Monday, January 27, 2014
Last weekend a few of my friends and I went to Berlin for a quick little getaway. Our friends Natalie and Christian are doing an exchange there, so we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to hang out with them there and use their insider knowledge of the city. Getting cheap red eye flights meant that we could dash down there for a bit and not even have to miss any school (I actually got to school early Monday morning, after heading there straight from the airport, ugh). This was my fourth time to Berlin, but every time I find it's almost like visiting a new city. There is so much to see that I always just barely scratch the surface. And coming from Copenhagen, it's a breath of fresh air (although freezing cold fresh air in January) to be in a place with such a different, more relaxed vibe. I thought I would round up some of the places we went, if you happen to be visiting and in need of a few recommendations. Natalie also just wrote a great post for S Magazine about architecture in Berlin that is definitely worth a read too.
1. Dada Falafel - This was one of the first things we did, and one on the top of my list. I was dying to have some halloumi, since I love it and it's hard to find in Copenhagen. There is no shortage of good falafel places in Berlin, but this was some of the best I've tried. Really fresh and full of herbs and spices. Plus, halloumi. Enough said. (image source)
2. Boros Collection - This is a private collection of contemporary art housed in a converted bunker. I think it's one of the many semi-secret things in Berlin - it's not clearly advertised and you have to make an appointment to see the collection at least 6 weeks or so in advance of your visit. That being said, it was one of the highlights of the weekend and one of the best collections I've seen in a while. The tour guide was also so great, and knew a lot of background stories about the artists and the works that really added to seeing them. Plus, the architectural history of the bunker was fascinating. Really recommended! (Image source and more photos of the collection)
3. Monsieur Vuong's - For dinner we went to Monsieur Vuong's, which is a great Vietnamese place. They are pretty busy but they are super fast so it doesn't take too long to get a table. They had a nicely small and simple menu and everything changes often so each time you go you can try something new. Berlin has such an amazing selection of international food, and it's so cheap (especially relatively to Copenhagen) to eat out there. I had the biggest bowl of vermicelli noodle salad and ate the entire thing. So good. (Image source)
4. Tier - It was a happy accident that we stumbled upon this cocktail bar on Saturday night looking for a place that had space for us all. It was the perfect mix of a casual atmosphere and really, really good drinks. Plus, they had an old black and white tv behind the bar playing a close up video of a Persian cat being pet for hours. I complemented the bartender on it and he said he played it because it relaxed him when things got busy. (Image source)
5. Flea markets - On Sunday we went for brunch and then went to a flea market, which is the perfect thing to do in Berlin. I can't remember which one we went to, but there are so many that you can pretty much just wander around until you find something you like. Here is a more detailed list. There are also a lot of really nice food markets that you can check out too. You really can't visit Berlin without going to some of the markets, even if it's really cold out and you decide to buy a salt crystal lamp that weighs a ton and that you have to drag around with you all day, which may have happened.
6. Datscha - This place was amazing! It's a modern Russian restaurant, and the interior is has a nice old house/cabin vibe without being kitsch. Plus, the menu is pretty much different kinds of pierogi (dumplings) which, being Canadian, are my favourite ever. I got the tasting plate pictured, which had potato dumplings and tons of different pickled vegetables and salads to go with them. Yum.