Early Friday morning I awoke in the small but cozy space of our overnight train compartment, listening to the rhythmic movement of the train and the wind coming through the slightly open window. We had boarded the train in Malmö late Thursday afternoon, and it would take us straight to Berlin.
When we arrived at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, which was already swarming with backpackers and residents in the early morning, we went straight to our hotel located near Tiergarten. Seated on the balcony in that perfect kind of fresh morning air, we treated ourselves to the hotel breakfast buffet. Grapefruit infused water, freshly baked grain bread, individual fruit bowls – yes please!
To start off our sightseeing for the day we took the U-bahn to Potsdamer Platz and wandered up toward Pariser Platz. Even though I’ve visited Berlin before I was still inclined to walk through the symbolic Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, getting lost among the continuous rows of stately grey blocks.
Continuing on we reached Pariser Platz, where we took a break to refuel with caffeine. For memories’ sake we picked the cute café by Hotel Adlon, with the grand Brandenburger Tor located just opposite the square. Adorable mini cakes and coconut milk iced lattes had me sold; its location being perfect for people watching was simply a nice addition.
Learning from a past unsuccessful attempt, I had ensured that we had a confirmed reservation to enter the dome and roof terrace of the Reichstag Building. The dome is entirely made of glass, which looks magnificent with the rays of sun shining though. There is a guided audio tour that takes you through all of the sights you can view as you walk up the spiraling walkway.
In the evening we made our way to Rehberge for an outdoor cinema screening of Demolition. I absolutely love outdoor cinemas in the summer! The place had enough white benches to compete with any large cinema (and a small kiosk that provided everything from popcorn to wine), which made it an all time winner.
The day started off with a breakfast at the bakery around the corner from our hotel. We had a prime viewing spot of the bakers prepping the daily bread, and delicious yoghurt + granola, scrambled eggs and cheese selections at that.
The main activity of the day was a Fat Tire Bike Tour of the city, focusing on Berlin during the Cold War. It was a full day thing, but well worth it! It let us explore large parts of the city seated comfortably on our bikes rather than exhausting our feet; the guide was great and the pace very leisurely.
The tour included must see spots like Karl-Marx-Allee, the East Side Gallery, Treptow Soviet Memorial, and parts of Kreuzberg, where we also stopped for lunch. We rolled past Museum Island back to our origin at Alexanderplatz in the late afternoon. The tour gets extra points for giving all the bikes cute individual names; my partner for the day was ‘Scarecrow’.
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping. We made a quick visit to Humana Second Hand, drooled over 3,000m2 of stationary heaven at Modulor, checked out the international gourmet food section at KaDeVe, and stopped by Bikini Berlin’s fascinating casual area with its floor-to-ceiling window display of monkeys at the adjoining Berlin Zoological Garden.
A trip to Berlin is in my opinion not complete without a visit to a beer garden, so we ticked this off the list by having dinner (and a beer, of course) at Tiergarten’s Biergärten. The atmosphere there was great. It was one of those perfectly pink summer evenings, with people everywhere enjoying their Saturday evening out.
Sunday morning began with a run down Karl-Marx-Allee toward Siegessäule, also known as the Berlin Victory Column. The golden monument is situated at the large intersection Großer Stern, and it is considered one of the major tourist attractions of the capital.
We rewarded ourselves with a killer brunch at Distrikt Coffee. Although the competition was high, this was my favorite coffee spots that we visited over the weekend. The interior is gorgeously industrial with wooden tables and black steel details. Everything that we tried on the menu was delicious, and the pancakes (my pick) were outstanding.
Afterwards we made our way to two nearby flea markets. The first one was Flohmarkt Arkonaplatz, which was cluttered with second hand merchandise – mostly clothes, books and silverware. The second one, which I could have spent hours exploring, was Flohmarkt im Mauerpark. This extensive market offered the traditional second hand goods, but also handmade crafts such as jewelry, clothes, tote bags and t-shirts. There were also a few food stalls selling fresh watermelon and other treats!
The theme of the day was without a doubt food. In the afternoon we took a break at a retro waffle café called Kauf Dich Glücklich, where we enjoyed delicious waffles served with every combination of ice cream flavors, fruits and sweet sauces. The café is located in a charming area called Prenzlauer Berg, with an inviting array of restaurants and cafés lining the streets. The district was not affected by bombings during the world wars, and much of the beautiful architecture therefore still stands.
Originally we had planned to make our way toward Kreuzberg later that day, primarily to seek out a few graffiti paintings and make a visit to the recommended Badeschiff. Unfortunately we were caught in pouring rain and decided against it.
Each visit I’ve made to Berlin has been unique in its own way, and every time I find new areas, cafés and historical aspects to explore. This makes it exciting to return again, knowing there are still things left to explore!