family, travel, winter

{Berlin: Part II}

I’ve taken a different approach with these Berlin posts than I have with past travel posts. I’ve gone into more detail into places we stayed, things we saw and places we ate. Do you like this format? Or are you in it more for the picture? Just curious 🙂

Where We Stayed (Night 2 & 3): 
The Westin Grand Berlin: We liked the location of the Westin better than the COSMO, but much preferred the COSMO’s modern design. The Westin was clean, the bed was super comfy (they have those “Heavenly Beds”… amazing) and the lobby was really pretty in a more traditional way. It was also 100 EUR/night, which we thought was more than fair for our experience!

What We Saw (Day 2 & 3):

Mauerpark Flea Market: We woke up early Sunday morning on a mission. Per Ashley’s suggestion, we were headed to the Mauerpark Flea Market, and hopefully before the crowds were too heavy and the goods were picked over. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, just wanted to browse and walk around a bit. It was fun to look at all the trinkets and treasures and wander around with a cup of coffee in hand. Sadly, it didn’t take long for us to feel unbearably cold, so we had to cut our trip a little short and head somewhere to warm up. But, and I know I’ve said this a lot, I can imagine that in the spring and summer this would be such a fun spot to spend a Sunday morning strolling around.
TV Tower: This is one of Berlin’s biggest tourist attractions, with over 1.2 million visitors a year. We really wanted to go up the tower for the magnificent view of the city, but there was an hour wait when we tried so we had to pass. 
Altes Museum: A gorgeous museum in the area of Berlin known as “Museum Island”. We didn’t go inside – but the sight from the outside was impressive enough!

The Berlin Cathedral: The Cathedral sees thousands of visitors a year and is the largest church in the city.

The Reichstag

Brandenburg Gate: This is one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. It has a long history in the city, having been built between 1778 and 1779. The Berlin Wall went up in 1961 right near the Brandenburg Gate, forcing it to become known as a symbol of Germany’s division. The now bustling Pariser Platz, on the East-Berlin side, was completely desolate and the west side was expansive forest, guarded heavily by military. Seeing this gate was incredibly powerful and personal to me as my mom has told me stories of how her and my dad (who escaped from communist Romania in the 80s) used to sit on the East side of the gate, looking out toward the other side – towards freedom – and wishing so badly they could find a way to get across. I sent her a photo of me and my cousin in front of the gate and she emailed me back that day with this message:

“35 years ago I was standing on the other side of the gate, yearning to cross to the other side, thinking that will never happen. Seeing you criss-crossing the globe I celebrate the decision we made! I’m happy that you will never experience the feeling of frustration we felt. I love you,and so good to see you with Julie!”

It seriously brings tears to my eyes every time I read it.  When the wall fell in 1989, people flocked to the reopened Brandenburg Gate to celebrate. 

More Tiergarten Park:
Checkpoint Charlie: “Checkpoint Charlie was the best known border-crossing of Cold War days. The sign, which became a symbol of the division of Cold War Berlin and read like a dire warning to those about to venture beyond the Wall – YOU ARE NOW LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR – in English, Russian, French and German – stood here. Today, it’s an iconic marker of territorial boundary and political division. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, it signified the border between West and East, Capitalism and Communism, freedom and confinement.” – source

This piece of the Berlin wall was sitting right outside the Westin’s entrance:

East Side Gallery: “The Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is a 1.3km-long section of the wall near the center of Berlin. Approximately 106 paintings by artists from all over the world cover this memorial for freedom and make it the largest open air gallery in the world.” – source

View of the Oberbaum Bridge from the East Side Gallery:

Where We Ate:
Oliv Cafe: Max Wanger happened to be in Berlin the same week we were and he turned us in the direction (via social media) of this cute cafe. Corey and I sat here and enjoyed a heaping bowl of soup, a couple mint teas and a piece of cheesecake while we attempted to warm up after our last bit of sightseeing in Berlin. We really loved the ambiance and the food. If we lived there I could see myself spending a lot of time there on the weekends! It’s right by Alexanderplatz. 

Barcomi’s: When we read this deli and coffee bar was run by a Seattleite we knew we had to go. Yes, we’re American, and maybe we should’ve be trying places that were a bit more German, but sometimes we just miss home. I’m glad we gave this place a try. It was decidedly un-American. Everyone around us seemed to be a local and the place was buzzing – full to the brim. We thoroughly enjoyed our mediterranean plate filled with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, rucola, sundried tomatoes and much more. And Corey downed his sandwhich so fast I couldn’t even tell you what it was! 

25 thoughts on “{Berlin: Part II}”

  1. Liz, I really liked how you set up this post! It'll be great to go back to when/if I'm visiting Berlin.

    The story of your parents and the gate is so touching and your Mom's message even brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Favorite post yet! I loved Berlin, I have family in Germany and have heard their stories of the wall. Hearing your family's story [coming from the other side] was very touching. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

  3. I like this format 🙂

    That photo of the Berlin Cathedral is stunning. I've heard that Berlin is quite an edgy city, these photos capture it perfectly!


  4. I've been to Berlin twice and looking over your photos makes me want to go back there so bad!! I paid the 10 euros at check point charlie to get my passport stamped 🙂

  5. I love this! Now I really want to go to Berlin. I was very moved by your mom's email – all of our parents make great sacrifices for us but to see it so directly is very moving!

  6. I love this format. I'm always saving travel posts like this in my Google reader to reference when I travel to their respective cities. I'm glad you had a great trip!

  7. I love the detailed posts! Berlin had always been more of a secondary city on my to go to list but now it's moved up in rankings.

  8. Photos and tidbits! I like I like:-) I'm half German, so half of me reallllly likes this post…just kidding! All of me does. P.S. Love your dark winter ensemble:-) xoxo

  9. What an excellent post to read this afternoon. Your photos are brilliant! I love the lighting. I actually just saw part of the berlin wall for the first time in my life at the Newseum in Washington, DC. They had flown in about five sections. What your mom wrote was lovely, it nearly made me cry too.

  10. I love hearing more details about the places you visited and where you ate-it's great motivation for planning trips abroad!

  11. I love all the details (as well as the pictures!) about your travels, especially the history that is so rich in Europe. I can also completely relate to Germany's past division, since I'm living in a country that is currently divided. I find it really interesting to hear about your family's relation to the history too. How amazing. Looks like you're having a great time 🙂

    Also what you said in a previous post about being away from friends and family but growing only closer to your husband- I can totally relate and think that's the best thing about living abroad. Enjoy yourself!

  12. i've always wanted to go to berlin. now, more reason to! the tiergarten park looks so gorgeous. and i love that little cafe. so sweet. one of my favorite things to find while traveling are small local cafes.

  13. I always love your pictures!! YOu are so SO lucky to be so traveled at such a young age!!

    Sidenote: better you than me over there…I don't do well in cold weather lol. 😉

  14. loved reading about your BERLIN adventures!! looks like y'all had the greatest (and coldest!) time! 🙂 hubs and i are headed to germany in june, we might have to make a stop in berlin! xo

  15. 1. i love the set up. it's great for reading.

    2. i looooved reading this. i went to all of these places when i was in berlin this summer, and seeing them again made me a little sad, but happy at the same time. such pretty pictures liz!

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