Berlin is one of those places I just keep finding myself. I seem to go every couple of years to see friends, stay in their homes and see the parts of the city they most want to share with me. And while that’s one of my favourite ways to travel, there is something exciting about exploring a new place without a guide. So, on my fourth (or maybe it was my fifth? I’ve lost count!) trip to Berlin and Jeff’s first visit we booked ourself into a hotel and set our intention to explore.
Here’s day one…
If there’s one thing you should probably know about me and travel, it’s that I love an itinerary! I’m the kind of person who goes a bit spreadsheet mad, making sure there’s enough time to do everything I want to do, allowing time for photos, coffee breaks, travel between locations, all of it. So far it’s not done me wrong, and this trip was a bit like that – though I was sure to leave time for lazy mornings in bed!
Our first day saw us on an early morning flight out of London, touching down in Berlin around 9am local time. After getting through immigration and collecting our bags we were off to the train into the city. First stop: our hotel to drop off our bags and let me fix my makeup. Next up: exploring!
We headed over to Museum Island where we went to the Neues Museum, which is a gorgeous building (just look at the stair case! and the tiling!) filed with archaeological finds. We wandered through for a few hours before it was time to head back to the hotel and check in before heading to Kreuzberg for dinner.
We were staying near Alexanderplatz, at the border of Prenzlauer Berg, and decided to walk the hour to Markthalle Neun; the sun was shining, the weather was good and after so many hours travelling we thought some fresh air would do us good! Lucky for me (and unlucky for Jeff, who was hungry and prepared to march straight to the market) the lighting was perfect for photography, and I couldn’t help myself from stopping frequently along the way to capture photos of the architecture and buildings with the light shining in that gorgeous way.
Eventually we made it to the street food market, which runs weekly on Thursdays, and explored what was available. In one word: everything! We settled on Berlin Beef Balls (not just classic Berlin meat balls, but ones with a twist – including Bangkok and Bolognese!), a fish roll from Glut & Späne (it was so good! And the others looked amazing, too.) and an ice cream that was designed to look like spaghetti (it went through a spiralizer!) with red sauce (heaps of strawberry topping) by Rosa Canina. The market was totally packed, and after trying the food I’m not surprised why. This is exactly the type of place I’d head to in London post-work with friends for dinner.
After dinner it was time for drinks. We headed across the road to Vögelchen, where I enjoyed a refreshing citrusy cocktail and Jeff had a beer. The bar staff were really friendly and kind, and the place is decked out in Instagrammable decor. (Though we sat at the tables outside to make the most of the weather!) On the way to the loo I got a bit lost, and found a hidden room with a single chair, lamp and typewriter on a desk. I didn’t get a chance to try it, but I wonder if the ribbon on the typewriter was any good; I’d have loved to type out a friendly message for the next person who happened upon it!
Before heading home there was one more bar we wanted to check out: the mysterious Schwarze Traube, which just so happens to be a two minute walk around the corner from Vögelchen. When we arrived I wasn’t sure if they’d actually shut early for the night because the door was locked. But then I noticed a sign that said ‘smile & knock’, so we did. A few minutes later the bartender sauntered over, unlocked the door, and welcomed us in before a server showed us to a table at the back. She explained that, in fact, there is no menu here; what she’d do is chat to us for a few minutes to get to know our personalities and drink preferences, before going away and having something made bespoke for us. I’m sad to say I can’t remember what she made for me, but I do remember it was delicious and I was impressed with her work.
By now we were getting pretty tired, so we decided to head back to our hotel… but not before I captured one last snap of the day!