Thursday, 17 September 2015

Berlin: City Guide

Hard to believe that it is almost a month has passed since I was roaming the streets of Berlin, happy as a clam. Thought I would share a little of what I got up to on my trip and places you should check out if you find yourself in the Germany's edgy and wonderfully vibrant capital city. So I'll just jump right into it...

Here we go!

East side Gallery



A stretch of what remains of the Berlin wall now stands covered in spectacular street art. An ideal location to grab a drink/coffee and stretch your legs and snap a few shots on the way. The art has a distinctly striking and individualistic tone and contributes to what makes Berlin an edgy masterpiece. Make sure to capture a couple of colourful snaps and read some of the comments and messages people have written to leave their mark on quite a large chunk of history.

Boxhagener Platz/Friedrichshain

I was lucky enough to meet with a friend for a jaunt around his neighbourhood, Friedrichshain. Boxhagener Platz is a must-see, so pop it in the diary for a Sunday, when stall owners descend to sell their wares. Flea markets are great if you enjoy a good browse to secure that tricky find or are looking to bag yourself a bit of a bargain.

Sandemans Tours


From past experience I find that the best way to get to grips with a new city is to sign up for a walking tour within the first few days of your stay. This is the ideal way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, get the layout of the land and a feel for the area. Sandemann's offer a variety of tours within some of the main cities and top tourist destinations in Europe (Edinburgh included). They don't charge for their service but suggest that if you have an enjoyable time, laugh and learn you can offer a small donation for their time as staff are paid solely by tips. Dig deep into those pockets! If you find yourself in Berlin, I know a guy that knows a lot about a lot. So if you want to stretch your legs, have a history lesson and giggle along the way, Sam's your man. Imagine a 2015 John Lennon sporting tattoos and Wayfarers in a hipster sty-lee and you'll spot him, no problem. Be sure to tell him I said hello.

City Sightseeing bus tour

If your poor tootsies need a rest from all that walking, taking wrong turns and hopping on and off the S/U Bahn, snag yourself a spot on the city bus tour and take a load off. This is another option for you to sit back and relax as your capture those kodak moments of the main tourist attractions and delve deeper into your new cultural context as a city slicker. Plenty of pics to upload for every self-confessed Insta-addict or to dot around your apartment to almost fool your friends and family into thinking that you didn't spend the entire time on an extended coffee shop crawl.

Whoops.

The Mall of Berlin


If you haven't quite scratched that shopping itch, jump on the U-Bahn and nip off at Potsdamer Platz to quite literally lose yourself in The Mall of Berlin. With over 300 stores to tickle your fancy you are bound to find something you might like. It's also a great option if you need a break from sightseeing or if the pesky weather takes a turn for the worse. As a treat I also indulged in a quick pedicure as my poor tootsies were almost worn to the bone. I can't recommend it enough as I literally felt like a new woman and had fresh, sparkly red toes to show for it.

Ku'damm

Ladies, this is certainly one for you. Imagine a strip of shops stretching out as far as the eye can see. Sounds good, right? If you have a few hours to spare make sure to amble down the Ku'damm (Kurfürstendamm) and you can shop to you drop. If, like me you only bring a small carry-on for a short jaunt, it will take phenomenal amounts of self control to restrict your spending spree. You will surely have room to sneak in a couple of souvenirs to remind you of your city adventure. Be sure to gaze at them fondly when the cold, wet nights begin to draw in in the UK. You will want some happy memories of your summer sun.

The Barn Coffee


I had heard some tales about The Barn before arriving in Berlin but had never sampled any of their delicious coffee for myself. They have a larger roastery further up town if you want to get down to the nuts and bolts of how to prepare your jitter-juice but if you just need a latte-to-go, rest stop or spot to flick through a magazine to pep up your travels they also have a small shop just a short wander from the Oranienburger Tor stop.

Café Anna Blaume



What could be more girly than a cute cafe beside a flower shop? *Squeal* I was sure to include a visit to Anna's on my route. A short walk from Prenzlauer Berg station lands you right at her door. The perfect pick for a breakfast, brunch or pot of tea. Their menu caters to all tastes, no matter which mood or meal time strikes. I opted for the Tranie der Paonie tea and the Crepe Valentin. So, to break it down, a delicately flavoured tea with peony petals and a thin crepe served with Bourbon ice-cream and oozing with hot bilberries.

Jealous?

Silo Coffee



When in Friedrichshain, stop by Silo. It ticks all the boxes with minimal interior, smooth coffee and you know how I am having a moment with filament lightbulbs. Their food is also delicious and hopefully this shot of their Avocado toast accompanied by a cool iced latte will convince you of that fact. My work here is done.

Father Carpenter



I know what you're thinking, she spent most of her time in coffee shops. I swear, this is only half true, but with a little list in my back pocket I had a few handy "go-tos" for each area. Truth to be told, in Berlin you are spoilt for choice. The 3rd wave caffeine movement has well and truly touched down in this city.

Nestled in a courtyard not far from Alexanderplatz is a hidden gem that is Father Carpenter. Colourful cups, tasty coffee, perfect sitch and smart snacks enjoying the afternoon sun in this secluded haven was my perfect recovery.

First dibs on a slab of their blondie. I may just have to fly back to get another piece.

Distrikt Coffee





I have to say that this was my favourite caffeine drip of the trip. If you didn't know to look for it chances are it may pass you by so keep your maps handy. Delicious coffee, naked lightbulbs and an industrial-chic vibe, the folk at Distrikt know their way around a flat white and serve up a mean pulled chicken sandwich and lemon/lavender cake along with a wide variety of other items to entice you on their mouth-watering menu.

Que Pasa


Burrito babes and Fajita fiends, take note. If you heart Mexican and want to feast on some delicious food and a cheeky cocktail with your evening meal, rock up and bag a table at Que Pasa.

Spoiler Alert: This is probably the most food I have seen together on one plate at one time.

Someone hand me some comfies... If you need me I will be rolling around on the floor.

Curry Wurst


Word to the wise, don't knock it 'til you've tried it. I swore I never would sample their infamous dish, but strolling past Charlie's Beach at Checkpoint Charlie, I caved. I definitely didn't think that it would be my jam, but I snaffled down every last bite. Sausage, sauce and a dash of curry powder with a little side of chips. Make sure not to skip out on the lashings of ketchup and mayo, it's the German way. Some people say that it is totally the wurst (get it?), but when it Rome.

Will you give it a try?

Mini Photo Booths


These are dotted all over the city and for 2 Euros a piece you can snap a little strip of photos with friends, better half or a selfie on your tod. Perfect to stick on the fridge or to decorate your bedroom with a few pieces of washi tape.

DM (Drogerie Markt)

I made a few stops by DM on this trip, either to pick up a much needed bottle of water (*GASP*) or to browse through the budget beauty items. Whilst I couldn't go crazy on my retail therapy, I could pick up a few items from unfamiliar brands to test how comparable they were or that simply leapt off the counter and into my basket.

Typical brands you will find are Catrice, Manhattan and Essence and you can be sure to spot a few cult products or dupes making their way around the beauty blogosphere (I'm looking at you Essence "In the Nude"/Charlotte Tilbury "Pillowtalk" dupe)...

Time to put everything to the test.

So, there we go. Well done for getting this far! This is by no means an exhaustive list of all that you can cover in Berlin, but just wanted to flag up a few personal highlights. I am positive there are Ger-many more.

Have you been to Berlin? What did you love? Tell me all about it!

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