Sunday, 18 January 2015

Day 2 in Berlin

I would love to say that we were up bright eyed and bushy tailed today. Unfortunately we weren’t but we were here to relax so it felt good to lie in for once in a while. 

After consulting our top Berlin Market picks, we decided to go to Alexander Platz first.
We wandered by the river into the Museum quarter (which I’ll have to save for another visit) and stopped in a little coffee shop for a late breakfast.

p.s. That coffee tasted as good as it looked.

It wasn’t until afterwards did we release that this wasn’t Alexander Platz and instead we had stumbled upon Karl Marx market. Luckily we had intended to go here, although probably not in that order.

Karl Marx – One of my favourite markets I think. The little wooden huts are centered around a circular ice rink.

It was here we tried ‘Langos’ a German dough, deep fried and then covered in a variety of toppings.

Can you tell already that these posts are not going to be filled with the healthiest of foods?

We went for a garlic spread (which was amazing) with cheese and ham on the top.

Deliciously unhealthy and very naughty too. Oh well. 

It wasn’t long before the storm clouds gathered and the hail and wind descended upon us.
Unlike some of the other markets, what I particularly liked about this one was they had little German wooden huts, with benches and cosy red blankets that you could snuggle up in and keep warm. 
With a bar in every one, it was a perfect place to shelter from the rain.

After drying off and getting warm again back at the hotel, we planned our evening.
We made our way firstly to the Eisenhower Market which was our top 10 list of Markets. 
Again, it took us a while to find it but when we did our initial reaction was that the market seemed a bit run down and not to our liking.
We couldn’t have got it more wrong. Yes it was very different to any of the other markets but that’s what made it special.

This market felt very family orientated and extremely traditional. There were lots of stalls selling homemade produce, gifts and all kind of sweet treats.
We stopped for a Gluhwein (of course) and noticed families sitting round a fire, cooking fresh bread on sticks. We joined them, not only to keep warm but also to watch the children happily eating their bread by the fire.

It was here I bought myself a rather nice, warm pair of gloves.
Not wanting to miss out on new food – We tried Kartoffelpuffer. 
Deep fried shredded bits of potato covered in sugar with apple sauce on the side. I can’t say I enjoyed this as much as I thought but I’m glad I tried something new.

After a few hours we left this market and made our way closer to the centre of Berlin to go to the Alexander Platz market.
The feel of this market was very different to the one we had just left.
The market was loud and colourful and buzzed with a very different atmosphere.
The bright lights reminded me more of the English Winter Wonderland.

It had a bit more of an arcade feel with rides, colourful signs and loud party music. This seemed more of a tourist market rather a local German speciality but a great one to explore none the less. 

Never the less, we gorged ourselves on nutella covered pancakes, more Gluhwein and probably some of the best mushrooms covered in a garlic sauce I have ever tried.

I would still recommend going to this one but don’t expect it to be as good as some of the other more traditional German Markets.
After quite a busy day, we made our way back to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the Jacuzzi.

A perfect end to a rather chilly but wondferul day in Berlin.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Arriving in Berlin

Having spent the last few years of December in Brussels, enjoying the Christmas markets, we decided to venture somewhere different this year.

With many Christmas markets in Europe to choose from, the choice was not easy.
After quite a lot of researching we finally decided that this year we would go to Berlin and I can tell you now, it is not a decision I regretted.
Having never been to Germany before, I was eager to explore and what better Christmas market to go to than a traditional German one. 

We stayed in Friedrichstrasse which was near what is supposed to be one of Berlin's best markets. 
This part of Germany was easy to get to, approximately a 30 minute train ride from the airport.
When we stepped into the hotel for the first time, I felt like I had walked into something quite magical. The hotel was beautiful. It exuded warm and I couldn't help but Christmassy all the way to my toes.

When you walked into the Hotel you couldn’t help but feel like you were on a ship, quite possibly the titanic. The grand staircase, lined with Christmas trees and the huge bell, covered in a hundred fairy lights that hung from the ceiling made you feel like you had walked into a Christmas paradise. You couldn't help but smile every time you walked into the foyer.

Once we had unpacked, we decided it was about time to explore and find something for lunch.
We had done a bit of research about the best Christmas markets to visit in Berlin and there were lots that we wanted to try and see in just 3 days.
For our first stop we headed over to Postdammer Platz. Not really for any particular reason, other than it was closest to our hotel (other than Glendarmenmarkt but we wanted to save that one for last) and the fact that we were pretty hungry.
   Berlin was cold but what else can you expect at the end of December.
We wrapped up warm which was probably for the best because the first thing we did when we got to the square was this...

You paid 1 euro and you got to sledge down the slide on a big rubber ring which actually made you go surprisingly fast.

Next on our list of things to do was of course….Gluhwein.
In Berlin, a cup of Gluhwein is about 3 Euros but the best part about it is that they serve it to you in mugs! Festive coloured mugs with the name of the market you were at and if you were lucky the date too.

You could either keep going back to refill your Gluhwein or if you’d had enough, you simply had to hand your mug back and you would get your deposit back. 
Wanted to keep your mug? Simply don't hand it back (hence the deposit you paid) That way, you get to keep a souvenir of your trip. 

I won’t tell you how many mugs I came home with but I’ll give you a clue and tell you we were into double figures. 

Postdamer market also featured an ice rink and you could even have a go at curling. Instead we ventured inside a beautiful arcade, filled to the brim with Christmas fairy lights for a spot of festive shopping. It really was beautiful as it looked.

In the evening, having gorged ourselves on multiple glasses of Gluhwein and a few Bratewerist, we made our way to another market slightly further out of town.
We picked up a magazine in Berlin, highlighting this years best Markets so we tried our best to visit the top 5/6.

At number 3 was the Charlottenberg Market.

It look us about 40 minutes to find and just as we decided to give in and go back to the Hotel, we saw lights in the distance. Having come all that way, we ventured on until finally we came to the market itself. 

Set in front of the beautiful palace, the atmosphere buzzed as people all around us laughed, chatted and tucked in to some delicious German Food.
The majority of the markets, sell the same kind of food. Bratwurst, Currywurst are amongst some of the things you will find all over Berlin. However, there are a few stalls that were a little bit more individual, so of course, we went to those ones first.

The first thing we tried was Raclette. Hot melted cheese poured deliciously over thin crispy toasted bread. Topped with chives and bacon, it made for an amazing snack. The cheese was so strong and warm, it was completely different to anything I’d tried before.

We tried Grog for the first time. Thinking this was Gluwhein with a shot of Rum. 
We were quite mistaken when we found how it is quite literally….just rum.
I think I’ll stick to the Gluhwein.

I tried my first savoury pancake. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of this one. Although I think I’ve decided to stick to sweet pancakes, so it’s probably for the best.
After many a Gluehwein later (and of course, a few mugs later). We strolled home on our first evening in Berlin.