When it comes to holidays, I am a total sunshine addict. I appreciate that this might seem strange for someone who owns so much black clothing that when I do my washing I look like perhaps my job is ‘professional mourner’, but I love nothing more than to be bathed in glorious sunlight at every and any opportunity. On my recent first ever trip to Berlin, however, even the total lack of sunshine couldn’t stop me falling in love with the place.
We spent three days and four nights in Berlin – this is all about where we stayed, and what we got up to while we were there.
Where to stay in Berlin
The Hotel Oderberger in Prenzlauer Berg (a lovely neighbourhood in East Berlin full of fascinating speakeasies, bookshops and art galleries) is a hotel steeped in interesting history centred around its former life as the city public swimming baths. Today, the baths still take pride of place in the centre of the building, a stunning place to relax that we took full advantage of.
We booked it on Booking.com for about £120 a night.
TV Tower (Fernsehturm)
You can see it all over the city, & you can see all over the city from it! The TV tower is an iconic part of Berlin, & with glorious views and a revolving restaurant in the upper part of the orb, why not head on up!
We booked a fast track ticket online, allowing us to beat the queue. Our tickets cost about 17,50 euro each, letting you into the bar & observation deck. It felt a little pricey for the overcast day we went on, but if you had a clear evening & timed it for sunset then I can only imagine the view you would have! Info on booking a trip up the Berlin TV Tower
An important visit in Berlin. I walked through it and thought of my Jewish heritage (my great-grandfather was a Polish Jew) and what this may have meant for many of my relatives. A striking feature is just how quickly you can lose someone who was right across from you because of the disorientating nature of the plinths – a saddening and unexpected symbol.
Street Food Thursdays
In an awesome part of Berlin called Kreuzberg, which is near the East Side Gallery and the West end of Görlitzer Park, there is a 125 year old market hall called Markthalle Neun.
Many market halls were destroyed in the war, but this one has stood the test of time and is now used throughout the week for various events, like Street Food Thursdays. Local traders bring all types of food, beer and wine and you can sample as many as you can afford/fit in your belly! There were so many different stall holders and it was very busy, but the only stressful thing about it was trying to decide which queue to get into for food when really you just want one of every single thing in the entire place. We had some gorgeous meatballs and some Thai steamed buns.
Pictured is me with what looks like a urine sample – I promise it’s not, one of the stall holders was trying to be helpful when I said I had to go but I had to give back my wine glass that still had a bit of wine in it.
Find out more about Street Food Thursdays at Markthalle Neun
Berlin has a massive cocktail culture (well, night-time culture in general really), and part of that is a huge amount of speakeasy style bars ranging from “we just like the 1930s” to “the only way in is through a hatch in the pavement and you have to know a secret handshake four minutes long”.
We went to two particularly wonderful ones when we were there – the first was Die Schwarze Traube. With only four cocktails on the menu each night, this little place in Kreuzberg takes the quality of its drinks very seriously. An interesting mix of exposed bricks and chandeliers in a series of dark and cosy rooms lit up by the streetlights outside and some sultry lamps dotted around, it feels like the kind of place that delightful mischief may happen.
Our second, and my personal favourite, was Prinzipal Kreuzberg. Ring the bell and dance on through to a modern day version of the Kit Kat Club from Cabaret. Their gin cocktails are divine, they let me have Souls of Mischief played on the decks, and they have burlesque nights. A spiritual home of mine for sure!
This place was so cool! I’ve always been a big history geek so it’s no surprise I loved it here, but honestly, it is such an interactive museum and they are always the best ones.
The main part of the museum takes you through the history of East Germany from the end of WW2 to the fall of the wall. Like walking through a huge curio cabinet, every bit of history is described by the items around it.
This is Josh playing with Stasi listening equipment in one of the rooms – you can also go through a mock up of an apartment in East Germany and each cupboard, each drawer, everything that can move basically, has information inside about what people ate, wore, did, everything, in the time of the DDR and East Germany.
Isn’t it pretty? Though monuments aren’t really my thing (I’m not ever quite sure what people are doing when they just look at them for ages, perhaps I’m missing something?), the area around the Brandenburg Gate is very beautiful and it makes you feel like you’ve truly arrived in Berlin.
Computer game museum
I have a huge thing for computer games, especially arcade games.
When I was in America, I found a way of playing Ms Pacman in basically every town we visited. I visited the Game Masters exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland like three times!
When we found out there was a similar place in Berlin, we just had to go. It takes you through the history of computer games, with some interesting things you can do on very early machines, right through to a giant joystick you can play Pacman on! Note the look of concentration on my face.
There’s also a really cool exhibit called Poly Play, pictured left – the only game manufactured by East Germany. The games are a fascinating representation of East German culture and ideologies – definitely an eye opener.
My favourite part was the model home that takes you through eras of games – they have bedrooms from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s with iconic games from each era. Want to play Crash Bandicoot on a beanbag with a lava lamp next to you? They’ve got you covered, my friend.
I <3 Berlin
Altogether we had an awesome time and I really did fall for Berlin! It’s super affordable, amazingly simple to get around in and I barely even noticed that I wasn’t bathed in glorious sunshine – there’s just too much to do in this wonderful city 🙂
Have you been to Berlin? What was your favourite part of it? I would love to know.