Anniversaries and Birthdays have always seemed to me to be a time for reflection and as I will be celebrating 1 year in Berlin tomorrow, this seems like the perfect time to reflect on what I have seen and done here.
My original intention was that I would be able to create a Berlin Top 10 from my experiences over the last year but hey, this is Berlin, so that would mean leaving out too many great things. So here are some of my highlights.
City of Diversity
It seems appropriate that Berlin celebrated its Birthday yesterday. The City of Diversity exhibit on the Schlossplatz was my highlight of a program of events and displays.
It was great to see the city celebrate the diversity of its population and highlight the contributions made by immigrants.
The city has a very full calendar of events (especially during the summer months) and if you are considering a visit keep these in mind as timing your visit to coincide with them will be a real treat.
In May, the Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures) is another celebration of Berlin’s diversity.
The main event is the parade but there are food and drink stalls set up for a number of days.
The Christopher Street Day Parade is Berlin’s Gay Pride. A riot of colour on the city’s streets this is a great photo opportunity.
Find a spot along the route and get ready to watch the fun pass by (or join in and follow a float).
September’s Stroke Urban Art Fair was a real treat for me with my love of Street Art, something that abounds in the city.
In October, many of Berlin’s most famous landmarks (and less well-known buildings) were lit up for the Festival of Lights.
This was a great chance to try out some night-time photography – you won’t be the only one carting your camera gear from place to place all through the evening and into the night.
Berlin Food Favourites
I have had some great food experiences in Berlin and have found my favourites. When it comes to burgers, The Bird in Berlin, is the place to eat.
Their burgers are meat monsters and making a mess is part of the joy of eating Da Birdhouse.
The Pastrami & Turkey Sandwich at Ruben & Carla is a real lunchtime treat.
My first meal here was a real revelation and the service was so remarkably friendly I was back within days and have returned a number of times since.
I’ve also been on a quest to find the best Currywurst in Berlin but more of that later.
Soviet War Memorial
The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park is what the word awesome was invented for.
The grand scale and beautifully maintained lawns are truly impressive. I immediately vowed that this would be added to my list of places to take visitors.
Fassbender & Rausch
For those with a sweet tooth and an appetite for chocolate that exceeds their desire to do any walking, Fassbender & Rausch is the ideal place for a spot of sightseeing.
The chocolate sculptures of the Reichstag, Fernsehturm and Brandenburger Tor are a sight to behold and I dare you to leave without buying something – my Mum loves the truffles here.
Many of my favourite places and moments in Berlin are tied to people I have met here, without whom my experience would not have been half as fulfilling or a fraction as entertaining. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for the part they have played in my adventure.
Thank you Bine.
It was Bine who encouraged me to visit Schloss Charlottenburg and showed me around the gardens for the first time.
I have been back since to visit the gardens again and to go inside the palace. It is one of the most opulent and beautifully decorated places I have visited and another of my must-see recommendations now. I will post about it soon (probably in 2 parts – inside and outside) but sorting through the 1500 or so photos I took there will take a little time.
Thank you for teaching me so much about the history of the city I love so much and also for helping me with my German – for pointing out my mistakes and in particular for letting me know when I have made a word up.
Thank you Gilly.
Thank you for talking to me when I was a little lost and for introducing me to your fiancée and friends.
Appropriately, as it was our shared love of the building that sparked that first conversation, thank you also for letting me be a VIP visitor to the Fernsehturm.
Watching the sunset from Berlin’s highest point is worth queuing for but not having to makes the experience all the memorable.
Thank you Steffi.
I have Steffi to thank for taking me to my favourite Currywurst Imbiss in Berlin – Zur Bratpfanne.
My quest for ‘the Best of the Wurst’ continues but so far this is the star performer.
It was also Steffi who took me to Wannsee, where we watched a magical sunset.
It’s worth venturing out to the lakes around Berlin, especially to cool off in Summer but don’t expect to be alone during the daytime.
And it’s Steffi I have to thank for suggesting a visit to Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem (Berlin’s Botanical Garden).
I visited on a gloriously sunny day and had an amazing time. I haven’t been back yet but I will be.
Thank you Luci.
During my first week in Berlin I watched all of the videos in Luci’s In A Berlin Minute series back to back. They gave me inspiration for some of my early forays in the city. I have since been lucky enough to see the shooting and editing process and now know how much work goes into creating that 1 minute each week.
Thank you Sandy.
Without Sandy I wouldn’t have met any of the previous four people. It was at Sandy’s party (a goodbye to her apartment near Monbijoupark) that I met all four.
Thank you James and Zoë.
Until I discovered their beautiful and informative blog, überlin, I hadn’t heard of Loxx Miniatur Welten but as soon as I saw Zoë’s incredible photos and James’s enthusiastic descriptions I knew I had to visit.
A miniature railway and so much more (a miniature Berlin in fact) Loxx on the top floor of the Alexa shopping mall is a real Berlin gem – an indoor attraction that should be on everyone’s itinerary.
You can read my post about Loxx here and see the überlin post that inspired me to go here.
Also a massive thank you for being the first people to retweet me and champion my content.
Thank you Georg.
Thanks for getting in touch and suggesting that we explore some of Berlin’s (and the surrounding area’s) abandoned buildings together.
The thrill and adrenalin rush of exploring Kaserne Krampitz and the elation at (eventually) finding the ‘Nazi Eagle’ is hard to beat.
Thanks also for challenging me to improve my photography – seeing your shots of the places we’ve been together always makes me think ‘I must do better’.
Thank you Oliver.
Vielen Dank for encouraging me to speak more German and for making me feel OK about making mistakes. I now know the secret – ‘üben, üben, üben’.
And last but not least, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts and especially to those who have taken the time to ‘like’ them or comment on them.
This post has gone a little more down the sentimental route of an Oscar acceptance speech than I intended but I have a lot to be thankful for.
If anyone is left in any doubt having read any of my posts I can’t recommend visiting Berlin highly enough. It is the most wonderful city – a place where history seems alive on every street, on every corner and in every building. A place where there is also a feeling that the future is still undecided and you can play a part in shaping it. A city that is constantly evolving, always changing – not always for the better unfortunately but that’s life. Berlin, ich liebe dich.