Any of you that follow me on Instagram will know that last week I had the privilege of soaking up the 32° heat of Berlin. This was my first time in Germany and I have to say – it was wonderful! The architecture, the art, the food, the history, the culture, and of course, the shopping. What more could a girl want from a break away?
Completely by accident (honest! Although my boyfriend thinks I did it on purpose) our hotel was situated at the end of Kurfürstendamm. A long avenue that in order to reach the city centre you have to walk past every designer shop you could possibly imagine. Yep, I was squealing. It was like the Champs-Élysées in Paris – the window displays were to die for.
History is a major part of this city so we had to see some major landmarks. The holocaust memorial was breath taking. It really put across the cold, helpless, lost feel that those people would have felt. If we wandered from each other, even a little bit – we wouldn’t find each other again for another 10 minutes.
Then there was the Brandenburg Gate – that again made me reminisce of Paris. And did you know, German architects try to place every new modern building they make next to a historic one? This makes the city feel like a place of progress but also one that remembers it’s past.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is definitely a monument that remembers. Lacking walls and missing windows after it was attacked in WW2 – it has never been restored. Just like the bombed out church I used to live by in Liverpool.
To say Berlin is Germany’s capital city it is very different to other capitals I’ve been to. Plazas are ridiculously vast and open – you can see for miles. In the centre are beautiful fountains (my favourite has to be the one of Poseidon) as well as wonderfully colourful parks, and more trees dotted around than you’d expect.
Food wise, I don’t think I’m very good at being properly German. As my boyfriend chowed down on pork knuckles and currywurst, I opted for street food, salads and of course, rice! I never have been a big fan of meat. I started my day with an iced coffee (the heat meant regular coffees felt impossible) and a fruity danish. Pretzels were something I could jump on board with; they were salty, warm and delicious. A very hipster-esque place, called the Kantine Deluxe, provided our first lunch – and it was lush. I had a vegan burrito bowl packed with super foods, all ordered to our table through their own special i-Pads. Now that is 21st century.
Besides landmarks, art is a major thing in Berlin. The most famous pieces of art have to be the graffiti painted on sections of the Berlin wall. These pieces are now dotted all around the city and an amazing panoramic exhibition, Asisi Panorama Berlin, is a tribute worth looking at. This 18 meter high piece of realism shows you what the Berlin Wall looked like when it was up. Eerily displaying the stark differences between the previously divided east and west.
Taking a more Spanish turn, we visited the Dali exhibition at Potsdamer Platz. Here were a series of stunning surreal paintings Salvador Dali did between the 1950’s and 1970’s. Even highlighting the beautiful contributions he did for Vogue and fashion – some of my all time favourites.
Street art is a big thing in Berlin. Particularly bear statues that boast all sorts of very different designs. I discovered later these were part of a project called Buddy Bears. The bear, both in a standard all fours position as well as with its arms raised above its head, is now an icon of the city – chosen due to its heraldic nature and public appeal. Hundreds of bears now exist, each with their own unique identity thanks to a range of different artist’s ideas.
My favourite place had to be where we went on the last day, and it was all by chance. I’m talking about Bikini Berlin, the ‘Bikinihaus’ building in particular. After looking for a place to store our suitcase for the day, and knowing that there was somewhere nearby the zoo (I also, kinda, wanted to convince the boyf to let me see some pandas) we became confused and stumbled across this amazing shopping centre. It is in fact the world’s first concept shopping centre. With a mix of coordinated – Insta-friendly boutiques as well as pop-up boxes, which can be rented temporarily. An amazing idea where well-known brands can use the space to launch new products, as well as an opportunity for aspiring young designers to present their creations to the public for the first time.
Could a shopping centre get any better? Well, for me, the fact that both the rooftop terrace and the Kantini (a food court of 13 international eateries) overlook INTO some of the neighbouring zoo exhibits meant it was my dream. I may not have seen any pandas this time, but the fact I got to see a few animals whilst I shopped and ate was good enough for me.