We’re back with another travel post but this time we’re not in a French-speaking country, how wild!
A lil while ago, I was in Berlin visiting a friend for a relaxing “healing” holiday. Since I’d already been there a few years ago, and since Fatima now lives there and is basically a local, we avoided most of the tourist attractions and instead spent our time wandering around the graffitied streets and chilling in local eateries. I guess that makes this more of a foodie’s guide to the city!
I arrived in the late afternoon so after dumping my bags off, we went for a little stroll. We explored the area around Rosenthaler Straße which included Hackesche Höfe, a gorgeous courtyard area with independent boutiques and cafés. We visited the Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt which documents Weidt’s efforts during the Third Reich to protect his blind and deaf Jewish employees and we also stopped by an art gallery in Haus Schwarzenberg with a display on the autobiographical comic book “Drei Steine” by Nils Oskamp which explores a teenager’s struggle against right-wing violence.
We headed into the Monsterkabinett afterwards which was super fun but kind of trippy. It low-key felt like something out of a fever dream. (What is it with me and animatronic attractions that feel like hallucinations???)
For dinner, we went to Salhino which was actually my first experience with Georgian food. The dishes were flavourful and filling and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever felt so stuffed eating so little? Everything was pretty carb-heavy though so leave your diets at the door!
We started our morning with the Stasi Museum which had some of the most disturbing exhibits i’ve ever seen. There was a section on how they indoctrinated children where they displayed playground toys that looked like grenades and scout badges which were given for “good behaviour”. There was also a section on psychological harassment where they displayed guidebooks that taught officials how to undermine people’s self-confidence and destroy their mental stability. How terrifying.
We then walked around the Friedrichshain area before we went for lunch at Stilbruch Kaffee. It’s one of those cosy veggie/vegan cafés but surprisingly they had a turkey and bacon sandwich on the menu which turned out to be one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had (a bold claim, i know).
There was an industrial park nearby where we had a mini photoshoot and I had an endearingly awkward interaction with a man named David and then we were off to the East Side Gallery.
The beginning of the walk was pretty chill but then out of nowhere a rainstorm with hurricane-level winds started attacking us??? It cleared up as abruptly as it started though so we had a wander around Prenzlauer Berg and found some Little Lucy graffiti art. If you ever find yourself in Berlin, stay on the lookout for them! They’re quirky and charming if a little troubling.
We then went over to the Hamburger Bahnhof which is a modern art museum modelled after the main train station in Hamburg. We actually lucked out since tickets are free on the first Thursday of every month! All of the exhibits were cool in their own right but our minds were completely blown by this mirror installation. half of the mirrors just looked like windows (i.e. like there was no reflection) but in others, it looked like you were reflected infinitely!!
for dinner, we went to Markthalle Neun for their street food thursday because why choose one thing when you can have everything? I had currywurst for the first time (despite it being my 4th visit to Germany), korean bao, tiramisu, and a cannoli. I honestly could’ve kept going if I was given a bit more time – there was so much more I wanted to try!
We had a rather stressful morning what with Fatima trying to get us BTS tickets, our bus to Dresden being booked full since it was a national holiday, and us just generally being disorganised messes, but somehow it all worked out.
We ended up spending our day at the Sächsische Schweiz national park which was a lovely change of pace.
The little town at the bottom of the hike was adorable and the views along the walk were gorgeous. We saw the Bastei Bridge, the Schrammsteine rocks, and the river Elbe.
Once again, we got caught in a thunderstorm but since we’d already done the bulk of our hike, we just hid out and ate our picnic in the art gallery instead. In the evening, we took the boat back across the river to get the train home.
My final day in Berlin was just as busy as the others. We started off at Schloss Charlottenburg which was home to some of the prettiest ducks I’ve ever seen.
We then went to the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg where there was a temporary exhibition on Max Ernst. It contained artworks from his entire career but my favourite was the Maximiliana display which was a collaboration between Iliazd and Ernst. It’s a portfolio combining illustrations by Ernst and texts by Tempel, a 19th century astronomer, which had been typed out by Iliazd in snaking, flowing formations. In the rest of the museum, there was a collection of surrealist art from different artists across various time periods.
We went for brunch at Spreegold which has a menu filled with american diner-style dishes but done in a healthy way. For instance, I had fried chicken and pancakes but the pancakes were paleo and topped with avocado and tahini yoghurt. There’s really nothing better than food that’s nutritious but somehow still tastes like you’re eating junk. Glorious.
We then got boba tea from Come buy bubble tea which had flavours that even I, a seasoned bubble tea drinker, had never tried before. I got a roasted oolong one and then we sat in bikini berlin to enjoy them. it’s a great little concept mall which has a bunch of independent boutiques in wooden pop-up boxes and a whole windowed section with cushions that looks out over the monkey enclosure in the zoo. Although I’m not a huge fan of zoos, I’ve got to admit that watching baboons play while I sipped my tea was quite enjoyable.
Our final port of call before dinner was Künstlerhaus Bethanien which admittedly had some cool contemporary art exhibits but a couple of them were seriously creepy. There was one where the “artist” had hacked into various cameras in offices and internet cafés to spy on people and record them going about their daily business. She then fed it through to a livestream for the public to watch. eek. There was another one where the installation mimicked a bathroom but the fluorescent lighting and background music were so disconcerting that we were actually scared to enter. We backtracked twice before we finally plucked up the courage to walk through to watch the video on display. It wasn’t worth it.
For dinner, we went to Umami which was my first experience with Vietnamese food! Haven’t our eating habits on this trip just been so worldly? I started off with sweet potato and seitan pancakes which were served with a soy and honey dip and then I had a chicken pho. For dessert, we shared a fresh fruit waffle and a mango panna cotta. ‘Twas a beautiful way to round off the trip.
So that’s it for this post! we essentially spent our time eating, relaxing, and spiralling into the kpop pit, but that’s a story for another time!
p.s. If you want to be deeply disturbed, look up hello counselor on youtube but honestly, I’d advise against it. I’m not sure we’ve recovered yet.