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


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


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…

MJH in Berlin

MJH in Berlin

Matt made it to Berlin! And despite flying for 6 hours and arriving at 1am his time, fielding a new country, currency and language and making his way to downtown Berlin to find my apartment, he had a less eventful morning than I did.

It’s been so dry here that I woke up with a bloody nose and then spilled coffee all over… well, all over something white that doesn’t belong to me. Given that this whole apartment is white, that gives me a lot of options. So my morning consisted of a lot of bad language and frantic attempts to clean blood off my face and coffee out of things for which it was never intended. And all this before 8am.

Despite that, I think the matter is solved – certainly my nose has stopped bleeding – and Matt arrived to be a witness to my insanity and patiently endured my endless “can you see the coffee here? how about here? here? Can you see it here?” questions when really he just wanted to drink some coffee and perhaps take a nap.

MJH in Berlin

Coffee first while we waited for Berlin to wake up and start serving breakfast. But somehow my favorite place never opened – Factory Girl! Why why?? – so we went to another coffee house where we had breakfast sandwiches and Matt posted this picture on Facebook exclaiming “first meal in Berlin!”

MJH breakfast

My favorite comment on that picture was “and you ordered a bagel???” Even in Europe, bagels win out occasionally.

I then had my almost last German lesson where I suffered through instructions on how to tell time on a 12 hour clock. If you don’t think that’s complicated, read this post because he explains it more lucidly than I ever could. Then I came home with my head positively stuffed with knowledge to roust Matt from his slumbers and drag him out to enjoy Berlin.

We started with food. BBQ in fact.

Markthalle Neun

I know! This is Berlin! Bagels and BBQ? What are we even doing?? But you know what? it was bad-assedly delicious so I’m not even sorry.

I took him through Kreuzberg, my favorite street art neighborhood where I always find something new. Here are a few finds from this trip:

These painted lovers

Oberbaum Bridge

And this sprawling epic depicting the fall of the Berlin wall and the rise of the almighty Euro.


We ended up at East Side Gallery, for my third visit. And I found new sights there as well, of which this was one of my favorites.

Berlin wall

And this tagged tagger tagging “sic semper tyrannis”

Sic semper tyrannis

A few silly photos because these faces demand it

MJH in Berlin

And a final sobering reminder of the reason for this wall

Berlin Wall

I love this gallery. It remains one of my favorite things in Berlin.

We finished the day on the other side of town at KaDaWe, Berlin’s fanciest department store. Berliners love these whirling cyclone-like installations apparently. This one reminds me a lot of the cyclone in the Reichstag Dome.


KaDaWe’s 6th floor is all gourmet food. Dinner? As if you had to ask. How about currywurst? (and an Asian salute)

MJH and Currywurst

An upscale shi-shi department store version of Berliner street food, Kaitlyn.? For real? I know. Our food has been all kinds of backwards today. But it was damn good and I’d do it again. And this rhubarb, raspberry, white chocolate dessert too.


Ok, that’s a quick and dirty first day. Tomorrow, more Berlin.

Berlin Wall

Sunday Flea Market in Mauerpark

Mauerpark flea market

How was your weekend?

Mine didn’t start well.

I thought I had German classes all weekend but it seems the class cycle started last weekend before I got here, This is the trouble with signing up for classes months ago on a foreign website when the times and dates aren’t completely clear. Fortunately, I didn’t pay for the class but unfortunately this is a class geared at expats and I was really hoping to meet some interesting people who had also just arrived in Berlin! Of course, I also wanted to learn some German. It’s not all about my social life. Just mostly…

This school doesn’t have another beginner group class until the end of May, which will do me no good, so I opted for a series of private lessons that start today. One could ask what German lessons will do to benefit me when I’m only in the country for 6 weeks. How much can I learn?  And is it that important?

The answers are, probably not a lot but yeah, it’s important. I’ve done a lot of international travel in the past decade and yet I only speak English and some well accented Spanish that usually just serves to get me into trouble. That’s it. I can say hello, thank you and goodbye in a bunch other languages, which has gotten me most of the way around the world, but the rest of the time I’ve gotten by with charades and English. It works but I grow weary of traveling and relying on the world to speak to me in English. It feels arrogant.

That said, it’s shockingly easy to get around Berlin without speaking a speck of German. Almost everyone is bilingual. But I want to invest in this country while I’m here. It feels like the right thing to do and having a smidgen of another language at my disposal can only be a good thing. So, German classes today.

Anyway, after my failed German class attempt on Saturday, I spent the rest of the day just chilling out and not doing much. Sunday, however, was all about the flea market in Mauerpark, which is what you do if you’re a traveler in Berlin on Sunday.

Mauerpark flea market Berlin

It’s like a cross between a flea market, an antique mall, a craft fair and a farmer’s market selling art, antiques, bicycles, honey, furniture, japanese okonomiyaki, beer steins, light fixtures, tea cups, Korean bulgogi, bracelets, postcards… pretty much if it exists in the world, you can find it at Mauerpark.

MMauerpark flea market Berlin

Flea market at Mauerpark Berlin

Mauerpark flea market Berlin

I love that you can never tell what people might purchase. Although maybe his wife bought it and this is the flea market equivalent of holding her purse while she goes to the bathroom.

The flea market had a badass food court with so many options that it took me an hour to decide what to try first. I decided to start with Berlin’s street food classic, currywurst

Currywurst Berlin

Chopped up sausage covered in tomatoey onion sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. This one was the real deal, which you can tell from the sauce. The second rate stands use ketchup. And I loved it. But it’s my first sample and I wanna try a few more versions before I talk about it any further.

I also tried this Turkish roll up with arugula, tomatoes and salty goat cheese.

Mauerpark flea market Berlin

I don’t even know what they call it. I just pointed, handed him money, said “danke!” and took it. It was toasty warm and incredibly delicious. Berlin has a huge Turkish population so Turkish food is the second most common option anywhere.

I got to Mauerpark in the late morning but it was still too early for the Berliners, who love to stay up all night.  The morning was pretty quiet with a few groups of people sitting in the park

Mauerpark flea market Berlin

And then it got really busy when the live music started up. This is an amphitheater cut into the hill with giant stone step/seats

Mauerpark Berlin

And these guys called The Trouble Notes were playing some kind of gypsy fusion electronica

The Trouble Notes in Mauerpark

They were really great. They played a classical piece and Smells like Teen Spirit in the same set. How can you not love that? I think they’re playing somewhere in town next week and I may try to catch them again.

Mauerpark has lots of space so it kind of turned into a battle of the bands with a German group playing disco dance music down the way and a sand pit where an afrocaribbean percussion beach band set up. Those guys brought their own disco ball and hung it in the tree above them. Mad respect for that.

Mauerpark Berlin

I spent the whole day just hanging out, listening to music and people watching. It was awesome not to have anywhere else I needed to be.

Maybe this flea market is a touristy destination? It’s hard to tell from the crowd who lives here and who’s visiting. But I’d highly recommend that travelers check out Mauerpark on a Sunday. You can never go wrong with free music in a park and no open container laws.

Mauerpark Berlin