Happy 2 0 1 6 !!! Wow the year has passed by so fast. Sorta bummed that the holidays have come to an end so quickly. This is the time of the year that I dread the most because there are almost no days off from work the first half of the year, lol. And work starts up again for me in 2 days, eek! At least I can look back on my photos and daydream some more about traveling, hehehe.
This is a continuation of my 18-day trip to Europe. The first stop was Amsterdam, which you can read about here: EuroTrip 2015 – Amsterdam.
The second stop was Berlin, which is what this blog post is about! The next blog posts will be Rome, Vienna, London, and Paris (in this order).
Let’s get started.
We flew over from Amsterdam and arrived at Berlin on November 16, 2015 at 6:30pm. Our flight was through one of the European budget airlines, easyJet. On the way, we met a guy from Israel who was visiting some family in Amsterdam and other friends around Europe. We ended up on the same flight and train going into Berlin. I’ve never felt more like a stalker in my life, lol.
On the subway we met two girls traveling from Armenia. Everyone that we met were mostly friendly, talk about how they love America and how they would like to visit California. I guess thats one of the nice things about coming from Los Angeles since everyone in the world knows the name.
Our stay in Berlin was at Hotel Mani. This was by far the nicest hotel that we stayed at in Europe, and definitely one of my favorites everrr. All of the decor was very modern and sleek. I really recommend staying there if you are ever looking for a place in Berlin.
Since it was already night time, we didn’t really do much our first night besides walk around and eat dinner! Erick decided to take us to get ramen at Cocolo Ramen.
I had their Miso Ramen and Lemonade with honey and ginger. The lemonade was a little too sweet for my taste, but it was nice to drink something hot on a cold night. The ramen was overall tasty, but still missing something.
Other than that, our first night was pretty calm. After dinner we walked back home another direction and just sort of got to know the neighborhood that we lived in. It was a very good area with probably the best food in Berlin, too! We were quite happy with our options.
Early the next morning, we headed out to… exchange money. Here I am sitting on the train. Jeez, we really seemed to keep blowing through all of our money very quickly while on vacation. But what can you do? We need to eat, lol.
For brunch we ate at Restaurant Nolle. The funny thing is that we saw a line of people standing outside and thought, hmmm, this place must be good, they aren’t even open yet! Then we found out that it was just a large tour group waiting in line. Bahaha, but we went in anyways.
The inside of the restaurant was cool. I imagined the interior to be similar to a blimp.
I ordered the Berlin potato and vegetable soup with sliced sausage, which came with a lot of bread. It was a good hearty meal! Erick ordered a simple spaghetti meat sauce dish.
Next we made our way over to the Brandenburg Gate. It’s probably one of my favorite monuments in Berlin, next to the Berlin Wall.
Right next to the Brandenburg Gate was the French Embassy. As you know, the ISIS attack on France was just a few days prior to our arrival in Berlin. There were already hundreds of ornaments, flowers, and memorabilia left in front. It was a sight to see and a real tear jerker.
Afterwards we made our way out of the square, around the corner, and down to Reichstag. Unfortunately, we didn’t make plans to go inside (and didn’t care to either). If I could have done it over, I probably would have just gone inside, especially since it’s free with advanced booking.
Here we crossed the street and walked through a park. On the way we walked by the Soviet War Memorial Treptow.
Continuing on, the park was too beautiful to not take a few photos in. Not sure what it was, but seeing the ground covered in leaves really made it feel like we were someplace else, not California.
Finally after much walking, we ended up at Siegessäule. It was prettier from a far since you could see all of it, and much harder to take a selfie with up close, oh well. But look at that gold! How does it stay so clean?!
Around this monument, we were slightly harassed by people to sign petition forms. Eventually, they left us alone. One of the guys told me not to trip after looking at my super huge platform shoes, lol.
From here, we hopped onto a bus and missed our exit.
Here’s what my ticket pass looked like. You can use it on almost all public transportation. Notice how I accidentally time stamped my pass twice. You’re only supposed to stamp it once so that you know when’s the first time you’ve used it! Btw, in Berlin, they never ever, not once, checked our passes.
We ended up getting off at Kurfürstendamm. Which is a famous avenue in Berlin with lots of shopping.
Inside one of the malls, we got some coffee and cheesecake at Einstein Kaffee. It’s just another chain coffee shop, but it did the job. After we were fueled up and rested, we looked around at the shops in the mall for a bit. Also did I mention, this mall has real life monkeys on display in it? I think it’s because it’s next to a zoo though.
Outside of the mall we found booths being set up for the Christmas holiday season. We found ourselves eventually inside of yet another mall, where we were able to buy an outlet converter. This is also where I learned for the first time that you have to pay to use bathrooms in Berlin (and most of Europe for that matter).
I also started developing blisters from my shoes, and had to buy these gel type bandaids. They were life savers! But a bit pricey. I used them all throughout my trip in Europe, hehe.
The last mall that we ended up at was Kadewe. This is a very famous mall in Berlin with lots of high end brands and 6 floors of shopping. I may have made a mistake, but I won’t fully admit it… I bought $250+ leather gloves from here. The sadder part is that I didn’t think to get tax-free for foreigners, f&#k.
Anyways, the 6th floor was our favorite floor in the Kadewe mall. If you ever go, you must make your way up to the 6th floor!! No exceptions. On the 6th floor, you’ll find everything to your stomachs desire. Everything from wine, beers, whiskeys, cheeses, seafood, meats, EVERYTHING dammit!
I literally went crazy here because I wanted it all but knew that we couldn’t afford to try it all. I opted to go for the November Special at the Austernbar, which came with a glass of white wine, bread, and oysters. It was great, and I didn’t have to share any of it with Erick. I loved watching the workers crack open the oyster shells, clean, and brush them. It was for sure a step up from the usual.
Next we shared a meal at a station that served what seemed to be mostly traditional German dishes. This was one of my favorite meals in Berlin, so don’t mind if I have several photos and detail shots!
We had 2 Köstritzer beers, a baked potato, and plate of salmon…
We totally killed this meal. Each salmon was unique in flavor as well as texture. Also the sauces were so yummy!!! And eating it together with the veggies made this dish A+!
This… baked… potato. I had no idea potatoes could taste this good (and I’m such a big potato lover)!!! That sauuuceee…
Leaving the mall satisfied, we again went on the bus to head over to our last tourist stop of the night, Checkpoint Charlie. I must admit, this is probably the most disappointing attraction that we visited in all of Europe. It just, didn’t really have much to offer.
We were briefly entertained by the staged guard on duty who was dancing, singing, and being a goofball. But other than that, there was really only a sign to look at and the US army checkpoint.
Standing at the corner trying to figure out how to get home, a man approached us and offered to give us a walking tour for a price. We turned him down, but I did end up chit chatting with him for a bit and found out that he really likes Kendrick Lamar, lol.
Leaving Checkpoint Charlie, we decided to walk all the way home. It wasn’t too bad of a walk. Thus ends our first full day in Berlin.
The next morning we walked over to a local restaurant, Schwarzwaldstuber, for breakfast. I really loved the decor in here, and the two women working were really cute, so was the dog!
While in Europe, I noticed that the German speaking cities like to give these spiced shortcrust biscuit cookies along with their coffee. They are really tasty. By the end of our trip I had a good handful of them in my purse for “when I get hungry.”
The breakfast that we ordered was nothing like I’ve seen before in my life. I loved it so much!! I was very amused by the variety and arrangement. Plus I was stuffed afterwards (in a good way, not too heavy) and the food felt healthy.
On my dish was a boiled egg, sliced meats, different cheeses, yogurt, fruits, and some jam + spread. There was also a huge basket with a wide assortment of breads. Not sure how it’s possible for two people to eat that much bread, but I think we did some damage.
Germans really do like their meats, cheese, and breads (and potatoes… just not any here for breakfast)!
Finishing up our delightful breakfast, we began heading over toward the Berlin Wall. On the way, we walked through a cemetery. I always find some sort of fascination with the information on tombstones, such as the length of ones lifespan, how long since they’ve been diseased, who in the family died, and their tomb setup. What I find most terrifying though, is that my dad is usually older than a lot of the tombs that I find. He’s pushing almost 85 y.o.!
Leaving the cemetery, we ended up at some remains of the Berlin Wall. These were just segments, and we weren’t very impressed. Later we realized that the portion of the wall that we wanted to visit was actually East Side Gallery.
Regardless, we kept on wandering. On our walk, we found this beautiful church. I loved the lighting and super tall wooden structure. Really neat architecture.
Somewhere along the way, it began raining heavier and heavier. We searched for shelter at Jaa Aar Coffee, and enjoyed some coffee and tea while we mooched on their wifi.
Once the rain settled, we took the subway over to Curry & Chili. The most famous and affordable street food in Berlin is Currywurst. It’s basically a sausage cut up into pieces, drenched in ketchup and curry powder, typically served with some bread. It’s really a great snack for any time of the day. And dipping the bread into the sauce is the way to go!
After trying our first Currywurst, we were back on another train. Train rides are enjoyable because you get to really see more of the city above ground. That’s when you begin to realize that almost every accessible wall in Berlin is covered with graffiti.
Now off the beaten path, we made our way over to Spreepark, an old amusement park that has been since shut down in 2002. There used to be tours offered for the closed amusement park, but that ended in 2014. Now when you visit the erie park, you can only view it from outside the gates, which is a pity. It would have been nice to go inside, but at least we were able to see the ferris wheel. Spooky enough, the wheel was making rusty screeching sounds as the wind rotated it.
Slightly disappointed that we weren’t able to go inside the park to explore, we wandered back to a bus stop. Near the bus stop we found this school with a statue of a naked man holding some cloth. It was fun trying to guess exactly what the statue was trying to do. Why is he standing like that?
Towards the end of our day, we made it just in time to East Side Gallery’s Berlin Wall. This is the part of the wall that is a must see, with lots of murals on both sides of the wall following alongside the River Spree.
It’s beautiful to see all different artists from all parts of the world come together to paint these meaningful murals of our history’s past.
These are just a few of my favorites, but you get the jist of it. If you want to see more, you’ll have to go visit yourself!
We walked the entire span of this portion of the wall, which was almost a mile long. Eventually we made our way over to a McDonalds, used their bathrooms, and had a very interesting run in with a pigeon inside the fast food joint.
Next we caught the next bus and headed over to Hops & Barley Hausbrauerei, which was a popular brewery in Berlin. The beers we cheap and delicious, we had about 3 each!
For dinner we went to a meat market called Fleischerei Domke, and had their Gulasch and Schnitzel. Another favorite meal in Berlin! Especially for the price, maybe 6 euros max for each? That’s cheaper than any meal at McDonalds!
We were exhausted from our whole day of walking and sight seeing, so we ended up calling it a night. Most nights in Berlin, I spent watching the news about the ISIS attacks. It was an interesting time to watch the news in Europe.
Our last morning in Berlin was beautiful. For the first time during our trip, the sky was blue and the sun was shinning strong! I just had to snap a photo since all the other days were so much grayer.
We started the day off a bit later since we had to pack up our bags, check out of the hotel, and leave our belongings at the front desk. By the time we were done, it was almost noon, so we headed to Shiso Burger for some lunch.
We each got these carbonated fruity flavored sodas, each were delicious. Also we shared some homemade fries (they sucked) and two twisted potatoes (which also sucked). Both were served with mayo and ketchup.
This burger joint had a modern twist being that it was Asian fusion. I guess I expected more for the burger, it was just alright. I got the chili lemon burger, which consisted of angus beef (they were out of wagyu), cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickle, tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime-mayo, and chili sauce. My favorite unique ingredient in the burger was the cilantro, yum.
On our way out of Shiso Burger, we saw freshly painted graffiti that hadn’t been present previously when we walked by. It read “Vive Paris!”, which translates to Live Paris! It’s interesting to see how much the crisis in France has impacted the world.
Being the fatties that we are, we found ourself eating more Currywurst, not even past 15 minutes after we finished our lunch. What were we thinking, lol.
Realizing that we only had a few more hours left in Berlin before having to head over to our next flight that night, we quickly made our way over to Rosenthaler Platz. Our goal was to make it over to the Sky Tower, but we were distracted and instead found ourselves inside of two separate malls.
Hey, but eventually, we did sorta see the Sky Tower from afar. Of course, we didn’t go up.
I love the cross walk symbols, aren’t they so cute? At first I thought that I was the only one who thought they were fun, but then I found a shop that sold souvenirs of them. Darn I should have bought some.
Eventually we walked our way over a bridge and onto Museum Island. Yes, that’s what it’s called. It’s a strip of land with lots of museums.
Nearby we stumbled upon the Berlin Cathedral. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but it was one of those buildings that really stood out to you when walking by, and that’s hard to do since most of the buildings are beautiful!
Outside of the cathedral, we saw a man playing music with a traditional bagpipe. It was sort of sad because nearby a rock n’roll group set up and started blasting their music. The mix of both music was so contradictory, and eventually the traditional music was drowned out by the rock groups large amplifiers. So sad, the bagpipe guy stopped upset and packed up.
Passing by we saw these statues sitting on the wall. It’s funny because someone placed a thong in one of the female statue’s hand. Do you see it?
Transportation in Berlin was probably the most confusing out of all the cities that we visited, due to bad signage. I’m not quite sure if we had it figured out by the time we left, but we were happy to be moving on to the next destination.
Before departing for the airport, we grabbed one last meal in Berlin at Co Co Banh Mi Deli, which was right around the corner from our hotel. I got pho (which was surprisingly good!) and Erick got a banh mi sandwich.
Then we were off to Rome via Ryan Air. Btw, I absolutely hate Ryan Air. If given the chance, I would never ever fly them again. Just when I thought EasyJet was difficult, Ryan Air is the worst! Let me tell you why.
- You need to add bags before you check-in to your flight
- If you add bags after you’ve checked in, the price goes up, if you add bags at the airport, it’s even more expensive
- If you want to “un-check-in” to your flight, you need to pay a fee that isn’t worth it
- You must print out your ticket at home, printing at the airport would cost $15 per ticket
- Their mobile app sucks
- Like all European airlines, your American carry on luggage will probably not fit in the overhead compartment (which is why theres so much headache with paying extra to check-in bags)
It’s common to have baggage fee’s for these cheap European airlines, but Ryan Air really just makes everything a b*tch to do, and shoves fees up the butt. I don’t recommend them to anyone.
Ok, I’m done ranting about Ryan Air, lol. #hatethem
Overall, our trip in Berlin was pleasant. We had a lot of friends warn us to not stay there long and that it wasn’t worth the visit. Personally, I enjoyed my time in Berlin and don’t know what they are talking about! My only regret is that we didn’t get to experience a weekend in Berlin. I heard that Berlin has the wildest parties lasting not 24 hours, but 48 hours, lol!
If I could describe Berlin, I would say that it feels somewhat like New York, but cleaner and more eco-friendly. The buildings as a whole are very European looking. There were homeless people, unlike Amsterdam. Also we had a fair amount of run-ins with non-English speaking natives, so there can be a language barrier. Mostly everyone there drinks beer. Oh and all the taxis are BMWs or Mercedes dressed in a ugly nude beige color.
Alright, I’ve probably spent too many hours to write up this post. I’ll catch you guys again later in my next post on Rome. Hope you’ve enjoyed my photos.