Christmas markets, bratwurst sausages, German beer, incredible night life, awesome art scene, interesting culture and troubling history – these were the reasons we were drawn to the idea of visiting Berlin.
Ok, so I won’t lie. On the first day, it was so, incredibly M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E. It was wet, and I don’t mean a little, I mean it was pouring with rain. It was about 2 degrees, it was dark, it was grey and we were knackered from the journey… so it wasn’t the best first impression.
We left the house at 3am, wrapped up in a million layers in anticipation of the cold we were about to face, and headed to one of London’s worst airports (Stansted) by way of a long bus journey, because at that time of morning there were no trains. We both had busy weeks before we left and hubs once again made that fatal mistake of working like crazy in the lead up to going away so he was exhausted. Despite that somewhat rocky start to our long weekend in chilly Berlin, we still had an awesome time.
After getting our bearings, a bit of food and a hot coffee we set off in search of a nice pub or beer hall to spend the afternoon in because we were too tired to think of doing anything else and weren’t quite ready to face the grim outdoors. Alas, none of the good pubs were open because it was only mid-afternoon even though to us it felt like about 8pm. So, instead we decided to take ourselves off to the Dali museum! C fell asleep in the exhibition, which was mortifying! He was watching a video display and I was standing not too far from him when I heard his familiar snore. Some people had started to look around so I quickly woke him and suggested we moved on. Poor soul was really tired, but STILL!
I am once again, feeling very lucky to have had access to so much Dali since I’ve been over in this part of the world. The Dali gallery in Berlin houses one of the biggest Dali collections I’ve ever seen so for me, it was a splendid way to spend a wet afternoon.
After a few hours here, we headed off for our first taste of Glühwein (mulled wine). We were at our first of many stops at the Christmas markets. It was still freezing but not pouring anymore so we stood by a fire, hot drinks in hand and took in the Christmas atmosphere. We then spent the rest of the evening in a beer hall. It was nice to actually spend some time together after a crazy few weeks and catch up.
That was only the first of many Christmas markets that I dragged C along to. It was, after all, one of the main reasons we chose to go to Berlin at this time of the year and although a lot of the markets have the same stalls in them (yes, I wanted to buy EVERYTHING) and the same food and drinks on offer, I just loved soaking up that festive vibe. It made me so happy to be immersed in all things Christmas.
Christmas market touring was not the only thing we got up to while away though, and luckily for us the weather got better – not warmer, but less rain. We even got some snow, which we were hoping would be the case because it’s still a bit of a novelty (for me at least). Other highlights included a day of wandering around, sightseeing around the Brandenburg Gate area, the Reichstag and near the Holocaust memorial. We also took a big walk to the other side of town to check out the East Side Gallery – the largest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall covered in street art/graffiti all the way along. We visited the Jewish Museum, which was MASSIVE but really interesting. We took the obligatory photos around Checkpoint Charlie and read a lot about the Berlin Wall.
It’s funny – I felt this way when I was travelling around Serbia and Croatia as well, but it’s a bit mind blowing to realise that these things (like the Berlin Wall/Cold War, and the wars in the former Yugoslavia) all happened in our lifetime. Being Australian and somewhat remote from where all of these thing took place and also being relatively young in the sense that I can’t remember this stuff being on the news, I have always kinda thought about all of it being a really long time ago and part of a very distant and faded past that was well and truly before my own. It’s quite confronting when you realise that this stuff happened not so long ago, and people nearby you probably lived through it, still bearing the scars and the horrible pain. Some might think this is naïve of me, but there is a certain amount of mental and emotional distance you can have from something when you are also very physically distant from it as you’re growing up.
Naturally all of this sightseeing and shopping and history made us quite hungry and thirsty (not to mention cold) so we also took the opportunity to sample some of Berlin’s finest cafes, bars and restaurants. We devoured many sausages, types of sauerkraut, Christmas treats, and of course the German beer and Glühwein. On recommendation we went to a bar called Distille, where we ended up having a pretty big night and on the same recommendation we also inhaled some disgustingly good food from Curry 36 on our way home.
By the time we’d had a few big sleeps and had started to relax and get into the swing of travelling again sadly it was time to leave. I could definitely have spent more time in Berlin checking out more of the galleries, the food and the nightlife! Next time!