Our Airbnb, unlike Copenhagen, was a dive here in Berlin. Think your cool guy friend’s college party house: dirty with questionably safe living standards, mismatched, and not a clean dish in sight, but couches and floor space aplenty. What kept us there for the entire week was that our room was private, it was in a great location and of course, the price was as right. In order to keep costs low on our travels, Pat and I eat at least one meal per day by cooking our own food, and a lot of times we split entrees when we do go out. While I could handle the overall college-level-cleanliness of the apartment, I crossed the line over into irritation at the state of the kitchen, with no clean cookware or dishes for our use, which is assumed to be included in the Airbnb price.
Rather than book a last minute new place at a higher cost, we compromised by agreeing to stay put with the understanding we would balance out the price by finding breakfast spots a few times this week, and sucking it up and cleaning some dishes on the other days if we had to.
Breakfast being my favorite food, I happily agreed to this compromise and we found some neat little hole in the wall places that provided some colorful, healthy, and seriously delicious options. Not to mention really good coffee and good prices.Avocado Toast, poached eggs, paprika, fresh bread.. The deal was worth it:
The avocado toast with pomegranate seeds is from The Future Breakfast, which is a food truck on some days, and a restaurant on others. It was a tiny place with dried flower displays from Poems and Posies, and it was really cozy, with hearty and flavorful food. Loved it. Pat is growing weary of being my model. And he’s hangry here.
The second place was Cafe Dritter Raum, which featured some delicious paprika based spread and outdoor seating. Friendly staff, but super long wait on this day..like an hour and a half. They said they had a problem with their kitchen and were obviously frazzled, so I will recommend them anyway because these things happen and their food was delicious. 🙂
In addition to having some pretty unique breakfast places within walking distance, the neighborhood of Neukölln was a cultural experience just to walk around. The main demographic besides Germans in this neighborhood were Turkish, and we ate our fill of falafel and other good eats for cheap, ranging from 2.50-6 euro per plate, with the 6 euro dish easily being big enough to split. During the day, groups of school children, girls wearing bright headscarves, would be crossing the streets, and in a few blocks’ walk, you’d pass more than a few formal gown shops with modest and bedazzled gowns on the window mannequins. By night, inbetween trendy open air bars and restaurants, hookah cafe/bars and their patrons would take up the entire sidewalk so that in order to pass, we would have to walk through smoke, laughter, and conversations.
In order to see more of the city and our neighborhood and further out, we opted for once again renting bikes. I’m pretty sure we found one of the best deals in Berlin (go Pat!). For 4 euro a day, with no limit on days, no pre-payment or deposit accepted, we walked away with 2 worn-in and perfectly suitable bicycles. We were told to bring them back “whenever”…honesty and trust was the foundation of this little bike shop, and we took extra good care of our bikes because of it. The only catch was that if the bike was stolen, you owed 80 euro, and if the lock was stolen, you owed 40. Whatever. Deal. Thanks Rent A Bike 44! (<-Click for facebook page info)
Riding bikes was definitely more hectic than Copenhagen, but more exhilarating, too. The bike lanes would melt from the road on the sidewalk, and at any moment a car would be parked with their hazard lights on and you had to merge into traffic, or you had to pay attention for pedestrians walking and/or running through your lane. It was a bit busy, but super fun.
Let’s talk a bit about what Berlin feels like. It’s known for it’s grungy feel, and I have to attest that this is definitely accurate. Like I mentioned in the previous post, it has to be noted how creative Berliners are with using their space. There were so many times when I thought, “am I in a not-so-good area, or is this just a really hip area..or both?”. I’m sure part of that comes from my limited time in big cities throughout my life, but also because Berlin is covered in street art and graffiti, it’s overgrown in a lot of areas, and old buildings that can appear a bit shabby on the outside are actually awesome art galleries, bars/restaurants, and cafes. Old WW2 bunkers are now clubs, etc etc.. During our bike ride we stumbled upon an old church that now has The Three Sisters cafe inside as well as a free photography exhibit which was great and inspiring to me, young grasshopper of pics. The mix of nicer, more modern looking buildings with graffiti-painted buildings is something I really learned to appreciate the more that I was there.
We did get our fair share of outdoor eats and finding little nooks for a drink, which included one particular bar on a rooftop nestled between other buildings. With paper lanterns, fountains, and tango dancers, it was a fun and warm surprise find. There’s always something to discover around every corner in Berlin, that’s my take away:
My favorite bar experience would have to be Klunkerkranich, (website here) which was a bar on the top of a parking garage about a 5 minute walk from our place in Neukölln. Once you got to the last level by elevator, wander to the back of the parking garage and up the ramp. All suspicion that this was a non-existent bar disappeared when we turned the corner and ascended the ramp, which was heavily adorned with plants and wall hangings. At the top was a view at sunset of the city, tables and more plants and gardens, and lots of people enjoying themselves. You do have to pay a cover, but it’s not much, and I think it’s worth it. Because I forgot my camera this night, I stole these images off the internet. Take a look at this sweet secret rooftop bar 😀 :
Plus, we paid a few extra euros and were given headphones to watch a movie on a Brazilian photographer in an open air theater while we enjoyed our drinks. These photos are from Pat’s phone 😉
After the movie, we could chill inside or outside the bar area. We opted inside due to table space, and sat on old couch cushions under bohemian style lamps and paper hangings of varying sizes, listening to 2 live djs mix some seriously chill-worthy tunes. It was great ok? It was also our first introduction to the “pfand”, which is basically that you get charged a few extra euros per drink or plate, and you have to bring them back to get reimbursed.
Even though I think we got a lot of out of this city’s bars, restaurants, and cafes, we hardly skimmed the surface. Of course Berlin is also known for its party scene with clubs and house/techno music. Unfortunately, we didn’t experience this scene, but all the more reason to grab some friends and come back…maybe for my 30th? Who’s game, ladies and gents?! I would definitely love to come back for more.
Until next time!