I also kept two foursquare lists of
places I wanted to visit and places I wanted to check out for
food and drinks: feel free to use these, I will not delete them!
Would you rather have all of these places in a Google Map? Can do!
Day 1, Den Haag-Berlin
Due to various train-related troubles, I had to take an earlier train out of The Hague to get to Berlin. Not a big deal, because I was prepared.
From The Hague straight onto Deventer, where I would catch a train to Bad Bentheim, Germany.
At Bad Bentheim, I took my seat and from there on it was smooth sailing (training?) towards Berlin!
When I arrived in Berlin, I bought a one-week public transport ticket that would get me to all the Berlin zones (A,B and C).
Just one stop with the S-Bahn to Friedrichtstrasse Station and from there a really quick walk to my
Airbnb apartment at the
Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse. The apartment was in a great old building, formerly part of the imperial palaces, or housing for the lower aristocracy.
My apartment was not quite ready, so I put my suitcase away and I went for a stroll. As I was right across from the Strandbar Mitte, a beer was called for!
As I was walking around the neighborhood north of my apartment (all part of Berlin Mitte), I came upon the former
Tacheles Kunsthaus. Now completely derelict and abandoned, for decades it was a freehold for artists and activists.
That evening, I walked over to one of the restaurants on my list, Tin Tan on the Chausseestraße.
Day 2, A Bit of History
Woke up early the next morning, ready to explore the city. I took two trams out to Bernauer Strasse to visit the
Berlin Wall Memorial. When I visited
Berlin in 2013, not everything had been finished, but now there is an amazing modern bit of archeology to explore.
With an easy log in to my
Call-a-Bike account, I grabbed a bike and I cycled down towards the Hackescher Markt. From there I looked for a coffee bar that my friend Dennis had recommend, The Barn. Great coffee and with a spot in the sun, a great way to take a moment and enjoy the fact I would be in Berlin for the rest of the week!
Down the Grosse Hamburger Strasse, I could not ignore the gold-colored
Stolpersteine (stumbling stones), reminding us of the people who were taken from their homes and houses to be destroyed during the Nazi regime.
For lunch, I had my meet-up with my friend
Fem. She currently lives in Hamburg, but as she told me she would be in Berlin, my earlier plans this year of visiting Berlin in June were changed so that we had a chance to get together when she would be visiting Berlin as well. Previously I had waxed endlessly about the wonderful and amazing
Tadshikische Teestube, and she wanted to have lunch there - such a hardship! It was very good catching up with Fem, we sat down for lunch (blinis! and tea!) and I don’t think we stopped talking until she had to leave for another appointment again.
After we said our goodbyes – she had to catch the s-bahn from Friedrichstrasse Station – I went across the square for another era in Berlin/German history: East Berlin, at the
Tränenpalast: the Palace of Tears.
Getting into East Berlin was difficult, getting out took serious guts and some luck.
Troubling stories and unimaginable ingenuity!
After a quick coffee break, a short stop at my apartment, I walked over to Museum Insel to dive into the hordes of tourists. On my previous trip, I had visited the main museums so I stayed away from those, but I could not help trying to catch the grandeur that is the Berliner Dom.
Behind the Dom, on the other side of the river Spree is a statue group of four young people. In 2013, in the pouring rain on my way to the Teestube I had shot some photos, but this time I took my time, because they are very enchanting!
And even though lunch had been wonderful, my list of places to eat was too tempting not to hop on tram 1 to go in search of a báhn mi place: Cô Cô.
Day 3, Rain?
Rain? Yes, it was pouring rain and the sky was grey. Not exactly the weather I was hoping for, but as I did not have any plans, I set out. After I had a coffee.
I guess the horror of a bombed-out building is even more striking when the grey skies make the world a bit sad. The Gedächtnis Kirche was striking and it felt very alone.
To get from one side of Berlin to the other (in the hopes the weather would improve), I decided to pay a visit to a small but magical u-bahn station:
When I got outside, the rain was gone and a bit of sunshine was lightening up the skies. When I looked across the road, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Dutch poem painted on the side of an office building.
I was not very awake, was I!? This office building is the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, Germany! And as it was my country’s official King’s Day, the flag with orange pennant was waving outside.
The museum had an impressive exhibition on the impact of the
end and liberation of 12 countries after the Second World War.
I had been in touch with Fem again to see if we could meet up again today, and after a quick bike to an s-bahn station, we met up at a bar to have a beer!
And as beer alone will not feed us, more tea and scones were called for. A different Teesalon this time, just as wonderful as the Teestube, but very unique and worthwhile on its own as well. I was able to keep from buying the wonderful teapots and tea services I saw around me, but I could not walk away without some wonderful black tea from Rwanda!
With the promise of a visit some time this year in Hamburg, I said goodbye to Fem and I headed back to my apartment. Hopefully tomorrow there will be less/no rain?
Day 4, More Rain …
Unfortunately, the weather did not improve.
But I had plans!
Whereas yesterday’s museum was about German history, today I wanted to visit a museum about Berlin history: the
Märkisches Museum. I was ready when it opened (in fact, I think I was the first one in!), and as I wandered around all the artefacts and stories were interesting to read, but it did not resonate with me.
One current exhibit did however. Boy, did it ever!
Bühne West-Berlin: the photographs of Harry Croner.
This man has taken so many photos, of everyone one who visited post-war West-Berlin. He also shot many photos of Berlin right after the end of the war. It was very impressive and some of the photos were very haunting!
After my visit, I needed some time to myself, so I sat myself down at Companion Coffee (another one recommended to me by Dennis!) and I read. Meanwhile, outside the rain was not stopping!
To get away from the rain, I rode in a bus from one side of town to another. Around the Kurfürstenstrasse, I took another u-bahn to see if – while hiding from the rain – I could find another tea salon that I had found on a blog.
Bingo, another hit!
You better believe it, Nepal Shangrila, SFTGFOP1: a bit awkward drinking this tea, knowing it will be some time before export can start up again after the devasting earthquake earlier that week. The tea did keep and warm, and lo’ and behold, the weather improved! Barely enough to end my day outside with a beer.
Followed by some real dinner and more beer …
Day 5, Botanical Gardens
The sun was out and I was ready. Taking the u-bahn and after a short walk, I was at the Botanical Gardens of Berlin’s Freie Universität in Berlin-Dahlem: by recommendation of a dear colleague at work. As I mentioned in my
post yesterday, these botanical gardens are worth every visit! Such luxury in plant variety and such wonderfully spaced gardens, my photographically inspired hart started beating!
As the weather remained wonderful, for lunch I wanted to visit something archetypically German (or actually, more Bavarian?): a beergarten!
Potato salad, a sausage and beer: a match made in heaven! After lunch, I took tram 10 all the way along across to the Frankfurter Tor.
And from there, it is an easy bike ride along the Warschauer Strasse towards the Oberdam Brücke and the East Side Gallery: time to see some very iconic images!
Another quick trip with the u-bahn to have some coffee on a terrace right beside the Landwehrkanal.
No fancy dinner tonight, just some fresh breadrolls with schinken and early to bed!
Day 6, Memories
Early to rise, logged into call-a-bike and off I went to see one of the impressive memorials to fallen Soviet soldiers.
In light of all the activity in certain parts of the world in this month, the memorial has even more historical significance.
And because I did not want to see only these liberators, I went out in search for the Resistance!
Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, I read and looked at a large group of Germans who tried their best to the stop the horrors of Nazi Germany. The best known are of course the
siblings Scholl and
Claus von Stauffenberg, but I had never heard of the hundreds of others – of all walks of life! – who also gave their lives in an effort to keep humanity alive!
A short break later at Gropius restaurant, I felt that I had seen enough. And with a large detour, I ended up in the Prenzlauer Berg area for lunch.
As the weather was fluctuating between rain and sun, my après lunch was taken outside, while hiding from that same rain!
Back at my apartment, I uploaded the photos I had taken so far (not too many) and while I was checking my twitter feed, my laptop died.
Really, it died.
It showed me the dreaded Mac Grey Screen of Death!
After various google searches and failed attempts at resuscitating the machine, I decided that for my last night in Berlin, I wanted to check off another of the places I had collected to check out for dinner: American BBQ, or in this case, a proper pulled-pork sandwich would help my ailing computer-less soul!
Day 7, Berlin-Den Haag
After checkout (most awesome, I could leave my suitcase until I was ready to depart for the Hauptbahnhof!), I decided a quick trip around some of the places I had seen, but not visited was in order.
The monstrosity that will be the new Stadsschloss, right across from our old friends Marx and Engels.
The leftovers after a wild night celebrating
Some tea, which made me reconsider visiting the Ampelmann store, where I just had to buy this identical mug!
And on the other side of Friedrichstrasse Station, a reminder that some escaped, while others were on their way to certain death.
I came to the conclusion that during this week in Berlin, I had seen all I wanted to see, and I was ready for my own house, where new adventures would await me in the following week!
The journey back was relaxing. I shared the cabin with one other person, a German lady who had spent a quick weekend in Berlin with her daughter. It was great talking to her and we shared our ideas on the current state of Europe!
And of course, how can you beat travelling by train when they have fresh beer on tap?
Unfortunately, Dutch trains don’t have this feature, so after a quick stop at Amersfoort station where I ran into the AH-to-Go, I sat down for the last 70 minutes of travel to this handsome dinner …
The next day, via a G+ post, Google let me know they had also created a photolog of my week in Berlin, I will let you decide how accurate it is!
Berlin, you were once again magical and illustrious, and I will visit you again!