It has been a whirlwind last couple days! We got back stateside Sunday afternoon and have been playing catch up ever since. It feels like we jumped right into Fall and, dare I say it, the beginning of holiday season (p.s. we have lots of new holiday candles in the shop too!). We had the best time, spending 3 days in Amsterdam and 4 in Berlin, and can't wait to share all our favorite things with you. Berlin was amazing, exceeding all of my very high expectations - it is a city so full of culture, history and lots and lots of street art. I think the best way I can describe our love for the city is that we both started browsing apartment rental prices on our way home. Check out some of our favorite spots and be sure to stay tuned for our Amsterdam guide coming next!
FOOD & DRINK:
Distrikt Coffee: My love for this place extends far beyond the fact that it totally refueled my mood and energy levels after a 6 am flight earlier that day. True to Berlin style, it has a very industrial vibe with killer coffee to match. We shared an açaí bowl and their go-to berry compote pancakes, with their breakfast selection just as amazing as their coffee.
Crackers: Such a hidden treasure, literally and figuratively. The hip bar and restaurant is nestled behind a gate with only a small sign indicting its presence. Buzz the ringer and enter into it's glitzy interior. P.S. walking through the kitchen to get to the restaurant is the correct route.
Image via Berlin Food Stories
Industry Standard: Tapas style, this cozy restaurant features a mix of French and Mediterranean cuisine. The wine list is extensive and they know how to pour a great cocktail. We loved this Neukölln spot, especially the mussels.
Le Bon: We missed the lunch cut-off but I have to share this beautiful gem of space. Added to my brunch list (pancakes, please!) for next time, the corner restaurant is nestled on the perfect side street in Kreuzberg. And they somehow achieved a minimal and warm interior, no small design feat.
Lokal: We spent our last dinner in Berlin at this picturesque, neighborhood spot in the Mitte. Serving modern, seasonal dishes - everything we tasted was exceptional and fresh. I'm still dreaming about the pumpkin apple soup we had as a starter that perfectly embodies the taste of the Autumn in a dish. Prater Garten: Awesome beer garden in the city. Grab a pretzel, beer, and relax under the picturesque tree canopy.
Image via Time Out Berlin
Twinpigs: Hip and trendy, this cocktail bar is situated in the Neukölln, a short walk away from Industry Standard. The aesthetics of the space totally won me over, left thoughtfully raw - almost echoing the city itself. Cool atmosphere, great drinks, and chill vibe - definitely a place to check out on your visit.
Westberlin: The perfect spot to enjoy a coffee, sandwiches or pastries if Checkpoint Charlie is on your docket for the day - the space is bright, modern and full of design, architecture and photography books/magazines to peruse. I loved the bright pops of neon furniture used throughout the space.
Zeit für Brot: Dark chocolate cinnamon rolls, need I say more?
Also be sure to check out Themroc, Bitte Coffeehouse, and The Store Soho House (brunch and coffee!)
Parkhaus: Set in the Mitte, this shop features everything from home decor, paper, gifts and baby items. The merchandising is flawless and the staff is super helpful. I was hooked from the instant I saw the giant "bonjour" neon sign on the shop's back wall. The Store Soho House: Like Voo Store (below), the majority of the items here are way out of our budget. However, the spectacle is not to be missed. Enjoy an excellent cup of coffee and some avocado toast in the beautiful store surroundings. The fashions are carefully edited with an avant-garde edge. Don't miss their music selection with a wide range of records, much larger than your local Urban Outfitters :)
Bikini Berlin: Ahhhh if only shopping malls were this cool in the US! Marketed as a concept mall, it's full of edgy boutique shops. I especially loved Vitra Artek and their curated selection of paper, small leather goods, gifts and coffee. Another cool note, it has huge windows overlooking the city zoo.
Hallesches Haus: Heralded as a modern general store, I left wishing this shop could be magically transported to Chicago. Full of unique finds for your home and to complement your life (think beautiful leather pouches, illustrated cards and stationery). We particularly liked the outdoor space, perfect for enjoying their coffee and cakes or a late afternoon glass of wine.
Image via HelloMe
Tiny: Super stylish clothes for your little one, this shop is equal parts adorable and edgy from its clothing to its interior. Swing by if you're in the market for amping your kid's style game.
Voo Store: Another coffee shop meets store, seeing a pattern here? Just another reason to love this city, their retail game is on point. Although many of the items were out of my price range, talking to you awesome Acne Studios sweatshirts, it's definitely worth browsing for the cool set-up. Don't miss it though, it's semi-hidden down an alley in Kreuzberg.
Walking the Cat: The most darling children's store, with an even wider selection of kids clothing than Tiny. The owner is super friendly and has amazing taste, extra plus - they have a website and ship worldwide! We picked up some adorable sweaters for my nephew here.
Bauhaus Archive: On my list for next time!
East Side Gallery: This stretch (approx. 1.3 km) of the Berlin Wall now stands as an international memorial to freedom. It features murals from artists around the world and I highly recommend walking it to take in each work and the themes portrayed. When we were there, the west side of the wall featured a photography exhibit of the civil war victims in Syria. It was heartbreaking to see the violence done to the people depicted in the portraits, especially juxtaposed against the loaded backdrop of the wall.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: This massive, outdoor memorial consists of arranged concrete pillars, ranging in various heights, across a sloping field. To explain how moving it was I can try to tell you our emotions while walking through the memorial. We felt alone, overwhelmed, lost and alienated. When standing back from it, you see all the pillars come together as one - almost like a sea of concrete that spans as far as your eye can see. Many observers have said that it feels like a cemetery to them. It makes you reflect on how unfathomable it is that roughly 6 million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust.
Mitte & Kreuzberg neighborhoods: Two of our favorite places to explore while there, they each have their own distinct personality. The Mitte is a central borough (formerly spanning parts of both East and West Berlin). It contains a mix of quaint side streets, shops and restaurants as well as the historic core of the city. Kreuzberg has a much more eclectic mix and the trendier of the two. Being a new cultural center for the city, it's inhabited by many immigrants and full of restaurants featuring diverse ethnic foods. Be sure to walk along the
Oranienstraße, which is one of the main commercial streets in the borough.
Sammlung Boros Collection: The art history nerd in me totally geeked out with this exhibit. The contemporary art collection is housed in a WWII bunker and the Boros' worked hard to keep a lot of the its original integrity in tack - including evidence of the many phases it went through after the war. It features pieces by Ai Weiwei and Wolfgang Tillmans, to name a few. Be sure to reserve far in advance - tours are guided (huge plus at only 12 euro a ticket) but can only accommodate 12 people at a time.
Topography of Terror
: An outdoor museum, it is set on the site of the Headquarters of the Secret State Police, SS and Reich Security Office. A long timeline features text, photos, newspaper clippings, etc from the rise of the Nazis until the end of WWII. A length of the Berlin Wall still stands a backdrop to the exhibit, a sharp reminder of the division of the city. Extremely moving, the museum shows how the regime instilled and built up so much fear, leading to the horrible terrors they committed.
P.S. We picked up this city guide while shopping around in Amsterdam and I could not recommend it more, all the picks were spot on. We're hoping to carry their guides in the shop within the next couple months, stay tuned!
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for an inside look at our favorite places.