Friends of ours (who I will call K & P – a pair of real nuts) asked if we would like to join them in Berlin to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It didn’t take us long to accept; not only we have been away with them and always have a great time, we all love to travel. Hubby was to book the flights for the two of us plus P; since my girlfriend K lives and works in Poland she would book where we would be staying, drive and pick us up at the airport, sounds simple no? Well K always makes sure everything is perfect: she booked and rebooked 4 times and I kept getting messages until she settled for the Hotel Clipper Garden Home at Theklastraße 20 in Steilgitz about 15 minutes from the centre.
Since K was happy to drive this was just perfect for us, it was so quiet that we slept extremely well and the weather was superb. Each couple got an apartment and may I say they weren’t small. I also like how the Germans like the Dutch give you a double bed with two duvets so when hubby tosses and turns I still get to keep my duvet instead of waking during the night and having to reclaim my share.
It was my second time in Germany, last time we stayed with friends and apart from one eve we always ate at home so being a foodie I was looking forward to trying more German delicacies. Now as you would expect Berlin is like many other capitals and it is very cosmopolitan so we were able to find every type of restaurant and there are many. I had heard expensive restaurants don’t stay open long but it seems I managed to find some although the whole experience was great even though one of the restaurants tried to overcharge us; I blamed K, because she looks far too high maintenance.
I was recommended to go to Mitte which is worth going to and we took the open top bus which was extremely interesting, we also walked lots, good thing I took shoes without heels. Also managed to find a great flea market by the Straße des 17 Juni, where I saw some interesting things; unfortunately I couldn’t buy any (luggage restrictions) but what a great place to browse.
I love how Berliners seem to do the right thing, even when no one is looking and they are among the best and most polite drivers. That said one does encounter a rudeness in some of the waiters; how I wish customer service from the numerous Americans in town had rubbed off a bit on them. They seem quite harsh and abrupt at times but perhaps that’s the cultural difference between us all.
We also decide to visit the holocaust museum, it seemed the right thing to do at the time and I was curious to see their input on the whole subject; I am sad to say I was disappointed as I felt it compared unfavourably with London’s Imperial War Museum’s handling of a very emotive chapter in Germany’s past.
They do love their food halls and my favourite was definitely KaDeWe, that shop is just superb, in fact makes Liberty’s look small and the food hall puts Harrods to shame. On the last day we had lunch there and it was so difficult to decide what to have, the choice was enormous and all looked so good; only one complaint why do they cover their salads with tons of greasy dressing??? It defeats the purpose, no?!... And while I’m having a rant what is it about the coffee? The best cup was at the McDonalds café –I never thought I’d say that.
Near us, we found an amazing Greek (Zeus) and an Italian restaurant (Il Grano). I loved the fact that they kept saying words like grazie, ciao and bellissimo when neither waiters seemed to be Italian (our waiter was Armenian) but they did sell the whole Italian experience extremely well.
Again you will find many al fresco places which was great since the weather was amazing, there was only one thing; Berliners smoke like chimneys (you realise that when seeing thousands of butts on the floor) and being a non smoker I hate having to inhale other people vices. And at the first opportunity it seems the Berliner sheds clothing. A walk in Tiergarten was illuminated by the sight of numerous apparitions with their kit off enjoying the midday sun (no I did not take pitures).
I am not a train spotter but I must say that Berlin central station (Hauptbanhoff) was something spectacular, the design from Meinhard von Gerkan is quite something ( one finds all sorts including brides) and is filled with nice shops and restaurants (try the one on the top floor).
Unfortunately was time to leave and I though there is still so much to see that I definitely will go back and explore a bit more this amazing city which seems to reveal in the 80’s.