Let me count the ways, or better the SEASONS that I have LOVED BERLIN, Deutschland!!!! Maybe you got a chance to read my #summerofAriana post in which I gave you a taste of my time spent in Berlin (mostly by bicycle as good Berliners do). . . But in this post I’m going to break it down, season by season, sharing my favorite things discovered having now spent four different seasons in Berlin.
I’ll start with my first visit, right smack in the middle of Summer. It was the beginning of August. . . Biergärten were buzzing, the märkte/markets full of eager locals (& foreigners like me). BERLIN WAS LIVELY, albeit mostly cloudy and even pretty wet on my initial 5 days. Later on in the month, the weather only got better. With many more days FULL OF SUNSHINE and more importantly, FULL OF BIKERIDING, my first season in Deutschland’s capital city was extremely memorable.
SPEND THE DAY BIKING THROUGHOUT THE CITY
Easily one of my favorite things to do in Berlin, you just gotta take my word. You can find the best restaurants and cafes by accident because you ride and ride & when you stop over faint with hunger, you discover some new place that’s just perfectly enticing. I found the cutest Veggie/Vegan friendly spots near my hostel in Kreuzkölln and adjacent neighborhoods. With so many hip districts to see, don’t settle for walking. Although the Ubahn is extremely efficient, if on bike you can discover much more like the central part of the city (think monuments and remnants of the past), the east side that’s eclectic and alternative (think East Side Gallery), in the south you can bike throughout the coolest airport turned massive public park Templehofer Feld (complete with a quirky Mini-golf park). Definitely explore.
***I’d like to highlight Mitte neighborhood by bike, as Berliner Dom, Museum Island and Lustgarten can be enjoyed here. An area full of history particularly for the Nazi Regime, make a stop at Lustgarten, a grassy area enjoyed by Berliners during the warmer months. We took a biking break here ourselves and listened to some guitar and singing by the fountain. Soak up those moments here, as it wasn’t always so cheerful. In the past, the Nazi’s (1935) removed all the green and made it into a cement stomping ground for their Propaganda and Hitler himself produced some of his most famous speeches here. Only in Berlin can you be amidst such a DARK HISTORY (and it’s important never to forget it)! in a now beautiful incorporated green space.
PLAY SOME OUTDOOR PING PONG
#Champion #illChallengeyouanytime . . . Berliners must love Ping Pong, which makes me love Berlin even more, as there are public tables all over the city. Usually never too far from a park, bring your paddles and some balls because in public domain, egos could be hurt (on the losing side of course). I never played so many hours of outdoor Ping Pong in my life before. My favorite opponent was nearly always ready to play a few tournaments.
SEE A FILM IN A FLY OUTDOOR CINEMA
We had ours picked out from the moment we saw a beaten up flyer near our apartment: The Revenant. Leonardo stole the night under the sta(***Ahem Clouds!!)rs. We almost got rained out, but the Universe was with us. We had biked immumerable km to get there and we would have protested had they cancelled it on us after all that effort. They played the film in English with German subtitles, so the only tough thing was that during the spoken Native American language parts, I was lost because they subtitled them in Deutsch. The Italian translated as much as he could for me, and I reciprocated by repeating a lot of Tom Hardy’s mumbled dialogue to my Italian. Why Tom? So much mumbling. They have a cafe/bar serving warm and cold drinks for your viewing pleasure.
VISIT A FREIBAD & BE TRANSPORTED TO YOUR CHILDHOOD
A Freibad is an Outdoor Swimming Pool and ours in Pankow neighborhood had half a dozen pools, diving boards for the adventurous Olympian-in-training and those slides slides slides!!! I hadn’t screamed, smiled or laughed as hard as I did that first time I rode a 15m tall slide. I shot down like a “missile” in the words of the Italian who saw me fly at mach speed and followed right behind me by a 1 minute delay. Watch out for kids throwing stuff in the pool though; I took a football to the head by some little shit teenagers. All in all, a really great experience. Throw yourself on a towel in the grassy areas to dry off. Loved that Vitamin D. Families and couples all around us were also having little picnics.
GET DRINKS/BIER BY THE RIVER
I don’t know the exact name of the place we found that I’d like to recommend to you, but I do know it’s along the Spree River near Treptower Park. Here there is a great area with cafes, beach chairs or grass for lounging & some a ping pong table. Buy some biers or a popsicle from the cafe if it’s a hot one, this is truly a prime spot to relax on a sunny day. Happy Berliners would even cruise by on boats along the river. Beware, sometimes they are partying in less than swimsuit attire.
VISIT A BIERGARTEN, OR A FEW
The coolest Rooftop spot for drinks, music, some conversation and to witness the sunset hour is Klunkerkranich. Though they charge a small cover, maybe a few euros each, it’s worth it. It’s in Neukölln neighborhood. It’s a bit confusing to find; you have to enter a shopping mall and take the elevator to the 5th floor. We asked around on the street since Google maps wasn’t that precise. Since we knew the name of the place, people were quick to point us closer and closer until we saw hip youngsters who looked like they were also looking for some bier and a view.
BUH BYE DER SOMMER
I don’t want to say goodbye to You, Summer. We had so many great times together. You were my first season in Berlin. I only had fresh eyes for you, novelties at every turn. I experienced so many highs, had so many firsts with you and my Roman here. I adventured all over the city and felt so very fulfilled. When I least expected it, you would sunkiss me, blessing our day & encouraging us to bike ride for hours on end, followed by dinner and drinks in the open air. You gifted me Time and Presence, DANKE! Somehow, I knew I’d be back…
All the leaves are . . . All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. . . and the sky is grey! Bundle up. Berlin’s just a little bit colder than my current city of Lugo is in wintertime (I live in the NW of España), so I never went outdoors without a scarf and a head warmer/beanie. For me it was a perfect time to witness a very visible Change of Season. I’m a California native and we don’t get those typical and pronounced seasons in Los Angeles. Berlin showed me that the leaves DO IN FACT CHANGE COLOR!!! I appreciated all the tones of yellow, orange and brown. BERLIN WAS A BIT CALMER, there were a bit less people out and about and the air had a serious chill to it, but we didn’t let a new season stop us from seeing and doing lots on my short holiday (only 5 days).
DISCOVER YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Whether on foot, by bike, or through your taste buds get to know the area where you are staying/Your ‘hood. We ate and drank to our heart’s content in restaurants & cafes in the Roman’s new ‘hood of Schöneberg. Full of high quality and diverse foods, we didn’t mind splurging. One night we had Indian, the next Greek, then Indian again (we tried 2 Indian spots and were happily fueled by Mango Lassis)!! We also cozied up in some of the nicest cafes like Meyan, a Turkish cafe with delicious foods full of spices. Their cheese dips, artisan olives and hummus, and fresh baked bread and rolls make my mouth water as I type this. They also happen to make the best Chai latte I’ve had in Berlin to date. Another morning we enjoyed Sunday Brunch at an outdoor cafe in the chilly autumn weather, but at least the sun was shining down on us (bonus **they provided blankets too). Somehow, I didn’t let the weather impede me from trying a local shop just a block away from our place and I have absolutely no regrets, because Jones is a heavenly Ice Cream shop. UNEXPECTED FLAVORS!! PURE QUALITY!! I felt like a kid who was just savoring that cone like no one else in the world existed. They make fresh waffle cones on the spot (which takes your ice cream to the next level) and serve coffees and yummy cookies too. Literally every season that I have returned to Berlin I’ve made my way over only to discover that they close down for the winter months. The fat kid inside me needs her Ice Cream soon, Jones. Please! We also cheated and frequented our other favorite restaurant for our Mexican Food Fix, not surprising. I need Mexican Food to fuel me, down to my very soul. Our Mex spot is halfway across Berlin at the Eberswalder Strasse Ubahn stop. Even though our new neighborhood had a Mexican burrito spot, when something feels so right there’s no need switch teams. We are loyal to Maria Bonita! I’m grateful that Berlin is such a Foodie Heaven.
TRY THE WEEKLY MARKT
Deutschland is known for their Markets. This is where you will find people gathered to buy and sell fresh produce, ecological products, varying cuisines and take-away foods, sometimes clothes and seasonal goods too. The nearest one for us was the Weekly Markt in Schöneberg in Winterfeldplatz (a big square). Saturday mornings we can get out of bed and lazily stroll over to have a breakfast treat on the go. Plenty of options here for pastries, fresh bread, something heartier too if you come really hungry. My Roman spotted an Italian selling some killer Tiramisù paired with a simple espresso or caffè latte. Besides food, there are lots of interesting stalls with artisan goods. I bought goat’s milk soap bars and an wool head wrap too. #buylocal Supporting locals is very important to me, so I try to always shop at farmer’s markets wherever I am in the world. It feels good, and so far the quality has always been top notch!
VISIT THE “TOPOGRAPHY OF TERROR”
It’s colder this Season. You would rather be indoors anyways. Make the time and see This museum if you see any. The Topography of Terror Museum gives the detailed history of the Nazi Regime. It’s not pretty. It’s not sugar-coated. It’s history and it’s so fucking important! I found that I walked around for hours reading the history, feeling the weight of all those people that suffered at the hands of such an evil cause, but don’t the victims stories need to be told/heard? Everyone should see what WAR does. Everyone should see what HATRED does, so we can be better humans moving forward. Something that struck me was this quote by a historian
“… In this way the SS man learned the attitude of a warrior for war’s sake;
unquestioning obedience; hardness as hardening himself, including against any human empathy;
contempt for the inferior and arrogance towards all those who did not belong to the Order;
Comradeship and camaraderie; that there can be no such thing as the ‘impossible.’
And then there were the simplified and absolute notions of the enemy: ‘the Jew’, ‘Bolshevism’, the ‘eastern Untermensch.’ “
DRINK SOMETHING WARM IN YOUR CAFE OF CHOICE
I was very caffeinated during those days in October, but I was warmer for it. We shared some nice times in cafes, and if not drinking coffee, I’d switch to Chai lattes. This photo is from Father Carpenter in Mitte neighborhood, but I’ll tell you right now I think it’s overrated. The coffee was fine. Nothing special. And they served me a completely burnt piece of coffee cake which I had to return to them. The space is cozy though, that I’ll admit. It’s inviting. It was also packed though. Don’t think I’ll won’t return here. There are too many new places to discover in this COFFEE ADDICT’S CITY OF BERLIN!! ***Also, don’t miss my next post which will be all about COFFEE/CAFES IN BERLIN. Coming soon!! Since this was days before the U.S. Presidential Election, I cozied up with an old classic, Orwell’s 1984, to brush up on all things APOCALYPTIC IN GOVERNMENT!! Sadly, I think Orwell predicted far too much and I think 1984 is our Present Day.
PLAY SOME MORE OUTDOOR PING PONG!!!!
I know I’m repeating myself. Autumn is that time where you need to be moving around to keep warm, but you might subconsciously start slowing down a little bit imitating the Season. Ping Pong tournaments outdoors are a great way to pass a few hours on a weekend. We were happy to find some great tables just a 10 minute walk from our house. **Bonus, there was a rock climbing wall in the same park too, because in case you haven’t noticed German kids have the coolest parks and playgrounds. All around Berlin I’ve been amazed. I’ve seen Pirate themed playground equipment, tons of complex slides and obstacles, now this rock climbing wall? What lucky little ones. And we were lucky too!
BUH BYE DER HERBST
More than anything, I was thrilled that I made it to see You, Autumn. I didn’t know I’d be able to come back so soon, although it did take a few months. I soaked up your season, breathed your fresh air and felt your chill, but bundled and with my love, you were another adventure in Berlin for the books. You allowed my love for both the city of Berlin and for my Roman to grow, and for that I am in your debt. You also gifted me a Happy Belly and an even Happier Heart.
and then. . . CH CH CH CHANGES!
Winter came, and so did I. I came back to Berlin while on Holiday, the third European Capital of my trip. I came with the intention to endure the cold. I brought extra warm stockings to wear underneath my normal layer of warm clothes. I came and hoped the weather wouldn’t be too harsh on me. One week of brutal cold couldn’t possibly kill me. BERLIN WAS EXTREMELY COLD (FOR ME), but as soon as I witnessed my first snowfall in a city nothing else mattered. Was I freezing at times? JA! I was more interested in being outside though and experiencing the MAGIC THAT HAPPENS when familiar things get blanketed in SNOW.
PLAY IN/WITH THE SNOW, MAKE SNOWBALLS & PRANK EACH OTHER WITH SAID SNOWBALLS
Take it in! Perfect, Fluffy, Real, Snow! I caught the first snowfall of the year in January this year. Who here doesn’t live somewhere where it snows normally in the Winter Season? I don’t, nor have I ever. I was thrilled. I was like a child seeing bubbles for the first time. Amazed. I couldn’t fathom “How? What? Is this happening just for me?” They must have known I was coming.
BUY ALPACA OR WOOL SOCKS IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE THEM
So it’s imperative that you are warm from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head during Winter. You wouldn’t catch me outdoors without a beanie or hat in Berlin, but I did FUCK UP one day and leave the house with thin socks. Big Mistake! When you are moving around you might feel warm enough for a few minutes, but if you are standing still (like for example while you are waiting in line for your tiramisù at the Saturday Markt) and it begins to snow, well then you might be fucked. Maybe not you, but a CALIFORNIA NATIVE like me is fucked. Lucky for me, there were Alpaca and Wool socks for sale at the Markt. I bought a pair and never took them off the rest of my stay in Berlin. They saved my trip!
COOK A HOMEY MEAL
I don’t know how you deal with the cold, but I like to cook hot things when I’m cold. I made a spicy Mexican salsa and baked my favorite dish, Enchiladas with rice and beans. It was a Mexican Feast complete with guacamole too. It was the first feast I cooked for me and the Roman to share together. I’d been planning to do it for a while and finally the elements came together and we had a complete home cooked meal, opened a bottle of wine and shared a perfect Winter evening together. There was even a candle lit. Hibernation. . . Relaxation.
VISIT A THRIFT SHOP EVEN IF YOU AREN’T BUYING
Berlin is full of second-hand shops or thrift shops. They might be in a froufrou part of the city, or they could be on the corner of an inconspicuous street in neighborhood X. They are kind of everywhere and they are so much fun. I’ve never been much of a hat person before, but I have now purchased two different hats in thrift shops in Berlin. The one pictured below was a measly 10 Euros and it’s now a favorite of mine. It’s German Made, Vintage and pure style. Made me feel like an important Gentleman, or at least when I paired it with the forest green Velvet Coat. The velvet coat was pricier (though impeccable) and I didn’t buy it. I have no clue where one might even wear a velvet coat. You never know what you might find rummaging around these shops. Even if you leave with nothing you can’t help but have fun. This particular store was two stories tall and full of funky clothing and accessories.
FREQUENT YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT… DON’T HAVE ONE, TRY OURS: MARIA BONITA
I’ll admit that I could eat Mexican food happily multiple times a week. And so we did. When you eat spicy food you warm up from the inside out and so Winter in Berlin without spicy food is not for me. All our cravings were met. We even had their Frozen Mango Margaritas because we were feeling festive. We were both on holiday. Mexican Food, margaritas and my Roman; I didn’t need much else.
WALK THE CITY AT NIGHT THEN DRINK SOME GLÜHWEIN
If it’s snowing, it actually enhances the beauty of the Winter’s night. We walked a lot at night because it’s something we’ve done together in all the seasons in Berlin. I have loved seeing the city together, discovering new things, revisiting old favorite spots and in this season BRRR-LIN inspired us often to search for something warm. ‘Tis the Season to get your hands on some Glühwein, or Mulled Wine. Honestly, what an invention. . . spices, fruits, nuts and wine all boiled together to create the greatest winter drink since Hot Chocolate. In London I drank Mulled Wine on Christmas Day, in Copenhagen the Roman and I drank some Gløgg together during our stay, and now here in Deutschland we savored the Deutsch variety inside a local bar, sip after sip warming up from the inside out. That little buzz that comes when you have nearly finished your glass is right on point. Not too little, not to much.
BUH BYE DER WINTER
And just like that, over a week in the Winter Wonderland of Berlin passed. You treated me to many moments amidst the snow. You challenged me to not freeze like a popsicle, but instead asked me to embrace you, Winter. You wanted me to open my heart more and more, to experience those perfect little moments like: a first Snowfall, beginning 2017 with my love in Germany, to snowballs and eine Schneefrau / a Snow Woman, to cozy nights in, and flowing glasses of wine or your season’s glühwein. You gifted me abundance and for that I am grateful.
I can’t really call this season full on Spring, so I’ll settle for NEARLY SPRING. I visited the last week of February and first days of March. Some days I could taste the approaching season. When the sun came out to play for a few hours, I felt like Berlin was showing me a whole new side of itself. There is something about a season where things are budding, things are transforming, in nature and too within. BERLIN WAS FULL OF INTERNAL LESSONS FOR ME THIS SEASON, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I was lucky enough to go three times in my 10 day visit, twice to my neighborhood markt and once to one I stumbled upon. The Schöneberg Markt didn’t disappoint. Besides getting my typical fix of fresh fruits and juices, veggies and sweat treats, this time I found myself taste-testing Vermouths (bought one to take home too), I was caressed on the hand by a vendor who sold me spreadable cheeses (he winked at me too) and I also tasted the Turkish version of a quesadilla (sooooo bomb!). But we started the morning with that sinful tiramisù that is only 2.50euros. It’s well worth it, I’d pay much more; I’d probably trade my sister for a few slices. Now that I think of it, I’m sure I have paid more for a worse version. This one has that homemade touch and never disappoints. We also tried a regional dessert that was like a cheesecake. This dessert was just as delicious, if not MORE THAN THE TIRAMISÙ and I didn’t think I’d ever catch myself saying that. The other market was great for people watching, fresh and hot Apfelsaft/Apple juice straight from the farm and for buying a witchy essential oils perfume.
SEE KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH
More of Berlin’s past can be seen here, at the once decadent 19th Century Cathedral dedicated to German Royalty. The bombings of WW2 completely destroyed the church that once was here. What is left is a museum inside the remaining structure recounting its importance not only to Berlin, but also the history of the Jews that were members of this Church. Some of these Jews were converted Christians already generations before Hitler, while other Jews baptized their children here in the hopes it would spare them a terrible fate. But as history stands, too many were lost to the war and genocide.
SPEND A FEW HOURS IN THE FAMOUS MAUERPARK
I could do a whole Blog post on Mauerpark probably. It’s somewhere truly Unique and Iconic to Berlin. Make your way there on a Sunday and don’t plan to leave for hours. I roamed and observed until it became dark and these were my highlights. I loved admiring all the artisans and artists here. It’s tough to put yourself out there and to make things in the hopes that people will love what You have put love into making. There was a talented artist with some stunning prints by both him and his wife, each done by hand in the old printing fashion; No two pictures come out quite the same. I bought one of his wife’s to take home with me. Lots of Talent here. If you are lucky, you will encounter Daniel too. He’s got great vibes and you can find him sitting next to his typewriter! He’ll type you a poem if you give him just 3 WORDS. I paid the 3euros and walked around for 10 minutes while he put thought to paper. I was really pleased when I came back and saw my poem, brought me a genuinely warm feeling (Will share it on Instagram)!! Thanks Daniel. Get all your hipster needs met by walking through the Flohmarkt/Flea Market. I loved it. Strange dolls, rows and rows of vintage chairs waiting for someone who’d fancy sitting on them, dozens of lamps, old records, old books, old toys. . . don’t forget the denim, army jackets, sequined coats, 80s and 90s style jackets a la Saved by the Bell, it goes on and on. Haggle and deal. Maybe you’ll leave with something that will forever remind you of Berlin. I ate a wood-fire baked pizza with a kick. Was so delicious I highly recommend stopping at for a bite to eat at Dunnes Brot! Yea there’s food and booze here too to come and stay for awhile.
LOUNGE ABOUT IN FRIEDRICHSHAIN’S VOLKSPARK
It’s something I have to do in all the city’s I visit. I have to go to a Natural Setting, where I can breath better, perhaps there is water nearby and flora and fauna too. Friedrichshain’s Volkspark has all of the above. I found myself tuning into nature so well that I got lost in it. For instance, Woodpeckers!! I was walking up some stairs towards a more secluded part of the park and I heard a tapping, faint but I knew it was coming from above. Better said, I heard a pecking and I strained my eyes until I could see the bird, a woodpecker high up in the trees. Then more faint pecking and I noticed another one. They were short and had a beautiful red underbelly and white and black on the body and head. Not 20 minutes later I saw a flying squirrel that was bright orange soaring from tree to tree. Topping it off with the most lovable Frenchie bulldog loving life. . . That’s when I feel most at home sometimes, just a little bit away from city-life, but connecting with the world that exists around us, the world that follows the natural cycles of the Earth, whether we notice or not. I reflected here. I read under a tree. I watched children skateboarding and biking around. There was LIFE ALL AROUND ME and I felt blessed. I felt rejuvenated!
DISCOVER AS MANY OF BERLIN’S CAFES AS YOU CAN. . .
******I’m not giving anything away here because my Next Post will be solely on this. . . the best cafes I personally taste-tested just a few weeks ago throughout BERLIN. So come back for it!!
Thank you, Spring for the glimpse of what’s to come. Thank You collectively for all the moments throughout the city. You gifted me Reflection. Another glorious visit to Berlin and many more things to look forward to in the future seasons, whichever they may be. When I return I hope to go even deeper. DANKE! 4 SEASONS OF LOVE INDEED!