My first two days in Berlin had been busy and filled with sightseeing, museums and Christmas markets. Despite freezing temperatures, the weather had held up and had not interfered with any of our plans. With just two of my four days in Berlin left, there was still plenty to do and to see!
I decided to take things a little easier on day 3. It was grey and misty outside and the weather app on my phone informed me that it was -5 degrees. I was certainly not going to rush outside.. definitely not before a number of cups of tea anyway!
I eventually got myself moving just before midday. I made the short walk across the Oberbaumbrücke into Kreuzberg, and began the search for Markthalle Neun where Rebecca and I had agreed to meet for a bite to eat during her lunch break. This trendy marketplace sprinkled with fairy lights is a hotspot for Berlin foodies and is home to all sorts of cuisine; from Asian and African, to German classics like Könisberger Klopse and Semmelknödel. Definitely my sort of place!
Rebecca and I spent some time looking around the various stalls, salivating over the delights that were offered. In the end we opted for something quick and easy – a little pie from a New Zealand deli. I can’t remember exactly what the content of mine was, but I do remember that it was very tasty!
Once our appetites were satisfied, it was time for Rebecca to head back to work and for me to begin my day’s exploring. I had a few things to tick off my ‘to see’ list so began by hopping aboard the S-bahn and making my way to Gendarmenmarkt. The atmosphere was a little different to when we visited the markets two nights before, with the grey and dreary sky, hanging low.
From Gendarmenmarkt I spent some time wandering down side streets on the search for any hidden gems, but it soon got too cold for aimless wanderings so I decided it was time to head for somewhere warmer.
Before long I found myself on Museeninseln looking up at the splendid Berlin Cathedral with its pale green dome.
It was too cold to hang about for any period of time, so I kept walking and headed in the direction of the Nikolaiviertel. This quaint area on the eastern shore of the river Spree is often referred to as ‘the first Berlin’ as it was one of two settlements that merged together to form the city of Berlin. The area gets its name from the Nikolaikirche, the city’s oldest church, and is essentially the heart of historic Berlin.
Once I had finished discovering the car-free streets and had peered into a number of small shops offering souvenirs, I turned towards Alexanderplatz where I was due to meet up with Rebecca. I was a little early, so I took the opportunity to do a bit of Christmas shopping in department store Kaufhof and the neighbouring shops. During my wanderings I came across the World Clock, which if read carefully, determines the current time in 148 major cities around the world.
Our adventure for the evening however was not in Alexanderplatz, and so once again, we hopped aboard the S-bahn and travelled to the Brandenburg Gate where we took a short walk through to the far corner of the Tiergarten until we reached the Reichstag. I had always wanted to go up into the glass dome, and so a few weeks in advance of my trip, had booked our time slot.
Our slot was booked for 6.30, so as expected, it was pretty dark when we arrived and more so when we got to the top of the dome. With the lights on inside, and reflecting glass surrounding us, it felt almost as if we had entered an alien spaceship hovering over the city. Despite the fact it was dark outside, the views were great, as the whole city was a sea of light, and surprisingly you could see a lot of the major landmarks quite clearly. Another advantage of the relative darkness was the ability to look down through the dome’s interior to the parliament below, where rows of blue seats were set out, ready for all of Germany’s VIPs (Very Important Politicans) to meet.
Once we had climbed to the top of the dome and then explored the terraces outside, we decided it was time to call it a night and head home for dinner.
My final full day in Berlin arrived far too quickly, and I was determined to make the most of it. My plan for the day was to tick off some of the ‘hidden gems’ I had discovered whilst researching my trip, and typically, they were pretty spread out across the city.
After the obligatory walk across Oberbaumbrücke into Kreuzberg, made especially nice by the morning sunshine and blue sky, I travelled across the city once again to Gendarmenmarkt.
From there I popped into the department store Galerie Lafayette just around the corner, in the hope of admiring their Christmas decorations, but was a bit disappointed to just find a collection of hanging baubles in various sizes.
My disappointment was however negated when I discovered the nearby Ritter Sport shop, with its colourful stack of chocolates. I couldn’t resist a look in the shop and may have exited with a purchase or two!
My next stop was somewhere I had spotted on Instagram and was desperate to visit myself. House of Small Wonder is located on the quiet Johannisstrasse and is the second of its kind after the flagship café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. You should all know by now that I am a big fan of New York Brooklyn, and with somewhere looking as quaint and cosy as this place, I had to visit.
I only stopped for a cup of coffee but the menu has a variety of Japanese influences and where possible, Japanese flavours. With such a homely and welcoming atmosphere, along with a delicious menu, it is not a surprise that House of Small Wonder is an extremely popular place for breakfast, lunch and as well a coffee stop.
From Johannisstrasse, I meandered through the interesting neighbourhood which was obviously undergoing plenty of redevelopment. Where buildings had been knocked down, street artists had adorned the naked walls with their work, and the streets were made up of a eclectic mix of architectural styles.
I eventually found myself back in Alexanderplatz, and after a quick look around the Christmas Markets by the Altes Rathaus, decided to pop into the nearest café for another warming drink. Whilst I was sat inside, defrosting my hands, the weather slowly began to improve and by the time I was ready to go again, the skies had transformed from a mid-grey tone to a bright shade of blue!
I made the most of the improved weather to stroll around the area and take some photos whilst it was still light, and gradually found myself gravitating ever closer back towards the Berlin Cathedral. I was semi-tempted to go inside and climb to the top of the tower, for what I’ve been told is an amazing view, but I decided I was too nervy to go by myself, due to my fear of heights, and chickened out.
Instead I decided to spend the remainder of my afternoon educating myself in the DDR Museum on the opposite side of the Spree to the cathedral. I must have spent a good hour and a half walking through the interactive museum (which is great by the way), as when I re-emerged into the open, dusk was falling and it had once again become somewhat cloudy and overcast.
It was once again time to meet up with Rebecca and our final night’s destination together was in Potsdamer Platz where we had arranged to meet a mutual friend for dinner. The evening was spent catching up, stuffing our faces with tasty food and, once we got back to the flat, packing.
Somehow my four days in Berlin were up and the following morning I boarded my return flight. Visiting Berlin at Christmas time had been great fun – I loved visiting the markets and getting in the festive spirit with glühwein and delicious Lebkuchen, and my trip had reintroduced me to Berlin, its sights and multitude of museums, many of which I still feel I have barely scratched the surface of.
Did you enjoy my posts on my trip to Berlin? Have you ever visited the German capital, either in winter or another time of year? Would you consider booking up a festive break of your own next winter? Do let me know in the comments below! Love V x
For more on Berlin, check out some of my posts: