Travel Diary: Berlin

Berlin, schönes Berlin!

Berlin

Berlin was incredible. It’s a huge city with a dark history and a rich culture.  Truthfully, it would take us more than 4 days to squeeze in all the sights. But we did our very best with the time we had. Here are our most memorable moments from our days spent in Germany’s capitol…warning: this post is long but things get pretty exciting on day 9. 😉

Scroll to the bottom for a full list of the restaurants, museums and sights we visited.

Berlin

Berlin


Berlin
Berlin

Day 5 // Arrives in Berlin…

12:01pm: Touches down in Berlin, bags made it too. Oh yay, they have Uber Taxi here!

12:15pm: Really excited to witness Morgan practice her German, her accent is so good. I have no idea what she’s saying but it sounds like perfect German to me.

12:16pm: Our driver doesn’t speak English, so Morgan whips out her German so perfectly that I’m just sitting back with the biggest smile on my face like, “That’s my best friend!”

12:17pm: Driver doesn’t understand her. But it’s okay. We think maybe she just mixed up her prepositions?

1:15pm: After a slight mix up with the key pick up, we make it to our Airbnb. So spacious and uniquely decorated.

Makes mental note to make more of an effort to pack lighter.

2:00pm: We uber to a biergarten because we must nourish ourselves before figuring out the public transportation.

2:15pm: It’s drizzling and Prater Garten is empty so we decide to find lunch instead.

2:30pm: We stumble upon the cutest street and decide on the little café, Engelberg. I’m really excited to try German food.

2:36pm: Berlin is much cheaper than CPH. Praise be! Morgan orders a wurst made of veal and a pretzel. I order Käsespätzle (basically German mac & cheese but a thousand times better).

3:24pm: After lunch, we continue to wander around, ending up in Mauerpark. Morgan and I both comment on the lack of upkeep. We’re not here to judge, but coming off of the high that is Copenhagen’s cleanliness, it was slightly shocking. 

Upon further research, I learned that Mauerpark translates to “Wall Park”, referring to its status as a former part of the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip.

3:45pm: We make our way back to Prater Graten for a round of biers and people watching. Loving Berlin and it’s only been a few hours.

7:00pm: After purchasing our Belin WelcomeCard (offers free transportation and discounts on attractions) from a train station, we make our make to the flat.

8:00pm: For dinner, we opt for take-out (more Shawarma) at a little spot appropriately named Happy Food.

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BerlinBerlin

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Berlin

Day 6 // Bike tour history lesson…

8:00am: Waking up in Berlin and excited for our bike tour today.

10:00pm: Makes small talk with fellow vacationers in our bike tour group. The older couple with helmets, biking gloves and really intense windbreakers suddenly make me feel very unprepared and I begin to question my biking skills.

10:15am: Alex, our guide, asks if someone will volunteer to be the caboose and make sure everyone in our group stays together. Morgan volunteers, I’m relieved.

10:45am: Having the time of my life on this damn bike. Truly amazed by the amount of history Alex is dropping on us. He could totally be making everything up, but I don’t think he is.

Alex is originally from California, has a Canadian accent and has lived in Berlin for 9-ish years. He’s brilliant.

11:36am: Completely blown away that most of these beautiful buildings were destroyed in WWII, statues were sunk in the water and then buildings were rebuilt and statues extracted and replaced. Just thinking of the logistics stress me out.

To the history buffs rolling their eyes at me right now. Give me a break. I regret not paying attention in history class but I’m here now, ready to learn!

11:52am: Learns about the history of the currywurst.

Memorizes story in case it’s ever asked on Jeopardy.

12:10pm: We arrive to our lunch spot after biking through Tiergarten. Orders the Schnitzel. I love Schnitzel.

1:20pm: Back on the bike, a little tipsy and feeling unstoppable.

1:45pm: Having a hard time processing all of this German history. So dark, so heartbreaking, extremely fascinating.

Scolds myself again for not paying more attention in European history and makes mental note to sneak into a high school history class.

3:15pm: Tour is over. Morgan gets a free (giant bottle of) bier for being the caboose. We both confirm that Alex got cuter as the tour went on. We linger to ask him cool places the locals go, because we’re losers.

3:20pm: Onward to explore more of Berlin. Both of us had made notes on places to revisit after our bike tour. Topography of Terror being the first on our list.

6:45pm: Takes the tram back to our flat. Officially got the hang of Berlin’s public transit. Feeling like a local.

8:46pm: Dinner at Hirsch (recommended by Alex). Highly recommend, the bartender is super attractive and reminds me of Alex Karev from Grey’s. 😉

Makes mental note to eat all meals by candlelight when I get back home.

10:24pm: Back at our flat. Googles list of movies on WWII that I can watch asap. Falls asleep quick.

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Berlin

Day 7 // Oktoberfest bound…

10:00am: Today’s agenda – museums, bier, and more museums.

11:45am: It’s raining. I opt for rain coat, no umbrella. Morgan chooses cute outfit, umbrella, no raincoat. Let’s see how this plays out.

12:20pm: Brunch at a corner bakery. The bakery has birds inside. Just flying around and hanging out on the chandeliers. They’re cute.

12:22pm: Keeps hand over cappuccino after spotting bird shit on the chairs.  

12:45pm: Walks to Museum Island. It’s pouring at this point but Berlin is still beautiful.

1:30pm: After a bought of indecisiveness we end up at the Berlin Palace. It’s under construction but they have a temporary set up with exhibits.

2:15pm: Finds their rooftop restaurant. Pit stop for bier and cocktails! It’s still raining but the view is cool.

3:15pm: The exploring continues, we check our watches phones and decide to try and find this Oktoberfest we read about.

5:10pm: Takes the underground 30 minutes to the outskirts of the city. We begin our “short walk” towards Kurt-Schumacher-Damm.

5:12pm: We see a tree that has fallen on top of a car that was stopped at a red light. Notices that it is pretty windy.

5:28pm: Asks a woman if we’re headed towards Oktoberfest, she snickers and says yes.

5:40pm: Asks a man if we’re headed towards Oktoberfest, he asks, “you want to go to Oktoberfest right now?” We say, “yes.” He snickers and we keep walking.

5:48pm: We see a sign!

5:49pm: Where are all the people?

5:52pm: Oktoberfest is deserted.

Unbeknownst to us, we were in the middle of a major storm (dubbed Xavier) and so Oktoberfest was ‘closed’ for the day. All trams and buses were also shut down for the time being.

7:00pm: We make our way back to the city. Take a coffee and wifi break at Balzac to find our dinner spot.

7:47pm: We end up at Schnitzelei, make friends with the people next to us. Order a bottle of wine and a giant schnitzel.

9:58pm: Leave Schnitzelei full, happy, with wine-stained teeth.

10:30pm: Transit is back in service, delayed, but in service!

It comes to my realization that we actually didn’t end up at many museums today but covered a lot of ground. Berlin is sprawling. I can’t help but imagine what it was like pre-wall fall.

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Day 8 // Learning to live like locals…

10:20am: Up and out, headed to the East Side Gallery.

11:01am: We ask a stranger to take our photo in front of a mural with a quote, hoping it doesn’t say something offensive that will make us look like insensitive assholes.

11:31am: Hanging out in Alexanderplatz. I’m determined to get an Oktoberfest Instagram so I order a bier before noon and don’t feel an ounce of guilt. Prost!

11:54am: Checking out the vendors, trying to resist the urge of purchasing fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar.

11:59am: Ends up with €50 euro worth of cheese and meat. This should surprise no one.

Morgan’s German comes in handy with this transaction but instead of asking how much the salami is. She asks, “what time is it?”

12:40am: Eats lunch at the oldest restaurant in Berlin – Zur Letzten Instanz. I’ll give you one guess on what I ordered. Rhymes with Blitzel.

3:22pm: We find ourselves at Hofbräu. People are in traditional German attire and I’m loving it.

5:54pm: Next on our list is a rooftop bar we read about – Klunderkranich.

Pretty sure a picture of Klunderkranich shows up next to the word eclectic in the dictionary.

6:06pm: It’s golden hour, I have a G&T in hand and we can see all of Berlin. Life is beautiful.

7:20pm: Our goal is to go to Brandenberg Gates for a “lights festival” but we keep getting on the wrong train. Just when we were feeling like locals, we get a reality check.

9:20pm: We end up back at Alexanderplatz for live music and our last helping of delicious German food.

11:00pm: Back to our flat to pack. Tomorrow we head home.

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Berlin

Day 9 // A little adventure for the last day…

6:00am: Barely awake but gathering all of our stuff because we have to head to the airport.

6:32am: We’re packed, walking out the door. Leave the apartment and building keys on the coffee table per instructions from our host. Her door and the building door lock automatically so we don’t have to lock up. (Any guesses on where this is going?)

6:34am: We make it downstairs, our taxi is almost here. I’m feeling good because our goal was to leave by 6:45am, so we’re a little ahead of schedule. Terrific!

6:35am: As I’m closing the door to the building, I ask Morgan if she needs anything before I shut the door. (This is pointless because the apartment door is locked anyway) but as those words come out of my mouth, I shut the door only to look up at Morgan to see her panicked expression.

6:36am: “I left my purse upstairs.” – Morgan

I’m thinking, well homegirl will have to mail it to you because we have to get to the airport.

“My passport is in my purse.” – Morgan 

6:37am: I want to cry but I don’t. I think Morgan wants to cry but she doesn’t.

6:38am: Our cab pulls up, we send him away because we have some stuff to figure out.

Quick background on our Airbnb host: We never met her in person, but she was very nice, hospitable via email and extremely thorough with her correspondence. So much so that she sent us an actual video of herself explaining how to unlock her apartment door (totally normal door, no explanation was necessary). She sent a lot of emails before we arrived, which is what led to the mix up at the beginning of our trip with the keys. So at this point, we knew a few things about our host:

  1. She was vacationing in Vancouver and was not returning to Berlin for a few more days.
  2. She left her spare key with her friend (our “emergency contact”), Nora, who we met at the beginning of the trip when she gave us her (only) set of keys.
  3. Her second “emergency contact,” Maggie was in Prague, but she gave us her number just in case.

6:45am: It’s raining, we are no longer half asleep and are fully awake. The only thing we know to do is go to the US Embassy and wait until they open. We call an Uber.

6:51am: Uber picks us up, we tell him we’re going to the US Embassy. He’s mutters that it’s too early for them to be open. We know that, sir.

6:55am: Morgan and I are talking about our game plan (or lack thereof) and our Uber driver goes, “You lost your passport!” He then turns into a superhero and begins to help us troubleshoot.

7:02am: Ali (our driver, we become quick friends) calls a locksmith and they say they can open both doors even though it’s not our apartment. Sounds like breaking and entering to us but gives us hope. We then learn that they will have to break both locks and we will have to pay to replace. So that solution is dead.

Our first flight is to Copenhagen, where we have a long layover before going to London. So if we can at least make the 2nd flight out of Berlin, we will still be able to make our connection. But if we don’t get the passport, Morgan’s vacation is extended since I think it takes a few days for the US Embassy to get you a new passport.

7:15am: Meanwhile, Morgan is trying to call our host and Nora. No dice.

7:18am: Morgan rereads all of our host’s emails…”Since Nora will be supplying her keys, please take note that there will be no spare key available.”

7:20am: I want to cry again.

7:28am: We decide to call Maggie, the 2nd emergency contact, just in case.

She answers!

She got back from Prague yesterday!

Her family is in town visiting.

We woke her up.

She has a set of spare keys.

7:32am: Ali makes a 3-point turn in the middle of the street and we head to pick up Maggie.

7:49am: Profusely apologizing to sleepy Maggie as Ali drives us back to the apartment.

8:17am: Passport recovered.

8:28am: Dropped Maggie back off at her apartment, profusely thanks her for saving our lives morning.

8:37am: Ali is driving like a bat out of hell.

8:40am: We arrive to the airport with 20 minutes to spare. 

If this were Hartsfield Jackson, it would have been impossible to check our bags, get through security and to our gate in time. But Tegal is miniature in comparison and we make it!

8:43am: Crisis averted. Casualties include Morgan’s dry shampoo and Oribe in the security line.  I need a bier.

Feeling thankful for Ali and his racecar driving skills. He was so helpful and went above and beyond his Uber Taxi-driving duties.

9:04am: Plane takes off. I’m craving Schnitzel.

< < fast forward > >

4:15pm: In line to board our flight in CPH. The guy two people in front of me looks familiar. I think I just saw him on a Jimmy Kimmel Mean Tweets video.

I may or may not have spent our 5-hour layover watching SNL clips and celebrity interviews on YouTube.

4:17pm: Googles:“Game Of Thrones cast.”

4:18pm: Shows Morgan and points to Jaime Lannister. Using her outside voice, she says, “That’s not Jaime Lannister.”

4:22pm: Upon further lurking, we confirm it is him. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the flesh.

4:48pm: Trip ends with a celeb sighting. I’m happy.

Four flights later (TXL > CPH > LHR > BOS > ATL) I’m back in Atlanta. Sunday blues going strong.

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Berlin

Where We Ate

Engelberg  

Pratergarten

Schleusenkrug

Leysieffer

Hirsch

Bäcker Weidmann

Humboldt Terrassen

Balzac Coffee

Schnitzelei (Mitte)

Zur Letzten Instanz

Hofbräu

Klunkerkranich

Berlin

Where We Explored

Mauerpark

Fat Tire Berlin Bike Tours

Tiergarten

Checkpoint Charlie

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Topography of Terrors

The Berlin Palace

Oktoberfest Berlin at Kurt-Schumacher-Damm

East Side Gallery

Alexanderplatz

Where We Stayed

Airbnb in Friedrichshain

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Hope you enjoyed these overly detailed travel recaps! Jetsetting with your best friend to far away countries is what your 20’s are for. Shout out to Morgie for being the best travel companion. Can’t wait for our next adventure!

Berlin

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