My first guest to Berlin in 2017 was my friend and ex-colleague Neil. He was looking to use up some carry forward leave and sent me a note to see if I was free in February. The 3rd weekend was the only weekend I was in Berlin which worked for him as well. Soon enough he had booked his tickets to London and to Berlin. Neil arrived on the evening of Thursday, February 16th after spending a few days touring around London and Bath in the UK. Unfortunately there was a strike happening at the airport that day in Berlin so his flight was diverted to Dresden and he was bused from there arriving a few hours later than planned. I had already booked us movie tickets at the Berlin Film Festival, Berlinale, which was going on from Feb 9th – 19th. I met Neil at the Potsdamer Platz station and we rushed over to the movie theatre to catch our show about 15 minutes late. We grabbed a beer and a glass of wine and enjoyed the documentary titled ‘André – The Voice of Wine’ about André Tchelistcheff who changed the Napa Valley wine industry after prohibition working as Beaulieu Vineyards (BV)’s chief winemaker. Steven Spurrier, who arranged the 1976 Judgement of Paris, was in attendance along with Andre’s grand-nephew who created the documentary. We enjoyed the film and then went for a quick pizza dinner at Vapiano’s before heading back to the apartment. On Friday, Neil joined a walking tour of Berlin to catch all of the main sites and we met back at the apartment after I got off work. We decided to keep it local and light, so we went to Bose Buben Bar, a restaurant in my neighbourhood I had been wanting to try. We retired early that evening as we had a morning train to catch to Görlitz.
The next morning we grabbed a coffee and some breakfast before catching the 8:38 train from Friedrichstrasse station. Görlitz is a town, located on the Neisse River in the German state of Saxony and is opposite of the Polish town of Zgorzelec, which became part of Poland in 1945 when the boundaries were re-drawn. In our pre-planning, Neil had mentioned doing a day trip and suggested Görlitz as one of his top picks. After doing a bit of research, I agreed it sounded like a great way to spend the day outside of Berlin.
We arrived just after 11:00 and strolled through the town taking in all of the architecture. Görlitz is one of the few German cities that did not suffer any bomb damage from WWII. We found the Görlitzer Warenhaus department store known for it’s appearance in the Grand Budapest Hotel movie however it was closed for renovations. After strolling through the town, we made our way down to the river towards St. Peter and Paul church. Unfortunately the churches in Görlitz are apparently closed during March and April so we could not go inside. We toured the grounds and then crossed the bridge into Poland for lunch. I had done a bit of research before hand and had a place in mind. We easily found Przy Jackubie and it was just starting to get busy for lunch. Neil went for the white polish soup and I went for the beet soup as a starter to warm us up from the cold. We both ordered the mixed perogies for the main course. All of it was simply delicious and super cheap to boot! We spent the afternoon walking along the river, crossing back into Germany and wandering the streets. We stopped for another warm up at a Café for a coffee and some black forest cake. Our last stop was the gluhwein stand and then we grabbed some train snacks for the journey back to Berlin at 8 pm. We got back around 10:30 pm and headed straight home after a long and chilly day.
Sunday was Neil’s last day in Berlin so we decided to have an easy morning. We had a late breakfast and then were off to the Berliner Dom for 12:00 when they open it up to tourists after Sunday service. We paid our 7 euro entrance fee and then began our tour of the church which included a walk up to the Dom for a view of the city as well as a tour of the crypts below. After our visit we were getting hungry for lunch, so we walked up to the KulturBraueri in Prenzlauer Berg as I heard that they had food trucks there on Sundays. We arrived, grabbed a couple of craft beers and scoped out the food truck options. I went for the Korean spicy chicken and Neil went for the classic raclette. We sat by the fire pit enjoying the warmth and atmosphere. Our last stop of the day was nearby Mauerpark which has an outdoor flea market every Sunday. We walked through the market surprised at the crowds. It was just starting to drizzle so we headed for the train to take us again to Potsdamer Platz for another documentary titled ‘Untitled’. After another big day, we went back to the apartment to have a light dinner and some German bubbly to celebrate my first guest in 2017. Neil flew back to London on Monday afternoon where he spent 2 more nights before heading back to Canada. Thanks to Neil for a great weekend and for being my first honoured guest in 2017!