After a surprisingly successful first journey on the U-Bahn, our second day of sightseeing in Berlin started in the best way possible – with a coffee in hand, a chunk of fresh bread and a stroll around a market. I love visiting food markets when I travel, because not only are you plied with free samples *insert heart eyes emoji* you get a sense of what life is like for the locals, too. You can learn a lot about a place from the food, and in my opinion, it’s the best way to learn… but I have a bottomless stomach, so maybe I’m a little biased.
During my pre-Berlin Googling, I discovered Markthalle Neun, which looked like a foodie’s dream. Unfortunately, we missed their Street Food market on Thursday, but their usual market was open on Saturday so we decided to drop by for brunch. They had a great range of produce on offer; delicious looking German sausages, freshly baked breads, intricately decorated cakes, artisan chocolates and even a number of vegan stands, which seemed to be very popular all over Berlin. We sampled some amazing jams (which I plan to use in an upcoming recipe) and marvelled at the number of cookbooks and kitchen utensils they had for sale. I found myself lusting over hand-made olive wood bowls, copper pans and marble chopping boards, but sadly, I knew my tiny suitcase would not accommodate such things. Sigh.
With our bellies filled, we made our way to the East Side Gallery; a well-maintained part of the Berlin Wall, painted by a number of artists from all over the world, as a monument to the fall and to freedom. I was really looking forward to seeing this as I’ve seen many of the iconic artworks online, but I have to say, I was disappointed to see that a large majority of it is now behind railings to prevent vandalism. Mostly, I felt frustrated that the railings were actually needed there. I will never understand the mentality of people who think it’s okay to vandalise anything, let alone a historic landmark. Even so, I’m glad I saw it, because despite all my moaning about vandalism, it really is an impressive sight.
We jumped back onto the S-Bahn, like true public transport pros, and headed for Alexanderplatz to visit the TV Tower viewing gallery. At a stomach-turning 200m tall, it offers the highest view over Berlin. We did stop for a little something to eat first though. And when I say little, I mean giant. We walked past a cafe, pumping out the most tantalising sugary scent, with a sign saying ‘WAFFEL’ in the window. My German isn’t great, but even I could translate that one, so my growling stomach led me to the good stuff. With hindsight, a giant waffle, a mound of ice cream, whipped cream, strawberry sauce and white chocolate wasn’t the wisest thing to eat before ascending 200m into the air, but I wasn’t concerned at that moment in time because HELLO SUGAR.
The tower itself was slightly terrifying. I begrudgingly agreed to go to the top, despite getting sweaty palms just looking at it from the outside. It takes about a minute in an elevator to get to the viewing gallery, and reassuringly, your ears pop as you climb higher and higher. It baffled me how relaxed everyone else seemed, but I tried to be chilled about it, as to not create a scene (crying could have unleashed waffle vomit and ain’t nobody got time for that.)
Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I was totally relaxed once I was up there, but it was an amazing view that I couldn’t have seen from anywhere else – apart from maybe a plane, but I hate those too. You can really appreciate the scale of the architecture, and get a different perspective of the city. If you’re not a wuss like me, it might even be an enjoyable experience. Personally, I’m much happier on solid ground. And once I got down there, I decided I deserved a bratwurst for my bravery.
We spent the evening at Hackescher Markt, where we looked around stalls selling handmade jewellery, clothes and gifts, before finally getting some real German food for dinner. And boy, oh boy, was it good. We visited Restoration 1840, which had a lovely traditional feeling atmosphere, and a menu to match. We ordered the pork knuckle to share, which arrived armoured in crisp, salty crackling, that we promptly attacked like savages. The meat was tender and juicy, and the acidic bite of the sauerkraut it was served with cut through the fattiness of the meat. To go alongside was a portion of creamy mash and rich, meaty gravy. This was all washed down with a Berliner Kindl, bigger than my face. I was in heaven. Oh, and the best part? The whole meal was under â‚¬30. We headed back to our hotel that night, full and happy, and took in a slightly less terrifying view of Berlin from the rooftop bar before the food coma knocked us out completely.
We didn’t have a lot of time before checking out on our final morning, but we did have time to get breakfast at the cutest little cafe, Distrikt, in Mitte. The decor in that place was everything I want my home to be; filled with light spilling in through big windows, dotted with minimal furniture with exposed brickwork and copper lighting… I was already in love with the place before the food even arrived. The menu is simple but they’ve got a good selection for all appetites. I opted for the buttermilk pancakes and a flat white; the pancakes were light and fluffy, spread with citrus butter, and perfect for mopping up the tart maple berry preserve, and the peppery basil added a fresh twist to a classic breakfast. I would definitely recommend this place if you’re visiting – it was the perfect way to end our time in Berlin.
I was sad to be heading home, although my aching feet were in need of some serious R&R. Two days of sightseeing planned with military precision can sure take it out of you. I must admit, I have a habit of falling in love with almost every city I visit, but Berlin really stole a little piece of my heart. I’m sure I’ll be back again someday.