I don't speak German, but I can if you like / by Nadia Fallahi

Nothing could have been more last minute than our trip to Berlin.  We found this website that does pretty cheap roundtrip flights and hostel/hotel bundles, so a group of us from my program decided to take up on this Berlin deal.

Berlin was super rad, and I get why people are calling it the “Portland of Europe.”  It has some of the coolest museums, galleries, memorials, etc. and then of course, the nightlife.  I got some kind of stomach bug the day before my left (FU Harrods sashimi), so I was not going to be making it to sunrise on my nights out in Berlin.  We also talked to this couple in our hostel that recommended a bagel shop nearby that (embarrassingly enough) ended up becoming the highlight of our trip.  Nothing personal to Berlin, but “Bagel Nation” quickly became the beacon of our weekend.


FOOD

Shakespeare and Sons — Books & Bagels

I think I shed a tear every time I think about Shakespeare and Sons (aka Bagel Nation, thanks Joanna).  I’ve been craving a good, Jewish deli-style bagel for WEEKS, so this place knew the way to my heart.  They have tons of different types of bagels and schmears (ty for the recognition, BN) that you can choose from but they also have various combos, both sweet and savory, to pick from.  They have a ton of awesome books for purchase and great coffees and teas too.  Sadly, they do not have wifi between 11 am-4 pm, so just be weary.

I think the group favorite was definitely the “Sticky Goat,” recommended on the Double Toasted Sesame Bagel.  This one is a sweet bagel that is topped with goat cheese cream cheese and honey.  My other favorite was a savory one that I can't remember the name of but it had a hummus spread and topped with avocado and tomato slices, recommended on the rosemary and salt bagel.  Others seemed to like the PBJ bagel also. 

There is a hot barista who works there, too. #baerista, never forget.

*Honorable mention: Apple Beer

Order this with meals.  It’s literally beer mixed with apple juice, and it’s a billion times better than any cider.

 

LIFESTYLE

East Side Gallery

For those who may be confused, the East Side Gallery refers to the Berlin wall and the murals and graffiti that now cover it.  Many of the sections are gated off to prevent graffiti but the side closest to the water is covered with graffiti.  The murals are all very unique and different from the next, the most famous being the one of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing. 

Definitely walk the whole wall.  Great spot for your PPB instagram shot!!!

 

Museum Island

Museum Island is a collection of five museums, right near the Berlin Cathedral, that all feature different collections.  The four we visited were:

  1. Pergamon Museum
  2. Neues Museum
  3. Alte Nationalgalerie
  4. Altes Museum

I really liked the gallery and the Pergamon Museum (because I am an Ancient Middle East history nerd and enjoyed the Islamic art exhibit).  I also was really stoked to see so many things I studied about in my Art History class in high school (more nerd moments.)  

I would highly recommend doing this.  It takes a couple hours but is worth it.  Also, it’s only 4€ for a day pass to all the museums if you show them a student ID!

Deutsches Historisches Museum

We felt that it would probably be a good idea to learn a little more about the country we were in, so we decided to go here.  It leads you pretty much all the way through Germany’s history from about the 1400/1500s (I think?) to modern-ish day.  

We were kind of bothered about the way that they talked about WWII.  They acknowledge Hitler and the Nazis but like did not really mention anything about the Holocaust.  Makes you think.

Students get a discount here.  I don’t remember exactly what is was, but it was probably half of the general price.  Also, they have free Wifi.

 

Brandenburg Gate

This is probably one of the most recognizable sights in Berlin, so clearly we had to go.  We visited it both at night and during the daytime, and I would recommend doing the same.  It’s the former city gate to Berlin and it’s absolutely stunning.

It’s also like right in the middle of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Reichstag building, so try knocking out all three together!

 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

I remembered learning about this memorial during Modern European History class in high school, but I completely forgot about it being in Berlin, so I was really stoked when we walked up and I put two and two together.  We went and walked through the slabs and gave time to reflect on everything.  It was a good chance for us to see some recognition of the Holocaust.

The memorial as a whole is really beautifully designed and I would not miss this if visiting.

 

Reichstag Building

The Reichstag is a government building that houses the German parliament. The building is absolutely stunning, and most people go to it to travel up to the glass dome at the top.  We decided to go at night because that was the only time we made a reservation, and we did not want to waste the day waiting in line.  You travel up in an elevator to the bottom of the dome, where you can walk around either on the bottom where this giant funnel is or on this path that brings you all around until you are at the very top and then back down.

The dome was freezing, which we quickly found out was because the dome is actually open at the top.  The funnel collects rain water and recycles it.  You can also look all the way down to the parliament room from the top.

Make a reservation so you are not waiting in line for hours.  Going at night is really beautiful, but I am sure going during the day is just as great.  It is also free! 

 

NIGHTLIFE

Watergate

I always think about the Watergate in DC, but not to be confused, this is a deep house club in Berlin, right on the water.  The club opens at 11 PM, and I’m sure it doesn’t close until the weeeeeee hours of the morning.  Joanna and I pulled up later than the others in our group who decided to go, so we were able to jump in line with them once we arrived.  They have really weird rules about who can get in and what not, so I really could not tell you the trick.  Just make sure to look somewhat put together, not be too loud, do not seem too drunk and enter in small groups (probably just two at a time).

Six of us had gone and only four had gotten in.  Joanna and I stayed for about an hour.  The view was beautiful and the music was bomb. It was about a 10€ entry fee, I think.  Try to get in because it has amazing views also. 

 

666 Anti-Pub Crawl

A friend recommended this bar crawl to me, so we decided to do it on the Friday night that we were there.  The group started at a 60s/70s/80s bar and then went on to four more stops.  The 666 Anti-Pub Crawl aims to not be the “average” bar crawl, so they are not screaming through the streets of Berlin, and they take you to the more local, “underground” spots, which we really appreciated.  

We went to a ping pong bar (see the Honorable Mention below), an Absinthe Bar and a techno-swing club.  The group ended at a deep house/techno club, but most of us dipped out before this.

The pub crawl is 10€/person, and you get 6 shots along with that.  There was not discounts on drinks at the venues.  Also, one of the tour guides (TGB) was really hot, and I will probably dream about him for the rest of my life.

*Honorable mention: Dr. Pong

Dr. Pong was hands down the favorite on the pub crawl.  Its window are all covered up and the entrance is really dark so it looks kinda sketch, but definitely still great. It’s one room in the front that has a ping pong table and chairs all around and then you go around the corner and it’s a DJ booth, bar, set of couches and then bathrooms in the way back.  You can go up the bar and rent a ping pong paddle for 2€, which they give back when you return your paddle, so I guess it’s really more of a loan.  They start this giant game of ping pong rochambeau, where everyone that wants to play circles around the table, walking, and hits the ball.  Once you miss, you’re out, and they play till it’s down to two players, who will then play until someone gets five points.  When there’s a winner, the game restarts and anyone can join.  I loved the concept and wish we had this in DTLA.

 

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