I just got back from a short but very sweet trip to Germany, a little birthday present to myself. It just so happened that some of my great friends and favourite people from Austin would be travelling to Berlin, a city (and a country) I’ve always wanted to visit. So, knee surgery be damned, I booked my EasyJet flights and away I went.
As much as I’m a total foodie, my trip to Berlin was less about food than it was about friends. Sometimes in life it’s best not to constantly obsess about food 24-7, but rather enjoy the people you’re with and take everything else as it comes. And really, I had little choice in the matter as its been ages since I’ve seen Rachel and Dave, two of my favourite people in the world, not to mention it’s been only two weeks since I’ve had knee surgery and I’m still hobbling around like a crotchety old lady. But Berlin was totally worth the effort.
The thing I’ve noticed is that the less I worry about food, the more I enjoy food and everything else around it. In fact, we stumbled upon some great meals in Berlin, and there was no shortage of delicious vegetarian options. Even a random lunch pick near the highly touristy Brandenburg Gate resulted in a delicious feta cheese salad full of lovely olives, seeds and pine nuts.
On the night of my birthday, we met up with another Austinite, my former boss from Enspire who now lives in Berlin, and his wife, who showed us to fantastic restaurant called Oxymoron located “in the first Art Nouveau courtyard of the “Hackesche Höfe” in the heart of Berlin.” We all shared some amazing starters, including organic mozzarella with chili leek cream, grilled aubergine and young spinach, and goat`s cheese from the oven with mountain honey on Beluga lentils and lamb`s lettuce.
I should also add that we dined al fresco, a rare delight – how strange that I had to go to Germany of all places to experience a real summer? England just doesn’t get it.
Since it was my birthday, and knowing that my knee demanded comfort, I treated myself to a stay in The Circus Hotel, which was as good as I’d hoped. The rooms were impeccably clean, stylish and warm, the wifi was seamless, and their hotel cafe, “Fabische”, was as good as any Austin coffee shop for hanging out, resting tired limbs, computing and travel writing. But perhaps the best part was the muesli buffet, which even included bircher muesli amongst its myriad of grain flakes, seeds, nuts, fruits and yogurts.
Other highlights from Berlin:
The weather amazing – sunny, warm, t-shirt weather – summer at last!
I loved just wandering around the city and taking in all of the incredibly changing, vast, varied views. Graffiti, construction, tattoos, piercings, walls, rivers, trees modern architecture, currywurst stands, biergartens, short shorts, old people, young people, kids, dogs, bars, cafes, restaurants. It’s a constant stream of changing inputs, and an energising scene to be a part of.
On the tourist front, the Holocaust Memorial was perhaps most striking to me, a 19,000 square metre site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae”, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.
Of course, by far, the best part of Berlin was meeting up with Rachel and Dave and doing some of the best things in life: hanging out with good friends and catching up over lots of good drinks and eats. Even when some of those eats are as confusing as the combination of bread and aioli (surprisingly good) or currywurst and french fries* (only three euros at the tapas place we were eating in – that’s right, currywurst at a tapas restaurant – only in Germany). In the end, it’s all about the people you share things with. Cheers to a great birthday – thanks, guys!
* Just to clarify, I did not take part in the currywurst, but I did try a french fry. To the tapas restaurant’s credit, the fries were actually very good. The currywurst, however, we not well-reviewed by my peers.