This post is going to be uncharacteristically long as I am so excited to share with you the details of my city adventure (sans toddler) with Mr B in Berlin.
Berlin is a city full of words beginning with B. Bears, Bikes, Bier, Babies, Beards and Beyonce. Obviously the latter a temporary fixture, this Beautiful Woman was the sole reason for our frolic to the monumentally historic town.
Amazing M was happily handed over to Oma und Opa as we trained it to Germany’s capital. It was a peaceful and relaxing way to travel. While Mr B slept, I started reading a novel on my kindle (the author is a friend’s husband- sooo clever). What a fab way to pass the hours!
As we rolled into the city, we saw utilitarian towers and apartments dotted amongst the period buildings of centuries ago.
I also noticed that graffiti-ing is a serious hobby. Derelict buildings weren’t the only canvases of amazing artworks- many beautiful period homes had also been tagged and for some reason, the owners had not removed it. A statement of art? It kinda works in Berlin.
We trekked our way to Soho House Berlin which was where we stayed for two nights. Let me tell you, we were a bit too clean cut for the place. Or in other words, it was too cool for us. Ridiculously cool. The boho Bauhaus building is set in the oh so cool Mitte district and used to be a department store before being turned into the headquarter for the Communist regime. In true German style, this building was built to last wars. And hurricanes. And earthquakes.
The interior design was a mix of old and new school glamour. One of the first things I noticed on arrival was a Damien Hirst graffiti of a killer shark in the lobby which I was itching to photograph. So I was extremely grateful to be informed at check-in that photos were not to be taken in the club. I avoided the embarrassment of being told off for clicking away with my phone cam. Being in a private members club meant that standard private member club etiquette had to be practiced. Well, thank goodness for the internet, is all I can say!
What happened in the hotel room, however was out of their control! When we stepped into our ‘tiny room’ I thought I had died and gone to retro interior heaven: Herringbone details, Angelpoise lamps, high ceilings, round light switches, waist high red wood bed and a Roberts Revival radio. And of course, let’s not forget the silver tray of tea, coffee and fine bone china. I snapped away with child like glee.
My favourite part of the room was the bathroom. Underfloor heating and a solid towel warmer. What more could I want?
The bathroom was packed full of Cowshed products which made me extremely happy, but I was told that should I take any of their full sized products, a charge would be made. I was however, allowed to take the products in the white bathroom tray.
Mr B was unimpressed that I had stuffed all takeable but not chargeable products before check-out. “Well, I’m not taking the tray,” was my response to his disapproval. I indignantly explained that I was allowed to take the things in the tray so I was entitled to all the cute little products (including tortoise shell comb!). Kinda felt like Ross and Chandler in the episode of Friends when they decided to gut their hotel room of goodies and light bulbs.
First stop, The Club room on the seventh floor. The interior was a mish mash of retro dapper and a stately home in the English country side. The oversized floral couches fit in perfectly amongst the retro glamour of chandeliers and velvet longues.
Tucked around the bar and seating area was an American style diner area otherwise called the House Kitchen, where you could tuck into scrumptiously simple food like mac cheese or steak with fries. I ordered the latter and whilst it was lovely, I longingly looked at every club sandwich that was being whisked away to some media flash packer or artist. The waiters were impeccably dressed in old school wait staff attire. Crisp white shirts under fitted black vests and a black apron to boot. It also didn’t hurt that they were pretty easy on the eye. Service was what you would expect: attentive, friendly, professional and not a whiff of snootiness.
After our meal, we walked up to the rooftop terrace which housed a heated pool, a bar and old fashioned sun canopies covering the outdoor tables. Although we were in the midst of spring, it felt more like autumn and a swim was not to be experienced.
Come nightfall the room is abuzz with people wanting a place to unwind from the daily stresses of doing whatever that makes them so hip. I noticed that the no phone policy was ignored by a few guests. Too cool for rules? Come on, this is Germany. Respect the rules, dudes.
The rules being:
No mobile phones.
The funniest quote by far, of the whole trip came from a nice waiter in the club. When being asked in English what we would like to drink, Mr B answered in German that we would like a bottle of sparkling water. The waiter’s response after a moment was, “Sorry, I don’t speak German.”
This speaks volumes for how international a city Berlin is. Everyone speaks English and when you don’t look like a local, the default language from the server is to speak to you in English. As I much as I appreciate such consideration, I’d like the whole German experience when in Germany, and that begins with speaking to me in German.
Anyway, we thought it was hilarious that a waiter in Berlin couldn’t speak the language of the country he was working in.”Wasser” isn’t too far off to “water”. Maybe it was the sprudel bit that confused him…
A well deserved meal and rest came after a long day of site seeing. Mr B had dined at this restaurant before and wanted to take me to the place to dine in Berlin. Well, it wasn’t exactly the place to eat, but it was a great place to eat. Politicians, literati and other smart and ‘interesting’ people of Berlin are regulars of this classic German restaurant.
I felt my IQ level increase as I soaked up the intelligence of the diners while I tucked into the most delicious schnitzel I have ever tasted in my short life. It was fried to golden perfection, with the tender veal housed in a crispy shell. Accompanied by a generous serving of new potatoes, giant while asparagus and sauce Hollandaise, I was a happy gal.
Well satisfied, we crossed the road and entered Ritter Sport Chokowelt, where we collected two bespoke bars of chocolate we had ordered before lunch.
Ritter chocolate bars are as common in Germany as Cadbury bars are in Oz and the U.K. The difference being that Ritter is actually very good quality chocolate for a very fair price. The bars are characteristically 16 squares of chocolate bliss that come in dozens of flavours with white, milk and dark chocolate bases. I can honestly say that I prefer Ritter over Godiva. Our chocopheliac tendencies drove us to buy a two kilogram bag of assorted chocolate bars on top of the two we had ordered. Let’s hope there aren’t many sessions of eating my emotions this summer.
An interlude: The Nap
We were exhausted after sightseeing and schnitzel eating so we happily collapsed into our comfortable bed for a three hour napathon. Sex fuelled weekend away from toddler? I think not. My rationale was that we could have sex anytime back home. But a long, uninterrupted nap in the afternoon? Being mauled by a tiger in London is more likely. So we happily napped away our tired bodies and woke up feeling peckish and excited to eat at an uber cool restaurant located under a railway bridge.
Cantina in der Bar Tausend
You may miss the entrance to this uber cool restaurant. The entrance blends well into the charcoal painted wall, and the door could be mistaken for a railway access entry point.
Mr B pressed the well camouflaged doorbell and we were welcomed into a minimally lit dark hallway. The interior was as sombre as the entrance and the dining area stood beyond the bar you had to cross to arrive at the Japanese/Peruvian tapas restaurant.
Yes, you read right. Japan meets Peru meets tapas. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not fond of tapas. Cold and small dishes aren’t really my thang. I was expecting weird combinations of dishes in the vein of cold sashimi paella which would have been quite interesting in a bad way. But I was surprised by the simplicity of the menu. No mixing about. It was literally Peruvian dishes and Japanese dishes on the same menu. Who would have thought that it would work?
As I looked around the room, I realised just how intimate and small it was. It was lit with indirect lamps purposefully angled to maintain and continue the sombre ambience of the entrance and bar. An impressive air vent in the shape of a battle axe blade stood over the open kitchen where you could watch the chefs cook and prepare your dishes. Wait staff were mostly bearded and dressed in laid back chic. Unruly, long hair and the mullet seemed to be the norm in this city.
We ordered a few starters to share: garlic prawns which were nice but non-descript; squid ceviche which was divine and the best one I’ve had the pleasure of tasting; and some grilled chicken skewers which were extremely tender and just as tasty.
While we waited for our mains, I sipped on what was possibly the best mock tail I have ever had : “Old Flame” being a virgin caipi mixed with fresh passion fruit and apple juice finished with an elderflower tonic top.
Before I could properly eavesdrop on the diners around us, our wild haired waiter promptly served us our mains: cold udon noodle salad which was fresh and would have worked wonderfully to cool and satisfy you on a warm spring evening (the night was a bit on the cool side) and calf cheeks slowly cooked in a soy sauce and honey. I was obviously quite full by that stage, but when I overheard another waiter (who was sporting a very funky moustache, btw) say the words “matcha ice cream” and “mochi” in the same sentence, my stomach made room for dessert.
I don’t know what makes something cool, or what the proper definition of the word is. But this place was IT.
We managed to roll ourselves into the bar to enjoy another drink before heading back to the hotel. This time, I went for something with a shot, and going by the taste of my drink, it was more like a few shots. I ordered a “Miss Fitzherbert”, which came in an antique silver beaker like chalice on a matching tray. According to the description it is a drink for the wife of George “Prince of Wales” IV, champagne underlined with gin, elderflower and some other things. Before I got to note it down on my phone (dork that I am) the waitress took away the menu cards as they were running low on them.
Beyonce. What can I say about her concert that hasn’t been said, videoed or blogged about before? Amazing atmosphere, amazing performance, amazing costumes, amazing support act (never mind his singing ability – you need to check out those abs) and amazingly clean toilets. A great night out with my boo.
Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag (Parliament), Checkpoint Charlie and of course the Wall were the target sights of the day.
You know when you go to a place or meet someone who you just get? If Berlin was a person, I’d jump them and make them the property of deliciousmother. It is very much an international city full of accents and languages other than German. It felt multicultural like Sydney, but pimped up and pared down into ultra coolness and non-pretentiousness. The beauty, history, culture, edginess and art that soaks the city makes Berlin my soulmate. In the words of JFK in his speech to the West Germans, ‘All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!” ‘