March 24, 2010

das ist berlin! a story of east-german wanderlust

I've always had a serious case of wanderlust, so when I booked my trip to Berlin I'm sure none of my friends were surprised. I have an insatiable desire to see and experience everything, (though, honestly, 5 days is barely enough time to get oriented in a city let alone become immersed in a new culture). I easily could have spent a few weeks there - walking leisurely through the city and taking extended bike rides throughout Tiergarten (Berlin's answer to Central Park) and hours upon hours weaving in and out of galleries.

My first glimpse of the iconic Brandenburg gate.

Our first night in Berlin was spent at the White Trash Food Bar (yes, really), where we people-watched all the indie-kids, hipsters, and rockabillies coming in for the food, music, drinks, and the tattoo parlor located in the basement. Skip the food, stay for the drinks, awesome tattoos, and Dead Kennedy's on surround-sound.

Parts of the Berlin Wall still stand throughout the entire city. Funny thing about the round pieces of concrete atop the wall: They were a gift from West Berlin that were intended to be used to build a plumbing system within East Berlin. Rather than using them for that purpose, the cylinders were put on the top of the wall to prevent people from trying to climb over.

I'm sure the parks are even more gorgeous later in the spring and summer, but there was something really stunning about the leafless trees.

There are many hidden treasures throughout Tiergarten, but one of them was this biergarten! An ice-cold shandy in the middle of a long bike ride? Yes, please.

One must-visit spot is the KaDeWe department store.Skip the shopping, go straight to the food hall on the top floor. Trust me! (Okay, confession: I also purchased myself a wallet from the Miu Miu boutique on the ground floor.)

Picknick was one of the best nightlife events we experienced on our trip! Tucked away in a hidden section in Mitte, we went through a series of doorways and a courtyard to find a bustling party with some of the most beautiful Berliners I had seen. The rooms were filled with heart-shaped balloons, "LOVE" tags, and the cheesiest set of love pop-songs from the last 30+ years.

Austin took this (silly, sorry) picture of me. I guess I like it enough to post it here!

Apple streudel is a must. We enjoyed this one at Einstein's, a café down the street from the Brandenburg.

On the weekends, there are outdoor fleamarkets along the entirety of Berlin's rivers.

The National Galerie is one of the many, many museums located on Museum Island, (yes, it's an actual island in the heart of the capital city). The architecture was one of my favorite parts - along with the impressive collection of German, Austrian, and old Prussian art.

Cupcake is the first cupcake outpost in Berlin, building its home in Friedrichshain - one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. It's adorable, filled with little bits of Americana seldom seen in Germany, and the cupcakes are delicious to boot.

One of the three things every visitor to berlin MUST eat (the other two being apple streudel and currywurst) is the Döner kebab. A quarter of Berlin's 4-million-person population is Turkish, and this is most evident in the food. The döner kebab was one of the best things I ate in Berlin!

There are few blocks in berlin that lack a second-hand shop of some sort, most spilling their stock onto the sidewalks.

Tacheles is an abandoned department store that has been turned into a gallery, with dozens of artists squatting in the spaces that were once stores. there are practically no white walls left in the entire building - every inch has been painted and wheat-pasted. you can read more about the history of tacheles here.

Our last night of the trip, we stopped at the Paris Bar. I sipped on a french martini while people watching with my counterpart. We shared a rich, smooth chocolate mousse.

My Top Ten:
1.) Bike riding throughout the city. We took a tour through Fat Tire, and I couldn't recommend this enough. In 6-hours you've seen most of the city's most important sites and gotten a decent work-out, too! (And considering how much of the food in Germany is fried, this was very much appreciated).

2.) Walking throughout Friedrichshain, a young, trendy area that reminded me of the love-child of the West Village and Williamsburg.

3.) Finding new magazines and print media that were completely foreign to me.

4.) The insurmountable number of museums and galleries.

5.) Döner Kebab (€3), Currywurst (€1.50), Apple Streudel, and 90¢ ice cream. I guess this can go here too: super cheap, delicious beer!

6.) Stumbling upon a multi-story space called St. Oberholz. We chatted with the girls who worked there (about New York and Berlin and the commonalities and differences between them), while enjoying some vodka. (Psst, while we were here, Austin and I totally creeped on some extremely beautiful queer women hiding in the back lounge area).

7.) Getting dressed up and dancing at Picknick.

8.) Walking along Kastanienallee in Mitte, a great strip full of local designers and indie shops.

9.) The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; a powerful, disorienting, archicturally stunning sculpture garden designed by architect Peter Eisenman.

10.) Finding little hints of Paris throughout the city, to satisfy my francophilia while in Europe.

To see more photos from my trip, click here.

xo. nicolette


  1. omfg the suitcases! the cupcakes! the BAR! i love it all and the photographs are truly beautiful. who did you go with?? alone?

  2. it looks like you had such a great time! i've made a promise to myself to travel to berlin once i learn the language.

  3. Sarah - I went with my partner. I think you'd love it there! you should visit. Bonus: it's SUCH a bike friendly city.

  4. did you take all these photos? They're so pretty!

  5. oh wow, berlin has been on my wish-list for years, you just enjoyed my dream trip :) love your photos, if i do manage to get there i will definitely refer back to this post. love it.

  6. Kayla - Yes I did. Thanks!

    Paula - I'm going to write a more specific list of places to go (stores, restaurants, etc) that may be helpful for when you plan your trip!

  7. Ohhhh Berlin! I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip there, but I was sure you would have loved the city so much. I'm so nostalgic when it comes to Berlin, I spent some unforgettable moments there.

  8. I love your pictures...wonderful! As a german I've been to Berlin many times & I always loved it. Glad you liked the Cupcake cafe in Friedrichshain...I really should go again soon! :)

    Frohe Ostern (Happy Easter) by the way ;)


  9. omfg the suitcases! the cupcakes! the BAR! i love it all and the photographs are truly beautiful. who did you go with?? alone?

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