Saturday, 1 April 2017

THE BERLIN TRAVELOGUE


I've been back on English soil for a few weeks now, but having decided to break up my Berlin based posts so that they wouldn't come all at once, I've left the most exciting one until last - my travelogue. As I'm typing this I'm deep in the midst of juggling this post and editing my vlog - which you will have already seen, but if not, you can now follow the link to watch my Berlin Cityscape Vlog.

Odd's are you'll be well aware that I went away due to the amount I've spammed my trip over on Instagram, but the city is beaming with so much colour that there are amazing photo-op's everywhere you turn. I obviously thought to mention that as it's a subtle hint at the amount of photo's this post is going to have!

Considering there are so many city breaks that are easily accessible and affordable for us in the UK and Europe, Berlin was always top of my list for my boyfriend and I, we just had too many great ideas and lusts for places to go beforehand. 

Being a complete doter for travel, I felt like I was overdue a little break. We both work full-time and are saving up at the moment, but having a spontaneous trip away is always lovely and I think a well deserved treat for anyone that's becoming sick of the English weather.

For those of you that don't know a great deal about Berlin, it's a city where you will never be stuck for things to do. There's literally tonnes of things to see and attractions to fill your days with, but I will warn you it's a humongous place. All I can say is, thank god we mastered the metro system, it was a life saver. Our trip consisted of a lot of walking, metro stations, wall art murals and eating. Berlin really has it all, with a great balance of history, food, culture, art, shopping and nightlife. It completely lived up to our expectations and we were so sad to be leaving by the end of the weekend.


WHERE TO STAY

A couple of days back I reviewed the hotel we had the pleasure of staying in. My review of the COSMO Hotel Berlin Mitte explains it all. But to put it short, COSMO is a 4 star boutqiue hotel in the heart of the Mitte district, with excellent food, staff and transport links. It was ideal for us, and the entire stay was faultless. We paid on average £110 per night, which I personally thought was a bargain. If you book before 12/2017, you can quote my blog upon booking to receive a free welcome drink!

Their in-house restaurant 'Scent' is also a winner if you're interested in a healthy, regional and generously-portioned lunch or dinner - it's not in the slightest bit pricey either!


WHAT TO SEE

WALL MURALS
The murals are a must, but if you have enough time I would say explore corners of the city yourself to discover some of the best and most hidden ones. Understandably, Berlin's fair share of street art can get quite touristy depending on where you go. East Side Gallery is great, I loved that area in general as it had loads to offer. But for anyone wanting to get deep into the history, the Berlin Wall Memorial Centre is a must to get right behind the happenings and see a section of the original wall still standing - it's pretty humbling too.

BERLINER FERNSEHTURM
Why would you go on holiday and not travel to the highest point to get the best view overlooking the city?! The Berliner Fernsehturm does just that. With a viewing deck at 213m above ground, they also have a bar, which we had a tipple at, and a restaurant that slowly revolves around 2m above that. The lift takes you to the top in just 40 seconds, which blew me away but kind of freaked me out at the same time. We paid for 'early bird' tickets which were around 15 euro - it was well worth it for the views at the top, and quite quiet!

LANDMARKS & MAJOR ATTRACTIONS
Now, there isn't a standardised Berlin Centre, but I'd say Mitte is the closest to being it. If you're on a short trip, like we were, make sure you stay in the Mitte district. It holds tonnes of major attractions including the Berliner Fernsehturm, as well as the Brandenburg Gate. This stone pillared stature is built on the original 'city gate' that marked the beginning point of the Berlin Wall. The landmark itself was a lot taller and far more impressive than I first thought. 

Just next to the Gate you will find The Memorial of the Murdered Jews. This was a powerful yet sobering experience seeing rows upon rows of tomb stones symbolising the Jewish lives lost. This is also located just near the Reichstag Building which I didn't think much of, but we didn't actually go inside - the queue was never ending. This building is at the heart of the German parliament.

The Olympia Stadion, or Olympic Stadium in English, was first built in 1936 for the Summer Olympics. Slightly out of the way, it was worth the trip for my boyfriend at least. It was interesting to see the old photos and history behind it, as well as the old Hockey Stadium. I will say it was extremely derelict, and almost eerie.


WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

During our trip we had a strong balance of cheaper eats and fine dining - as always. Alongside quite a good diet, which is very unlike us for a holiday, the majority of restaurants are highly health-conscious which I personally loved and could definitely get used to. Here are my top picks for places to eat in Berlin.


BURGERMEISTER | MITTE
Amazing concept and location held in a stall-like bunker with only rails to sit on. Located directly under a metro track, the surroundings are forever bustling and the food is delicious. Something very, very similar to Five Guys but a hell of a lot cheaper. What you see above cost us 20 euros - including the beers (also, I'd recommend getting the chilli cheese fries).


SUPERFOODS & ORGANIC LIQUIDS | MITTE
The ultimate breakfast stop, combining natural foods, fruits, seeds and lots more. I couldn't get enough of their creations, we even went back twice to try the waffles. I'd recommend the raw cacao smoothie bowl, waffles and the loose mint tea (everything you see totalled to 16 euros)


SKYKITCHEN | FAR EAST MITTE
A restaurant definitely made for a special occasion. The rooftop restaurant holds one Michelin Star and has the most amazing food and staff. I also wrote a review of my experience at SKYKITCHEN Berlin.


COMMONGROUND | MITTE
Another cheap-eats place ideal for brunch/lunch with a laid back atmosphere and friendly staff. Combining again, healthy wholesome foods to fill you up for the day. We opted for the vegan bowl with warm spiced chickpeas, beetroot relish, carrot and extra feta, as well as, avocado, hummus, beetroot and sourdough - HEAVEN.

WHAT YOU'LL EXPECT TO SPEND

Excluding our dinner at SKYKITCHEN, Berlin was fairly cheap for such a well-known capital that I assumed would be similar to London. We budgeted well over what was actually needed and spent on average 100 euro a day between us. Nearing the end of our trip we found we were left with 100 euros to take home with us - and that's after we budgeted for a Michelin Star dinner. Most attractions are free too which is also brilliant news for your purse.

WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND

TRANSPORT
This might be self explanatory but please take my advice when I say it is not possible to see the entire scope of Berlin on foot. The metro is literally your gateway to every attraction and place there is to visit. It's fairly cheap too, with a day ticket costing 7 euros. 

WALL MURALS
So good I had to mention it again. But, in true blogger style, I ran laps and searched in every corner of Berlin for the most complex street art. Murals are dotted about sporadically with some of the best shied away.

Here's a few of my favourite street art finds (note: I am making these names up, they are in no way legit)
East Side Gallery, the collection at Urban Spree, the Duo-Hand in Heinrich-Heine-Strasse, the Meat Cutter located right next to the Berlin Wall Memorial Centre, and of course, the Elephant in Kreuzberg. I admit this might seem cliche to you, but the detail and specificity on each mural was really incredible, especially the Elephant. I'd like to return to Berlin just to discover more of these hidden gems.


I hope you've thoroughly enjoyed getting an insight into my travels and reading up on all of my Berlin related posts. If you missed out on any, here's a list of them for you to check out...

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