Sunday, 30 December 2018

Berlin Travel Guide


If you follow me on social media, you'd be hard pushed to have missed the fact that we recently went to Berlin. I mean, it is pretty much all I have been speaking about for the past week - but for good reason! Our trip to the German capital was probably one of my favourite parts of 2018 and I would encourage anyone I meet to consider taking a trip there too - especially if you can make it around Christmastime. It was fun, festive, and filled with food. What more can you ask for?

What to see
There is so much to do and see in Berlin that it can be a little overwhelming. Despite the fact that we were there for four days, we only covered a small percentage of the attractions that Berlin had to offer.

Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is a famous landmark and a very popular tourist attraction. All of the times that we passed by this place, it was filled with people taking pictures (hell, we even saw some cute pooches posing for a snap). But you can't do Berlin without checking this place out - if only for a pic for the gram.




Reichtag Building
The Reichtag Building is Germany's government building and it is basically a huge, glass dome that has a winding slope throughout the inside that brings you up to the top. You have to register and show your ID to book a slot to visit this attraction and then go through security before entering but it is definitely worth the hassle. It is completely free and you are also given a headset to hear the audio guide as you move around the building. Also the view over the city is beautiful once you get to the top. 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
My great-grandmother was a Polish Jew and most of her family were killed by the Nazis so I felt obliged to pay my respects. The feeling of uneasiness as I walked through the memorial was almost tangible. But paying this memorial a visit is important. The Holocaust is part of German history and it is important that it is isn't forgotten - that the consequences of racism aren't forgotten.

Berlin Wall
We came across the Berlin wall kinda by accident. We went for an evening walk around our hotel and saw part of a wall with some words and pictures scrawled across it behind a mesh fence so I asked a passing couple and they told us that it was, in fact, part of the Berlin wall! They also told us that the main touristy parts of the wall were two trains away on the other side of the city so we made do with the wall we had. But, if you are invested in seeing all of the wall, then they have a few different parts in different locations across the city so make sure you do your research (or just accost an unsuspecting German couple).

Museum Island
Museum Island isn't situated far from the Brandenburg Gate and Reichtag Building and is deffo worth a visit. There are about 4 different museums (including one about the history of Islam which looked interesting) and the Berlin Dom (cathedral) is located right beside it too. I think it was 18 euros per person to access all the museums. We didn't pay it because we just didn't have enough time but, if you have a whole day, then this could be a good (warm, indoors) option.





Mall Of Berlin
Although we didn't have time for the museums, we did have time for this mega mall. It had all your usual faves but also loads of German brands too. And some awesome designer shops that I looked around like I could afford anything more than a pair of socks. They had a Lindt pop-up shop when we were there and Isaac bought me chocolate covered macadamia nuts so I have very fond memories of this place. And those chocco nuts. 

Where to eat
One of my favourite things about visiting new places is trying the local food - and Berlin didn't disappoint! By the end of the trip, my jeans were definitely feeling a bit tighter after all of that German food. Not that I am complaining!

After doing a little insta-research, I came across this donut company that have a few different locations across Berlin (we went to their little shop on Potsdamer Platz which was 5 minutes from our hotel) and instantly fell in love. All of their donuts are vegan and cost around 2-3 euros each. They have so many different flavours but I opted for the hibiscus one almost solely because it looked like a cartoon donut straight out of The Simpsons. And it was lush. And huge. I could have easily eaten about 5 of them.

This place was recommended to us by the hotel staff as a traditional German restaurant and I am glad that we visited it. Nestled down a back street with a black curtain covering the entrance, this restaurant has the feel of a traditional tavern or pub. They serve beer and non-alcoholic cask brews too and a small menu of traditional grub. I opted for the meatballs with bread and pickled gherkins whilst Isaac went for the pork schnitzel with potatoes. Both came with sauerkraut and mustard and were quite the experience. Isaac, a meat lover, wolfed his down and then came for mine. But, if like me, you aren't much of a meat lover, this may not be the place for a repeat visit besides for a large stein of beer and somewhere to practice your German on willing subjects.




Street food
Most of what we ate in Berlin was bought at the various Christmas markets or in little takeaways. Donner kebabs are big in Germany so we had to give those a go too. We ate everything from currywurst to pretzels as big as our heads. If you are travelling outside of the Christmas period, you may not find as many markets or street food venders as around Christmas time but I am sure there will always be a man at a stall trying to sell you sausages somewhere in Berlin so try to give those a go (I recommend the Krakauer).

McDonald's
Ok, this is a bit of a niche one but the McDonald's in Berlin are pretty fancy. They even have a McCafe section where they have things like caramel lattes and cream cakes - and their own line of pretty cute mugs and Maccys merch. We went to McDonald's a few times on our trip mostly for drinks (because we didn't want to pay 5 euros for a cup of tea at the market) and we were pretty impressed by the German Maccys experience. Guys, they even had Earl Grey tea! Their food menu was quite similar to the British menu apart from a few small differences like breaded shrimp, chicken wings, and a Pizza Big Mac which looked as good as it sounds. 

Getting around
Berlin is quite a vast city and, in order to see everything, you will probably need to use public transport at some stage. We invested in a two day 'hop on, hop off' city tour bus for a painful 26 euros each (or 22 euros each for one day) but it was kinda worth it as it takes you to all of the main hotspots across the whole city and stop at each stop every 15 minutes. Otherwise, you can try to navigate the routes yourself via public transport. You can get a day travel pass that can be used across all modes of transport (buses, trains, underground, overground) for 7 euros per person. The only trouble we had with this is that the buses can get pretty full so be prepared to stand/fight with strangers.

The language
My German is pretty serviceable whilst Isaac doesn't speak one word but we mostly didn't need anything other than English at all (although I pushed myself to speak German as much as possible). The only times that Isaac would have used German was when we arrived at Berlin airport and Isaac used the baby changing bathroom instead of the men's and got a mouthful from the cleaner and couldn't even defend himself as he didn't know what she was saying. I stood nearby giggling as I understood every word. Other than that, English and knowing how to ask if a person knows English (Sprechen Sie Englisch?) is all you really need. 

Have you ever visited Berlin?


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3 comments

  1. Lovely photos. Berlin is absolutely gorgeous. Happy holidays to you and your beautiful family!

    Marie
    The Flower Duet

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  2. Berlin is such a wonderful city! I agree with you on the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the feeling you get there is so rightfully sombre and sobering.

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  3. I am so excited to go to Berlin next weekend. I've already booked the Reichstag Dome.

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