I can’t be the only one that associates Germany with the words astute and rigid, so you can imagine my delight when I exited the train station only to find cherry blossom trees and colourful buildings everywhere. I was only in Berlin for a short period of time before flying back to Toronto, and with every moment I spent there, I grew exceedingly tempted to extend my stay. I constantly regretted not having booked Poland while I was already in Berlin as it would have given me a chance to explore a city that’s history is so closely tied to Germany’s. But then again, if I’d booked a trip to Poland, I would have also wanted to revisit Prague while I was at it – it’s a vicious wanderlust cycle which I can’t seem to rid myself of.
Although I wish I had more time to try new restaurants, and see the city in its entirety, by the end of the trip, my stomach felt like it just could not handle another meal at a restaurant, and my feet couldn’t bear another 20km day. To be completely honest, I was relieved to have a healthy home-cooked meal and go to bed at 8pm upon my return to Toronto. That being said, after a day and a half of resting, I already find myself yearning for the candy coloured buildings and sun drenched streets of Berlin. I’ve put together a list of recommendations and hope you find it useful if and when you do visit this wonderful city:
What to eat: For the best organic breakfast you’ll eat, try Kaffeebar in Kreuzberg, get their brunch plate, just do it. Cafe Liebling is your one stop shop for the flakiest croissants, sharpest cheese, and prettiest patio. For big juicy burgers which you won’t be able to eat without a fork and knife, go to Burgeramt in Friedrichshain, stop by at one of the many bars and shisha joints afterwards. For Asian tapas, try Transit. If Indian food is your thing, AmAmma has the most incredible dosas you will eat (yup, Indian food in Berlin is a thing), and walk down the street afterwards to finish your meal off with gelato in one of the many ice cream shops. Berlin is also famous for Doner, and the best ones can be found in unlikely/seemingly sketchy street street food stalls for as little as €4, Mustafa’s Gemusekebap will change your life.
What to do: Walk or take the train from Friedrichshain to Kreuzberg for the most incredible view of the river spree. Do the free walking tour with SANDEMANs. You may believe tours aren’t for you, but you’re wrong. These tours are headed by freelance tour guides in their 20s and 30s, who are some of the funniest people I’ve met with the best recommendations on how to enjoy the city. I liked my tour so much, I also did the Third Reich Tour with the same company (and same tour guide). For the prettiest buildings, walk down Duncan Strasse, and don’t forget to take your camera with you. Revel at the oldest (and most beautiful) surviving synagogue in Sheunenviertel, and hop in and out of the shops afterwards.
A word of caution: credit cards aren’t really used in Berlin, so make sure you pull out a sufficient amount of cash before you go. In summary, visit Berlin.