Oh Berlin.

Meine Geliebte. My spirit home. What is it that draws me to Berlin so much. Even before I set foot in the city, I knew I would fall in love with it. Since my first trip to Berlin in 2012, I have longed to move there. There’s just so much to see and do; the history, the art, the alternative lifestyle, not knowing what you’re going to come across at every corner.

We managed to have a few days free during wedding season and where better to spend those days than Berlin.  We stayed in a gorgeous apartment in the Schoenhauser Allee area. Part of the excitement of going away, is finding the best apartment on Airbnb. There’s something about Berlin apartments that I adore; the typical, quirky kitchens are a firm favourite and a balcony to sit on in the morning is a bonus (must-have). And of course, the subway tiled bathrooms.

Before Berlin, my first introduction to Germany was on a class trip to Köln when I was at Thornhill College. I loved the language, learning about WWII and the trip, although limited in discovering all Köln had to offer, made me fall in love with Germany. The following year, the class went to see Goodbye Lenin during the Foyle Film Festival. Set before the fall of the Berlin wall, I was introduced to the GDR era of Berlin and was fascinated. As I got older and fell in love with interior design, I found myself drawn to the furniture of East Berlin at this period.  The DDR museum gives a great insight into life for Berliners in the GDR as well as having typical East Berlin rooms set up for you to interact with. Since my first trip, there have been a few additions to the museum, including a Stasi interrogation room. On our next trip, I intend on learning more about the Stasi and hopefully, will get a chance to visit the Stasi Museum. (Give ‘The Lives of Others’ a watch.)

Although not much of it remains, you can still find sections of the Berlin wall to visit. Most notably, by the Topography of Terror. Just around the corner is the famous Checkpoint Charlie and though we didn’t find the time, there’s a place near here where you can rent out a Trabi and drive around the city.

We were lucky enough to coincide our trip with The Long Night of Museums. For 18euro, we had late access to over 100 museums in Berlin until 2am. There’s so much to try and fit in so we were never getting to see everything but we got in some gems. One museum we visited before we realised the event was on, was the Computerspielemuseum on Karl-Marx Allee. There are over 300 interactive exhibits. One of the highlights is an actual video arcade from the 1980s where you can play Pacman etc.

Filmhaus is a MUST-SEE for film fans in Berlin. The first time I was there, I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside (although I did sneak a few with my phone). I’m not sure if they have become more lenient or made exceptions for the event but we were able to take photos of inside this time. The entrance is wondrous; mirrors cover the walls, floor and ceiling at alternate angles with screens dotted around showing German films throughout history. There’s quite an extensive collection of film scripts, props, model sets and costumes (including an array of outfits belonging to Marlene Dietrich). Highlights are the classic German expressionist masterpieces: ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ and Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’. We were also lucky enough to catch a Wim Wenders exhibition with sections of Paris, Texas running on a loop. If nothing else, Filmhaus is visually stunning. I intend on revisiting it every time I go back. Expect to spend a small fortune in the gift shop.

From here we moved on to the Musical Instrument Museum just around the corner. We seen a rather impressive performance on a pipe organ along to Berlin: Symphony of a Great City and nearly got chucked out when Chris twanged a key on a 400 year old harpsichord. Haha. We ended the night in C/O Berlin: a wonderful gallery that I have been lucky enough to visit a couple of times now. The first time, there was an Erwin Blumenfeld Vogue exhibition on and this time round, we caught a great exhibition of Koudelka’s work.

A highlight of our trip to Berlin, was visiting the street where David Bowie lived with Iggy Pop. We bumped into a rather excitable fellow fan and took photos of each other standing in the doorway to the apartment block. A couple of doors down, we stopped for a drink at Cafe Neues Ufer; an old haunt of Bowie’s. We took a visit to the Hansa studio were Bowie recorded. We hadn’t booked a tour but took an obligatory photo outside before escaping out of the rain to the Dali Museum.

I finally got the chance to visit one of Berlin’s Kinos! A gorgeous little one screen cinema call InTimes. Opened in 1909, it remains decorated in a 70’s fashion. It makes for such a romantic and enjoyable experience compared to the newer, bigger cinemas. Give me red velvet seats and dim lighting over reclining chairs any day. I bought a photo book on Berlin Kinos when at the FilmMusueum. Some gorgeous ones we just couldn’t get to when we were there. That’s what return trips are for I guess!

We also slipped in a much anticipated trip to Mauerpark. If you’re in Berlin on a Sunday, don’t pass up the chance to spend the day walking around this market. There are a few around the city with this being the most popular. Every Sunday throughout the Summer period, hundreds of stalls are lined up selling all sorts of wares from sunglasses, records, vintage furniture and clothes to independent crafters. There’s all kinds of food stalls and a bar to sit and have a tankard or two. Rather annoyingly, I couldn’t buy much from the market. I could have kitted my house out with everything from gorgeous chairs to dining sets for a few hundred quid but alas, I can only dream of leaving it until the day I move to my own little Berlin apartment. What a joy that would be. Instead, I spent a small fortune on vintage grandad cardigans and sunglasses. Before leaving, we sat on the grass having grabbed something to eat and caught the end of the karaoke session that happens every Sunday. It’s truly a spectacle to behold. Thousands of hungover Berliners and those with just a sheer love for the novelty of it all, take part in karaoke at the Bearpit. The worst singer will get better cheers. It’s just a bunch of people spending their Sunday having a great time. If only we could do the same thing here.

Although you will never run out of things to do and see in Berlin, the simple act of hopping on the underground and taking in the Berlin life is delightful. I remember on my first trip, how refreshing it was just people watching outside a café; watching the locals walk their dogs, ride their bikes and take walks through Tempelhof Park. It’s a far cry from my life in Derry, which makes for a relaxing but refreshing break away. There’s just something about the Berlin way of life that makes me feel so at home.

The rest of the trip included seeing some of the must-see Berlin sights; the TV Tower, The Brandenburg Gate and a definite must-see is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Countless U-Bahn trips, way too many burgers, Dunkin Donuts and Fritz Kolas, and a few soothing foot baths made for a swell trip I can’t wait to make again. Maybe someday, I might even get the chance to photograph a Berlin wedding!

Some of my favourite photos feature below or you can get a jook at the majority of the ones I took in the video above. 🙂
Keep a look out for our next trip to Munich which will be up on the blog soon.