Thursday, July 5, 2012

Waffling Around Berlin

After June 14, I had nowhere to live.
Inexplicably, my university owned flat lease ended mid-June, despite how my graduation wasn't until late June, and I thought I was bad at math. With not even a couch to call my own, I decided to sleep on a friend's. So I temporarily "moved" to Germany for eight days, after all it had sun to Edinburgh's rain and gave me the chance to reunite with my two good friends, Anneke and Caroline.
Anneke pictured at one of our many waffle outings.

Caroline pictured on the foundation of our friendship, the cafe crawl.
I'm no longer the wide-eyed tourist.

This was my second trip to Berlin. Last September, I played tourist- seeing the Brandenburg Gate, drinking in beer gardens, contemplating the city's history, discovering its alternative art world, and falling in love with its edgy but inviting personality (click the links to read my posts from that trip). This June, I wanted to live in Berlin like the locals did and luckily , I had some of the most accommodating natives to show me how that was done. 

Firstly, you must embrace public transportation because Berlin is a huge city and every type is available: trains, metros, trams, buses...I'm sure Berlin will be the first to get flying cars at this rate. Make sure to bring some patience (or at least a book to read) because I took up to two hours of public transport a day. Thankfully, the trains are more punctual than Alice in Wonderland, but if you're running late, the stations are so well equipped you could live in them for weeks. They even have bakeries open at midnight, which I took advantage of for a late night cake, of course. Berlin understands my needs.
Next, find a neighborhood you want to make your own and eat accordingly. 
Kreuzberg has been evolving along with the city. Although only formed as an official Berlin borough in the 1920s, it's been through more cultural shifts in a century than most country's have in their entire history. Before WWII, Kreuzberg was the center of Berlin's industry and newspapers, but the area was left bombed out and enclosed by the Berlin Wall on three sides afterward. The Wall didn't stop the alternative scene from getting in, so Kreuzberg became the epicenter of Berlin's punk rock scene. After the Wall fell, more people poured in, making Kreuzberg the youth capital of Berlin and home to a burgeoning rap scene, dive bars, and the hipsters that come with it.


Sure enough, the activities Anneke and I partook in when roaming around Kreuzberg fit the hipster bill- we saw her friend's graphic design show, ate vegetarian kebabs pictured above (yes, they exist and may be even better than the original),went to a very loose adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at the English Theatre, and capped it off with a beer at laid back bar that would be crawling with scensters in any other city, but because these places are everywhere in Berlin, you can actually enjoy a nice beer and conversation.
Since it's Germany, they serve pretzels not bar nuts.

Right next door is Friedrichshain. With a similarly war torn history, Friedrichshain is now gentrified: full of cup cakeries, cafes, and a surprising amount of Americans.

The neighborhood makes for a fun stroll, with five new restaurants to try on every street or snarky graffiti in every corner.
I did indeed take this advice.

My favorite neighborhood is Prenzlauer Berg, a rare borough that hasn't changed much since its inception in the late 19th century. Developed as a home to artists and intellectuals, the population largely remains the same and lives in the original buildings, which managed to survive both WWII and post-war re-development.
However, I go for the waffles.
"Breakfast always", this is my kind of place.
A vanilla waffle drenched in custard and cherries.

Anneke's vanilla AND chocolate waffle, is that legal? With applesauce and cinnamon. 
To be patriotic, Anneke and I tried to keep up with the Euro 2012 and went to Prenzlauer Berg to find a bar to watch the Germany/Denmark match since public viewings are a great way to feel part of the Berlin community. Except, we are so obsessed with the waffles at Kauf Dich Glucklich that we ended up watching there. Yes, soccer and waffles, it's almost blasphemous. 
At least I ordered a beer to be slightly less girly.

Of course, we had to order another waffle. This one is a chocolate waffle with bananas.

Anneke, feeling slightly smug about our public viewing location. 
Finding a neighborhood I love is something that takes me quite awhile in a city I live in, but to find my favorite neighborhood in a foreign city in less than a week is almost a miracle. Fortunately,  Berlin has a lot of choices and I had lovely hosts to help me narrow it down.



1 comment:

  1. Maaaan! I wish I could be like "Oh, I am just going to go crash on my friend's couch in Germany for a few days, it's cool". ALL THAT FOOD! I am so there for the waffles!

    I am going to have to do a post on tagged-walls in Detroit, your pics of the 'local art' hehe, are inspiring :)