Best of Berlin with MJH, pt 2

By no means is this the best of everything in Berlin. But it’s definitely the best of my last week with Matt and includes some of my favorite things in Berlin. Part 1 is here.

1. Currywurst

CurrywurstI do love currywurst. Who can argue with a street snack so simple as cut up sausage covered in tomatoey curry goodness eaten with a tiny wooden fork? So easy. Berliners love currywurst so much that they created a museum devoted to the snack and I’ve wanted to visit ever since I heard about it.

The currywurst museum is down by Checkpoint Charlie and with 11euro tickets, it’s not the cheapest thing in town. However, it is incredibly fun and interactive with ketchup bottles that play music

Currywurst MuseumExhibits that detail the story of Herta Heuwer, the mother of currywurst, sauce recipes, maps showing currywurst stands all over the world, spice containers you can smell, a brief history of fast food innovations, a documentary about currywurst in Berlin, this pretty stellar sausage couch

IMG_6141

And of course, a currywurst sample at the end of the visit

Currywurst museum

Given the taste/touch/smell nature of this museum, I think it’s geared mostly towards parents with kids but Matt and I had fun playing the games and any museum experience that ends with food is a good one for me!

2. Mauerpark Sundays

Mauerpark Berlin

Mauerpark is one of my favorite Sunday locations. When the weather cooperates, the lawn has plenty of room for picnics and lolling around in the sun, the music acts always have a wide variety from reggae to disco, the bearpit karaoke is pretty legendary, the food stands have some great offerings like this Turkish rollup with rocket, tomato and goat cheese

Mauerpark flea market Berlin

and of course the shopping

mauerpark

I will miss Berliner Sundays. If there’s a better way to spend a day than with music, food and hanging out in the sun, I don’t know what it is.

3. Street Food Thursdays

Markthalle Street Food Thursdays

In a list of Berliner things I will miss most, Street Food Thursdays at Markthalle Neun should be #1.  I love the huge old market hall space with it’s high ceilings and beautiful brick work

Markthalle Berlin

And I love the changing variety of the food stalls. I’ve seen new things every week but I’m always pleased to see my favorites, like the kasspatzen guy

kasspatzen markthalle

This incredibly delicious wine from Schoner Trinken

Schoner Trinken Berlin

Berliner beef balls – I don’t typically love meatballs but these ones are SO good with a couple different options like lemongrass and chilies, oregano and basil or curry powder. Get one of each!

Street Food Thursday Berlin

Mr. Pinks, the pie making New Zealander, has to be one of the best salesmen I’ve ever met. He’ll always offer a combo deal and throw in some New Zealand beer for good measure.

Street Food Thursday Berlin

Those sausage rolls were wrapped in the flakiest butteriest pastry and that spicy sweet chutney is homemade. It was so good that we went back for dessert and got a strawberry rhubarb pie, which Mr. Pinks heated up and took away somewhere. When he came back it had ice cream on top.

Markthalle Neun Pinks

Mr. Pink just winked and said “no extra charge.” I’d buy anything from him and his pies certainly are spectacular!

But while everything else is good, the piece de resistance at Street Food Thursday are these oysters at Küstlichkeiten from Zeeland on the North Sea

Markthalle Neun

I’d raved about them so much that Matt, who doesn’t really care for oysters, insisted he had to try them. He also was so converted to these spectacular sea tasting bites of deliciousness that after we’d eaten everything else, we had one more oyster for the road so that would be our last taste for the night. I love everything about Street Food Thursday but I love these oysters the MOST.

4. Berghain

Berghain Berlin

Lord help us, Berghain. Well, it’s Berlin’s most notorious techno club and we did get in. If you love techno and dancing and being a part of something legendary, I would highly recommend checking it out.

Berghain Berlin

There’s scads of online advice about how to get in, what to wear, how to act etc. I’ll only add that Sunday afternoon is the best time to go because there’s little to no queueing. We showed up at 1630 and walked right in. It was quite the experience and the perfect end to my Berlin stay.

Berghain Berlin

And yes, my Berlin stay has come to an end! I can’t quite believe it. I’ll post tomorrow with some thoughts about my mini-expat experience and probably a short list of my favorite things. Until then…

Weekend Highlights

Hackescher Markt

Hackescher Markt, a little area just south of me, has a couple of fun rabbit trails leading to yet more beautiful street art. I have an almost limitless capacity for street art, apparently, but there’s so much here that even I’m getting a little jaded and all “yeah, it’s pretty… seen that… ok, that’s interesting…” about it all. Here are some highlights that got past my filters:

Hackescher Markt

Hackescher Markt

Hackescher Markt

And this painted backdrop that looks so real

Hackescher Markt

Overall, Hackescher Markt is pretty touristy but there are definitely a few things worth seeing outside of the square.

And for something completely different, how about the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church?

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Mostly destroyed in the war with just this spire and entrance hall still standing after 1945. This is the roof inside the old church, complete with resealed cracks from the bombing

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

They “rebuilt” this church by leaving the old church standing but creating a new modern church space beside, around and attached to the old church. I think it’s an unusual choice since the two spaces could not look more different

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Although the new space is quite beautiful with all that stained glass.

Hung on the wall of this new church is the Stalingrad Madonna

Stalingrad Madonna Berlin

Lt. Reuber, a German soldier, physician and pastor, drew this Madonna and child on the back of a Soviet map during WW2 at Christmastime. He was subsequently captured by the Soviet army and died a POW but his letters and this drawing were flown out of the encampment on the last transport to leave that part of Russia and eventually made their way to his wife. This Madonna has since become a symbol of peace and reconciliation so copies are on display in the former Stalingrad, but this one is the original.

We checked out Bite Club, a food festival that happens on Friday nights.

Bite Club

It was fun, with many of the same vendors we saw at Street Food Thursday. That seating on the boat is quite cool plus it backs into an outdoor pool/beach club called Badeschiff

Badeschiff

but still… nothing matches Street Food Thursday.

But while we’re on the subject of food, this is a dining room in what has to be the fanciest McDonald’s in all of the world.

McDonalds Berlin

That’s a crystal chandelier. I saw people eating off of real plates. But still with the red plastic chairs. I’m at a loss for words.

These guys are a notorious motorcycle club from Russia called the Night Wolves.

Russia's Night Wolves

They’re here in town to commemorate the Nazi surrender that happened on May 9, 1945 and they drove here from Russia, though they were denied entry into Poland probably for political reasons since there’s no love lost between those two countries right now. In Russia they’re good friends with Putin – who occasionally rides with them – they’re associated with the Russian Orthodox Church and they’re funded by the Kremlin while also running tattoo parlors, rock concerts and the occasional shoot out with rival gangs. While trying to picture any scenario in which Obama rides with the Hell’s Angels, I think words fail me here too.

As a final note, this is Berlin’s most notorious after hours club

Berghain

It opens at 2AM sunday morning and stays open until Monday. The stories from here are legendary and I’m hoping to see more than the outside but chances are I won’t get in as they turn away 8 of every 10 people in line. Matt, get ready because we’re going to see what we can do to get in.

Berghain

If we do get in, you may (or may not) get a report.

Ok… that’s it! More tomorrow from Poland.