Hello again, we just returned from our European holiday in Berlin and Stockholm. I will breakdown the trip in two installments, starting with Germany. Spoiler alert; everything that could go wrong did on the first leg of our trip.
We decided on Stockholm because flights were pretty cheap and we threw in Germany to add some different scenery. This decision came back to bite us. Our original flight departed Washington (on Virgin Atlantic), with a connection in London to Stockholm (on SAS). From there we booked another flight on a different airline (Easyjet) to Berlin so we could go to the Christmas markets first and then finish the trip in Stockholm. Makes no sense, right??! Our entire day would be spent flying. We made it to London no problem but our connecting flight on SAS was canceled due to technical problems. To make a long story short, SAS could not get us on a flight without us missing our Berlin connection in Stockholm since Easyjet is not one of their preferred partners. We went to the British Airways counter (because they are the only airline that could get us to Berlin) resigned to the fact we would have to book a one-way flight to Berlin for 500 euros, total BUMMER. Matt, a lovely guy, from British Airways listened to our ridiculous story, took sympathy on us and routed us straight to Berlin for no extra charge. He was wonderful! Happy ending, right? Flight to Berlin was great, even better than what we originally booked but our luggage didn’t make the flight. That luggage happened to include ALL of Adam’s clothes and ALL of our toiletries. Folks, we didn’t get our luggage until the last night we were in Germany, three whole days without luggage!!!! So you say…no big deal, go to the store and buy replacements…but it is Christmas and Germany takes 3 days off for Christmas, which happened to be the 3 days we were missing our luggage. To make matters worse, Adam was deathly ill. He literally slept the entire first day in Berlin while I toured the city by myself. So enough with the sob story, let’s get into the sights and sounds of Berlin.
One quick side note before I begin. Are Adam and I the only people who do not sit together when they fly? The airline staff always looked at us funny when we showed them our boarding passes and we weren’t sitting together. Here is why we don’t sit together; we both like window seats and Adam is quite a bit bigger than me and likes to have extra legroom (I don’t need the extra legroom but if they keep making the seats smaller, I will need a bigger seat, width wise geesh).
I didn’t do a very good job researching Berlin before we went so we probably missed out on some important stuff. One of the searches I do like to do for each city we visit is the most Instagram worthy sites to see. I would highly recommend adding that search to your future trips.
Ok, let’s start with the Christmas Markets. I read reviews and the highest rated market to visit was Gendarmenmarkt. I was expecting this thing to be huge, acres and acres of booths, not so much. It was tiny but I did have a good time. This was one of my solo visits. I am combining it with the Christmas market Adam and I visited together, Weihnachtsmarkt.
Entrance into the Christmas Market. It cost one euro.
Cashews, walnuts, chestnuts oh my!
Fun, little jazz band
In this photo, they are cooking all of the sausages.
Guys rolling the dough for Flammkuchen – a wood fired flatbread, very similar to pizza and very tasty.
Flammkuchen fresh from the oven.
Here are some photos from Weihnachtsmarkt.
Sweets and treats
There are people inside the barrel enjoying a meal.
Adam enjoying glühwein – mulled red wine, served hot with cinnamon, cloves, and spices.
So, you probably aren’t used to seeing me in glasses, the result of missing luggage.
Pretty Christmas decorations.
Another top tourist destination is the dome on top of the German parliament building, Reichstag. We waited too long to book tickets and the only time available to visit was 9:45 pm so we weren’t able to get photos of the Berlin skyline.
See the dome on top?
I am wearing a headset for an audio tour; it was terrible. While I am on the subject, the museums I visited in Berlin were pretty bad. The way they are laid out with soooooooooooo many words (I wish I took a picture) it is very hard to stay focused. You need to break up the words with objects, more pictures.
If Parliament was in session they would be sitting in the blue seats below.
We visited the Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Neus Museum (we didn’t get any pictures but were able to see the bust of Nefertiti – BEAUTIFUL!!), Topography of Terror Museum, Allied Museum, and Berlin Wall Memorial.
Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe.
Brandenburg gate by day and night
Berlin Wall Memorial
Topography of Terror – this is where the Third Reich Headquarters stood. It was bombed and obliterated by the allied forces. There is now a museum there about the atrocities of the Nazis. In the picture below, you can see the Berlin Wall Memorial in the background.
Now, let’s talk about the important stuff – FOOD. Berlin is supposedly on its way to becoming a foodie destination and also happens to be the vegetarian capital of the world. I was not very impressed with the food. Now, caveat, alot of the restaurants were closed for the Christmas Holidays while we were there. We ate traditional German food, Turkish food, Italian food, American style hamburgers, French breakfast at the cafes, American style steakhouse, and Christmas Market food.
I am having a hard time finding food photos, let alone any good photos from the Berlin part of the trip and I think it is because of all of the issues we had, it just put a damper on things. I kind of want to go back to Berlin under different circumstances and maybe I will like it more, IDK.
Adam trying Turkish beer and liquor with a water chaser.
Fried feta rolls and really delicious bread
Adam’s entree at the Turkish restaurant. It is ground meat with a tomato spread, meh.
Turkish tea to round out the meal.
We went to a traditional German restaurant and I got the flatbread I tried at the Christmas Market. What you can’t see in the photo are the MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of white onions. Hey, I like onions but this was insane.
Adam trying Currywurst (a popular German dish) – pork sausage, with curry ketchup and curry powder. He said it was the wurst, lol. The dish is so unique it even has its own museum.
American style burgers at Burgers Berlin. It seemed like the bun had two tops instead of a top and bottom but it was good.
Kartoffelpuffer – traditional German potato pancakes with apple compote. We had these at a department store called KaDeWa, short for Kaufhaus des Westens. This department store is the second largest in Europe comprising 7 floors with every designer brand you can think of but the highlight is the fifth floor. It is like a luxury food court with different mini restaurants serving everything. They even have a Moet & Chandon (fine french champagne for those not in the know) counter.
Odds and Ends
Berlin had some really cool metro/train stops, each decorated differently. This was my favorite. It looks like black and white flowers but if you look close it is just a white stencil on glass. This wasn’t even my stop but I had to get off and take pictures.
I also like this train stop. It is classic french looking with white and green subway tile.
The lighting is bad in these but this stop had really cool murals, very french looking.
I found some cool street art.
In the states, you have red and green circles at crosswalks but in Berlin you have little red and green men, so cute.
So that is a quick and dirty rundown of our trip to Berlin. My next post will summarize our time in Stockholm, my new favorite city! Now that place has some good food!!!
I will end with this. I think the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. It is so diverse and you can truly come here and live the American Dream but there is one thing Americans could learn from Europeans and that is the art of relaxing and enjoying a coffee at a cafe. Europeans don’t do drive-thru. They stop, sit, relax, talk, and enjoy themselves. Cafes are absolutely everywhere on every corner in Europe. I don’t even drink coffee but I love spending time in the cafes.