Travel: Berlin, I love you, but my feet hurt / by Tash South

Welcome to my first travel piece, in this category I plan to write about the decor, architecture and food of the destinations I visit now and then.

As all the house build admin was keeping us stupidly busy for months and months, and we hadn’t been away for a while, we decided to be spontaneous and book a weekend in Berlin in back in May. And as Berlin is one of the design capitals of the world, I was really excited to visit!

Day One

The 2.30am wake up wasn’t that exciting though, but somehow it’s not so bad when you know you’re going to the airport. The flight from London is so short – barely an hour and a half – and I didn’t even manage to get through one of the three interiors magazines I bought for the flight. Once landed, it’s an easy train journey into the city centre. We were staying on Französische Straße, which is close to many museums and the Brandenburg Gate.

The Hotel

After the early start we headed straight to the hotel to dump our bags down and start exploring, The Titanic was were we stayed, it was a difficult decision as there seemed to be so many amazing hotels to choose from, but on arrival, we were pretty happy with our choice – and it had a spa! The hotel lobby was luxe to the extreme - marble, marble, everywhere - the grey veined, cool, lush marble that I love!

The gold birdcage chairs with navy velvet seats with paired with the dark grey marble coffee table really made a statement on entering the hotel lobby.

… and single pink flowers in little bowl vases on the table contrast gorgeously with the dark grey and white marble…

There were also these great pendant lights in the lounge area, made all the more dramatic as there were four of them hung perfectly spaced out – each once placed exactly in the centre of each window. 

Oh, and the drinks trolleys – so cool, everyone should make some space in their living room for a drinks trolley. Right?

Gold Drinks Trolley

Out and About

I reluctantly pulled myself away from the gold and marble hotel lobby to start exploring the vast city that is Berlin.

We started with the immediate area, a couple of minutes from the hotel Titanic, is Markgrafenstraße, along which you will find Konzerthaus Berlin, a 19th century classical concert hall, Hugenotten-Museum and a stunning church and cathedral - Französischer Dom and Neue Kirche. There are some gorgeous restaurants around where you can properly dine al fresco, white tablecloths and all! We stopped here for lunch at the restaurant Refugium before exploring further. If you’re in Berlin and you’re looking for an upmarket more formal dining experience, this is where to head.

Französischer Dom

Lamps outside the Konzerthaus

We continued on foot, just wandering and taking everything in, there was so much to see, and as we were only there for a couple of days, we spent most of our time just walking through the city and seeing as much as possible – not wanting to spend any time in long queues for the regular tourist attractions. I saw some pretty things that caught my eye…

Berlin really is a designer's dream, I didn’t have time for much shopping, but just looking in some of the shop windows clearly shows the Germans' interest and excellence in design of all kinds.
I spotted some absolute beauties below including a wooden bicycle!

Coco Mat Berlin Shop Window

We also spent a great deal of time at the Berlin Wall Monument, where the points in history are displayed along the length of a remaining section of the wall. Go when you are feeling strong though, I didn’t make it halfway along before the tears came and we decided to move on, making a quick stop at Checkpoint Charlie along the way.

On our wanderings we also came across the Spy Museum, which was really attention grabbing with it’s luminous green signage. Also hard to miss is the Dali exhibition – with its’ red signage, red lips chairs and a white piano with a working tap installed in the lobby area - fab way of drawing people in.

Our feet starting to hurt – he went back to our Hotel. After a quick stop, and we were out again. This time on the Metro to try and find a relaxed place for dinner and drinks.

On the Metro we made our way towards Alenderplatz to the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), is among the tallest structures in the European Union at 368 meters. Our plan was to head up to the observation floor, but when we arrived they had stopped selling tickets because of over-booking – so if you want to go here – make sure you book in advance!

Instead, we made our way to Heinrichplatz Station and the area of Kreuzberg, on Oranienstraße, we found an array of chilled bars, cafes and restaurants. Of course I had to test out the prossecco in at least two of the bars before we stopped at a buzzing Mexican Street Food place called Santa Maria, where the food was super fresh, just typing this is making me want to go back there for a burrito straight away!  The décor in Santa Maria fascinated me, it has a deliciously dark side, the illustrations on the walls were almost scary. There is a large gallery wall they have created, which looks innocent enough at first glance, but if you look closer there is some really dark and out-there stuff mixed in! I spent a great deal of the evening quietly examining all the pictures and being an awful date!

The deliciously dark Santa Maria wall murals (above) and gallery wall (below)

Tired from the early start, bellies full and feet aching we headed back to the hotel.

If you’re in Berlin and looking for a bit rough round the edges relaxed dining, loads of bars and a buzzing atmosphere, then Kruezber is where you want to be.

Day Two

The next day we were straight back out there, no time to waste when there is so much to see!
We decided that we would do a couple of touristy things on day two and just continue to walk and explore as we had been. We started with the Brandenburg gate.

En route to the Brandenburg Gate I noticed an interesting concept which I haven’t yet seen in London – it’s the way trendy cafés or restaurants are attached to showrooms for companies like Microsoft and Volkswagen - and are open to the public, not just their staff. We stopped at the VW shop close the Brandenburg Gate for the most delicious smoked salmon on rye sandwiches – they were so good, that I insisted going back there for breakfast on our last day before our flight, and it’s very appropriately called Drive.

At the Microsoft Café they had cleverly arranged these cushions in all their brand colours on the benches just outside their attached café.

Approaching the Brandenburg gate was awesome, it is huge, but then again, most of the buildings in Berlin are. The Brandenburg gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument, and one of the best-known landmarks of Germany. It’s in the western part of the city centre, within the district of Mitte. It was considerably damaged in World War II, and was restored from 2000 to 2002. During the post-war Partition of Germany, the gate was isolated and inaccessible immediately next to the Berlin Wall.

The Brandenburg Gate

At the Reichstag, which is located just North of the Brandenburg Gate, we went west along Paul-Löbe-Allee, all the way along to International Contemporary Arts Space, where there is a stunning open beer garden next to the canal to stop for a drink or two. Along the canal there is some spectacular architecture – Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus, Paul-Löbe-Haus (the Government Offices) and the German Chancellery are all enormous examples.

The Reichstag. Image Wikipedia

Das Paul-Löbe-Haus beherbergt die Ausschüsse des Bundestages. © DBT/Reiss

The German Chancellery

I found Berlin's construction monumental and masculine, its’ history has left the city with an eclectic assortment of architecture.

Thinking it was about time for a rest, we sought out the well-known beer garden in Tiergarten – to sample more prossecco of course. It was so tranquil and relaxing, the perfect place for a pit stop, although we stopped too long as we had to rush like crazy to get to our late lunch reservation at Neni Restaurant and Monkey Bar at the Bikini Hotel, which was so awesome that I’m going to give it it’s own blog! We ended up staying for hours - gorgeous food and surroundings and then King Kong Cocktails on the rooftop terrace of the linked Monkey Bar.

Totally chilled, we jumped in a taxi back to our hotel, for a short respite before heading out on our last Berlin jaunt – drinks at Sage Restaurant with it’s own mini beach on our final night in this interesting city.

We left the next morning relaxed, albeit a couple of pounds heavier, and with very sore feet!

Danke schön Berlin, you were awesome.