Berlin, my birthplace and only 23 years later do I return. My expectations big, my eyes wide, my senses alert…I could not wait! I had picked the right time to go – a long weekend, packed with sunshine and good company. Impossible to go wrong.
Arriving at 22:00 with the sun still in the sky, large boulevards take us into the heart of the city. The city is open, welcoming and I am immediately drawn to the abundance of green spaces, which are helping the city breathe. The buzzing life in a multitude of restaurants invite us for a lovely first evening meal and I am instantly in love.
Four days is a great amount of time to get that first taste for the city. Impressions? Berlin is no Paris of the world – it lacks the intricate beauty and charm. Berlin is no New York or London of the world – it lacks the money, business and fast lifestyle approach. Berlin is no Amsterdam or Copenhagen of the world – it lacks the sweetness. But Berlin is interesting and filled with rich and dense history, which can be felt on all streets and corners of the city. It is multicultural, curious, beautiful, artsy, bold and creative and full of creative ideas and hidden treasures.
Some of my recommendations:
1. Try and aim to visit Berlin in the spring or summer. Sunshine and good weather makes a big difference in this city. Cafes and people sprawl out onto the sidewalks, the lakes get populated with happy crowds and the beer gardens invite you to partake in daily festivities.
2. Rent bicycles. It is such a great way to get around, see the city up close and get in a bit of sunshine and exercise. Keen for more exercise? Go for a run in the Tiergarten. It is the Central Park of Berlin. Make sure to stop and smell the roses in this park (a.k.a grab a picnic and take your time to stroll around – it is beautiful!).
3. The city has an endless amount of amazing museums. Explore the Jewish Museum, not only for the rich history, but also amazing architecture of the building. The Museumsinsel boast magnificent buildings and a long list of art and history genres to choose from.
|A poster from a photographer displaying his art on the Museumsinsel. The girl in white is not me but I almost fell of my bicycle seeing this as the resemblance from the side angle is absolutely amazing. My Doppelgaenger!|
4. If you have a Sunday in the city, the Café am Neuensee is an absolute MUST! All of Berlin goes there to see and to be seen and to take in the ‘love-life’ atmosphere with family and friends. Go with an appetite as they serve gorgeous large pizzas in addition to our beloved Bratwursts, Bretzels, Bier and all other German goodies.
|A Bretzel Vendor on his Bicycle|
5. Another must is the Fischerhuette am Schlachtensee. By far one of the best outdoor Beergardens in Berlin, set right next to a beautiful lake. Take your swimmers if the weather is good to you and make sure you have nothing on your agenda for that afternoon as you won’t want to leave! We biked there from the centre of town (takes about an hour along the Ku-Damm and through Dahlem) but you can also take the S-Bahn (S1 towards Wannsee - get out at Mexikoplatz and walk 10 minutes to reach the Schlachtensee).
|A postcard from the Fischerhuette am Schlachtensee|
6. Haven’t had enough beer yet and the night is only starting? Check out the Prater Garten for yet another very traditional German, outdoor, beer-drinking venue. Its grungy, its artsy, its hip and its cool. Don’t miss it!
7. Need to get your shopping fix or simply escape from the group of men you are traveling with? Check out Potsdamer Platz for a daily antique market, the Ku-Damm (Kufuerstendamm) for absolutely everything shopping-related and the Hackischen Hoeffe for boutiques, ice cream parlours, cafes and hidden treasures. Are you a Foodie and love food from around the world? Then Level 5 of the world-famous KDW Shopping Centre at the Ku-Damm is a must-see for you. You will find the biggest cheese selection you’ve ever seen, tropical fruits from all parts of the world, sweets, chocolate, pastries…the list is endless!
This city is fun, it is cool and it has STYLE! It may have been my first time back in 23 years but I can now say with confidence that after these 4 amazing days in Berlin, I will not wait another 23 years to go back. Summer 2012 here I come!