Since being in London for almost 2 years now, my favourite weekend getaway city so far has definitely been Berlin. A few weekends ago we headed back for visit #2. Get ready for a photo heavy post. Flying in late, we didn’t arrive at the hotel until nearly midnight. After sleeping in the next morning, we headed to a new German restaurant a few doors down from our hotel. When we were in Berin in September, the building was completely under construction, and now it had been turned into a massive German beer hall, seating what I can only guess at being 500 people. It was a warm day so we sat outside. Staff were dressed in traditional clothing and service ranged from pleasant to surly. We persevered.
A lunchtime special of a Jaeger Schnitzel for 5.50 euros was an unmissable deal. No English menu to be seen, schnitzel was the only word I recognised. A thick pork schnitzel arrived, covered in a creamy mushroom sauce. Golden crunchy fries on the side. Massive bargain, highly recommended.
The afternoon was spent walking around the Bauhaus museum and Mitte. Headed to my favourite store Weekdays (a mix of Cheap Monday and their own Weekdays brand) and found a coffee shop/bar that if I lived near would be a regular haunt for me. Called Mein Haus am See, this place was a hodge podge of vintage furniture. Around 15 couches filled the floor and at the back were huge stairs, filled with more pillows for people to sit on. The coffee was admittedly very average, but with plenty of comfortable seats it was hard to leave. At night this place turn into bar, a place I would love to come back and experience for myself. Time Out Berlin has a better photo that I managed to get, here (first pic at the top).
During our first Berlin visit we happened across a Japanese restaurant that while not anything brilliant to be remembered, was still pleasant enough for us to try and find it again. Unfortunately we could not for the life of us remember either the name or where the hell it was. We got lucky and found something even better than a mediocre Japanese restaurant….a Ramen restaurant that I had read about when researching Berlin restaurants but didn’t bother to write down the address. Called Cocolo, this place specialised in ramen. 2 seats at the bar, beer in hand, I was very happy at the unexpected find.
Edamame to start, it arrived with a hat on! Its purpose? Discarded shells! Such a cute idea, more places should do this.
Next up was a place of gyoza. Good meaty filling, these were unfortunately not cooked very well. The pan-fried sides had started to come away from the the steamed side; their insides poking out.
And finally the ramen.
Miso for Duncan, Shiyo for myself. The Shiyo was quite good. Lime and lemon peel had been diced finely into the broth adding acidity to counter the saltiness. Noodles still had a bite to them and weren’t overcooked. Very very happy at this unexpected find.
Definitely would recommend this place. It was a little bit out the way but worth the walk through unlit streets to eat there. Bizarrely, after not being able to remember where the original Japanese place was we were looking for, I was able to remember where the absinthe bar was that we visited last time.
A tiny little thing it is decorated with vintage Absinthe posters (all for sale) and literally hundreds of variations of absinthe. The space is taken up with one large table and small high table with only a couple of chairs. Service is on the surly side but for 3.50 euros you can sample a glass of absinthe. Personally – I’m not a fan. It is much much too strong. When Duncan wasn’t looking I tipped some of mine into his glass. Sucker. After snapping a few pics, I noticed the ‘No photos’ poster on the wall. Oops. They didn’t notice.
The next day we headed up for a mini hike up to teufelsberg. This place was used as a spy station during the cold war. Largely abandoned now, it’s a fascinating place to go. Covered in graffiti and piles of rubbish, it’s quite beautiful in its own way. To get there, you first need to get to the right hill.
See the tower in the distance? Yeah, that’s where you need to go. Somehow we ended up on the wrong hill.
So, once you get to the right hill, you need to climb through a hole in the fence. Admittedly, yes I believe it’s probably illegal, but when we left, there was an elderly couple in their 60’s who had climbed through, so it’s not a particularly dangerous area and while we there we saw maybe another 20 people or so just wandering around like us.
The grounds are amazing to walk around in and discover. Clearly the remain of several raves had been held there over the years, and it’s actually possible to climb right up to the top of the tallest tower and look out at stunning views over Berlin. I really loved this place. Enough words about this place, just look at the pics.
After that massive hike, we needed another schnitzel so headed back to Hof Braeu Haus. Sadly the bargain schnitzel was only on offer on weekdays, so instead we had the veal schnitzel, served with potato salad and cranberry sauce. It was everything a good schnitzel should be; golden, crispy, but at a price of 15 euros, compared with the weekday special of 5 euros, it came off as being overpriced.
So, I can’t quite remember what happened next. I’m guessing we took a nap. I’m getting pretty old and all that walking around takes it out of you. For dinner we walked around Mitte and WTF? – we found the Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately it was pretty shite. I don’t know what happened. Service was slow and the food was poor. Sashimi arrived sliced into uneven chunks and everything came covered in spring onions. For the record, the place was called Goko. Only small pics below because – it was crap.
That night we headed to Berghain for some techno. Hectic, crazy club, regularly rated as being one of the best places to go clubbing in the world, it really is a place that needs to be experienced at least once. Definitely do some research before you go – I think the owners have watch the Soup Nazi Seinfeld episode one to many times and there are strict rules in place before you are let in. When we researched this place, all the reviews were completely polarizing, however one thing was very clear. Everyone who got in raved (ha! – pun) about how brilliant it was. Everyone who was turned away said it was crap. So there you go. Do some research and you’ll be fine.
So clubbing from midnight till 7am will screw up your sleeping pattern, so nothing but sleep was achieved Saturday. Not having eaten for 24 hours now, we needed some big. Something tasty. Something beefy. We needed The Bird. The Bird is an American restaurant specialising in beef – steaks and burgers. Ooooh yeah. We didn’t have a booking, we just chanced it and while there were no free tables (all reserved) there was plenty of room at the bar. Good enough for us, it just meant that steaks were probably out of the equation as the bar was so high up and unless you want your elbows up around your ears while you cut into the steak, you’re better off with the burger.
The menu is quite funny is worth a look. They hate people who use cutlery for burgers (as do I) and they hate people who eat their steak well done (as do I). We ordered 2 Da Birdhouse burgers. Holy Shit. Look what turned up. For 11.50 you get a massive plate overflowing with fries. The burger was maybe a little bit overcooked to the medium rare I requested, but the whole thing was so messy and juicy and fucking awesome it didn’t really matter in the end. I was once again shoving handles of burger and meat and onion in my mouth just so I was dropping it everywhere. Messy melty American cheese, grilled bacon and grilled onions finished it off. Lettuce and tomato were served on the side, but to be honest it was a paltry gesture as the burger was so high that there was no way to get them on there and still maintain any dignity. As it was, the burger didn’t stay together. The use of an English Muffin wasn’t great – it didn’t really help soak up the juices or do anything to help keep it together, but honestly – this was so good and tasty. Definitely my favourite Berlin meal.
Last day, last meal in Berlin. Went back to our favourite schnitzel house, this time for the pork chop with spatzle. The spatzle was so buttery and rich. I need more spatzle in my life.
Duncan had the roast beef. It came with sauerkraut and a weird potato thing. Seriously what was that thing? It looked like a potato but it was really gelatinous! I tried to google what the hell it was, but yeah I failed. Stay away from the weird gelatinous potato at all costs!
And just for more pics, here are some extra eats.
A big ol’ chunk of cake layered with cream and jam, surround by marizpan and dipped in chocolate. This was a little too sweet and I abandoned this after 3/4. Only cost me 1.50 though!
It’s not a trip to Berlin without Ritter Sport. I went with Caramel Nuts. Sweet and crunchy, I won’t stop until I’ve tried all their flavours!
We stayed at the H2 Hotel, located only a 5 minute walk from Alexanderplatz. A good hotel, I can definitely recommend it. Clean and modern, breakfast included, free wi-fi in the rooms with iPads in reception. Bathrooms were brand new. The only weird thing? The Brady Bunch beds. And by that, I mean, 2 large singles beds pushed together. No joke, see?
To be fair, once you got over the initial weirdness, the gap down the middle wasn’t as uncomfortable to lie across as it first seemed and the seperate blankets meant there was no blanket yanking!
Ergh. So this was a pretty rambling post. Sorry. It’s also pretty badly written. In my defence it’s taken me a shite-load of time to write this. Ergh. I need a lie down from typing exhaustion now.