Our European adventure has started in Berlin! I have to say that Germany has never been a country I cared much for and that we're only here because A. really wanted us to come. I had pre-conceived notions of a stoic society with a tough language that's never been pleasant to my ears. But these last few days have been such a wonderful eye-opener! Berlin's vibe is so friendly and chill and the city is incredibly accessible with a public transportation that's fairly easy to figure out. It's even been fun trying to pick up bits of German whenever I can (while guessing meanings most of the time). I never realized just how much English is tied into the German language.
Even though we arrived in Berlin around 9 a.m. Thursday after a painfully sleepless red-eye flight, we accomplished a good amount of sightseeing that day. We somehow reached the Hüttenpalast hotel (Hobrechtstrasse 66; 49-(0)30-37 30 58 06) just outside the city center with no map and no clue. After reading Anthology's blog post about the place, I knew I had to spend at least one night there (and we did). A. describes it as a treehouse + trailer park + warehouse + tea party and yeah, that's pretty much right. The whimsical stay features three caravans and three cabins outfitted with beds and tiny "outdoor" sitting areas. It was like indoor camping or staying in an adult-sized playhouse.
After a delicious lunch at Hamburger Heaven (Graefestrasse 93; 0176-376-141-33), we set off to see the TV Tower and walk all along Unter der Linden to the Brandenburger Tor. taking in the architecture, avoiding the bikers and trolleys and sporadically reminding ourselves that "Baby, we're in Berlin!" I don't know what I will do with myself once we arrive in Paris and then Barcelona.
Our time here has been filled with leisurely strolls in the sun and today's rain, learning some history and pointing out the similarities and differences between New York City and Berlin. I think I've heard three car horns in three days, bike riders have it made here and if you wander off the path to explore the gritty, graffiti-filled streets, you could find yourself in a rundown sculpture park and and a warehouse filled with vendors selling odds and ends. Even the police sirens sound European and strangely melodious.
For our last two nights in Berlin, we decided to check into the Michelberger Hotel (Warschauer Strasse 39/40; 49 30 2977-8590), another pick of mine pulled from the Travel + Leisure archives. It's a much hipper place with a fun ambience and a lot more going on in this part of town. After walking along a stretch of what remains of the Berlin Wall and enjoying a swing in the hotel courtyard, we checked into our room (hello, peek-a-boo shower!) and then headed back out for BBQ and music in the courtyard. We walked around the neighborhood, peeking into storefronts, amassing our own collection of inside jokes and made-up German words (like cüddlefreundzeit for cuddle buddy time...which apparently is really kuscheln buddy zeit according to Google Translate). The evening ended with a cup of passionfrucht sorbet from Eis Manufaktur (Simon-Dach-Strasse 9; 49-178-131-4445) that was so good and rich that it made me crave a glass of passion fruit juice. A. and Michelberger Hotel provided.
Right now we're having a rainy Saturday afternoon in the hotel's bar/lounge (we already did so much walking earlier). I'm writing and wondering how to recreate these hanging lampshades made of shredded magazine pages while A. is trying to find us a place to stay in Rome, our final destination before we head out to dinner. Tomorrow we're taking the train into Prague before heading into Munich for a couple days. Some interesting guest bloggers will soon be popping in with their own travel tips and stories so I do hope you enjoy them and explore these cities along with us.
Hope you're all keeping safe from Hurricane Irene and I'll chat with you soon. Auf wiedersehen!