Berlin: For Me, The Third Time’s the Charm

For the recent holidays my family and I took a two-week trip to Germany that included visiting with friends in Berlin and relatives in Dresden and Weimar. It was a once-in-lifetime adventure for all of us. Today I will share some photos and impressions of Berlin which I have now visited three times and grown to love.

Berlin is not an easy city to get to know. It is sprawling and public transportation, although readily available, involves long walks to stations and lots of stairs to climb to train platforms. Like New York, there are neighborhoods throughout Berlin that can be best be discovered by walking them. Most people are somewhat familiar with some of the more well-known monuments: The Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and the Fernsehturm (television tower) which you can see from practically anywhere in Berlin.

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Much as I enjoyed revisiting these amazing sites, this time I enjoyed even more just relaxing with our friends and hanging out with them in various neighborhoods. The area we stayed in is known as Freiderichshain; it was part of East Berlin before the wall came down. Notice the cobblestone streets and tile rooftops which are fairly common in East Berlin.

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Our friends’ apartment was brand new and designed by them to be a minipenthouse with a broad view of Berlin from the windows. Ahhh…the windows! I am in love with the windows that almost everyone has in Germany (and many other parts of Europe). This is their livingroom and a balcony just off their dining area:

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Spending time with our friends and their daughter’s new baby in their chic but cosy apartment was as much fun as sightseeing. I love the German baby clothing and the fact that all the children speak and understand German. Aren’t they clever? Here’s my son with Linus, the newest addition to the Berlin family.

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One night after a rigorous day of sightseeing, we ended up at a local favorite of our host, bei Schlawinchen, a real Berlin dive in trendy Kreuzberg that’s open 24 hours and is indescribably funky! Check out the ceiling below.

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Here’s my daughter and our friends’ daughter downing a pint of that good German beer at Schlawinchen!

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A night on the town is always topped off with a doner kebab, which is Germany’s equivalent of a souvlaki sandwich often bought and eaten on the street. It is Turkey’s greatest gift to Berlin!

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No visit to Berlin would be complete without a glimpse of The Wall. There’s almost nothing left of it. There is a good piece still intact on the Eastern side of the Spree River (which runs through Berlin). It has been turned into a colorful outdoor exhibit known as The East Side Gallery by graffiti artists.

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On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated in a cozy Austrian restaurant situated just across the river facing the Eastside Gallery. Also in view was the amazing Oberbaumbrucke, which I think is the most picturesque bridge in all of Berlin. The fireworks going off all around it were awesome!

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There’s so much more I could write and show you, but there’s one thing more that must be included…the Weinachsmarkts (Christmas markets), which is how I got the urge to go to Germany at Christmas! I wanted to see the markets for myself. We saw five of them! Two in Berlin, two in Dresden and one in Weimar. Each has its own distinct character and each one was equally enjoyable. The most enjoyable part was drinking gluhwein at frequent stops throughout the market. Delicious! Here’s my family and I enjoying our mugs of gluhwein.

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And last but not least, I found Santa Claus in Berlin. In fact, I found several Santa Clauses as we were leaving a local bar one night. They were merry and a bit younger than I thought Santa would be!

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Next stop…Dresden!

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18 thoughts on “Berlin: For Me, The Third Time’s the Charm”

  1. Barbara, what a delightful trip you had. Since I have never been to Germany, I eagerly awaited each of your photos. I especially loved the colorful one of the city and the one with the graffiti wall (I guess each city has one of those). Happiness was on the faces of those in the photos so I am surmising that it was a trip to remember forever.

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  2. Glad you enjoyed the virtual tour of Berlin. But remember…Berlin is not Germany. It’s Berlin. There’s only one place like it in the world, and it’s where the freethinkers in Germany go to live. It grows on you….

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  3. What a trip! And the third time?! Your post has taught me so much about Berlin. I have never been. Hmm. Christmas and beer and windows and so much more. Thank you for the tour. Hopefully, I’ll get a little closer some day.

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    1. I hope you get there some day. It’s definitely a city worth exploring. I should mention that what really made the trip worthwhile for me this time, was being in the care of a very special family that goes overboard to make us feel welcome and enjoys taking us places. The “insiders” way to see Berlin.

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  4. Ah, gluhwein! I spent a semester in Hamburg during college and gluhwein and the Weihnachtsmarkts are among my favorite memories! I loved traveling alongside you as you shared your trip through Berlin. I’m looking forward to Dresden!

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  5. Your posts are making me “homesick”. I lived in Berlin for 11 years and miss it so much! Happily I will get to visit this summer. Some of your narrative and photos were familiar while other things were new. You are doing a great job chronicling your visit,

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    1. I appreciate your comment especially since you’ve been there. I envy your summer trip. I already wish I could go back and spend more time there. That’s how you know a place has really gotten under your skin, as it has for you as well. Where did you live in Berlin?

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  6. Looking back, I am amazed at how much we packed into two weeks! But the reason it was so enjoyable, I believe, was because we had such a lovely family to visit and share our adventures with.

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed my post. Join me again next week when my family moves on to Dresden…a completely different experience! South Africa!!! My son went there when he was 16; he was very impressed by the landscape (Table Mountain; the wine country) and he even went to the tip of the continent! What an incredible journey you will have! Watch out…travel is contagious!

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  7. Berlin is on my bucket list of places to visit. Wonderful pictures! I’m so jealous that you have family and friends there to visit. I would love to be immersed in the local life, as opposed to the visitor view. One day my husband and I would love to do a river cruise during the Christmas markets.

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    1. I hope you are able to get there one day. I’d be happy to give you tips on where to go, etc. if you’re interested. Yes, having the insider experience is so much richer than not; but a trip to Berlin is well worth the while. A lovely cruise in the summer wouldn’t be bad either when Berliners come out to play!

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  8. I loved hearing about your trip in person the other day but seeing these pictures and reading all about Germany was delightful!! I am so glad you had this amazing experience with your family. Memories for a lifetime.

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  9. Memories…that was the point! Although being there was also the point. It was so wonderful that everything worked out even better than I hoped it would…and how often can we say that!

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