Berlin - An Open City
Even though there are so many wonderful cities in Europe, we always find ourselves back in Berlin. There is something about this city that feels like home and adventure all at the same time. It’s got an odd mixture of being very down to earth and “small city”-like, but also full of hidden secrets and treasures.
We have noticed that we love cities with a slightly dark underbelly. Not the pristine and perfect architecture, with clean streets and organised lives. Those cities, although lovely, seem to be confined to rules and regulations, whereas there are other cities that breathe a sense of freedom. This is Berlin. Creativity and innovation are welcome here. As is crazy and funny graffiti, or political rebellion and and activism.
If you want an easy access to all this, book one of the many Fat Tire Bike tours around the city. We’ve done two now and loved them. For my birthday we gathered all our lovely friends and had a personalised tour, definitely worth doing! It is an easy city to get round on a bike, perfectly flat for that, and there is always the convenient U-Bahn as well. If you rent a flat here, we recommend that you get a bike too.
What makes Berlin…well Berlin, is a sense of a free and unbound energy. Cafés, bars, restaurants and art installations seem to pop up in the most random locations – here space itself is part of the experience. It is not just a “commercial property space” but it is what makes the coffee taste so good, the beer flow so nicely and the conversations so intriguing. Berliners love design, and you sense that everywhere. It is inevitable that this love and sense of freedom also translate to the people who visit the city, we feel more alive there.
Our Berlin Top 5:
1. Best coffee shops – Chapter One – this one was round the corner from where we lived, on Mittenwalder Str. 30, and was one of our favourite discoveries. Amazing coffee and delicious sandwiches and pastries. Berlin is full of these lovely places with people sitting both inside and outside enjoying a coffee in the sunshine.
2. Museums – this is a city that is infused with history. It is everywhere and you can sense it’s breath through all the streets. The wonderful thing about Berlin is that history is somehow alive here, it isn’t all that distant, but neither does it hold the city back from developing into its unique self. These are some of the museums to visit: Jewish Museum, Stasi Museum, Story of Berlin, Topography of Terror
Installation at The Jewish Museum
3. Just bike around and visit the parks, dodgy and beautiful all at the same time! Tempelhof is a wonderful place for a picnic or a bike ride. This is the location of the Berlin Airlift – the only place where the Allied Forces could deliver food and coal to the people in Western Berlin, which was closed off by the Soviet Berlin Blockade and near starvation.
4. Food – Curry Wurst is not the only food available to the tourist, this city is brimming with amazing and affordable restaurants. More about this in a separate post, but just heads up, Maroush on Adalbertstraße 93 makes AMAZING Lebanese platters, yum! Oh, and my favourite (because I am Russian after all), is the Gorki Park Cafe on Weinbergsweg 25, they even have vegan versions of Russian specialities. But if you’re a carnivore, you MUST try the Pelmeni with some vodka.
5. Of course, the nightlife, or…daylife? Yes, this is a city that doesn’t sleep, how do they do it? Visit Berlin around May 1st Party/Riots and you won’t need to go to bed for days. The streets are alive with the sound of house music and the clinking of beer bottles. For best places to go, check Resident Advisor. But we’ll give you a tip, go out in the day so you can get to bed at a reasonable time (if that’s your thing of course!).