Beaches and Beer Part 2: Berlin
Part two of our trip was a stop in beautiful Berlin. My friends had really hyped Barcelona and it was definitely so fun, but I just totally vibed with Berlin. The crisp air, the sense of history, and the low-key atmosphere of the city were right up my alley. Barcelona was exciting, but Berlin was truly relaxing. My favorite moment was simply walking around and experiencing the city with good people and warm coffee. Sometimes that’s all you really need…
Where we stayed: We skipped the AirBnb this time and stayed at the Grand Hostel in Kreuzberg, which we had a good experience with. Clean rooms, cheap drinks, close to several good restaurants, and a minute’s walk away from the Möckernbrücke U-Bahn station, which came in handy. We also rented bikes for around 10 euro through the hostel and met some fun people to go out with, so it was a great home base throughout our trip.
The Kreuzberg neighborhood was recommended to me by my friend, Anna, who lives in Berlin and was really lovely. You do have to take the U-Bahn to all the big tourist sites, but it was worth it for the quiet room and relaxed vibe of the area. I bet an AirBnb around there would be gorgeous.
What we did: We did less specific sightseeing in Berlin and a lot more walking around and taking it all in, which was lovely. We had beautiful weather for strolling along Alexanderplatz, Museum Island, and the Brandenburg Gate.
On day 2, we rented bikes from our hostel and made our way to Tempelhofer Feld, an abandon airport that has been converted into a park. It was honestly the coolest thing. The entire structure is still standing and we biked along the runways and discovered small planes tucked away in the brush. We grabbed a soda at one of the little stands with my lovely friend, Anna, and spent the afternoon catching up and enjoying the beautiful weather.
On our last day, we did a walking tour of the city, which I highly recommend. I know some of Berlin’s history from my contemporary history class back in the day, but it was so interesting to hear about it all while really being there. Our tour guide was knowledgable and warm and it was nice to see all the major spots in one afternoon: The Brandenburg Gate, The Berlin Wall, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and The East Side Gallery. I definitely have a new appreciation for Germany’s fraught history and have been cueing up the Cold War documentaries on Netflix ever since.
What We Ate: While we were in Barcelona, we kept joking that we were on a “foodie holiday” because we always managed to find some really great grub. Berlin was no different. Our first night we stumbled upon Blue Nile, an Ethiopian place right near our hostel, which was super delicious. We gorged on an enormous platter of meats and veggies while sipping on passion fruit Dju Dju beer (which I seriously want to find again, it was so good).
Other dinner highlights were Burgermeister, where we had seriously epic burgers and fries (pictured below) after a day of bike riding. We also tried the local fare of currywurst, which is bratwurst made with curry spices and smothered in curry ketchup – sounds weird but is actually delish. But the real MVP were Berlin’s kabobs, which were all incredible no matter where you went, especially after a night out… We tried to hit up Mustafas because we kept hearing it was the best spot around only to run out of time since the wait was an hour and we had to catch our flight home. So if you go sometime, let me know if it’s really worth the wait! I was so bummed!
Where We Drank: Similar to Barcelona we stuck with pre-drinks at the hostel since beer was cheap and the people were fun so we didn’t do much bar hopping. Our first night, though, we did head out to Mein Haus am See, a 24-hour bar over by Rosenthaler Platz, for a couple of pints and some atmosphere; I loved the weird art on the walls and the ultra-hip bartender. It was definitely more chill than the clubs, if you’re looking for something a little more laid back.
The highlight for me, though, was discovering a fabulous riverside bar with deck chairs and cold beer. We spent a few hours sunbathing and watching the boats cruise by – it was some serious vacation vibes. Couldn’t have asked for better weather or company.
In terms of clubs, we hit up Tresor, a big popular club, and Golden Gate, a gritty spot underneath a train stop. Both played similar trance-electronic music and involved a lot of people standing around smoking cigarettes on the dance floor – I was clearly not cool enough to be in either of these places. We didn’t have any trouble getting in, but if you’re worried, get your best grunge look on, don’t say much and try to speak German to the bouncers. The whole thing wasn’t really my scene, but it was certainly an experience.
Berlin is definitely a spot I want to go back to. I was blown away by the history, the art, the people, and the laid back feel of the whole place. Nothing better than crisp, sunny weather, great beer, and wonderful friends, right? Barcelona was good fun, but Berlin takes the cake for me this trip. Till next time!