A long overdue update on life in Berlin is here. The good news is that I’ve just handed in final papers for three courses, the bad news is that my “Death by Prosecco” mornings have been at an all time low (or is that a good thing?) Really, my recent Berlin adventures have been less exciting than prior months, especially these past two weeks because, well, Managerial Economics. That being said, there are still a few experiences worth writing about.
1. A concert in Kreuzberg
I finally went to my first concert in Berlin, and it was absolutely amazing. It’s so long ago now, but milestone-y enough that it’s worth the mention. Max and I saw 6LACK at SO36, a venue in Kreuzberg. A fun concert and venue — will definitely be back for future concerts.
2. Mini break in Munich
Berlin is a special place, and not all German cities are created equal — our main takeaways after three days in Bavaria. Don’t get me wrong, Munich is a lovely city, but in visiting, I further realized my love for Berlin. My friend and I were in need of a holiday, but without residence permits, we were unable to leave the country, so we chose Munich as neither of us had ever been. Berlin and Munich are night and day. Berlin is cosmopolitan, gritty, sexy, alive, fresh, open-minded, and, compared to Munich, dirty and poor. Munich is beautiful, clean, green, and wealthy, and it is also very conservative, tame, and seemingly disconnected. But for a couple days, it makes for a fun time.
Julia and I arrived, settled into our Airbnb, and grabbed a bite, at what ended up being, our go-to spot. Emmi’s Kitchen is the cutest little vegan cafe near Rosenheimer Platz, with the most amazing salads, smoothies, hot dishes, and baked goods. From there we headed to the city’s center, Marienplatz, to site-see, and, naturally, ended up at Hofbraühaus. Very touristy, but very necessary. Powered by Bier and Bretzeln, we bar hopped into the night and finally settled at the Mandarin Oriental’s Bar31 (props for the complementary bar snacks).
The next morning, much to my surprise, I mustered the energy to go for a (rather dizzying) long run through the Englischer Garten. I’m absolutely in love — this is one of the most beautiful city parks I’ve ever seen. I mean, it’s no Central, but I’m no Candice; we can’t all be perfect. I do have a question for anyone familiar with Munich — why does part of the park have such a large concentration of naked men? No, this is not a scam. This is a very real phenomenon, fondling and all.
A stop in at Emmi’s Kitchen, and we were back at it. We walked from our Airbnb through Schwabing, to Olympiapark and the BMW Museum. The BMW Museum is really well done; it’s creative, modern, and effective (in the sense that, yes, I want one). Olympiapark is a futuristically landscaped park and the site of the 1972 Olympic games, and it offers a pretty breathtaking view of the city.
After a good twenty kilometers of walking, we sought shelter in Amistad. Nothing says “you deserve three glasses of rosé” like a long day, so we abided. Amistad is an eclectic tapas bar with a friendly atmosphere, an afterwork crowd, and a generous wine pour. I can’t speak for the food, but like I said, a generous wine pour. We stopped in at two more bars, the last of which was Don’t Call Mama, a dimly lit cocktail bar with great music but an unfortunately younger crowd. Exhausted and irritated by teenyboppers, we cabbed it home. Our last day in Munich was spent exploring, hydrating, and relaxing in the park. Overall, it was a nice trip, and I would recommend a Munich visit to anyone for a few days.
4. Vietnamese food in the new hood
My newest obsession is Vietnamese food, and in Berlin, it’s a pretty good obsession to have. Vietnamese restaurants here are authentic and aplenty, and they have so many vegan options! My go-to dishes are summer rolls and green mango salad with tofu. As fate would have it, there’s an amazing Vietnamese spot just around the corner from our apartment, and they serve both of my favorites. PHO Noodlebar is a super popular spot right at the intersection of Oranienburger Str. and Friedrichstraße. The food is so yummy, fresh, and affordable. It’s a great option for both lunch and dinner. Plus, they have star shaped ice cubes.
5. A hidden restaurant in Mitte
Crackers is an ultra hip restaurant and bar on Friedrichstraße, hidden behind the Westin Grand. It’s by the same owner of Cookies Cream, which is perhaps the best vegetarian restaurant in Berlin. At Crackers, the food is exquisite and the crowd is sophisticated and stylish. Also, the cocktails are out of this world good. Definitely the best I’ve had in Berlin. They come topped with decorative flowers, and use fun ingredients like beets, sage, watermelon, passionfruit, parsley, and fennel. An excellent place to celebrate and certainly to impress a date (hint hint, Max).
6. An Israeli restaurant in Mitte
The other night Max and I had dinner at Hummus and Friends, an Israeli (and Kosher) restaurant on Oranienburger Straße. As the name suggests, their specialty is hummus, and it is so yum. It’s a huge portion, served with pita, and available in a number of variations. They also have delicious veggie dishes like stuffed peppers, roasted cauliflower, tabouleh salad, and marinated eggplant with tahini. Hummus and Friends has a nice, laid back atmosphere suitable for lunch, dinner, dates, and friends alike.
7. A concert at Gendarmenmarkt
Gendarmenmarkt is a magnificently historical square in Berlin, and the location of the Konzerthaus Berlin. A few weeks back, Max got us tickets to see Chilly Gonzales, an incredibly talented, weird, hilarious, and arrogant Canadian pianist. Experiencing him perform in the stunning Konzerthaus was truly special, and I highly recommend seeing a performance here to anyone who hasn’t yet. Thank you, Max, for a perfect date night, concert tickets are always welcome.
8. A picnic at Tempelhofer Feld
For a capital city, and one of Europe’s largest cities, Berlin has a pretty sparse airport situation. The two airports here, situated in opposite corners of the the city, were built during the Cold War, and are minimal and small (given Berlin’s population and the amount of tourists that visit each year). As a solution, the construction of “Europe’s most modern airport” in Germany’s capital set off, but was never finished. Construction of Berlin Brandenburg International Airport began in 2006 and the airport was to open late 2011, but failure on all accounts (management, contractors, communication, installation…etc…), amounted to over a 6€ billion loss. In anticipation of BER, the beloved city airport Tempelhof was shut down. The now abandoned airport and surrounding runway space serves as a giant public green space, where people can BBQ, play games, relax, bike, run, and hang out.
A couple weeks ago, my classmates and I took advantage of this, and organized a boozy picnic hangout. Until the airport is actualized, Tempelhofer Feld will remain a perfect place to enjoy summertime Berlin.
9. Drinks near Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz
I don’t think any city does rooftop season quite like NYC, but so far so good in Berlin. AMANO Rooftop Bar is a chic spot in Mitte with beautiful views of the Fernsehturm, great music, and a damn tasty Aperol Spritz. If you’re in the area, it’s a good idea to start at AMANO, and then find yourself at Neue Odessa Bar. This bar/club hybrid is in the line-up of popular bars near Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz; it’s trendier than a bar but not as “dressed up” as a club. It’s a nice balance between the two, with ambient lighting, great drinks and music, and a whole lot of people looking for a good time.
10. Chilean Food in Charlottenburg
Earlier this week, Max and I went out to dinner with his family at the sweetest family-run Chilean restaurant, La Tia Rica, in Charlottenburg. The restaurant has very pleasant outdoor seating, excellent food, yummy Pisco Sours, and staff that is friendly and accommodating. The menu is full of fresh seafood and meat dishes, so I asked our waitress what she would recommend as a vegan dish. Without hesitation, she assured me that the chef would whip up something special that wasn’t on the menu. Service like that earns return customers, and to no surprise at all, my dinner was delicious. It was a medley of grilled veggies and quinoa, a mixed salad with roast red peppers, and fried potatoes. This is at the top of my list for Berlin dining experiences, and I can’t wait to go back. Next time hopefully I will remember to take pictures!
11. Running in the Tiergarten
Our proximity to the Tiergarten is my favorite thing about our (newish) apartment. Yes, the bars, restaurants, and shops are amazing perks, but having a nearby running route is very important to me. It’s much more motivating to have a beautiful route to run rather than winding through streets and stopping at lights, especially when you it do it almost everyday.