Our 2nd week in Berlin was bookended by interesting train ride conversations. The first, on the return trip from Prague, was when we shared a compartment with two girls from L.A. One in particular was very well-traveled and told us incredible stories about beaches in Vietnam and the wonders of Budapest. The train ride at the end of the week from Berlin to Copenhagen had us sharing an apartment with a fascinating couple who left their home in Australia in February of 2014 to go and travel the world via bike! They had been everywhere – from Span to Croatia, Germany to Denmark. He was a great storyteller, and we had a blast on the ride, especially when we discovered that our train had boarded onto a ferry to cross the Baltic Sea to Copenhagen…only in Europe!
Our sightseeing adventures the second week in Berlin involved a visit to Checkpoint Charlie, a very informative outing to the National Museum of Germany, and a fascinating perusal of the East Side Gallery painted onto the remnants of the Berlin Wall. We also made our way out to the Deutsch Oper Berlin to see Bejart Ballet Lausanne perform Ballet for Life, a trippy contemporary ballet set to the music of Queen and Mozart (needless to say, I enjoyed it). Our new airbnb for the week was brand new, very modern, and located directly across the street from the Bundesdruckerie (our host warned us not to be worried if armored cars and men with machine guns block off the street – they are just securing money for the nation!). He also informed us that we were staying in the “death zone,” i.e. the part of East Berlin directly adjacent to the wall where defectors were shot if they attempted to cross over. It was fascinating to stay in a totally different neighborhood and get a feel for a different, quieter, and newer part of Berlin.
Some of our favorite eats and drinks for this week included the coffee shop West Berlin (pretty close to Checkpoint Charlie), Tapas y Mas (a cute little Spanish place hidden in an alley), and Prater Biergarten (a beer garden that served German classics such as brats, pretzels, and pickles). Additionally, our new friend Nicole showed us some pretty awesome local places. For instance, Templehof Field is the old Berlin airport that has been turned into a public park. It was awesome to be able to walk out on the runways as people lounged on the grass, wandered through the terminals and gardens, and even kite-skateboarded. We also ate at a yummy place nearby the airport called La Pecora Nera, which had excellent Italian dishes. Additionally, Nicole showed us a really unique spot called the Klunkerkranich Rooftop. It is the rooftop of a parking garage that has been transformed into an outdoor garden that serves food and drink. The breathtaking views of Berlin from this little gem were a great way to cap off our time in the capital city!