Berlin: highly recommended.
France gets 4 public holidays (jours fériés) in May. Unfortunately two of them fall on weekends this year, but we did get one last Thursday. Many people faire le pont by taking Friday off as well to “bridge” the gap between the weekend. After work, we hopped on a plane and in only 1.5h and €45 later, we landed in Berlin.
We stayed at my fellow Cal Bear Jen’s apartment, which was in Mitte, a really central and lively neighborhood. Meanwhile, she and her friend came to our apartment in Paris. Thanks Jen for the great idea (and also to my friend/Berlin expert Sami for all the travel tips)! If anyone else in Europe wants to house swap, let us know 😉
It was amazing to walk along the Berlin Wall, visit the memorials, and admire the elaborate graffiti. The coolest wall art was at the East Side Gallery and also in a little alleyway next to Cinema Cafe. We walked a good 13 miles the first day. So much history to soak in.
We also visited the Jewish History Museum and the Mauer Museum near Checkpoint Charlie. Tyler’s grandfather was once stationed at Checkpoint Charlie, so it was pretty cool to pass through the station. (Notice the McDonald’s now in the background…)
Our favorite afternoon was spent at Volkspark Friedrichshain, a beautiful park filled with families enjoying the sunshine. We took a relaxing nap among the groups of barbequers. German parks remind me a little bit of the ones in America, where people can freely lounge and play on the grass. Most parks in Paris are a different kind of beautiful. For example, at Jardin du Luxembourg there is a small patch of lawn reserved for people to lie on, but otherwise, gardens must be appreciated with the eyes only. I loved how carefree people in Berlin seemed to be.
Another thing Berlin wins at: awesome cafes. Hipster, tasty coffee, and an ambiance that invites you to spend as many hours as it takes to finish your book. Perhaps good cafe culture is linked to good bike culture? Give Father Carpenter in Mitte a try for tasty coffee, juice, and brunch.
Our visit to Berlin would not be complete without a night at a beer garden. The bratwurst (especially the famous currywurst) was delicious. I proudly finished my first(!) beer and actually enjoyed it. Of course it was doused in raspberry syrup, but I think it still counts 🙂