful experience and couldn't have asked for a better last diner in Berlin.
The next morning I awoke early to the catch the U to the airport. As Berlin quickly passed by through the U window the admiration from my visit really set in.
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