Tuesday, 22 September 2015


In August, my friend Larni and I had a few days away in Berlin. As well as some important friend time it also coincided with my brother’s birthday - Dan was travelling across Europe during his six weeks break (primary school teacher) with some friends and we all had a great time. It’s an interesting city full of culture, historical buildings mingled with uber modern architecture and a complicated U-Bahn underground transport system which we just about navigated.

We took in the Jewish Museum in Lindenstraße - which documented some fascinating accounts of life during the war with some unusual artwork to boot, we made it to Checkpoint Charlie the infamous border crossing point which played a huge role for Allied Forces too – all very interesting and thought-provoking. I also did the Exit Escape Game with my brother and his friends which was a first for me – for those who haven’t participated, you get an hour to escape from a themed room – in this case a room in the war to prevent the president being assassinated with various clues along the way. A fun distraction in the centre of the city.

We took in plenty of shopping, visiting Bikini Berlin, Potsdamer Platz, the Europa Center and spent frankly hours in KaDeWe or Berlin’s answer to Selfridges. We also spent a fair bit of both time and Euros on cosmetics in the various Douglas stores dotted around the city. They were to us what Sephora was in New York on our last trip abroad together.

Shopping, cocktails and food are always the foundations of mine and Larni’s trips together and I really enjoyed the food in Berlin. Larni struggled a little, as the place where bratwurst is a mainstay wasn’t massively geared up for vegetarians. By mainly having Italian food in Germany we got by and below are some of the favourites.

Our first night we had a gorgeous meal at Petrocelli on Kurfürtendamm. It was buzzy and vibrant and full of happy chatter – it was a Monday night and the food looked good, that coupled with the atmosphere was what drew us in. Larni had a pasta dish that was nice – but nothing to write home about. I had a spectacular seafood salad that included prawns, squid, langoustine, mussels, and lobster and had the most sensational creamy, lemon dressing. It was just fantastic. We followed the meal with delicious desserts after, again, seeing them arrive at fellow diners tables. Larni had a chocolate fondant – perfectly oozing chocolate on the inside and I had what was essentially a fishbowl full of deliciousness – cherry, stracciatella and caramel ice creams, peach cream, whipped cream, caramelised almonds and maple walnuts. Immense. 

The meal, with wine and beer and two courses each came in around the £50 so I thought this was really good value too. The service wasn’t fantastic – but the food did make up for it for me.

I tried the classic Wiener Schnitzel at Reinhard’s am Kurfürtendamm which was nice – a little bigger than I was expecting and served with a slightly odd combination of boiled potatoes and pickled cucumber in a mayonnaise. 

We had a night of cocktails for Dan’s birthday at The Monkey Bar which overlooks Berlin Zoo and where they served incredibly good but incredibly strong drinks. A classy venue with a trendy vibe – I would return for sure. We headed from here over to Schöneberg where we popped into a few different bars and had a wild drinking night.

The hangover meal the next lunchtime was fantastic – a four cheese pizza bigger than I’ve ever tried and utterly delicious at L’Osteria at the Bikini Berlin – another place that was constantly heaving with people and it’s easy to see why. For about £15 a pop we had the most enormous pizza (which if you can’t finish they offer you a box to take it away) as well as a Peroni or two – great food, great value, great vibe.

On our last full day, we enjoyed most of the day at the Waldorf Astoria, an old faithful for us after staying with them in New York. We enjoyed a lovely lunch – steak for me with chips and grilled tomatoes – steak cooked exactly as I wished too. Larni had a goat’s cheese and roasted pepper sandwich with chips too – and she loved it. We also had a gorgeous slice of cake each – a chocolate torte for me and red velvet for Larni. I also had the best iced coffee there - these were hard to find!

Following our meal we headed upstairs to the Guerlain Spa and both enjoyed a massage. If we’d have known about it more in advance we probably would have gone here for the day and enjoyed the pool, steam and sauna facilities – we’ll know for next time.

A great city break with plenty to do – if I was to return I’d be sure to go at a cooler time of the year as it was incredibly hot (over 100) every day we were there and whilst we stayed at the modest and completely clean and comfortable NH City West hotel, they were lacking in air condition which was a massive fail for us and we really did struggle sleeping because of this. I have to say though, the bar in the hotel served some fantastic cocktails and did a very good breakfast – which we only made once in our four days!

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