In March, 44 days after Trump was sworn-in as president, we had a mini weekend introduction to Berlin. These might seem unrelated, but, I assure you, they’re not. On this particular weekend, visiting the former seat of the Third Reich and home to another paranoid fascist felt fitting. We arrived on the same day he accused Obama (over Twitter, of course) of wiretapping his phones. Two days later, he signed a new executive order. This time, he was reinstating the travel ban and suspending the refugee program in the US.
Despite the fact that this was my first visit, and in light of everything stateside, I shied away from visiting the city’s most famous sites. I didn’t have the stomach for the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, or the Topography of Terror. They’re certainly on my list for when we return, but honestly, reading the news every single day of the first 100 days of this insanity gave me enough anxiety and heartache. I didn’t need any additional reminders of how shitty humans can be.
Instead, while in Berlin, we decided to focus on the beauty of this diverse, industrial-feeling city. I’m not sure it ranks too high on my list of favorite cities, but I’m so, so glad we went.
where we stayed
Postdamer Platz // The hubs had a conference, so we were in a pretty businessy-feeling hotel in Potsdamer Platz. The hotel itself is unimpressive, and not particularly worth mentioning. It was fine. Mainly, I wasn’t crazy about the location. To its credit, Potsdamer Platz is very well-connected by public transit to the rest of the city, and particularly accessible from the airport. Unfortunately, like much of Europe, I didn’t find the U-Bahn stations to be very pram-accessible. Because lazy baby & I spent a lot of solo time traversing the city, I preferred to walk everywhere. It’s just easier than lugging a buggy up and down train station steps.
This can be a limiting aspect of travel with a little one, but luckily, I’m never averse to walking. The neighborhoods in Berlin, though, are SPREAD OUT. For first-timers especially, I would suggest staying over closer to Brandenburg Gate, or somewhere in Mitte. Potsdamer Platz isn’t technically far from anything, but I rarely found the walk to and from to be enjoyable.
what we saw
Brandenburg Gate // Speaking of the Gate, this was the very first thing we saw. Pariser Platz, the area surrounding the gate, was packed during our visit, and I imagine it’s always very much like this.
It’s obviously still worth a stroll, both to see the gate and because it sets you up for a nice walk through Mitte. It also helped that we had perfect early spring weather this day to enjoy (the only of our trip; the rest was FREEEEEZING).
The Tiergarten // We walked through the Tiergarten a few times, which is Berlin’s main park. It was hard to get a feel for it, as it was the literal dead of winter, but I imagine it’s beautiful in the spring and summer.
The East Side Gallery // While I’m not usually one for street art, it’s impossible to avoid in Berlin. Naturally, a visit to the East Side Gallery was in order, if only to see some of the city’s most famous works of art.
Given the current climate, our time here was more emotional and moving than I expected. Even with the huge group of study abroad students taking duck-lipped selfies in front of each piece.
what we ate
Mogg // After we hit up Brandenburg, we were ravenous. We had no idea what we were looking for specifically, because I only really know Bavarian food. Berlin’s not really the spot for soft pretzels and das boots, unfortunately. Then Mogg popped up on a search, and we rolled into this little deli inside a former Jewish girls’ school in the Gallery District. We knew immediately that this was exactly what we were looking for. It was a bit of a wait, but worth it for the authentic Reuben and pickles on everything.
ORA // This former apothecary-turned-brunch hotspot was easily the prettiest restaurant stop of our trip, and filled up quickly. Get here early, and try and nab a booth seat.
Kulturbrauerei // I asked for some suggestions on Insta on our first day, and Global Brunch Blog pulled through. She originally suggested Markthalle Neun, which didn’t have ideal hours with our plans, so we missed out on that. It looks pretty awesome, though. Instead, we hit up her second suggestion, which is a historic brewery that hosts a bunch of food trucks every Sunday. There was live music and tons of people milling about, and we had the HARDEST time picking one spot. I actually forget what we had, some sort of dumpling maybe? Even if just for a pint and some people-watching, this is a worthy stop.
where we indulged our sweet tooth
Rausch Schokoladenhaus // Over in Charlottenstrasse is one of Berlin’s most famous chocolate shops — and they seem to have a few. The cafe kept popping up on things to see and do, but we just popped in for some truffles and to ogle the ENORMOUS chocolate sculptures decorating the ground floor. I’m not even that into chocolate, but I was still impressed.
westberlin bar & shop // I didn’t realize until we arrived that our visit overlapped with ITB Berlin. I think this might make me the worst travel blogger in existence, and I briefly considered trying to nab a pass… but then I realized there was nothing I wanted to do less. Luckily, one blogger friend was in town who was up for meeting outside of the conference, and that was how a coffee date with Erin of 10 Miles Behind Me came into play on our very last morning! The cafe was fine if you’re near Checkpoint Charlie and in need of a pick-me-up, but the company was better.
where we shopped
KaDeWe // On one of our solo days, Lola sent us over to KaDeWe, where I roamed around the food hall for an hour, if not more, wanting to buy & eat everything. Because the seating options were tough with a buggy, Margot & I popped upstairs to the buffet-style restaurant for lunch. It was a surprisingly nice stop, although, it was here that I learned that carrying a tray of food while pushing a buggy is not easy. Luckily, the staff was very sweet. After, I let lazy baby play around in the kids’ toy & books section, and we left with a pop-up Easter book entirely in German. All toddlers should know that the German word for daffodil is osterglocken, right?
And that, meine freunde, is that! A lovely little intro to a city I never really gave too much thought to visiting. I do think I prefer Munich, but Berlin is certainly the cooler of the two… which, honestly, is why I probably feel more at ease in its Bavarian counterpart.