Long overdue post on my trip to Germany! But here it is, finally! I've broken it down into parts based on cities/towns to make it less overwhelming.
Starting off our trip, our flight from Toronto departed late by 20 minutes from Air Canada and we had unfortunately missed our connecting flight from Lufthansa. Thankfully, the service desk was able to re-book us onto the next connecting flight. Unfortunately, no one had informed us that we had to pick up our luggage and have it re-checked in. On our flight from Munich to Berlin with Lufthansa, we discovered our luggage did not come on the same flight. I thought that would've been common sense to automatically send our luggage to where we're headed to. We had to go to the baggage service desk to make a lost luggage claim and it was explained to us that our luggage were still in Munich. We had deposited our keys for our luggage with the gentleman who filed our claim. I had received my luggage the same night without my deposited key. Jo had his luggage and keys the following morning. Thankfully, I did not leave both set of keys to my luggage with Lufthansa. Otherwise it would've added to my nightmare. Service was a hit-and-miss.
After all that mayhem at the airport, we decided to try some German food. Near our hotel was a restaurant called Maximilians. The portions were very generous and much more than we had anticipated. Two meals felt like a feast for a family of four! Nonetheless, I would describe the first Bavarian meal as savory, delicious and hearty. What a great start to many more meals to come!
Festival of Lights was an event that was happening in Berlin at the time we were there. It was the last weekend of the festival and we tried to make the most of it while we could.
The festival occurs every October in Berlin, where the city becomes a display of lights. Buildings become illuminated with beautiful art exhibits either as still images or animated video with music in the background. It was a lively event and was a great way to see the main sites of Berlin.
Our hotel was located near the Gendarmenmarkt, a square in Berlin. There was quite a lot of construction happening and unfortunately both the French and German churches were under construction. Around Christmas, this square becomes very festive.
Close by was an amazing restaurant where we had breakfast. Quchnia was a cozy and relaxed cafe serving delicious food.
Ampelmann was something unique in Berlin, as a symbol of East Germany. It was a pedestrian light signal used in the former East Germany. When the Berlin Wall fell, Ampelmann was suppose to disappear as well after the reunification of Germany. However, it was preserved and became the icon of East German culture and a global brand.
Berlin was a city that was affected by war. There were many reminders of the history of Berlin as we walked around the city.
Neue Wache was built as a "memorial to those who fell in the World War" in 1931 and unfortunately it was bombed during the World War II. It was restored to serve as a "memorial to the victims of facism and militarism" from 1960. And since 1993, it served as the central memorial of federal republic of Germany. Mother with her dead son stands in the center of the memorial.
Pink pipes could be seen around the city of Berlin and I was curious what they were for.
Berlin was surrounded by lakes and the foundation was marshy. From the Proto-slavic language, "Berl" meant swamp, thus Berlin was named as swamp-city. In order to prevent flooding the city center during construction, water had to be pumped away and transported to canals. The company "Pollems" was responsible for the pipe system and had asked a psychologist which colours to paint the pipes, and it was suggested either pink or purple as it was preferred by children. The pipes had a lot of twists and turns in order to prevent the material from shrinking and breaking when temperatures fell below 15 degrees. It was a unique landmarks of Berlin to see!
It was also a unique sight to see Trabi cars driving on the street of Berlin. It was a reminder of East Germany. At the DDR museum, you could try driving a Trabi car in the simulator. It was harder than it looked to drive one properly.
Museum Island in Berlin was a unique experience and it was a nice visit to see the art and history of Berlin. Unfortunately, the Pergamon museum was under construction at the time we were visiting. Pergamon Altar was closed off and will be closed off until 2019. But the other halls of the musem was still breathtaking.
For a beautiful view of Berlin, I would recommend visiting Reichstag, the parliament and mirror of German history. Unfortunately, the dome was closed for cleaning when we were visiting, but it was still a gorgeous view of Berlin on the rooftop.
A visit to Berlin could not be complete without seeing the East-side Gallery of the Berlin Wall. There were a lot of graffiti on the actual wall than I had anticipated. Two people were actually cleaning the graffiti off the wall, when we were there.
Overall, the food in Berlin was delicious and amazing. I cannot say the food was bad. It was all delicious and mouth-watering. Instead of mentioning all the places that we ate at, I figured I could highlight the most memorable and unique experiences.
Trying the Doner Kebab was a must in Berlin at the Pergamon Grill - Doner and Pizza. The rotating kebab was grilled and parts of it was shaved off. It was crispy and wafer thin. It was very good! It was also very messy and hard to eat. Getting it as a wrap would've made it easier to eat.
Near Museum Island, was a nice little restaurant and pub serving German food, Gasthaus Julchen Hoppe. Portions as expected were large and tasty. It was reasonably priced. We were seated next to a cute old couple who kept eyeing us as well. Jo decided to order the same beer choice as they did. As we left, the old couple wished us goodbye hoping that we'd enjoy the rest of our Berlin trip.
Cadadia was an amazing find and was close by our hotel as well. It was cold and I wanted something warm and hearty like soup. They had a variety of soups available, which could be served with a bowl of rice. It was crazy busy in the restaurant during lunch service. Menu was all in German, however, the cashier was nice enough to translate in English which soups they were serving that day. This was probably the best soup I had in Germany
For a change, we wanted to try something different in Berlin. Not that we were sick of German food, yet. We were craving pasta and tried an Italian restaurant, Ristorante a Mano. It was at full capacity, but the waiter was nice enough to ask if we wanted to wait for a table and we agreed. Looking back our trip, if the restaurant was at full capacity, the Germans would deny service. Restaurants in Germany appeared to cater to the entire service for seated guests and did not value quick turn-over of guests like in Toronto with a two hour dining limit for some. He poured us two glasses of wine while we waited inside. Food was impeccable and service was undeniably attentive. Atmosphere was very relaxed and romantic.
Farewell Berlin, until next time.