At the beginning of April I said that it looked like it was going to be the fastest month so far this year, and I was not wrong! How on Earth is it May already?! I suppose all the busyness at work has not helped! Last week I ended up doing overtime because it was the only way to get a job finished that had been re-planned to me because my colleague had too much to do, and tomorrow is my first time to go into the office this month (I now have to go twice a month), which means I’ll be out of the house from 6:30 a.m. until just after 8 p.m. Since I am only actually in the office for 6 hours on those days, in those weeks I have to make up the remaining 2 hours on other days. In other words, every two weeks I work an extra half an hour on four days of the week… and that’s before any additional overtime that crops up just because nobody can ever predict when things will get busy. So, that’s one reason my blogging has been rather sporadic lately. Others included going away for Easter, another friend coming to stay for a weekend, and cross stitching lots of cards. But anyway, it’s time to link up with Kristen and Gretch again, so let me tell you about April’s doings…
Reading. I started the month reading a lot and then didn’t finish a single book in the final week and a bit of April! I had read a total of ten books by the 20th of the month though (but still haven’t finished the one I started after that). I will tell you about them soon, so I won’t list them all here. My favourite was a German crime thriller called Märchenwald.
Watching. I bought season 1 of The League of Gentlemen on DVD so Jan and I have been watching that. It doesn’t take up much brain power so I can stitch while I watch. Ah, the video cassettes and landlines. So 90s!
Eating. I had big plans to up my veg intake in April, but then I went to Berlin for Easter and ate all the bad (but tasty!) foods – and yes I’m aware I haven’t written about that yet. Then towards the end of the month Jan was out nearly every evening for choir stuff, so I consumed a lot of toast. May will be better (I hope)!
Visiting. My friend K in Berlin. Also…
Travelling. To Berlin to see K 😉 And to Chur at the beginning of April where Jan had a choir performance (which I didn’t see because I had already watched it in Basel – it was the concert I was at in March, but the people he was staying with invited me to come down for a night).
Hosting. A friend from Karlsruhe who we had invited to come down and see an art exhibition as his birthday present from us.
Looking at. Art in said exhibition. Specifically, it was an exhibition of works by Monet.
Going to. Bern and Fribourg with the aforementioned friend on the same weekend that we looked at the art.
Seeing/hearing. Jan performing with another choir last weekend. Also some choirs/a capella groups in Fribourg. See my April photo an hour post.
Cross stitching. Lots of cards for charity. I promise to explain more sooooon (hopefully I will be better at blogging this month…).
Growing. (Well, hopefully). Lavender, Forget-Me-Nots and some herbs. I could have said planting, but Jan did the actual planting. I just give them water and beg them to grow.
Buying. Uh, what haven’t I been buying more like! Books, craft stuff, an awesome hat in Berlin (technically Jan bought it for me, but with his German card and the only money going into that account right now is from me… so in a round about way I bought it for myself. Weird!). I also ordered a dress but it hasn’t arrived yet.
Planning. Our summer holiday! We are definitely going to be in Britain and we even know where the first stop will be. Holidays from work are approved so the next step is to book a flight…
Okay, I think that’s all. What have you been doing recently?
After leaving a comment on a similar post at On The Luce, I was asked to take part in the Booked.net – Top Destinations to Go There promotion. The idea is to write a post about my top 5 destinations that I would return to, complete with pictures and then nominate five bloggers to do the same. Once 100 entries have been written, all the posts will be entered in a competition to win an iPhone 6.
I have a huge list of places I want to visit, and it’s growing all the time! But who doesn’t dream of going back to a place they’ve been before? Whether it’s an old, familiar place that you visit often and where returning is almost like coming home, or somewhere you’ve only been to once but that left such an impression that you long to return and do more exploring? Here are my top 5, not really in chronological order because that would be too difficult!
As a child, I used to go to Edinburgh specifically to visit the zoo (Newcastle doesn’t have one). As an adult, I’ve been three times, and still there is more to explore. I haven’t even climbed Arthur’s Seat yet! The beautiful architecture, the pubs, the friendliness of Scots, its proximity to the sea (which I miss so much in landlocked Karlsruhe!) all combine to make Edinburgh one of my favourite places on Earth! And the castle is pretty impressive too 😉
It’s probably cheating to choose an entire country rather than a city, but Austria is only a small country after all 😉 I lived in Vorarlberg for almost a year, so obviously that area has a special place in my heart, but I will always get excited about a trip to Austria, no matter what the specific destination. Innsbruck is gorgeous, Vienna has so much to offer and I adore Salzburg with its narrow, winding streets and views of mountains!
I went to Stockholm in the summer of 2012 and instantly fell in love with the place! Despite having a population of 905,184, it felt so open and spacious… probably because of all the water. Admittedly some areas were crowded, but finding a quite place to sit down or have a nice walk was simply a matter of switching islands. With so many museums, palaces, parks and other attractions, I imagine it would take me a very long time to get bored! And the temperature in summer is perfect for me, with my pale skin and tendency to wilt like a flower as soon as it gets above 28 °C!
Despite living in Germany since 2006, it was 2013 before I finally made my to the capital! I had been once before with my grandparents, but it was just one brief stop on a tour of Europe and all I remembered seeing was Checkpoint Charlie. This time was different! We walked a lot, visited hundreds of historical sites, including the Stasi prison at Hohenschönhausen, admired the East Side Gallery, ate delicious food (including the obvious Currywurst) and left with the feeling that we hadn’t experienced even a small fraction of what Germany’s capital has to offer. I mean, they have an entire island just for museums… of which we visited precisely one! I definitely need to go back some time and remedy this situation!
Again nominating an entire country rather than a specific place, but with so much on offer how could I possibly narrow it down? I’ve been to Dublin a few times, and while it’s always good I’ve seen most of what I wanted to see there, but there are plenty of places I do want to see again. The time we spent in Galway wasn’t nearly enough and I would love to go back there, but I also want to explore more of the area around Killarney and the Dingle Peninsular, actually make it to the North-East of the country and take a trip or two to the various islands.
It’s been a while since I took part in one of Ailsa’s travel themes, so I thought it was about time I did another one. This time, the theme is yellow, so I thought I would start with some cheerful daffodils – one of my favourite flowers (along with poppies, but they’re not yellow).
ObviouslyI had to get a lantern picture in somehow. 😉 This one was taken in Berlin.
I spotted this hot air balloon hovering over Karlsruhe a few years ago, and I just had to take a photo. Smile, everyone! (Coincidentally, the building it’s next to looks pretty yellow as well!)
Finally, a photo I’m particularly proud of… a night shot of Salzburg. I love the yellow (and red and blue and green) reflections of the lights in the water!
You only have today to get your entries in for the yellow theme – a new travel theme will be up tomorrow (Friday). But you should check out Ailsa’s yellow post anyway, if only for her seriously amazing photo of a goldfinch. And, of course, stop by her blog tomorrow to find out what the next travel theme is.
Another fun travel theme from Ailsa this week… multi-coloured. There are so many photos I could have used for this that I didn’t know where to start, but eventually I managed to narrow it down to the following few. A very Germany-centred travel theme this one, with only two shots taken elsewhere…
My first photo is from Dublin. We spotted this pre-school down by the river and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of it. It looks so cheerful!
This colourful bear is just one of many you can find dotted around Berlin:
I love rows of buildings painted in different colours and almost always take photos of them when we visit somewhere. These ones are in Würzburg.
Staying in Germany, but switching towns… I’ve posted this colourful lantern on the blog before but it fits so well with the theme that I wanted to include it here. I spotted it in Heidelberg when my sister came to visit.
My next photo was taken in Sweden – this colourful Dala horse stands outside the City Hall in Stockholm.
And finally, I would like to end my post the same way Ailsa started hers… with a rainbow. I didn’t have to travel very for for this photo… it was taken right here in Karlsruhe, next to the train station.
To see how other people have interpreted the theme (including some much more impressive photos of rainbows!) and to join in yourself, check out Ailsa’s blog post.
I promise this will be my last post on the Berlin trip! I took so many photos of the East Side Gallery that I wanted to give it a post of its own, rather than just including it in the main Berlin post.
The East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin. It consists of various paintings by artists from around the world, painted in 1990 and is an international monument to freedom. Unfortunately, a lot of the paintings have been ruined by graffiti – I really do not care if “Becky woz ere” in 2010! Go away and stop damaging symbols of peace!
Anyway, here are some of the photos I took of the East Side Gallery.
Some of the artwork had deeper messages:
Have you ever visited the East Side Gallery? Which painting did you like best?
I spotted this stuck to a wall in Berlin and couldn’t resist taking a photo of it to post here.
Yep, that’s right, I’m just another blogger! But then again, I’m not forcing anybody to read my blog. Don’t worry anonymous note writer… you’re perfectly safe from Confuzzledom!
Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all had the same opinion?
So, time to get back to Berlin. WARNING – long post ahead!
We arrived fairly late in the afternoon on Thursday (4 April), so we couldn’t really do much then. Our apartment was about 15 minutes walk from the train station and turned out to be literally opposite the Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum):
That’s the view from our window. As you can see, there was also a construction site right outside, which we thought might be a bit annoying, but it turned out we couldn’t hear a thing – the windows were obviously excellent!
Our first act after dropping off our stuff was to go in search of a supermarket. There turned out to be a REWE just around the corner – perfect! After taking the shopping home, it was time to head out for a look at Berlin before it got dark. Here are some photos:
The River Spree
The Reichstag building
As you can see, the weather wasn’t brilliant (although it wasn’t raining or snowing), and after all that walking around we were freezing, so we headed to Hopfinger Bräu for some food. The one we went to was Am Palais and it was quite expensive (although the beer was good). There’s another one in the train station that I think might be a little better.
By the time we had eaten, it was dark, so Jan suggested heading back to the Brandenburg Gate to get some night shots.
And that was the end of Thursday. It had been a long journey up to Berlin and we were tired, so after taking the above photo I suggested we head back to the apartment and get some sleep.
On Friday, we woke up bright and early to eat a breakfast consisting of things we had bought from the supermarket the day before. Then we went in search of a tram that would take us to Hohenschönhausen.
Hohenschönhausen is a former Stasi prison in East Berlin that has now been opened up to the public after some extensive work to make it comply with health and safety (as the website points out, there tended not to be too many fire escapes in prisons!).
On the sign above you can see how the street looked back in the days when the prison was in use. The area that the prison is situated was claimed to be a military exclusion zone. Some people suspected that there might be a prison there but nobody knew for sure.
Most of the people who were held in the prison were people who had tried to leave East Berlin after the building of the wall, although there were political prisoners as well. Many of the prison were placed in there merely because of a suspicion that they might be against the regime, not necessarily because there was any evidence that they had done anything. As well as prison cells, the prison had interrogation rooms where prisoners could be taken for the purpose of forcing a confession out of them.
Up until Stalin died, prisoners could be tortured. After that, they started to use more subtle methods.
Hohenschönhausen Prison is not the most cheerful place to visit, but it is most definitely worth it. Members of the public are only allowed in as part of a tour, and most of the guides are people who were actually imprisoned there. We took a tour in German, but on the way round I heard one of the other guides speaking English so tours in other languages are available. The times of tours are listed on their website, and if you are at all interested in history I would certainly recommend a visit.
After Hohenschönhausen, it was time to go back in to town and get something to find something to eat. On the way to the tram stop, I took some photos of blocks of flats that Jan told me were typical for East Germany.
After we’d eaten it was still fairly early so we decided to go to the Naturkunde Museum since it was close to the apartment (where we still needed to go back to pick up our tickets for that night).. It mostly contains a lot of dinosaur bones and some stuffed animals. There was also an exhibition on how the dead animals are prepared and stuffed, ready to go on display. A little gory but strangely fascinating. Unfortunately, they closed before we had a chance to head to the second floor, so I’ve no idea what would have been up there. But I didn’t mind because by it was time for us to go and see Eddie Izzard! I’ve already talked about how amazing he was, so I won’t go into detail here. Those who missed that post can go back and read it now.
For Saturday morning, we had an appointment to go inside the dome of the Reichstag building. It’s free to go up there, but you have to prebook so not too many people go up at once. Once up in the dome, you get great views of Berlin and the free audio guide does an excellent job of telling you exactly what you’re looking at, as well as giving some information about the Reichstag building itself. Here are a few photos of Berlin from above:
We had actually got out of the apartment earlier than we needed to, so before the Reichstag we went to look at the holocaust memorial (officially named the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe):
The concrete blocks gradually get bigger and bigger, with the highest being 15 feet 9 inches tall.
The grey sky and traces of snow on the ground gave the whole thing a bleak and gloomy atmosphere perfectly matched the seriousness of the topic it represents.
Underneath the memorial, there is an information centre/museum, which contains the names of all know Jewish Holocaust victims. Entrance to the information centre is free and it is well worth taking a look at.
Between the Reichstag building and the Brandenburg Gate is a memorial to the Roma Sinti who lost their lives during the Holocaust. We had passed it on the way to the Reichstag, so after our visit to the dome, we went back to look at the memorial. It consists of a pool in a small garden with the poem Auschwitz by Italian poet Santino Spinelli engraved around the rim of the pool, in German and in English.
Our next stop was the Currywurst Museum – I needed a bit of light relief after all the politics and memorials!
I discovered where hotdogs got their name, so it was educational as well as fun 😉
The Currywurst Museum is just around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie, so after the silliness of sausages, it was back to the serious stuff. A quick photo of the checkpoint then in to the associated museum.
The museum gives some information about the division of Germany and the building of the wall then goes on to tell the stories of all the people who attempted to escape from East Berlin while it was part of the GDR. There is some excellent content and fascinating stories, but soooo much to read. They do have a few cool exhibits, including cars that were converted to allow people to hide in them and is is definitely worth a visit – especially if you’re interested in Cold War history – but be warned that the organisation is not the greatest and the museum can be a bit confusing. It was also incredibly full when we were there, which didn’t help, but there is certainly enough information to make it worth the visit (although at €12 per person it’s not the cheapest!).
By this time, I was all museumed out, so we set off for a walk, following the course of where the Berlin Wall used to be. In some places, there is a line of bricks set in to the pavement to show where the wall once stood.
Our walk took us to Potsdamer Platz. Not all that long ago, this square was basically a big empty space. The Berlin Wall went right through the middle of it so for many years it was pretty much desolate. Once construction started, Potsdamer Platz became the biggest building site in Europe! Now, it looks like this:.
And that was basically the end of Saturday. We had decided to eat in on Sunday night, so as we were passing the train station we stopped at the supermarket there and bought the required ingredients. Then, after dropping the groceries off at home, we headed to Kreuzberg to attempt to play minigolf – we had tried to book early in the day but only got an answering machine. On arrival (after initially walking down Görlitzer Straße in the wrong direction then ending up wandering around the creepy park for a while!) we discovered that they had no room for us, so we made a reservation for Monday instead. Heading towards the Görlitzer Bahnhof, we walked past a restaurant with a man playing guitar inside so we decide to check it out. The restaurant, called Camba La Che, turned out to be Argentinian while the musician was Brazilian. One table was filled with a large group of what seemed to be the owner’s family, and the owner himself (at least I guess that’s who he was) looked old enough to already be retired! The service was a little slow, but the food was ridiculously cheap AND turned out to be delicious so we didn’t mind. It’s not like we had anywhere to be.
Sunday lived up to its name and presented us with beautiful blue skies. We had queue jumper tickets for the Neues Museum (New Museum) because I wanted to see the Egyptian exhibition, so the Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is where we headed first.
It was interesting, but I was pleased the third floor was closed for renovation. There’s only so much museum I can take!
The next place we wanted to go was near Häckescher Markt, so we decided to eat in that area too. From the book my dad had given Jan, we chose Lemke’s, where I finally had Currywurst. But you can read all about our food and drink experiences here.
The Brauhaus Lemke on Häckescher Markt (there’s another one somewhere as well) is located under some old railway arches, as you can just about tell from the above picture.
We ended up having to finish our beers in a bit of a rush because the public tour at the place we wanted to go next was starting soon. Next stop was the Otto Weidt Blindenwerkstatt (Otto Weidt’s Workshop for the Blind), now a museum. In the 1930s and 40s Otto Weidt’s workshop for blind people produced brushes and brooms. He employed mostly Jewish people (many were sent there to do forced work) and when they started being rounded up and sent to concentration camps, he did his best to help them, even hiding one family in a room at the back of the workshop. The museum is in the original premises of the factory and you can actually go into the room that served as a hiding place. Entry is free of charge and the stories the museum tells are incredibly moving.
Leaving the workshop, we bumped into a guy from Chile who asked us what was in there then proceeded to strike up a conversation with us about whether or not Germans talk about politics. He was chatting to us for so long that Jan eventually suggest he walk with us to our next destination, which he duly did. The conversation ended up ranging from what we think should be done if it was discovered that the Holocaust 100% did not happen (reveal the truth or let people carry on believing in it) to why communism is a nice idea in theory but could never work in practice and even whether or not the upper classes believe they are superior to everyone else. Interesting but exhausting!
We finally made it to where we wanted to go… Bernauer Straße.
When Berlin was a divided city, the Wall ran right down this street. Many people fled to the West be jumping out of the windows of their apartments, until the authorities had them sealed up. Part of the wall here has been left as it was, and from a viewing platform you can see what it looked like.
As you can see on the photo, the Berlin Wall was actually two walls, divided by a strip of dirt. Inside that strip, dogs and armed guards patrolled the path, and in the areas surrounding the path there were mines. Anyone trying to cross to the West had to scale one wall, avoid guards, mines and dogs then somehow get over the second wall. It’s amazing that anybody ever managed it!
We finally managed to get rid of the Chilean when we headed back to our apartment for food (as interesting as the conversation was, 3 hours of it was enough!). After dinner, I decided to take advantage of the fact that the apartment had a bath tub. I’m not usually the type to soak in the bath for ages, but this time I did… and even took my glass of wine in with me. Bliss!
On Monday, we went to look at the East Side Gallery, a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall covered with works by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the East side of the wall following the opening of the border. I’m going to put the photos from that in a separate post, I think. We then headed to Kurfürstendamm, known locally as the Ku‘damm, which is one of Germany’s most famous avenues. It’s basically a huge shopping street in West Berlin, and we only went there so we could say we’d been properly into the West. Ku’damm is the epitome of everything I hate about big cities – large, ugly buildings, crowds and lots of cars. Brrr.
That evening, we finally managed to play blacklight minigolf, which you can read about here.
We had to be out of our apartment by 10 am on Tuesday so, as the train home wasn’t until around 1, we went to the Museum of Communication. No photos unfortunately because you weren’t allowed to take any, but there were some interactive things and LOADS of old communication equipment and information about different means of communication, such as Morse code. There was far too much for us to look at everything before we had to leave!
And that concludes our trip to Berlin. To end this post, here’s a photo of a Buddy Bear. There are lots of them standing all around Berlin, but unfortunately I barely managed to get any photos because almost every time I saw one either it was already dark or we were rushing to get somewhere. Boooo!
When looking for things to do in Berlin, I came across something called Schwarzlicht Minigolf (blacklight mini golf), which I immediately knew I wanted to do, so on to the 35 before 35 list it went. I wasn’t sure whether I would actually have a chance to do it in Berlin, but it turned out that Duisburg, Bremen and Hamburg have their own blacklight minigolf courses, so I was fairly confident that I would manage it before my 35th birthday. As it turned out, Jan was all for it, so I did get to do it in Berlin.
Basically, it’s pretty much the same as ordinary minigolf (but I like minigolf so that’s ok). The only difference is, in the words of the lady who gave us our clubs and balls, this version is “darker and more colourful” (for an extra Euro, we could also have got a pair of 3D glasses, but we chose not to). After collecting our equipment, we headed downstairs into the cellar where we immediately spotted the first hole. Colourful certainly wasn’t an exaggeration! This was on the wall by the first hole – unfortuntely I didn’t manage to get a good photo of it.
Hole one was separate from the others, so after completing that one we headed into the first proper room, which was Berlin themed. Well… it had a picture of the Brandenburg Gate anyway.
I actually did pretty well in this part of the game (or maybe Jan just did badly? Either way, I ended up with a better score than him… well, one point better anyway). Room 2 was basically just colourful (there was no theme that I could work out) and room 3 was set in a kind of futuristic desert kind of scene – maybe it was supposed to be a space station on Mars or something?
The decorations in room 4 were my favorite. This time there was no doubt that we were supposed to be in space… and even without glasses the planets looked 3D! My crappy photos really don’t do it justice…
Until this point, the courses had been fairly standard with just one or two more unusual ones thrown in. Then we moved on to the final room…
My first reaction was “How is this even supposed to work?!”. Take this for example:
The aim is to hit the ball up the slope, over the gap and have it land on the yellow bit at the other side then roll into the hole (the black dot you can just see at the back of the photo). Falling off the sides counts as having gone out of the course, but we chose to ignore that rule. Neither of us managed to get the ball across the gap even once anyway…
Jan actually did pretty well in the final room. I failed utterly miserably at every one of the courses in there. So much for my good start! The final results say it all… Bev 78, Jan 63
Apart from the last room, this wasn’t much different to ordinary minigolf, but it was fun anyway!If you like minigolf and want to try something different, I would certainly recommend it. And I’m sure it would be great fun for kids as well! The staff give each person a gold club to match their height and we noticed they had some tiny ones so even little kids should be able to have a go. We went at night, and the place was full of teenagers (as can be expected) but there were a couple of adults too.
The Berlin Schwarzlicht Minigolf is located in Görlitzer Park, which is in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin. (Kreuzberg apparantly used to be a fairly dodgy area of Berlin but is slowly becoming gentrified, so you’ve got graffitied buildings right next to nice looking cafés, which is slighty disconcerting.) The actual address is Görlitzerstrasse 1, but Google maps apparantly doesn’t have a clue where that is and tried to tell us it was right in the middle of the park, which resulted in us going through the wrong entrance and wondering around in the dark for a while! We were even approached by someone who asked whether we needed “something!” No, I’m really not here to get my “fix”, honest…
To get there, take the U-Bahn (underground train) to Görlitzerbahnhof. The park entrance is on the corner of Skalitzerstrasse and Görlitzerstrasse, and the minigolf place is fairly close to the entrance. The building is covered with graffiti and there’s no proper sign but look out for the blackboards with “Schwarzlicht Minigolf” written on them. If you’re going at night or on the weekend, I would definitely advise making a reservation! We were unable to get through by phone, so we just turned up only to find that it was full so we ended up booking then for two nights later. During the week it might be ok as long as it isn’t school holidays.
Here, have a bonus picture of me playing minigolf (I don’t normally post photos of myself, but on this one I’m basically just a shadow…)
Briefly interrupting my Berlin tales because it’s Friday again already, and that means it’s letters time!
Dear Berlin. I had a wonderful time visiting you. Shame it was so short. I promise to come back some day.
Dear self. Your holiday is over now, so it’s time to start exercising and eating healthily again. Don’t forget, in just over three months you’re going to have to stand at the front of a church!
Dear readers. No, the above letter wasn’t some weird way of subtly telling you I’m getting married (HA! The chances of that EVER happening are slim at best). Actually, I’m going to be a godmother, and I couldn’t be any more excited. It’s such an honour to be asked!
Dear muesli bar. At just 82 calories I am aware that you are much better for me than a bar of chocolate (246 calories for a 50g Twix!!), but why do you have to taste so awful?! Today I had an apple and pear one, which I managed to force down because it was my breakfast and I would be getting nothing else until lunch time, but it was not nice! All sweet and sticky and just ugh!
Dear Rach (aka The Pink Rachael – read her blog here). Thank you sooo much for my Easter bar of Cadbury’s chocolate! It was waiting for me when I came back from Berlin and has already been consumed. (Well, I had to get rid of it before returning to my healthy eating plan, right? ;-))
Dear boyfriend. Every time I think things are moving forward, we have another conversation like the one on Tuesday night and I’m back to feeling like nothing has changed. Admittedly whisky was involved on Tuesday, but why does it always have to feel like one step forward and two steps back?
Enough for today! If you feel like joining in, don’t forget to link back to The Sweet Season blog (click on the image below to go there)
Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have a fabulous weekend.
When making my list of things to do in Berlin, one of the first things I thought of was food. I know all the specialities of southwestern German, but had no idea what the traditional dishes of Berlin were. So I checked out good old Wikipedia then made it my mission to try as many Berlin specialities as I could. But the one thing I was most determined to eat in Berlin turned out to be pretty difficult to find…
I’m sure you’ve all heard the old joke about JF Kennedy referring to himself as a jam (American: jelly) doughnut at the Berlin wall. Actually, what he said was perfectly fine. “Ich bin ein Berliner” does mean I am a Berliner in the figurative sense (saying “Ich bin Berliner” would have meant he was literally a citizen of Berlin, which he obviously wasn’t). However, although no German would have misunderstood his speech or found it in any way funny, a Berliner really is a type of jam-filled doughnut, and I desperately wanted to eat a Berliner in Berlin. Admittedly, the people of Berlin don’t actually call these goodies Berliner – they refer to them as Pfannkuchen, which means pancake and thus makes no sense whatsoever! However, to me they are Berliner no matter where in Germany I happen to find myself (unless it’s Shrove Tuesday – then they’re Faschingskrapfen). I exepcted Berliner (or Pfannkuchen) to be fairly easy to find – after all, they are fairly standard bakery items – but it took me two days to track one down! I finally discovered one at the bakery in the train station, and immediately took a photo of it in front of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof sign. Finally… my very own Berliner in Berlin!
When I wasn’t trying to track down deep-fried, jam-filled balls of dough, my diet was basically all about meat and potatoes… as traditional German dishes tend to be. Take this Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle), for example. Look at the size of it! It came with fried potatoes and was placed on a bed of onions/apples, which sounds odd but honestly tasted really good. And being part of the midday menu, it only cost €5.40! (A lot of places in Germany do cheap meals at lunch time, then offer a more extensive, full price menu in the evening). I couldn’t actually finish the meat though… waaay too much!
I ate this Schweinshaxe at a small bar close to Oranienburger Tor called Gambrinus. The place is full of old photos, maps and metal adverts from days gone by – if you understand German, you could spend hours just reading the items on the walls!
Original Berliner Buletten (or Bouletten depending on whose menu you read) turned out to be just the same as Frikadellen. Disappointing that it wasn’t actually anything new, but I like Frikadellen so I didn’t mind. The Buletten came with mashed potatoes, which were delicious, and Sauerkraut, which I left. Can’t stand that stuff!
To go with my Buletten I had another Berliner speciality… the glass of red stuff is my drink and the other is Jan’s.
I know mine looks like a kid’s glass of fizzy pop (especially with the straw!) but it’s actually beer! It’s called Berliner Weisse and comes in a red variety (raspberry) and a green variety (Waldmeister – the English is Woodruff apparantly, although that brings me no closer to understanding what it is… other than weird!).
This meal was eaten at a place called Mittmann’s. It’s close to the Jannowitzbrücke underground station and if it hasdn’t been mentioned in a book that my dad bought Jan (Around Berlin in 80 Beers) I would probably never have gone in – from the outside it doesn’t look like much! The food ended up being really good though, and the few other people that were in eating lunch were workers on their lunch break – not a tourist in sight! Here’s a photo of the inside:
Another thing that had to be eaten in Berlin was Currywurst. It’s available all over Germany, but was invented in Berlin. I actually wanted to get my Currywurst from a proper snack stand (Konnopke’s is supposed to serve the best Currywurst in Berlin, although some say Curry 36 is actually better), but we never managed to make it to there, so I ended up eating some at Brauhaus Lemke instead.
At the same place, Jan took the sausage plate. I just had to take a photo of his meal as well because I was so amazed by the size of the sausages!
My final meal in Berlin was Königsberger Klotze. After failing to find them on a menu the entire time we were there, on our last evening we based our choice of restaurant solely on whether they server Klopse or not! Which is how we ended up at Mommsen-Eck am Potsdamer Platz, aka Das Haus der Hundert Biere (House of 100 Beers). Königsberger Klopse are basically boiled veal meatballs in a creamy sauce containing capers.
So, that was the food I ate. Naturally we also sampled a few beers – Berlin is in Germany after all! Here are a some of them:
There were more, but the software I was using to turn the photos the right way round has just crashed on me and I can’t be bothered to open it again…
More Berlin tales coming soon!