…well, what else would I title a post about BERLIN? And it is a city that takes my breath away, every damn time. It knocks my socks off; it’s my Madonna’s New York (other cities make me feel like a dork). I had a rock-solid wunderbar four days in my family’s home city last weekend. We stayed in the east, in the Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood, in an apartment with a terrace and resident wasp, wish I had a picture of the staircase, it was beauts.
Our neighbourhood was the BEST for food. We were near an organic supermarket crammed full of deliciousness (and also with a giant cow outside), and every cafe, bar, burger joint and restaurant we passed looked like a winner. We had breakfast twice at Anna Blume.
No photos of our first brekkie, a three-layer cakestand filled with cured meats, cheese, smoked salmon, mozzarella balls with pesto, salads, roasted vegetables, houmous, tzatziki, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit, served with a basket of fucking amazing bread. €17 for two, ridiculous, it could’ve fed us for a week and we’d have paid double. But check out the €5 birchermuesli, what even is this amazingness:
On Saturday night we got burgers at the highly recommended The Bird, run by New Yorkers who know their burgers. It is a loud, rock’n'roll, brick-walled meat fest, with excellent beer, ridiculously hot waitresses with cool buzzcut hair, and an array of hot sauces that will END you. No burger pic cos when someone puts a burger that good in front of you, it is a fucking crime to take a photo instead of putting your face right into it and performing burgerlingus. I had the Ghetto Deluxe, €10.50.
Our last night we were in an Italian mood and had a kickass pasta dinner with giant salads and more ridiculously awesome bread and red wine for some ridiculous sum, like €15. It’s on the same road as Anna Blume but like on a corner opposite a shop that sold jewellery made from small plastic animals. It’s this level of reporting accuracy that makes me the mega-successful journalist I am.
Another great place to eat is the biergarten in the Tiergarten, the one to the southwest right by the zoo, aka Cafe Am Neuen See. Its canteen does boss pretzels to dip in mustard (omigod the memories), €2.20, and its pizzas, €8.50, are excellent. Get a weissbier, sit by the lake and watch idiots trying and failing to row. I also made eyes at a pretty hot single dad who looked like The Dude. Wish I was here:
On the Monday we headed out on the train from Alexanderplatz to Lübbenau and the Spreewald, which is a forest in an especially efficient German sense, it’s ridiculously unwildernessy – but beautiful – with lots of very neat little islands and formal gardens and teeny-tiny bridges. The only super-naturey thing about it is the pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes which ravaged my virgin flesh and left me distinctly bubonic plaguey. Also, it’s the place to go if you want to see a dog on a boat, and let’s face it, who doesn’t?
Lübbenau is “the city of pickles” and it delivered in style, we bought a BUCKET (with a lid and a handle and everything) of pickles from a roadside stall for €2.5, and also had some amazing pickles served with our currywurst and chips dinner (I am all class). My German is mega-rusty and I managed to order us green beer with my language skillz:
Berlin has the best flea markets and vintage shops ever, right? Right. We actually only hit one vintage shop – four days is just not long enough to fit in all the beer-drinking, walking, eating, eating, and eating, as well as shopping – Alex on Rosa-Luxembourg Strasse, very near Alexanderplatz. I scored:
A clearly handmade (no label; you can see the thread knots inside) mustard yellow jumper that’s fluffy inside AND out (as you can see from the turned-up sleeve close-up) that is so blatantly some kid’s homemade bear costume, I can’t even. I shall spend the winter dressed like a bear! And all for €25, immense.
A DRAMATIC satin and taffeta ballgown skirt, €35, with multiple layers that SWISHES and has a bustle effect, it’s like if McQueen were doing the costumes for a Gone With the Wind remake where Scarlett O’Hara was actually a witch. It’s so ridiculous, but also deeply practical for covering up my mosquito-destroyed legs, I wore it with my Charlotte Free T-shirt yesterday and looked like a punka.
Finally for €10 in the “bargain basket” I got a pair of high-waisted flannel hot pants/knickers with a tiny sailboat on, I think Posy Fossil would wear these to her classes or just for general romping.
I picked up these badass sunglasses at a street market on Strasse des 17 Juni right by Ernst-Reuter-Haus, musta been serendipity. (More on the Reuter thang later.) I thought they were €4, bargain, after much lost-in-translation they turned out to be €40, ouch, but I bargained her* down to €20, boom. They are made in West Germany AND they have holes in the arms to pop them on a chain. I feel like Carole King when I wear them:
*She totally saw me coming.
(Apols for the crappy, unedited, uncropped pictures. My laptop is being a bastard – don’t buy Dell, kidlets – and Photoshopping at this point is making me cry hot angry tears of Judy Blume character meltdown frustration. I had plans to make this shit look pretty and do collages and stuff. At this point I’ll be happy just to hit publish. Sigh. The crappiness of my computer does at least reassure me that the robot takeover is really, REALLY far off.)
Although we were staying right by one flea, we decided to take the tram to Friedrichshain instead and hit its less full-o’-people flea, also getting trams is super-fun and makes me feel 19th-century. Totally worth the trip, guys! Lookit what I got:
FOXES. €1 each and worth every cent, I reckon you’ll agree.
Plastic horses with moveable heads, €1 each. (I turn 31 next week, why am I buying toys?)
Deer! Also €1 each, I am the queen of finding €1 tat.
You should all totally take my recommendations on where to eat and shop as I am the bestest, but I cannot in good faith send you out west nearly to the end of the U2 line to Ernst-Reuter-Platz station and, well, platz, as it is entirely irrelevant to your interests unless you are me or a fellow Ernst relative (hi, cousin Natalie, if you’re reading!).
It’s just a big ol’ roundabout, BUT it’s a big ol’ roundabout named after my great grandfather Ernst Reuter, mayor of post-war West Berlin and all-round badass. Check out his steeze:
What a cool cat. There’s also a weirdo sculpture there, naturally I posed in front of it giving it my best smize. It is beyond-nice to hang out in a country where people can pronounce and spell my surname (in England I get a lot of “Renter? Rooter?” because people be idiots), and at Ernst-Reuter-Platz I basically see the REUTER name up in lights! (Well, not lights. You know.) Here I am being a dork in the U-Bahn station:
Anyway. Berlin: I LOVE YOU. For real and true, for life.