14 Aug What to eat, drink, and do in Berlin
Berlin is definitely one of those cities I want to return too, mostly because of the vibes. Like Amsterdam, there is something that feels easy about it, almost like I could live there. Perhaps it’s because almost everyone I met in Berlin wasn’t from Berlin or even Germany… I mean on our first day we had tapas at a restaurant where the owners were Spanish. Then, whilst we were exploring the neighbourhood we met a South African couple that started chatting to us because they heard our South African accents. Shortly afterwards, the Turkish guy who ran the café down the street from our AirBnB gave us free snacks cos we made him laugh. On the night we went to Berghain, we spent the night partying with a Moroccan guy, an Indian guy and British couple and the person who gave us this amazing local guide to Berlin, is Delia… a lovely South African advertising gal working and living in Berlin.
Let’s start with where to stay…
When investigating where to stay in Berlin, I knew, like Stockholm and Copenhagen that I wanted to stay in an interesting and diverse neighbourhood with character, far away from the tourist areas. After having dinner in South Africa with some global citizens one of which had just moved from Berlin to South Africa, she recommended the following neighbourhoods:
We ended by staying in an AirBnB in the graffiti covered Neukölln with its endless bars, vegan cafes, kebab shops, secondhand thrift stores and walk-in hybrid tattoo parlours.
Where we ate…
People are often surprised that I’d much rather prefer to spend my money eating and drinking than shopping when I am on vacation. As a result of this preference, I tend to build itineraries around recommended places to eat and have drinks, and that is exactly what I did in Berlin. From the Michelin star Bandol Sur Mer to my solo mission to Thai Park where I enjoyed Pad Thai, dumplings and mango and sticky rice dessert in Preußenpar, the aim was to eat and drink and well.
Bandol Sur Mer
After a day of exploring, we booked ourselves a table at “this contemporary French food restaurant in a very unpretentious setting, ” to borrow Delia’s words. The 6 course-tasting menu with wine pairings is not cheap at all, but with a one Michelin star, very much worth it for this interesting and fulfilling culinary experience.
Look, I love me some pizza, but we actually ended up at Zola by mistake. We were trying to make our way to the instagrammable Spindler Restaurant, which we ended up leaving due to bad service and ended up in pizza perfection at Zola. I finished the whole damn pizza by myself.
We arrived way after brunch because when you have daylight till 22:00 you tend to do that, but boy did we have a good time at this wonderfully charming spot under the Circus Hotel. We sat in the courtyard/garden enjoyed their delicious cocktails and hearty meals whilst listening to some really great music in the background. Also daydrinking is my favourite kind of drinking so this place made me happy.
Another Berlin tip that Delia gave us was to try book ahead of time if we wanted to eat somewhere, because the really good places in Berlin have queues almost all the time. On our last day in Berlin, we met up with Delia (for the first time) at Le Bon in Kreuzberg and there was a queue. Not sure, why I was surprised because to date, Delia had been right about everything. I ordered the Avocado Lime, an open sandwich with one egg, slowly cooked in its shell, basted in Japanese breadcrumbs and flash fried. It was so delicious. We drank mimosa’s and chatted about Johannesburg, Berlin, marriage, self actualisation and parted ways with Delia telling us to come back cos we had a place to stay with her. *she is now my new bff obvs…
Thai Park on a Saturday
I’m not sure whether this happens any other day than a Saturday, but I highly recommend that if you are in Berlin when the weather is warm and you like Thai food, that you make your way to Thai Park in Preußenpar in West Berlin.
After a night out at Tresor and Berghain, I woke up slightly fragile, but desperate to enjoy the warm weather, so I texted Delia. She told me to go to Thai Park. So I went to Thai Park. It was the perfect way to work off a hangover… Tucking into my Pad Thai, dumplings, mango and sticky rice dessert, whilst happily sipping on my strong Mai Thai reading a book on a beautiful Berlin summer’s day.
Read more about it here.
Places we saw…
I used to be one of those people who would travel somewhere and work overtime to want to only experience life in a city I am visiting through the eyes of the locals. For example, I have never gone to the Eiffel Tower and I only just recently visited The Lourve. However, in the past two or three years, I have started to really want to make sure that I do see the tourist attracts, especially where historically significant occurrences are involved.
The Brandenburg Gate
According to The Official Website of Berlin – Berlin.de, Brandenburg Gate is “Berlin’s most famous landmark” and is a “symbol of Berlin and German division during the Cold War” that has now become a “national symbol of peace and unity.” When planning your trip to see Brandenburg Gate, plan to visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe which is located near the Gate.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of EuropeLocated a few meters away from The Brandenburg Memorial in Mitte, what impresses me the most about the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is that it exists in such a public space. A space that people walk past and engage with almost everyday, therefore acknowledging the wrongdoings of the Holocaust in such a public way.
I highly recommend visiting the information center located underneath the memorial. It’s free of charge and it exists to give a place to the stories and memories of as many of the murdered Jews as they have information on. To remind everyone that the atrocities of the holocaust should never happen again. It got me thinking about Apartheid and South Africa, and how we need more monuments, spaces or memorials that are not only free of charge, but that also publicly acknowledge that Apartheid was wrong.
Where we drank and partied
On our first night in Berlin we ended up at this really simple, but awesome rooftop bar on the top floor of a mall parking lot. We made it just in time for sunset, ate nachos and had some gin & tonics whilst some rather arb but cool electronic dance music played in the background. Highly recommended by Delia and some other people we ran into on our trip.
Sage beach bar
Located in Kreuzberg right by the water, Sage Beach Bar is totally a vibe. Whilst I am not a fan of beach sand where there isn’t actually an ocean (cos then it’s just a sandpit in my opinion), I really enjoyed myself at this spot. Maybe it’s because the bartender gave me my drinks for free and we had like 10 shots of tequila whilst we were there? Either way, the setting is lovely, people are trying to have a good time there and it’s really nice to be by the water when the sun is out.
Tresor Club & Berghain
After 10 shots of tequila at Sage Beach Bar, we headed to the cluuuurb. We started off at Tresor, an underground techno nightclub in Mitte then ended off the morning at Berghain. A solid morning out… and if you don’t mind techno you’ll really have a good time.