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13 Things About Berlin That Might Surprise You

berlin cathedral and tv tower

I’ve talked about Berlin a lot on this site, providing you with some useful guides for the city (check out:

das ist so berlin
That’s so Berlin.

…but returning after a year, several first-time visitors in tow, I noticed that there are quite a few things that I’ve never shared with you: The things I find surprising about Berlin, and the things people I show around find surprising and interesting. So without further ado, here are 13 things about Berlin that I find surprising and that might surprise you, too:

1 Berlin is the vegan capital of Europe

This one is surprising – who would’ve thought that you’d find one of Europe’s most vegan-friendly cities in meat loving Germany? It seems like vegan cafes, bars and restaurants are popping up everywhere around the city, but I was skeptical when my friend Sam told me that Berlin was the vegan capital of Europe. A quick Google search revealed that he was correct though, and Berlin is in fact the city with more vegan restaurants than any other city in Europe, according to CNN. Germany’s first vegan supermarket chain, Veganz, was founded here, and Berlin is home to the biggest vegan festival in all of Europe. You can get vegan versions of the meat dishes that Berlin is famous for, doner and curry wurst, and you can get pretty much anything vegan: wine, cheese, ice cream, pizza… There are vegan versions of everything, and then there are of course the 60+ purely vegan restaurants and cafes in the city.vegan berlin

2 Berlin is not pretty

Compared to other European capitals like Paris, Budapest, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Prague or Ljubljana, which are known for their impeccable beauty, charming atmosphere and postcard-worthy photo opps around every corner, Berlin can only be called a city with some pretty corners at best. Gritty fits Berlin much better than pretty, and people traveling around Europe are often surprised when they get to Berlin and realize it’s not like the picture-perfect cities that they’ve got to enjoy in other European countries. That’s why Berlin isn’t for everyone – and I have to admit that it can be difficult to grasp the sprawling mess of neighborhoods. But if you make an effort to explore both the pretty and the less pretty parts, you’ll find that the city has much more facets than the cleaner, neater neighboring capitals.gritty berlin

3 Berlin is quiet

One thing that almost everyone visiting Berlin comments on is how quiet the city is. And I agree – I don’t think there are many cities the size of Berlin where you can find yourself frequently in tranquil, peaceful spaces. Even walking through the Mitte neighborhood (Central Berlin) there are a lot of spots where you feel more like you are in a small town rather than in Germany’s capital. And in the residential streets of Kreuzberg, Neukölln or Prenzlauer Berg, the only noise I found myself surrounded by was the chirping of the birds. Heavenly!

dani tempelhof
You can always find quiet, empty places in Berlin!

4 Berlin doesn’t have a skyline

Berlin doesn’t have much of a skyline – in fact, there aren’t any skyscrapers in Berlin. The highest building in Berlin is the omnipresent TV Tower at 1,207 ft (368 meters), which always peaks out from the lower buildings of the city. The Park Inn Hotel, right across from the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz, is one of the very few other high buildings in Berlin, but at 410 feet (125 meters) it is considerably smaller than the TV Tower.berlin sunset

5 Berlin is cheap

People are always surprised about just how cheap Berlin is, and I agree: having traveled all over Germany this year, I have to say that I have yet to find another city that has prices as cheap as Berlin. Food is super cheap, and drinks are moderately priced in most places – a large beer for €3.50 is seen as expensive, and €2 glasses of wine are not a rarity. Plus: groceries are cheap in the supermarkets, the Turkish Market in Maybachufer has the most inexpensive fresh produce I’ve come across in the whole country. Since many sights are also free, Berlin is one of the most budget-friendly cities in Europe.

cheap berlin
€5 lunches and an entire box of avocados for €3? Yes, please!

6 Berlin is smoky

And with that I don’t mean ‘smoggy’, no, I actually mean smoky as in cigarette smoke. Having spent so much time in the US in recent years, I am shocked every time I get to Germany and realize just how many people smoke there. The worst thing? Many bars have found loopholes to avoid the smoking ban, and so I find myself constantly surrounded by cigarette smoke when I go out in Berlin, waking up with hair that reeks of cigarettes. Ick.berlin smokers

7 Everyone is drinking beer (everywhere!)

Everyone in Berlin is walking around with a beer bottle in their hands. Well maybe not everybody, but probably 90%* of people you’ll pass in Berlin, especially in Neukölln or Kreuzberg, are carrying an open beer bottle. And if not beer, then Club Mate, a popular hipster soda drink.. but if you find yourself in Berlin, just look around you and you’ll notice that almost everyone has a beer bottle in their hands. The most plausible explanation for this is that a bottle of beer is usually cheaper than a bottle of water, so why not enjoy a bottle of fine German beer? But why not enjoy a beer at any given time, considering that it’s cheaper than a bottle of water?  And yes, it is completely legal to booze in public, and Berliners take advantage of that privilege all the time – more so than in most other German cities.

*number might have been slightly exaggerated by the author of this articleberlin beer

8 Finding German food in Berlin can be tricky

When my friend announced she wanted to try some German food, I broke out in a sweat. Where the heck could we sample some German food that goes beyond the ubiquitous currywurst? Berlin has so much ethnic food – Turkish, Vietnamese, Indian, Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Mexican.. you can find pretty much any cuisine you’re craving. But German food options seem to be few and far between. And even though you’ll discover that there are quite a few German restaurants once you start looking for them, be warned: not all of them are great. The quality varies drastically! If you find yourself in Berlin and hungry for German food, check out Dicke Wirtin, Zeit fuer Brot (their bread is amazing!), Schwarzwaldstuben and Marjellchen.Berlin foreign food

9 Doner Kebab is everywhere

While we’re talking about food: one thing you won’t ever have difficulties finding is the doner kebab, a national treasure when it comes to German fast food. Even though the kebab is a type of Turkish kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie (similar to the Arab shawarma) some people claim it was invented in Germany, and the Wall Street Journal states that There’s Nothing More German Than a Big, Fat Juicy Döner Kebab. Yes – the döner, how the Germans call it, is popular not only in Berlin but throughout the entire country with over 17,000 doner slingers, and it even outsells hamburgers and sausages, taking the #1 spot for fast food in Germany.

mustafas gemuese kebap
Mustafa’s.

Apparently there are more doner stands in Berlin than there are in Istanbul! You can’t go to Berlin and NOT have a doner – and the fight for the title of ‘Best Doner In Berlin’ is an ongoing one. Opinions vary (ask a group of Berliners what their favorite doner place is and it’s likely you will trigger a dispute among them!), but here are The Guardian’s 2016 picks for the best doner in Berlin, Thrillist’s best doner spots in Berlin, and Berlin Food Stories’ favorite doner places.

10 Berlin is cash only

maybe you should go fuck yourself
What I feel Berliners are thinking every time I ask if I can pay with card

Try to use plastic in Berlin – and you’ll get frustrated quickly. Germans do not like credit cards (or even debit cards) and Berlin is no exception here. Whenever I visit and try to pay by card, I get to hear ‘We’re cash only’ almost every time. Cash is king in Berlin, so get out a huge chunk of Euros as soon as you arrive. I am not sure why Germans are so adamant about paying in cash, but if you don’t want to end up in constant frustration about not being able to pay with your card (I find that most places that do accept card payment only accept German ‘EC’ or ‘Giro’ cards, but no foreign debit and credit cards), have your cash ready.

11 Berlin is a bike city

bike traffic light berlin
Bikes even have their own traffic lights in Berlin!

When people think of bike cities in Europe, they usually think of Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but not of Berlin. However, Berlin is just as much of a bike city as the aforementioned two, with a constant stream of cyclists using the well-marked bike lanes. One morning during rush hour, I found myself in a bike traffic jam and was surrounded by sharply dressed business men on their bikes, women in heels and suits on their way to the office, and moms with two kids on their bike on the way to kindergarten to drop them off. No matter what time of day – there always seemed to be more bikes than cars on the streets. And I have to say: cycling is the best way to get around Berlin, so do yourself a favor and rent a bike for the day at one of the many bike rental places around the city.

12 Berlin is green

Did you know that one fifth of Berlin is covered with trees? And there are 2,500 green spaces and parks in the city, ranging from massive parks like Tiergarten (Berlin’s version of Central Park) and the city forest of Grunewald to small green spaces like Monbijoupark or Helmholtzplatz. There are a number of Volksgärten (people’s parks), and there are plenty of green spaces along the canals and the river Spree that flows through Berlin from east to west. And then there’s Tempelhof, of course, Berlin’s city airport that was, after closing down, turned into a public park, larger than Central Park.green berlin

13 Berlin is full of street art

A lot of people are aware that Berlin has a thriving street art scene, but they don’t expect there to be so much street art… everywhere! In most cities, street art is confined to one or a couple of neighborhoods, but in Berlin you can’t walk a few meters without stumbling upon a piece of street art, graffiti or a mural. Even in the most random places, inside staircases for example, you’ll find tags or graffiti. Sometimes I feel like there is not a single door in the city that doesn’t have something painted on it! I personally love it, and I think it adds so much to what makes Berlin such a special place.berlin street art

No, the city is not perfect, but that’s what makes me love it even more.

Have you been to Berlin? Was there anything about the city that you didn’t expect / that surprised you? Share in the comments below!

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Polaroid of the week: Love lock madness in Cologne, Germany

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week germany cologne love locks bridgeIt feels like I’ve been all over the place this week: Berlin, then Dusseldorf, and now in Cologne, where I am spending the weekend. My three days in Cologne were definitely my favorite part of the week – my last two days in Berlin and also in Dusseldorf, it was mostly about work, but I tried to take some time off this weekend to find out if I still loved Cologne as much as I did fifteen years ago. Cologne and I have a special history: I visited the city for the first time with my girlfriends when I was 15 and was instantly mesmerized by the multi-cultural, vibrant city. What a difference from my sleepy hometown it was! I decided right there and then that I was going to move to Cologne one day, and a few more visits during my last couple of years in high school reaffirmed my love for the city, which is why I ended up enrolling in the University Of Cologne in 2000.

I had to leave unexpectedly after only two years, but always thought I’d come back one day – possibly to live there. But life had other plans for me and I never returned – until now, that is. As so many cities, Cologne has changed considerably since I lived here, and I had the best time this weekend rediscovering the place I called home all those years ago. With a good friend in tow and perfect summer weather, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect time here – from food markets to bike rides along the Rhine River to a night out in Cologne’s thriving LGBT bar scene, I loved every second of it.

Being a sucker for love locks (and maybe even having locked my very own one on a famous bridge) one thing I was excited about was that I finally got to see one of the most famous love lock bridges in the world: the Hohenzollern Bridge. Back when I lived here, there were no love locks on that bridge, but a few years ago I came across an article mentioning that the bridge was covered in more than 40,000 love pad locks. After photographing the love lock fountain in Montevideo, the love locks on the Brooklyn Bridge (which have been removed now), love locks along Italy’s Via Dell’Amore, and many other spots around the world, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a bridge covered in padlocks to the extent this bridge is covered. It’s absolutely insane! Now that I’ve become a little more jaded rational when it comes to everlasting love and love declarations, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these couples were still together. There must be far more than 40,000 locks now – apparently, the love locks weigh over 2 tons! Let’s just hope they don’t cause the bridge to collapse like the love locks at the Pont Des Arts in Paris, where the locks have been removed consequently.

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Polaroid of the week: A walk inside Berlin’s stunning parliament dome

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week berlin reichstag dome

After a few short days with my family, I returned to Berlin on Thursday for six days – and to welcome two special visitors from New York!

I have to admit that I am slightly exhausted after  sightseeing for days, but I love showing people around this giant urban sprawl that can be overwhelming and hard to grasp for first time visitors.

We wandered the tree-lined streets of Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, shopped at the Sunday flea market in Mauerpark and listened to people from all over the world belt out their favorite songs in front of 1,000 people at Bearpit Karaoke. We watched an epic sunset from Berlin’s coolest rooftop bar, Klunkerkranich (which even made it in the NYT, as a must-go spot in 36 hours in Berlin) and strolled along the canals. I also managed to get us tickets to visit the Reichstag dome on Saturday, which I hadn’t done in three years  – tickets are hard to get during the summer months, probably because they’re free. Sadly I couldn’t get them for my first visitors a couple of weeks ago, so the happier I was that I was able to show these two Berlin’s best 360 degrees views.

As an architecture geek, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing this stunning glass dome close up, designed by Sir Norman Foster and only added to Germany’s historic Parliament Building in 1999. We lucked out with the time of our visit, which happened to coincide with the time that the sun finally broke through the clouds after a rainy, gray day. And as we made our way up the ramp up to an observation deck at the very top of the dome, blue skies appeared, and we learned all kinds of trivia about the state-of-the-art environmentally friendly features of the dome and about the surrounding buildings thanks to the free GPS audio guide you get when you visit. If you’re heading to Berlin, don’t miss the Reichstag Dome – you can book your tickets online here.

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Polaroid of the week: Cycling through Berlin

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week berlin cycle tourApologies for the lack of updates in the past couple of weeks – I’ve finally tackled the big website update that has been overdue for months, but the transition to my new mobile-friendly site design didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped for. Please bare with me as I am ironing out the remaining glitches, bugs and errors – I have plenty of posts waiting to be published.

After our amazing first weekend in Berlin, we continued our adventures with more street art, more German breakfasts, my visitor’s (and my!) first ever curry wurst (this was the first time I found a vegetarian curry wurst), sunsets over Tempelhof airport (one of my favorite places in the city), and an epic 20 mile bike ride through Berlin. The city is so enormously big that is impossible to explore it on foot, and since it is a really bike-friendly city with plenty of bike lanes, bikes are a great way too see Berlin. Tiergarten alone (Berlin’s version of Central Park) is big enough to spend half a day there  (or longer) walking along the trails.

We were blessed with beautiful summer weather, cycled from Alexanderplatz to Brandenburg Gate to Victory Column on one of Berlin’s main boulevards, along the canals, and all over Tempelhof which is another one of those places that is too big to be explored on foot. We did get our fair share of walking in this week, however, with the free history walking tour (I mention this tour in my quick guide to Berlin with a few other must-do activities) during which our guide brought us to the iconic Berlin landmarks such as Checkpoint Charlie, the Memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe, the Berlin Wall (again!) and the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt Square.

Highlights of the week? Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap (a Berlin institution, which I put on my Berlin Must Eats in 2013 and it still totally lives up to the hype), the Turkish market at Maybachufer (I went on both days, Tuesday and Friday), Street Food Thursday, and last but not least: watching Germany win against Northern Ireland in the Euro 2016 soccer championship on the ‘Fan Mile’, a public viewing area with a giant screen right behind the Brandenburg Gate. Experiencing a soccer game with thousands of other fans is such an incredible experience – I am definitely happy to be in Germany for the Euro Cup after watching the last two World Cups in New York where soccer is just not as big as here in Europe.

I didn’t make it to all of my favorite places in Berlin just yet, so stay tuned for next week’s Polaroid with another update from Berlin, and my monthly round-up with all of June’s highlights in more detail.

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Polaroid of the week: Breaking Through The Berlin Wall

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week berlin wallApologies for the lack of updates in the past couple of weeks – I’ve finally tackled the big website update that has been overdue for months, but the transition to my new mobile-friendly site design didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped for. Please bare with me as I am ironing out the remaining glitches, bugs and errors – I have plenty of posts waiting to be published.

Hello from Berlin! Just like New York, Berlin now feels like home to me. I spent enough time in the city over the past few years to know my way around, to navigate the comprehensive transportation network (buses, trams, overground trains, underground trains) without getting lost, I have favorite coffee shops and even a co-working space here. And this time, I even found the way to my AirBnb apartment without a map after my Google Maps app stopped working. I’d almost say that after New York, Berlin feels like my second home now.

And just like last summer, I proudly showed off this awesome city to a visitor – my first of two visitors from NYC! And this one is joining me for the fourth time this year, which I am stoked about! We must have walked at least 20 miles all over Berlin this weekend, exploring my favorite neighborhoods, devouring traditional German breakfasts, strolling over weekend flea markets and taking in German history at the Berlin Wall. And the best way to learn about Berlin’s complicated history? In combination with some street art! A walk along the East Side Gallery, Germany’s longest still standing piece of the Berlin wall, nearly a mile long (1.3km) was of course the highlight for two street art lovers, and traveling with a fellow photographer also meant playing with our cameras a little more than I’ve been doing on recent trips, and I was excited to pursue a little Polaroid project that I had been wanting to do for a while – you’re getting a little sneak peek here.

The featured photo, a Trabant breaking through the car by artist Birgit Kinder, commemorates the car that was ubiquitous in East Germany as well as the opening of the wall, and is one of the most iconic murals on the wall which was painted by artists from 21 different countries. Each artist expressed his or her reaction, thoughts and visions after the historic changes in 1990 and the painted wall was made into an open air gallery, the East Side Gallery, which is now one of the most visited memorials in Berlin. This is the first time ever that I’ve seen this and other famous murals not being covered in silly scribbles and drawings by tourists eager to immortalize themselves on the Berlin Wall – usually it looks like this. But this year, I happen to be in town while the wall is getting its annual clean-up and renovation. I am curious to see what the freshly cleaned murals will look like in a couple of weeks when I am taking my next visitor there!

Follow my Berlin adventures in real time on Snapchat: mariposa2711

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Top five craft beer bars in Berlin

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As I am sampling beers all around the world on my travels, I’ve noticed that I’ve grown increasingly fond of craft beers in recent years, especially in the U.S. where you can find some extraordinary micro brews. And over the past few years I’ve noticed that this craft brew trend has spread all over the globe – most recently, I’ve tried some very good craft beers in Mexico and Colombia. But what about my home country Germany?dani oktoberfestGermany is famous for its excellent beer, yes, but did you know that up until a few years ago it was nearly impossible to find IPAs, Stout’s, Porter’s and other such varieties of craft brews? That’s because of a thing called the German Reinheitsgebot, which translates to German beer purity law and regulated what was allowed to be called beer: only water, barley and hop were allowed ingredients.

So an IPA or a Stout couldn’t even be sold as beer! Given the fact that craft brews have become so popular in other countries, however, and German beer manufacturers feared they were missing out on the chance to make more money, they started to forgo the typical German brewing techniques and ingredients and have started varieties of beers that you wouldn’t find anywhere in Germany as little as ten years ago.oktoberfest beer glassesAnd because of the rapidity this trend is growing with, people are talking about a craft beer revolution in Germany. If you think this might be a little exaggerated, look at the numbers: within a decade, the number of micro breweries in Germany has tripled from 300 to 900, and in Berlin alone more than 20 micro breweries have popped up! Berlin is one of the best cities in Germany to visit for craft beer aficionados, and if your trip to Germany’s capital is too short to try all of them, I’ve put together a list of the 5 very best places for craft beer in Berlin:savannah craft brew fest beers

1 Vagabund Brauerei

Vagabund Brauerei, created by three friends from the U.S. with the help of a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 is a must-visit for craft brew lovers in Berlin. Located in Wedding, you find American Pale Ales here, a Coffee Stout, and other seasonally changing beers. In addition to the beers on tap, you find two fridges filled with a superb selection of craft brew bottles from the UK, US and Germany.

Address: Antwerpener Str. 3, 13353 Berlin

2 Hops and Barley

Hops and Barley is one of the most popular craft brew bars in Berlin, and rightly so! Not only can you find an excellent dark beer, wheat beer and Pilsener here, but they also make their own Cider. Hops and Barley also has some excellent snacks to go with their brews, for example the brewer’s grain bread.

Address: Wühlischstraße 22/23, 10245 Berlin

3 Das Meisterstück 

Das Meisterstück might seem like a classic German beer stube (beer pub) at first, but don’t be fooled: you won’t find just lame ol’ German Pilseners here – instead the restaurant defines itself as craft stube, because, you guessed it, only craft brews are on tap here, including a badass Pilsener that puts German pilseners to shame. While you’re here, make sure to also try the excellent German food they serve.

Address: Hausvogteiplatz 3-4 10117 Berlin

4 Eschenbräu Brauerei

Eschenbräu Brauerei is one of Berlin’s oldest craft brew establishments, if not the oldest one. Here you find German-style brews as well as seasonally varying beers, and there’s a beer garden during the summer months that makes for a wonderful German beer garden experience – not to be missed! Plus: it’s in the Wedding neighborhood, like Vagabund, so can you visit two of Berlin’s best craft brew pubs in one go.

Address: Triftstraße 67, 13353 BerlinAt Hops and Barley

5 Kaschk

Kaschk is not only a place for beer lovers, but also for coffee lovers – so of course this place had to make my list.. Where else in Berlin, or the world, can I drink first-rate versions of both of my favorite beverages?! During the day, baristas serve professionally made espresso drinks, and at night you can talk beer with the knowledgeable bartenders. Although, thinking about it, I had a beer flight here at around noon, so don’t worry about being too early for a beer. The bar itself has a hipster vibe, and the various craft beers on tap are all topnotch micro brews – not only local German brews but also a number of tasty Scandic beers, since Kaschk is run by a Norwegian

Address: Linienstraße 40, 10178 Berlinberlin craft beers

Other places to sample craft beer in Berlin: 

Monterey Bar

If you’re not necessarily interested in trying a local beer but want a wide variety of global craft brews, head to Monterey Bar in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, where you find over 80 different craft brews from all around the world. Address: Danziger Str. 61, 10435 Berlin

Berlin Bier Shop

The Berlin Bier Shop probably has the largest craft beer selection in any of the city’s many beer stores, and you’ll find an extensive selection of unusual craft beers here for you to take back home. Address: Kirchtraße 23, 10557 Berlinphiladelphia hawthornes beers

Berlin craft brew map

This is a fantastic map of all the places that offer craft beers in Berlin – I recommend dedicating an entire day to touring Berlin’s craft brew temples, and this map is the easiest way to make sure you hit up all the right spots.berlin craft beerOriginal Berlin craft beer tour

On this 3-hour tour, you’ll get to sample at least three local craft brews with guide Cliff, who is clearly passionate about everything beer and will introduce you to some of the city’s best breweries. Of course you could visit them on your own, but the experience will be much enhanced with Cliff’s entertaining and informative narrative. Not only will you learn some interesting facts about craft beer, but also about the craft beer scene in Berlin, and recommendations for other places to check out.

Still looking for accommodation in Berlin? Check out Expedia’s top picks for hotels in Berlin.

Gadget tip for craft beer fans: 

bottlekeeperCheck out the BottleKeeper, a must-have gadget for craft beer fans who dislike warm beer as much as I do! As the name suggests, BottleKeeper keeps your favorite beer cold and safe with its neoprene lining, extra padding and custom designed caps that seal the inner beer bottle. The BottleKeeper comes in several colors and the best thing: it fits not only one size of bottles, but several ones! And it looks like an unassuming water bottle, should you ever want to consume beer where it might not quite legal 😉 Order your BottleKeeper here.

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Where to stay in Berlin: The Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz

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When I planned my latest trip to Berlin, I planned it mainly around two things: shopping and the Festival Of Lights. I wanted to get all of my Christmas shopping done over the weekend, and I wanted to be in walking distance of most of the landmarks that were transformed into stunning light installations during the Festival (which I highly recommend visiting, by the way – if you happen to plan a trip to Berlin in the fall, check the exact dates for it! You can see some of my photos of it on Facebook.)

I came across the Park Inn by Radisson, which, if you’ve ever been to Berlin, chances are you’ve either heard of it or even seen it, because it is known for two reasons: its terrific location right on Alexanderplatz, with an amazing rooftop observation deck which I’d already mentioned a few years back when I wrote about the best views over Berlin. Because nothing beats the view that has the TV Tower actually in it, as close as you can get! The Park Inn is also the tallest hotel in Berlin (492 feet / 150 meters) and the second largest hotel in all of Germany with 1,012 rooms.Park Inn Berlin AlexanderplatzThe second thing the Park Inn is famous for? Its base flying activity. If you’re crazy daring enough, you can throw yourself off the 4oth floor, face-down, cheered on by hundreds of shoppers down below on Alexanderplatz. I have to admit that just the thought of doing it causes me sweaty palms but I wish I was brave enough to do it. A 410 feet (125 meters) controlled fall at nearly free fall speeds is certainly not for the faint at heart but probably the best adrenaline rush you can get in Berlin! Behind closed windows, however, I felt safe enough to take in the 27th floor views from my room at all times, in fact I came back one day just to watch the sunset from up there. The views were probably my favorite thing about the Park Inn.park inn berlin viewAs you would expect from a 4* hotel, my room was impeccable, and I was a big fan of the open bathroom. While toilet and shower were behind milk glass doors (separated from one another), the sink and mirror were right next to the room without any walls, which meant I could follow the news on the TV while putting makeup on and brushing my teeth in the morning.Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz RoomYou can choose to include the breakfast when you book the room, and I’d definitely recommend opting for breakfast, which is served buffet style in two different areas – in the ground floor Spagos restaurant & Lounge (specializing in Euro-Californian Cusine) and the Zille Stube restaurant on the first floor where you can try some local Berlin specialties in a rustic atmosphere. I found the selection of breads, sweet pastries, eggs, fruits, cereals, cheeses and cold cuts, salads, jams, honeys, juices and coffee drinks to be fabulous and it was the perfect way to fuel up for a day of shopping. Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz BreakfastBecause I couldn’t stop myself from sampling the various pastries and croissants, I was happy to discover that there was a gym in the hotel, complete with a sufficient number of cardio machines and weights. There is also a spa at the Park Inn, and I wish I could’ve squeezed in a treatment or a massage, which would have been the perfect way to relax after the long evening of walking around Berlin to see the Festival Of Lights installations.Park Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz

Stand-out feature: Location, location, location

The location couldn’t have been more perfect: in walking distance to all the shopping around Alexanderplatz – Galeria Kaufhof, C&A, Primark, the Alexa Mall (a 4 minute walk) and other shops around the ‘Alex’. I was a ten minute walk from Hackescher Markt with its many bars, and there are plenty of food options when you walk to Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse / Diercksenstrasse (five minutes away). Even Prenzlauer Berg with all its fabulous cafes and bars is in walking distance, as is Berlin Cathedral, the lovely historic Nikolaiviertel neighborhood, and Museum Island. For me, I couldn’t have asked for a better location and I prefer the shopping here over Kurfürstendamm. Since Alexanderplatz is such a big transportation hub, you have S-bahn, buses, underground and trams right in front of the hotel’s doors.Berlin Mitte

Room for improvement

The only thing I found to complain about was the fact that there is a daily charge of €9.90 for the wi-fi. This was the first time in years (really, YEARS!) that I was charged for wi-fi use, and I was also surprised because wi-fi in the Radisson Blu Royal in Helsinki where I stayed earlier this year (and which I loved, as I told you here!) was free of charge. Seeing that Park Inn belongs to Radisson, I would expect the same pricing policy for the Park Inn. Looking at Berlin’s competitive hotel market, where wi-fi is usually free of charge, I think the price of wi-fi should be incorporated in the room rate instead of being a surcharge.Berlin Park Inn Alexanderplatz1

Overall

If you are looking for a solid 4* experience in a fantastic location right in the heart of Berlin, look no further – the Park Inn is an excellent choice – especially considering the very reasonable room rates (a standard room starts at $72, a city view room starts at $89)!

Details

  • Location: Alexanderstraße 7, 10178 Berlin
  • Price: Rooms start at $72, superior corner rooms with city views start at $102
  • LGBT Friendly: Yes
  • Digital Nomad Friendly: If wi-fi was free of charge and available for more than two devices, then it would be.
  • Amenities: Buffet breakfast (at extra cost, if room not booked on a B&B basis), 3 restaurants, sauna & spa, gym, rooftop observation deck, concierge desk, tea & coffee making facilities (in some rooms), parking (at extra cost)
  • Website: ParkInn-Berlin.de

park inn berlin bar

 

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Polaroid Of The Week: A crisp fall day in Berlin

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polaroid of the week germany berlin cemeteryConfession: Whenever I spend time in Berlin, I tend to neglect the most central neighborhood, Mitte (which translates to ‘central’). For me, Berlin is all about the neighborhoods outside of the tourist zone, I guess I could say that in New York it’s pretty much the same way.

But this time around, I decided to stay as central as possible to be able to walk to most of the Festival Of Lights installations and it turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me to explore this part of town a bit more. And what a great decision this was. It showed me that central Berlin has much more to offer than I initially thought – especially when it comes to food. I discovered several excellent Vietnamese restaurants (check out Madami, Pho Hoi, Good Morning Vietnam and Chen Che), had the best vegan burrito of my life (the Vegan Lover at Dolores), and great coffee at Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers, Ben Rahim and Oslo Kaffeebar.

I also discovered that some of my favorite hang outs (Kaschk for craft beer at night and coffee during the day, St Oberholz for a good work session, the new(ish) Barn Roastery for the best coffee in Berlin) are in walking distance from Mitte, and so is Prenzlauer Berg with its countless cool bars and restaurants). And since I was planning to shop for a new wardrobe for my next destination (I’ll share in my monthly round-up next week where I’m going, but: any guesses?! ?), staying at Alexanderplatz turned out to be extremely convenient, with plenty of shopping nearby.

Of course I didn’t only stay in Mitte – I caught up with a friend over lunch in Kreuzberg, wandered around Prenzlauer Berg for a photography project (and randomly discovered the St. Mary’s and St. Nicholas cemetery where this week’s Polaroid was taken), and was taken on a fantastic wine bar hopping tour. I love that there’s always still so much new stuff for me to discover in Berlin – in fact, I am always surprised to see how many more places I keep adding to my ‘places to check out’ list, even though I feel like I know the city quite well. (Check out all my Berlin posts here).

I guess to make it through my list, I’ll have to eventually move to Berlin 😉 For now though, I’ve had enough time in Germany and it’s time to pack my backpack again. A few more days of quality time with my family, and I’ll be hitting the road again!

 

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Munich- An Enchanting & Fascinating City to Explore

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Schloss Nymphenburg lion statueFamous for its rich history, ancient cathedrals, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife, Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, has a lot to offer for all ages and tastes. With world-class museums, breathtaking landscapes, spectacular parks and stunning palaces, Munich has become an important stop for travelers across the world.  

The Best Time to Visit Munich  

Whatever time of year you visit Munich, there will be a lot of things to make your trip exciting . Sensational sights are waiting at every turn and the timeless beer gardens & restaurants open a perfect gateway for you to immerse yourself in the local experience. A very popular time to visit is during Oktoberfest which is a gigantic beer festival staged in late September and early October, you can drink some of the world’s best beer, listen to live brass bands and dine on pretzels, sausages and roasted chickens. Most tourists visit Munich during December to take advantage of the world’s famous Christmas markets. Chinese Tower in Munich

Climatic Conditions in Munich

One can see huge variations in seasonal temperatures. In summer, the city basks in bright sunshine with daily temperatures rising towards 30° C. And in winter season, the crisp night air adds charm to the Christmas markets.

Top Tourist Attractions

No trip to Munich is complete without visiting Marienplatz, the Catholic Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady, the concentration camp of Dachau, the English Garden, Viktualienmarkt and the Residence palace of Munich. In addition to these, the city boasts of 45 museums, 58 theatres, three major orchestras, and two opera houses. All these attractions have made Munich a perfect place to explore. If you happen to visit Munich during the last two weeks in September, of course you will have to visit the world’s most famous beer festival: Oktoberfest!

Schloss NymphenburgAccommodation in Munich

Although there are plenty of options to choose from , the best way to experience everything that the city has to offer is a vacation rental like Munich apartments for holiday. Why stay in a cramped hotel room when you can opt for a spacious rental home. You can spend your holiday in a luxury condo apartment in the heart of the city, close to the finest restaurants, museums and music venues orgo a bit outside the city and view the sunrise from a balcony and enjoy breakfast in your gourmet kitchen. You can also plan local adventures and take in the unbelievable views of the city from your place. By choosing apartments, not only will you save money, you’ll get to experience a true taste of local Munich life.Pretzels, pretzels

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Polaroid Of The Week: Berlin’s dazzling Festival Of Lights

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polaroid of the week germany berlin festival of lightsThe transition from summery Tel Aviv to chilly Germany wasn’t easy, but what helped was the prospect of finally experiencing the Festival Of Lights in Berlin, a festival I’d been wanting to visit ever since I first saw pictures of it online.

Every year in October, Berlin’s main landmarks are transformed into a spectacular light art installation for about ten days. Historic buildings like the cathedral, the opera house, the city palace and landmarks such as the TV tower or Brandenburg Gate become the canvas for stunning light projections ranging from abstract paintings to remarkable, innovative video installations.

This year I was finally able to plan a trip to Berlin around the festival! The cool October air made for a chilly walk, but I truly enjoyed my lightseeing tour with Sam and Zab, allowing me to see Berlin’s majestic sights in a completely different light (quite literally) – most of the light and video installations were so impressive that they made me forget about my cold fingers.

Even though I spent quite some time in Berlin in the past couple of years, I never spend much time in the historic center of the city – the Festival Of Lights was a good reminder how majestic the city actually is, far away from the grittier, street art covered neighborhoods like Kreuzberg and Neukölln where I tend to spend most of my time. More on what I’ve been up to in Berlin next week – and if you’re interested to see more of the Festival Of Lights, check out more of my pictures on Facebook.

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