I am back from Berlin and all I can say is, “What a city!” In many ways, Berlin reminds me of New York from an architectural point of view as well, as a city burgeoning creativity. In its neighbourhoods, the city gives off a terrific artsy/techy vibe. It is easy to find numerous examples of art, design, street art, fashion, music, sculptures sprinkled around Berlin’s new and old streetscapes. The other funny thing I noticed was that Berlin is teaming with hipsters, from a fashion standpoint (not a bad thing!!). Here I thought Toronto was turning into a hipster capital downtown, but boy was I wrong!
In two and a half days of cold weather (& sunshine) we covered as much of the city as possible by foot and by hop-on-hop-off bus, however it is down right impossible to thoroughly cover every square inch of Berlin in such a short time period. After I got back I discovered a good blog about Berlin titled “Slow Travel Berlin,” where the author rightly asks visitors to slow down the pace of their travel (think slow food movement for travelers) instead of “speeding through all the landmarks in a city in 24 or 48 hours.” I am guilty of committing the fast travel crime however, I am motivated to return and explore upon my return at a slower pace.
Outstanding areas we loved included Mitte, a trendy residential and commercial area dotted with cafes, restaurants and boutiques and Prenzlauer Berg, like Toronto’s Leslieville, but bigger, a bit more yuppy/hipster and with ten times more restaurants/cafes/shops. Berlin’s Holocaust memorial was somber, and eerie, Checkpoint Charlie too commercial a la Disneyland, and overall, the city’s architecture brings a mix of brand spanking new/modern contrasted with rebuilt/restored ornate/grandiose structures and churches.
On the food side, we tasted the best apple strudel overflowing with apples, (better than what we tasted in Vienna), at Meierei, a bakery cafe, meets a provision store with pic nic benches outside, dined on sushi (a crunchy dudu roll) and noodles at Dudu, and discovered the most delicious chicken soup, dumplings and latkes at a Russian Jewish restaurant, Pasternak, in honour of Boris Pasternak, the Russian author who wrote Doctor Zhivago. Creativity, art, design, excellent food, urban beaches (yes- sand on pavement, in the city with tiki bars = urban beach), street art and a lot of history, monuments and galleries.