What to do when you have spare time? Find a last minute flight and spend a night in Berlin!
At 8.30am we were at The Circus Hotel, a really fun and central place who put a lot of thought into their guests stay. The reviews were pretty good and had mentioned how friendly the staff were. Understatement. It didn’t take me long to realise that most of the people in Berlin were like this. I started to think it was a visa requirement to pass a nice test.
We had a few hours to kill before we could check in. As it was about 10 degrees warmer in Berlin compared to Oslo and it was quite warm inside, my internal thermostat suggested to me not to wear my winter coat out. Big mistake. 5 degrees is still 5 degrees, and with a wet and windy day, I should have known better.
It was suggested that we take one of the free walking tours. So we headed out to the meeting spot, but found ourselves there in between tour times, so we decided to do one on our own. We had a day transport ticket and a map. How hard could it be?
First tourist spot: Brandenburger Tor
Then over to Reichstag, where we discovered we needed to book in to see the dome. So we headed to Checkpoint Charlie, where we were tempted by shopping and my desire to buy a warmer pair of gloves. The Berlin Wall exhibition at Checkpoint Charlie really started to open my eyes to the history of Berlin.
We also wandered through the memorial to the murdered Jewish people. Rows and rows of different sized concrete slabs (2,711 in total). It was designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, whilst being within an ordered system. There are no names or symbols on the concrete pillars and when you’re amongst the taller ones (4.8m high), you feel small and a bit lost.
After some stopping inside stores (like Galeries Lafayette) to keep warm, we headed to the hotel to check-in. Here I found my love of Glühwein (which literally means “glowing wine”). A bit different to the mulled wine that I make, but tasty all the same. We also tried Currywurst, a classic Berlin dish of a sausage flavoured with curry and served with french fries. Yummo!
For dinner we decided to try some more German-fare and found a little place that serves regional German foods tapas style. While I was looking forward to a schnitzel, we decided to try some new dishes: chestnut soup, hare with celery mash, plums and pumpernickel, bread and spreads, and a beef dish. Hands down, the chestnut soup and the hare dish were fantastic.
We felt like a few drinks at a bar (although I was starting to get really tired), so we found a cool soviet-themed bar near our hotel. One problem, smoking inside. Yuck. So we ended up at the bar at the bottom of our hotel. P.S. I had more Glühwein. The bar/cafe/restaurant in the hotel was the site of a Jewish family’s mens clothing store. They had been “evicted” during the war. When the Circus Hotel bought the building, the named the bar/cafe/restaurant after the family, Fabisch.
On Friday, we booked in to see the Reichstag dome, a pretty impressive structure.
By night, we ended up at the Christmas markets in Alexanderplatz. More Glühwein was consumed. I think I have an addiction. The crazy thing is, it was only 3 euro and you could add a shot of amaretto or rum for a euro. Basically, booze is cheaper than water in Germany. The fairy lights everywhere made it really pretty and Christmasy.
All in all, a brief, but great night in Berlin. Will definitely be back. Next time we’ll soak up more history and museums and also some of the famous night life. Might need more than 48 hours.
Have you been to Berlin? What did you do on your first visit?