Friday, 31 March 2017

Memories of: A long weekend in Berlin

I'm walking down Under den linden, a soon to be leafy avenue and tourist highway in Berlin. It's still early in the year so the leaves aren't there yet and there's s chill in the air. It's a beautiful day, and the historic district of Mitte has something new around every corner.

It's not surprising to walk past a pop up book shop on a Saturday morning, especially as we'd passed an art market no more than 10 minutes ago, but the location of this one opposite Babel Platz, the sight of a Nazi book burning on 10 May 1933. As people dart across the road to see the small memorial I carry on towards Branderberg Gate which stands proudly at the end of the avenue, and former East Berlin.

Mitte is one of only 2 Berlin districts that straddles for the former East/West divide which split Berlin in two in 1961. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 families were reunited and historical East Berlin was open again to the public. Today in Mitte you'll find world class museums, the cathedral, Opera House and many other historical sights you'll read about in the guide book, but you'll also get a slice of Bavaria, excellent food and cool neighbourhoods

Thanks to the GDR welcoming other communist states, the Vietnamese population in Mitte and other formerly east Berlin districts is high and on the road between Alexanderplatz and Hackesher Markd you'll find plenty of great places to eat including Madami. Believe me, after a day of beer and currywurzt, a summer roll and bowl of pho is going to be exactly what you want.

Speaking of currywurst (fried sausage with chips covered in ketchup and curry powder) it's better than it sounds, and should always be eaten in the go. Grab some from Curry 61 near Hackesher Markd before walking to the riverside and enjoying the view of the Berliner Dom.

If there's one things Germans know (other than cars and roads) it's beer. The railway arches west of Alezanderplatz are bursting with trendy bars which range from pull-your-our-pint to table service beer houses. Brauhaus Lemke offers a tasting board for the perfect introduction to the cities offering, with everything from IPA to wheat beer in atmospheric surroundings with on site brewing.

Whilst exploring the usual sites like Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall or seeking out the Hitler bunker, stop by Nikolaiviertel for a small view into countryside Bavaria. This protected village is a stark contrast to the post war cement architecture found in much of Berlin, and Zum Nu├čbaum
 does great schnitzel and meatballs in very cosy surroundings. You're just as likely to be seated at a table next to a local smoking a pipe as a couple of other tourists.

If there's one thing to take away from a visit to Berlin, it's that it it can be whatever kind of city you want it to be. History seeker, nightlife reveller, or new hipster, there's something for everyone and a surprise around every corner!

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