Last week I got on my first Easy Jet flight for a 36 hour weekend trip to Berlin! There is so much that I love about Greece, including it’s geographical prowess as so many countries are just a plane ride away! In Berlin I had the pleasure of visiting my lovely N.U.in coworker, Laura, who I befriended at Northeastern University’s training for our roles as International Coordinators. In Beantown, we bonded over our love for the outdoors and grew closer watching the Bachelorette and riding bikes along the esplanade. She is a creative, kind, and fierce soul who makes her own cheese, loves her cat like it’s her firstborn child, and always has a smile to share.
Although Berlin is a huge city with lots to offer, I thoroughly enjoyed my mere 36 hours! It turns out you can get an excellent feel for a city by walking and exploring in just a day and a half, and I left Berlin eager to return for another visit. Highlights include the FOOD, experiencing Berlin’s flawless public transportation, and reconvening with lovely friends in yet another corner of the world. My 36 hours in Berlin begin here! Additionally, I’m including more ideas from friends, coworkers, and students for those with the luxury of time.
Day 1, 2pm
Travel to the City Center from Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport
This is the airport you will land in if you are flying with Ryan Air, Easy Jet, or another budget airline. This was very easily done by a bus and train (the underground train is called the U) combination! From the airport, walk to Terminal A and look for the bus stop. By taking the X7 or the 171 bus, you can reach the U Rudrow stop and take the underground train all the way to the city center and beyond. I purchased a Berlin Welcome Card to include transport in Zones A, B, and C, and travel was made quick and easy. The commute was a mere 45 minutes and the German pubic transportation lived up the hype – it was like clockwork.
Walk around Alexanderplatz
After getting settled and relaxing for an hour or so, Laura and I headed out for dinner and passed through Alexanderplatz. This is the transport hub of the city. It offers great views of the iconic tv tower, or The Fernsehturm. From here, nearly anywhere is accessible, and there’s plenty of shopping and eating to be done. In December, you can enjoy the nearby Christmas markets!
Explore the international cuisine and cozy wine bars.
I learned that Berlin is best known for its international flavors. Laura took me to her favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Soy, which had the coziest atmosphere. It was a real treat hearing her speak German and communicating flawlessly with the waiter. Following dinner she took me to a cozy wine bar – not hard to find in this city!
Day 2, 8am
Walk to Viktoria Park
I enjoyed a walk to Viktoria park from the U Gneisenaustraße area at 8:00am on a Tuesday and it was especially fascinating to see what locals’ morning commute looks like. Hundreds of people were on bicycles. Parents led the way with their 4 and 5 year olds trailing behind them on bikes of their own – or parents pushed their children all bundled up in buggies to daycare, school, etc. Morning commutes appear to be very leisurely here and enjoyed by all, and this corner of the city has a modern, posh feel to it.
From Viktoria Park I walked back through the Kreuzberg neighborhood towards Görlitzer Park. My plan was to see the Turkish Market when it opened around 11:00, but not without stopping for brunch along the way! I found yet another cozy, locally sourced cafe called A.Horn – a lovely recommendation courtesy of my high school friend, Sahand, who lived in Berlin for a couple of years.
Explore the Turkish Market
The Turkish Market is a lively, eclectic mix of fabrics, fresh produce, cheese and olive stands, food trucks, handmade jewelry, and artisan crafts. I especially enjoyed the market because I spoke to so many interesting people (I have my dad to thank for my gift of being able to talk to anyone. Add a glass of mulled wine + a shot of amaretto and call me Cathy). At the market I had conversations with a man from Peru selling jewelry, a German cheese artisan who sold me the best and stinkiest cheese (which was shortly thereafter my demise as I later carried it around a museum with me for two hours and received upturned noses from strangers), several American travelers, and a young German selling goods on behalf of his friend living in India. This man in particular confirmed that yes, swans can be aggressive and have been known to attack people, and that it was good that I didn’t get too close to take their photo. My visit to the Turkish Market was one of the highlights of my trip.
Visit the Topography of Terror Museum
This museum was exceptionally well done. It was very sobering to dive into the history of the atrocities that took place just a mere 75 years ago. The museum is situated on the site of the Gestapo and SS Police’s former headquarters during WWII, and displays a timeline of the rise of the Nazi party through the Nuremburg trials. I spent about two hours here, but you could easily spend more.
Enjoy lunch + a German beer
Following my visit to the Topography of Terror Museum, I took the U back towards Gneisenaustraße and had lunch in the neighborhood I previously explored that morning. As someone who can never get enough of asian food, I found another lovely Vietnamese restaurant called Umami with a beautiful ambiance! The summer rolls and beef noodles were also outstanding.
Following lunch I shared a beer with a friend at the nearby Dolden Mädel Braugasthaus – another recommendation of Laura’s with plenty of craft beers to choose from!
Eat dinner at the home of your German friends ❤
Ok, so this one isn’t so easy to recreate. But one of my favorite things about travel is getting to see how other people live, and spending time with friends in their homes is a really special, unique demonstration of friendship. The stinky cheese that I brought was a hit. Wine was shared, and my colleague Anna’s delicious new pasta sauce recipe was a great success. It was so special to see these people who I had met in Boston just a few months before! The world is big, but don’t you love it when it feels so small 🙂
Things to do on the next visit:
– Visit the Berlin Wall
– Visit Sachsenhausen – a concentration camp 35 kilometers outside of Berlin
– Drink a beer at the Hofbräu – a Bavarian style restaurant in the city center
– Rent an Emmy electric scooter and move around the city (tip courtesy of a student!)
– Eat Donner Kebab
– Visit a true beer garden (this must be done in the summertime!)
– Peruse the Christmas markets! I was just two weeks too early
Thank you for being the most excellent host, Laura. Until next time, Germany!