Berlin. How can I describe Berlin?
In my eyes, Berlin is the perfect place, merging Grossstadt (big city) with relaxed village feel. A melting pot kind of place, where you can sit in cool rundown East end bars, drink Milchkaffee and watch the world go by. You’re surrounded by all kinds of languages, children in home-knitted cardigans run around, and people walk their dogs and greet other dog owners in the street.
This is a city where people talk to their neighbours. Where you can go somewhere and not be an anonymous face in the crowd. Berlin feels like a village. Relaxed, easygoing, devoid of the stress that makes a big city so exhausting.
And most importantly, Berlin is green. Everywhere you go, there are tree-lined streets with wild hedges growing in front of the massive Altbaus (old big houses). Find the hidden courtyards with their little cafés that seem like only local know-how or lost tourists can find them. Drink Bionade (organic lemonade) or Apfelschorle (sparkling apple juice), dig into a big slice of Kirschkuchen (cherry cake) and realize that life can be good.
By now you might have gathered that I simply love Berlin
I’ve always wanted to live in Berlin, and this trip didn’t really help to change my opinion.
Seriously, can you imagine what it felt like walking into a German bakery, after 7 years in a ‘fake bread’ country?! It’s comparable to what a little child must feel walking into Disneyland – purely and utterly overwhelming! Everywhere you look there are balloons of all shapes and sized (hundreds of types of breads and pastries), music’s filling your ears (freshly-baked bread smell fills your nose) friendly characters wave at you (em, the Bakery assistant greets you with a smile), anyway, you get the point. It’s pure bliss.
German pastries are damn good. In fact, I’d name them the kings of all pastries. I was especially smitten with the significant presence of rhubarb, pudding and crumble in the pastries I encountered. Now combine the three and you have a pastry from heaven!
You might notice the bag reading KaDeWe. Any self-respecting foodie going to Berlin has to go there. The 6th floor of this department store is basically the biggest food hall in Europe!
It’s overwhelming. They’ve literally got everything and anything you can think of (except for crazy cupcake sprinkles! I was frantically looking for the baking accessories section, but there was none.. serious disappointment!).
There was some kind of Thai festival going on in the food hall, and a Thai woman was playing Thai music, which transported me back to my first hours in Bangkok in some fancy hotel lobby. Strange.
When you make your way to the KaDeWe, make sure not to miss having a Currywurst at Witty’s, just opposite the department store. Currywurst to Berlin is what Fish and Chips is to London – the ultimate fast food institution. It’s basically a Wurst (sausage) mit oder ohne Darm (with or without skin) drenched in Ketchup and curry powder.
There have been many conflicting stories as to the origins of the Currywurst. The one I like best is that a Wurst stall holder had just finished preparing a customer’s wurst with ketchup and accidentally dropped a jar of curry powder on it. They liked it so much that the Currywurst was born. Shows that clumsiness in the kitchen can lead to good things!
Now, the special thing about Witty’s Currywurst is that it’s purely organic. It’s a Bio Wurst. You see, the Germans they like their Bio. Everything is available in its organic form, and not for a much higher price. You can get anything from Bio Brötchen (organic bread rolls) to Bio Gummibärchen (organic gummybears). It’s great! And the Germans don’t buy it cause it’s fancy or trendy, no, they buy it cause they care about their health and their environment.
So, here’s your excuse to try a Currywurst – it’s a healthy one after all!
(By the way, take a portion of Pommes (chips) with Erdnuss-sauce (peanut sauce) at Witty’s too! It doesn’t really go with the Currywurst, but boy, peanuts and chips are a hell of a match!)
Right, so let me tell you how much Witty’s Currywurst was a blessing! We were so hung over that day, that only a Currywurst could cure all evils. Too much Vodka Bitter Lemon at Wohnzimmer Bar in Prenzlauer Berg the night before, brilliant place!
Anyway, we were longing for that Currywurst! And when we got off at the U-Bahn stop we couldn’t believe the noise. It felt like we just walked into a full blown nightclub – and we actually had! It was Christopher Street Day in Berlin! And the parade was going straight past Witty’s Currywurst! So, we got some entertainment whilst queuing for our hangover Wurst.
What else can I tell you?
My lovely friend Kirsten got the coolest job in the world while I was in Berlin: she’s now a baker at Berlin’s one and only Cupcake Bakery!!! How cool is that?! I am only just a tiny bit ever so slightly jealous!!! So if you happen to be in Berlin and feel like a having a cupcake, go and say hi to Kirsten at Cupcake Berlin.
And do explore the area around, the Simon-Dach-Strasse in Friedrichshain is full of little streetside cafés and bars, all spreading onto the pavement in summer (and all showing the World Cup outside – well fun!)
Another delight not to be missed is the Bonbonmacherei in Mitte. It’s a small candy shop that produces its own hard candy. You can pick and mix your flavours, and, even though they’re all delightful, make sure not to miss the rhubarb vanilla ones, they’re amazing.
Over to dining. Eating out in Berlin doesn’t have to be expensive. And the other great thing is that you don’t have to know where to go -because everywhere serves great food!
Eating out in London can be a bit of a hit and miss, the likelihood of walking into a tourist trap serving deep-fried frozen food is just as big as ending up in yet another franchise like Wagamama. In Berlin it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever encounter a franchise (unless you’re walking on the Kudamm). Berlin is the turf of little independent cafés and restaurants, all serving pretty good home-made fare. We’ve eaten at many places by just looking at people’s plates and deciding it looked great – and were never disappointed. It seems like you can’t go wrong with eating out in Berlin.
Maybe we were just lucky, or maybe this is the crazy talk of a girl who’s lived in Britain for too long… You decide.
Anyway, Berlin is Asian food heaven! Head to Monsieur Vuong for their legendary Vietnamese Chicken Salad, a real bargain at 6,90€. Just don’t be put off by the queues! Monsieur Vuong is comparable to the craziness of London’s Busaba Ethai.We were lucky to escape this mania, since we had lunch there during a Germany World Cup match – very clever!
We also had good Korean at Yam Yam, just down the road from Vuong. You order at the counter and they bring you the food. My dish said ‘hot’, which I ignored, thinking that in German ‘hot’ meant what we Brits consider ‘mild’. Alas, I was proven wrong. ‘Hot’ does indeed equal hot. Boy, was I on fire. Lovely!
Over to chocolate. Don’t we all love Ritter Sport? This square chocolate which comes in all kinds of flavours? Yes, it’s not Belgian or Swiss chocolate, but it still tastes damn good to me. So, I was pretty excited when I found out there’s a dedicated Ritter Sport shop in Berlin (Französische Straße 24). Over two floors you can find anything Ritter Sport. Not only can you buy all existing flavours, you can also create your own Ritter Sport bar! They let you choose the type of chocolate (milk or dark) and what you want in it (from classics like nuts and marzipan to more unusual combinations like Gummibarchen or Marshmallows). Simply wait for 20 minutes for the chocolate to set, and here is your customized Ritter Sport bar! Magic!
So, have I managed to convince you that Berlin is a great place? Yes?! Well, go and check it out then!
A few more great addresses:
Frida Kahlo: Great place for Frühstück, especially on the weekends, where they do huge brunch buffets for 8,90€ (including loads of creative salads, hot foods and fresh pancakes, rice pudding and Kaiserschmarrn – heaven!)
Cafe 100-Wasser: A nice cafe on the Simon-Dach-Strasse in Friedrichshain. We had a nice Wiener Schnitzel there, and apparently the weekend brunch buffet is great.
Pony Bar: If you fancy a beer before or after Monsieur Vuong or Yum Yum, head to Pony Bar in the same street.
Looks like an amazing trip! I would love to have your friend Kirsten’s job! And I love Ritter Sport too! That Marzipan bar looks to die for.
Yes, hasn’t she got the coolest job in the world?! She gets to ice the cupcakes and put sprinkles on them – all day long! Heaven!
Oh Anne, you’ve just made my quandary about where to go for a weekend away with my hubby in the autumn even more difficult! We’d narrowed it down to Lisbon or Rome, but now I’m very very tempted by Berlin…
Ha, glad I make you rethink your plans! Berlin in Autumn is lovely – just don’t go in winter, it’s pretty tough!
i’ve been thinking about you and wondering how your trip to berlin was! now i see you had an awesome time. currywürst, rittersport and kadewe! love it! i’ve bookmarked it and the next time i visit hubby there plan on checking out a few locations you mentioned here! anne – i owe you a long email! miss you!
Oh Meeta, you won’t believe how much that Berlin trip was a revelation! I’ve decided that this is the place I need to move to – very soon. So.. maybe we’ll get to hang out quite a bit in the near future…
What a beautiful tour of the best food spots in Berlin! I’ve never visited but it looks wonderful. And I adore German breads too. good to know that they really like organic food too and that it is well priced! 🙂
Yes can you believe they don’t overcharge for Bio stuff?! Unthinkable in the UK, where, as soon as a carrot has got a bump and a bit of dirt to it costs like triple the price! (And I bet it’s farmed in exactly the same field!)
Anne! Thank you! Great post! Its always reassuring to hear such good things about the place that will be my home. I am moving there in less than a week. I will certainly try that Korean restaurant you mentioned and can’t wait to start posting about my discoveries there.
My favorite Curry Wurst joint is in Prenzlauerberg, it is called Konnopke’s Imbiss. Its really old school and there is ALWAYS a line of people!
Ah I’ve read about Konopke’s, will have to check that one out next time! Oh, I’m soooo jealous you’re moving to Berlin! What area are you going to live in? Next time I’m over we’ll have to meet up for some Kaffee und Kuchen 🙂
Yes! That would be great. Our flat is close to the Brandenburg gate on the East side. Actually my favorite place in Berlin (so far) is a great Alpine Deli in Prenzlauerberg called Meierei (http://www.meierei.net/). When I was flat hunting in March, I used to go almost every other day. Will take you there next time you are in Berlin.
Wow…it looks like a awesome destination. The pictures are great, you really made me want to go there.
Mission accomplished! I should work for the Berlin Tourist Board!
You forgot to mention that Witty’s is the only (as far as I know) organic Currywurst in Berlin. KaDeWe is great, but a bit expensive- but they always have that rare ingredient I need.
And truly, living here is even more awesome than visiting, which is something you really don’t hear of other cities.
Ah yes, you’re right Daniel, I forgot to say it’s the only Bio Wurst in town 🙂 Well spotted! I didn’t buy anything in KaDeWe except for that rhubarb pudding streusel pastry, well worth its 1,70€ though!
You can consider yourself a lucky man to live in Berlin, I am very, very jealous!
What a great post!!!
I’m moving to hannover in 15 days and I’m very happy to read you about berlin, it is one of the cities I absolutely want to visit when I’m germany…
I was sure I was going to love germany, but know I’m super sure, no doubts anymore…great post…thanks a million!
Mika, I think you will love Germany! The Germans are very, very nice people and, as you may have gathered by now, the culinary landscape is great too! I lived in Cologne for a year and I absolutely loved it. Now let them win the World Cup and everything will be great about Germany, haha!
My sister has just booked a flight to Berling for August… I’m sending her the link, so she’ll have a delicious outlook on the city!
Lovely post, writing and pictures!
Amazing post about Berlin! Thank you! 🙂
I’m always wanted to visit Berlin, looks like you had a fabulous time and that’s a great photo of you near the beginning. I love the giant Ritter Sports – I must confess I’ve never eaten one but I am curious now!
This post is fantastic – as bubbly as you are . I have to take loads of notes and check out flight deals. I can see a whole weekend in Berlin fully packed with your tips. A particularly nice treat was to see your lovely, smiley face.
Great post Anne. It’s been a long time since I was in Berlin but it remains one of my favourite cities in the world. I was actually there the day the wall came down – still gives me a buzz of excitement to think of it.
Hope you get your dream and go to live there even for a little while.
Oh, thank you so so much for this post. I moved to Berlin about three years ago and am currently spending my semester abroad in Spain. As my semester is coming to an end I feel a tad bit gloomy about going back. Your post made me all exited again that I am able to go back there. Will definitely check out some of your tips. 🙂
If you are in Berlin again, check out Cafe Bilderbuch in Schöneberg for a Brunch. It’s lovely
Oh Maria, how lucky you are to live in that city! Don’t be sad about leaving Spain, enjoy the rest of your semester and look forward to rediscovering Berlin! Thank you so much for your comment by the way, will check out Café Bilderbuch (with such a cute name it must be great!)
what a fabulous post !! sure sounds to me (and all your readers i bet) that you have found your match. so when do you move ?? 😉
i was in berlin last year (http://mykugelhopf.ch/?s=berlin) and was just overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of things to do and see and learn and take in – so much history and culture and art .. and food ! you betcha i went to bonbon macherei, and loved the rhubarb one too. we got to watch the candymaker in action, very cool. sadly missed the ritter sport make-your-own, which i obviously would have been all over. but that’s ok, when i visit you there, we can go back together ! 🙂
great post anne !!
Juni, du wundervolle!
Morgen geht es für mich und ein paar gute Freunde nach Berlin… Endlich mal privat und nicht im Business Suit.. Rate Wesen Tipps ich im Gepäck habe…!?
Lieben gruß aus der schönsten Stadt am Rhein und Deiner ehemaligen Heimat,
For a long time I want to visit to Berlin, and I didn’t go there yet. I know this is amazing city, with a lot of modern structures and building, which I’m really attracted to. I’m so surprised by this ”Ritter sport” shop, I didn’t know about it, and when I will about to go to Belin I’ll visit it for sure. I love this chocolate, it’s one of my favorite. I know all the people are about to say that beligian chocolate is the best and I agree, but I can’t resist eating Merci chocolates, this one – Ritter,or Ferrero Rocher 🙂 ThanX for this post, it’s really usefull. 🙂
Thanks for your lovely comment Katia, I hope you can make it to Berlin sometime, you’d really enjoy it!
Great post! It’s been a pleasure reading about your trip to Berlin. Can’t wait to go there and stop by the places you mentioned in this post!
Berlin is amaaaaazing! I’m actually going there for a week in May, can’t wait to be back!