While Dan was driving the dunes and hiking the Hajars, Tarina and I were exploring Berlin during the first 3 weeks in May. Originally, we had planned to maybe do some weekends away but, due to unforeseen circumstances, like arranging my Chinese visa, we ended up staying put. Tarina kept busy during the week and we got to discover some new things together in the evenings and on the weekends.
The first weekend – Kopenick & Potsdam
Tarina pulled one of the Berlin bucket challenges and we were off to Keyser Soze Café for dinner on Friday night. We both went for the traditional German spätzle and then afterwards we went for drinks in this hidden spot Tarina had found in Hackescher Hofe, with the walls covered in amazing spray-painted murals. On Saturday morning, we were off to Treptower Park, which had been recommended by my colleagues. The tulips were in full bloom and we also noticed lots of people were out on the water enjoying the spring-ish weather. We walked through the park, past the eerie abandoned amusement Spreepark, and ended up in Planterwald Park before we hopped on the bus to Kopenick. Kopenick is a small little fishing village in the south of Berlin where we stopped for a late lunch. We wanted to try some more traditional German food so I went for the goose and Tarina went for the goulash. We made a quick stop in the Schloss Kopenick before heading back to central Berlin. On Sunday, we decided to head outside the city on a day trip to Potsdam. I had not been yet and was saving this trip for good weather and someone to enjoy it with. We grabbed our coffees and set out on the S-bahn. Upon arrival, we walked through the nearby park before heading over to Sancoussi Palace where we would spend much of the afternoon exploring the huge palace grounds. The sun finally began to pop out that afternoon and we decided that enjoying some Rose on one of the many street lined cafes would be a great way to end our weekend. We picked up some in-season spargel, otherwise known as white asparagus, on our way home from the market and cooked it up for dinner that evening.
Our second weekend – Kreuzberg & Grunewald
Tarina spent the week in Berlin checking out the main sights. We met up for wine and shopping one evening at KaDeWe and for beers in Prater Garten, Berlin’s oldest beer garden, after work on Thursday. On Friday, we made our way down to the opening weekend of Bite Club, a bi-weekly food truck event in Kreuzberg. This event was also near Treptower Park so we returned there first to find the Soviet War Memorial that we had missed the prior weekend. 7000 Red Army soldiers are buried there along with a mausoleum on the hill topped by the statue of a Soviet soldier, carrying a child in one arm and resting his sword on a shattered swastika. We made it to the Bite Club event, grabbed a couple glasses of German wine, and enjoyed overlooking the festival before we stood in the long cue for the Jamaican jerk chicken. After dinner, we walked along the river and found a cool bar, Club Der Visionare (CDV), which we popped into for a drink and some music to end the night. The next morning, we explored the neighbourhood of Charlottenburg where we grabbed a delicious brunch at Die Stulle. We strolled down Ku-damn and then made our way to an outdoor food market where we picked up some German Ravioli, Maultaschen, for dinner that evening. On Sunday morning, we were once again hopping the train outside of the city but this time we were heading to do some hiking in the Grunewald forest. We got off the train at the Grunewald station and found the signs for Gleis 17. We had read that this closed platform had been turned into a memorial site for the victims of the war that had been sent to different concentration camps. The site included the date, how many Jews had been sent on the train and to which camp they had been sent. We then started our hike towards Teufelsberg, the abandoned communication site of the American’s during WWII. A site which was completely abandoned and vandalized but efforts are now being made to offer tours of the area, including inviting known spray paint artists to decorate the grey walls. We grabbed a pint of weiss bier at one of the many beer gardens at the forest exits before heading back into the city as it started to rain.
Third weekend – Thai Park & Tastings
Tarina took the bus to Krakow on Monday morning and returned back on Friday night where we met up for a glass at nearby Café Bose and went out for dinner in the neighbourhood. Saturday’s adventure was to have lunch in Thai Park, or officially Preussen Park, in the West Berlin district of Wilmersdorf. As story has it, 20 years ago the Thai community started meeting in this park for family picnics and fellow park goers started asking if they could purchase the thai food being prepared. This evolved into what is now a full on commercial enterprise. Our visit here did not disappoint. We took some recommendations from a blogger to try to find the saku sai moo, tapioca dumplings filled with ground pork and peanuts, and the famous pork noodle soup lady. Both recommendations were delicious. We finished our late lunch in the park and were off to Charlottenburg Palace for a wine tasting festival. We enjoyed tasting some local German varietals and our last wine stop seemed to be our favourite so we grabbed a few bottles to take back to the apartment. That evening, we dined on some delicious macadamia nut sausage, garlic sausage, and cheese we picked up at the tasting. Sunday was a gorgeous day so we set out on foot to explore. Our first stop was for coffee at The Barn, then to the Prenzlauer Berg Water Tower and just after lunch time we hit our destination at Kultur Brauerie for the craft beer festival. We grabbed a couple of Bavarian brews and some Mexican tacos from the food trucks. We then tried the unique Pirate Brew Berlin and shared the truffle gnocchi and Korean spicy fried chicken. Our last stop of the day was another bucket challenge for some Woop Woop ice cream. As it was the first real nice warm day we had to do it. The freshest ice cream you will ever have as they make each batch using a mix master and then chill it using some pretty high-tech nitrogen equipment. A great way to enjoy the last bit of sunshine and the end of the weekend. Tarina left on Tuesday morning heading north to start her own Scandinavian adventure. It was great having a friend visit and to explore so much of Berlin with!