So let me tell you about my party experience in Berlin. Amie and I have caused midnight mayhem in many European cities. We’ve had crazy nights out in Lisbon, Istanbul, Paris, and Amsterdam, just to name a few. But we knew Berlin would be something else. In the 90’s, all of the best parties in Berlin were nomadic – thousands upon thousands had fled Berlin to escape the firm grip of communism, leaving behind empty houses and abandoned industrial buildings. When the Berlin Wall fell, Berliner’s rejoiced, and the once abandoned homes and buildings became a backdrop for the city’s triumphant party scene. Twenty years later, Berlin’s once elusive nightlife is now a permanent fixture in the city’s global persona. Iconic night clubs such as Berghain and Sisyphos draw party-goers from around the globe, while trendy cocktail bars such as Neue Odessa and Green Door serve distinguished cocktails for locals and tourists alike.To say that Amie and I were excited to experience Berlin’s nightlife would be a vast understatement. We’d intentionally enjoyed a week of rest and relaxation in Italy, recharging before an epic long weekend in Berlin. As mentioned in my last post, Amie and I kicked off our Friday evening at Txokoa, where we sipped monstrous G&Ts and enjoyed a rich dinner.
We then decided to explore Neukölln, bar hopping to first Ä (a which was clearly created in my namesake). We quickly discovered two things about German bars – everyone seems to smoke inside, and everyone sits. Cozy tables with big arm chairs were crammed all around the old wooden bar, which was dark and hazy and filled with smoke.
We ordered two moscow mules and sat inside for as long as our lungs could bear, before heading outdoors for some fresh air. Our next stop was the cocktail bar TiER, which I found absolutely mesmerizing. While the cocktails were spectacular, even more arresting was the small, black and white TV behind the bar.
A vintage film featuring a cat being gently stroked looped continuously, in an oddly hypnotic fashion. I tried to take a photo but was scolded by the bartender! No photos allowed inside, apparently. Three drinks in and ready to dance, we next hopped in a cab and asked the driver, who hardly spoke a word of English, to take us to Sisyphos.
We’d heard that Sisyphos was a cross between a festival and a nightclub, with large outdoor rec areas, playground animals, multiple dance floors, food stands, and of course, drinks. We showed the website (which was in German) to our cab driver who assured us the club was open and ready for business. But when we pulled up front 15 minutes later, the former dog biscuit factory turned party venue was closed. Apparently Sisyphos is only open sporadically, so check the schedule carefully before you go! Now, stuck in the middle of no where with a cab driver who didn’t speak a word of English, we desperately tried to motion that we wanted to go somewhere to dance. The driver nodded knowingly, and ten minutes later shoved us out of the cab in an empty gas station parking lot, pointing to a large abandoned mansion in the back. We walked through the lot, and arrived at the large, looming structure.
We hesitantly walked through the front door, and to our delight discovered a stunning nightclub, reminiscent of the 19th century. Romantic gardens along the 150 year old mansion were draped in twinkling lights, and a large fireplace outside attracted guests who sat along benches nearby. Inside was a maze – one room would be a bar, the next a dance floor, the next a lounge, and again and again. Fate brought us to Chalet, while our tired, 4am feet convinced us to go home.
Despite our party antics the previous evening, Amie and I woke up the next day oddly refreshed and ready to go.We started the day with a little stroll down memory lane – aka roaming the streets of Neukölln we had drunkenly ravaged the night before. We walked by Fatma & Frieda, where a friendly terrace and colorful deck chairs beaconed us to poke our heads inside. The smell of hot coffee and sweet pastries quickly swayed to ask for a table. Not to mention that the interior was adorable. The walls were painted a rich jungle green (my favorite Crayola color) adorned with vintage art and retro lamps. The tables were small and wooden, each displaying flowers, a cute brass candlestick, and all of the essential coffee condiments. Amie and I both ordered fresh juices, which were served in small goblets akin to ice cream sundae cups!
I also got a latte (ohh hey four hours of sleep, who is winning now?!) which was beautifully prepared – a heavy layer of milk on the bottom, a rich layer of coffee in the middle, and a light cloud of frothed milk on top. I also noticed that the menu had a dish named after me, which I’ve never seen before!! Amie went the traditional route, ordering a big English breakfast of sausages, bacon, eggs, beans, grilled tomatoes, salad, bread, and marmalade. I opted for a dish with a bit more Middle Eastern flare, featuring Turkish scrambled eggs, Turkish sausage, hummus, fresh fruit, feta salad, sun dried tomatoes, and artichokes. The whole meal came to €30, which was quite reasonable, especially considering the HUGE portion sizes. After our meal we set out for a stroll, as the autumn weather was simply brilliant. As half of Berlin was once suppressed by communism, it’s not surprising that many forms of street art emerged throughout the city. With limited rights, voice, and an overall suppression of creativity, Berliners turned to street art to express their values and beliefs. This sentiment is still reflected in the city today, where colorful art adorns everything from building facades to vehicles. After wandering aimlessly for a bit, Amie and I hopped on the metro to meet up with some friends in Prenzlauer Berg for coffee.The map had us get off the metro at U Bernauer Str, and when we emerged from the station, we realized we had unintentionally landed smack in the middle of the Berlin Wall Memorial. It was by pure luck that my friends had recommended a nearby cafe – Amie and I had been planning on visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial later that afternoon regardless. And so we spent some time before our coffee roaming along where the wall used to stand, admiring commemorate plaques and monuments. The Berlin Wall Memorial extends along 1.4 kilometers of the former border strip. It contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it and is thus able to convey an impression of how the border fortifications developed until the end of the 1980s.
Despite the arresting topic, I couldn’t help but admire the surrounding nature. All of the trees were turning brilliant shades of red and orange, and the sky was a crystal-clear cyan. I thought about how the wall had once stood here, and how the trees, despite the city’s oppression, had continued to bloom again and again, until the wall itself had ceased to exist. The prevalence of the greenery surrounding the fallen Berlin Wall was silent reminder of humanity’s perseverance, and the ephemeral whims of society. Slowly, we made our way away from the Berlin Wall Memorial and through the streets of Prenzlauer Berg.I’ll be honest, Prenzlauer Berg was my favorite neighborhood in Berlin. That said, we only sampled four or five of the twelve, barley seeing a quarter of the city. Nonetheless, I was completely smitten with the classic architecture in Prenzlauer Berg, the gentle pastel hues, and the wide cobblestone streets. The vivid shops and restaurants were a beautiful contrast, bringing bright pops of color and flare to an otherwise timeless neighborhood. We admired the architecture, popping in and out of vintage shops along the way.We then met two of my German friends, Paulin and Chopper, at Kauf Dich Glücklich, an eclectic cafe on the Oderberger Straße.There was a line out the door to snag a table, one we luckily avoided by arriving just before the rush. We ordered fresh juices and waffles, both of which were delicious!If you have a sweet tooth, I’d highly recommend a visit to Kauf Dich Glücklich – they have divine crepes, waffles, ice cream, sweet drinks (both hot and cold) and endless toppings!
When we left, we were not surprised to see a long line flowing out the door!We ducked into a few more shops with Paulin and Chopper before saying goodbye. Amie and I then went on to look for the Water Tower, a beautiful landmark we were advised to check out while in the neighborhood. However, we got lost, and wound up in a strange, beautiful, brick industrial park.
We wandered for another hour or so (as mentioned, Amie is so patient with my picture-taking!) before daring to navigate the tram system and travel home.
Back at the apartment, we primped for our final evening in Berlin. It was a Saturday night, and although Amie and I were quasi-dead from the night before, we were also open to an adventure . . . should one occur. We started the evening out at Max and Moritz, a traditional German restaurant specializing in all things meat. The restaurant is actually named after an illustrated German storybook. The blackly humorous tale is reflected throughout the restaurant – in illustrations on the menu, murals covering the walls, and tall stacks of books scattered throughout the restaurant. We did not have a reservation, which was a mistake. We were told that we could wait at the bar to be seated for about 30 minutes or so, or we could go upstairs, sit at a table with drinks, and wait about an hour for our food. We decided to go the table route, banking on being served some pre-dinner bread.We were not disappointed, and snacked on warm brown bread and homemade butter while checking out the menu and sipping wine. The atmosphere was akin to a cozy, candlelit library, which was just my cup of tea. I love books – classic books, trashy books, informative books, and coloring books. Enjoying a glass of wine while surrounded by literature and tall candlesticks is pretty much as dreamy as it gets in my book (haha no pun intended!) and so Amie and I were very glad we opted for the hang-at-table route.
For dinner (which really did take about an hour to arrive) we each ordered a salad and a main. I have to say, ordering food in Germany is a bit difficult. The salads were €3 each, which to me would imply a small portion, to be enjoyed before or on the side of a main. The mains were about €12, which also screamed ‘small European portion, go for a salad too!’ However, the value for money in Germany is spectacular, and the piles of food we received were monstrous. Our salads were HUGE, and if this had been my dinner alone, I would have been pleasantly stuffed! I got the cucumber salad and Amie got the tomato. Both were marinated in a light vinegar and oil dressing and were slightly pickled. Check out Amie’s hand in the back right for scale. That’s a BIG pile of vegetables. Forgive me for this next picture, but for dinner I went slightly . . . . exotic. I decided to be daring and try the Witwe Bolte’s Schlachteplatte, which consisted of a salted and pickled pork-foot, smoked pork, smoked sausage, pickled cabbage, mustard, potatoes, and salad. Way back in the day, I went to Au Pied de Cochon with B, and he branched out and tried The Temptation of St. Anthony, which consisted of a breaded pig’s tail, ear, snout and trotter with Béarnaise sauce. While I had a nibble of his dish, I did not dare to consume this meal on my own (and haha went for the totally normal snails instead!) But two years later, I was brave enough to try a trotter!! And so I dug into my delicious pig foot, which was rich and tender. No regrets, it was delicious!!
Amie went for the Mettenden, which was a sausage dish with sweet and sour green beans, diced bacon sauce, parsley potatoes, and mustard.
We both LOVED our meals, and would highly recommend a trip to Max & Moritz for a true German dinner – but be sure to make a reservation first!! Stuffed and tipsy (and probably getting kinda old) we decided to head back to our Airbnb and call it a night. Overall it had been a whirlwind long weekend in Berlin, and we were exhausted.
Berlin is now one of my favorite cities in Europe. While I really love picture-perfect fairy tale cities such as Prague or Cinque Terre, Berlin had a unique and brilliant soul I absolutely fell for. I will be back soon Berlin, I will be back!