Berlin is such a dynamic and unique city that it’s hard to narrow it down to any one type of place. The buildings are loaded with history and the people have a quick wit and a sharp humour. Here are my top three tips from my three day trip to Berlin.
Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church
A section of the wall in Potsdamerplatz
Berlin’s flee market
One of the most enjoyable times during the trip was our visit to Berlin’s flee markets. For a city that is so rich in history, it has a treasure trove of antiques; from old currency, to silver spoons to racks upon racks of buttons and pins. There was a really nice atmosphere around the markets as well, people are there to make deals, they work with a purpose and a list, as opposed my listless ramblings. I had a great time picking through boxes of trinkets and shuffling through tables of buttons (one stall stuffed to the gills with buttons). I also got to try currywurst at this market, a Berlin delight of sausage with paprika spices generously drizzled over the top. Very delicious.
As a lover of markets I got my fill as we also visited the Turkish markets near the U-Bahn stop Kottbusser Tor. Don’t be fooled by the fruit stalls lining the beginning of the market and scattered throughout, although the pastries and breads are rather nice, there are true treasures to be found here! Just walk in a little farther and you will find stall after stall after stall of fabrics at €3 a meter and €5 a meter, cottons, synthetics and prints. Admittedly this is not the place for the highest quality but there are soft jerseys to be found and gorgeous prints to be unveiled. Don’t just walk towards this market, run towards it!
The exterior of the Reichstag
The inner spiralling walkway of the Reichstag’s dome
The Reichstag was another impressive site. One of the top sites of the city and I can see why. Getting there is a little bit of a struggle as you have to wait in line just to get a ticket but the groups are evenly spaced and once you’re in the dome you don’t feel crowded, plus its free. The view from the top of the Reichstag is also impressive, you can see Potsdamer Platz, the Brandenburg gate and all the way to the Zoo. The Dome itself is an architectural beauty, light curves of glass and steel: the glass titled at such as angle as to catch the light like a mirror. Inside there are sloping walkways which spiral towards the centre, providing 360 views of the city at the top. We visited the dome around sunset, catching the slight haze over the city, giving everything an ephemeral quality. Despite the strong, icy wind it was still well worth visiting as it was one of the most memorable moments of the trip.
Another highlight from the trip was Nikolaiviertel, the old district of Berlin, a little medieval haven in the centre of the city, a few minutes from Alexanderplatz and the TV tower. The cobble stone streets curved around the Nikolakirche, with the rest of the area littered withcafes, shops and teddy bears. This is the perfect place to relax and to relish in Berlin’s medieval architecture. I would also recommend a visit to Cafe Konditorei, their teas are something else (the jasmine is delicious!) and their selection of cakes, biscuits and pastries was one of the best that we saw during the trip. If nothing else will sway you their seats are deep, the type of place that you want to rest your weary feet to read a few chapters of your book (can you tell how I spent my time in this cafe?!) . You should also be sure to watch the array of christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling.
The modern Potsdamerplatz station
The traditional S-Bahn stop for Potsdamerplatz
In all this was an extremely enjoyable trip. The city carries this huge sense of gravity about it. There is a different kind of atmosphere here that is hard to find. You can feel how decisions made here have a weight within Europe and the world. You can feel the history of the place, as is evident in the remaining buildings before the war and the memorials and museums scattered around the city. This is a town which inspires you, which takes you in slowly until it has your heart, which makes you want to return again and again for that unique sense of being at the centre of everything. I can be sure that this will not be the last time that I will visit Berlin.