How do you experience the real Berlin? Nicole Röbel (pictured), who represents Berlin’s official tourism department, lists five things visitors must do to say they’ve truly been to Berlin.
- Try the currywurst. What is it? Sausage and sauce. No one knows for sure how it originated, but it consists of curry powder and ketchup and a big slab of sausage. You’ll find currywurst anywhere and everywhere, but at Ku’damn 195, situated appropriately at Kufurstendamm 195, you can order your currywurst with champagne. Splurge with a bottle of Dom Perignon (from 180 euros to 330 euros) or economize with a glass of Sekt, the German sparkling wine, for only a few euros.
- Stroll Unter den Linden, the renowned tree-lined boulevard between Brandenburg Gate and Museum Island.
- Visit Kreuzberg: Situated in former East Berlin, Kreuzberg is the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey. You’ll find lots of good markets as well as inexpensive, ethnic restaurants along Kottbusserdamm, but don’t miss the food market, held along the banks of the Maybachufer Canal, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. “It bubbles with life,” Nicole says, “and good food.”
- Straddle a saddle. “There’s no better way to experience Berlin than on a bicycle,” Nicole says. The city has dedicated bike roads and bike lanes, and car traffic is bike-aware, so you needn’t worry about being clobbered by vehicles. Best to start with a guided tour to get yourself oriented. One recommendation: Berlin On Bike
- Go beyond Checkpoint Charlie. Yes, it’s Berlin’s most-visited tourist attraction, so go ahead and snap a few photos here, but to really learn something about the history of Berlin, spend an hour at the nearby Topography of Terror before proceeding to the Documentation Center on Bernauer Strasse. There, climb the stairs of the tower to get an overview of how the wall looked from the watch towers. “Most people think there was one single wall, painted with grafitti,” Nicole says. “But there were two walls, with the death strip between them, and the watch towers looking over them.”
If you have time, it is also worth a visit to Stasi Gefängnis, where ex-politcal prisoners give guided tours through the former prison.
Where To Dine
“Ma (Tim Raue) is Berlin’s most exclusive restaurant at the moment,” Nicole says. Serving Asian-inspired cuisine, the restaurant is situated at Behrenstrasse 72, directly behind the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin. The chef is Tim Raue, Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant 44 at Swissôtel Berlin and Chef of the Year 2007 by Gault-Millau, Germany. Ma Tim Raue
For lunch, check out:
- Diekmann am Weinhaus Huth, offering French style food on Potsdamer Platz
- Zoe Berlin, stylish ambience with good food
- Gorilla Bio Fast Food, organic and good
- W Imbiss, healthy fast food, with such dishes as fresh made Naan pizza.
Best nightlife: “The best clubs are hidden; it makes them more exclusive,” Nicole says. To join the exclusive crowd, find your way to Solar Berlin at Stresemannstrasse 76. If you succeed in finding it, you’re in – in more ways than one.