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Almost 1 Year In Berlin

Anniversaries and Birthdays have always seemed to me to be a time for reflection and as I will be celebrating 1 year in Berlin tomorrow, this seems like the perfect time to reflect on what I have seen and done here.

My original intention was that I would be able to create a Berlin Top 10 from my experiences over the last year but hey, this is Berlin, so that would mean leaving out too many great things.  So here are some of my highlights.

City of Diversity

It seems appropriate that Berlin celebrated its Birthday yesterday.  The City of Diversity exhibit on the Schlossplatz was my highlight of a program of events and displays.

The map on the Schlossplatz as seen from the Fernsehturm, the City of Diversity Exhibit part of Berlin's 775th Anniversary celebrations

It was great to see the city celebrate the diversity of its population and highlight the contributions made by immigrants.

Berlin Events

The city has a very full calendar of events (especially during the summer months) and if you are considering a visit keep these in mind as timing your visit to coincide with them will be a real treat.

In May, the Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures) is another celebration of Berlin’s diversity.

A lady in a feathered headdress dances at Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures) in Berlin

The main event is the parade but there are food and drink stalls set up for a number of days.

The Christopher Street Day Parade is Berlin’s Gay Pride.  A riot of colour on the city’s streets this is a great photo opportunity.

Statue of Liberty: Two revellers at the Christopher Street Day (CSD) Parade in Berlin

Find a spot along the route and get ready to watch the fun pass by (or join in and follow a float).

September’s Stroke Urban Art Fair was a real treat for me with my love of Street Art, something that abounds in the city.

Fin Dac - Killer Instinct painting in progress at Stroke Urban Art Fair 2012 in Berlin

In October, many of Berlin’s most famous landmarks (and less well-known buildings) were lit up for the Festival of Lights.

Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate) lit up in many colours during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

This was a great chance to try out some night-time photography – you won’t be the only one carting your camera gear from place to place all through the evening and into the night.

Berlin Food Favourites

I have had some great food experiences in Berlin and have found my favourites.  When it comes to burgers, The Bird in Berlin, is the place to eat.

Da Birdhouse - the house burger at The Bird in Berlin

Their burgers are meat monsters and making a mess is part of the joy of eating Da Birdhouse.

The Pastrami & Turkey Sandwich at Ruben & Carla is a real lunchtime treat.

The Pastrami and Turkey sandwich at Ruben and Carla in Berlin

My first meal here was a real revelation and the service was so remarkably friendly I was back within days and have returned a number of times since.

I’ve also been on a quest to find the best Currywurst in Berlin but more of that later.

Soviet War Memorial

The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park is what the word awesome was invented for.

The statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a German child and crushing a Swastika beneath his boot with the sun behind it at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin

The grand scale and beautifully maintained lawns are truly impressive.  I immediately vowed that this would be added to my list of places to take visitors.

Fassbender & Rausch

For those with a sweet tooth and an appetite for chocolate that exceeds their desire to do any walking, Fassbender & Rausch is the ideal place for a spot of sightseeing.

The Fernsehturm made from chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

The chocolate sculptures of the Reichstag, Fernsehturm and Brandenburger Tor are a sight to behold and I dare you to leave without buying something – my Mum loves the truffles here.

Many of my favourite places and moments in Berlin are tied to people I have met here, without whom my experience would not have been half as fulfilling or a fraction as entertaining.  So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for the part they have played in my adventure.

Thank you Bine.

It was Bine who encouraged me to visit Schloss Charlottenburg and showed me around the gardens for the first time.

I have been back since to visit the gardens again and to go inside the palace.  It is one of the most opulent and beautifully decorated places I have visited and another of my must-see recommendations now.  I will post about it soon (probably in 2 parts – inside and outside) but sorting through the 1500 or so photos I took there will take a little time.

Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin

Decoration in the Chapel at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin

A Buddha statue and blue & white porcelain in Porzellankabinett at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin

Thank you for teaching me so much about the history of the city I love so much and also for helping me with my German – for pointing out my mistakes and in particular for letting me know when I have made a word up.

Thank you Gilly.

Thank you for talking to me when I was a little lost and for introducing me to your fiancée and friends.

Appropriately, as it was our shared love of the building that sparked that first conversation, thank you also for letting me be a VIP visitor to the Fernsehturm.

The Sunset over Berlin from the Fernehturm (TV Tower) at Alexanderplatz

Watching the sunset from Berlin’s highest point is worth queuing for but not having to makes the experience all the memorable.

Thank you Steffi.

I have Steffi to thank for taking me to my favourite Currywurst Imbiss in BerlinZur Bratpfanne.

Currywurst and Chips at Zur Bratpfanne, an Imbiss in Berlin Steglitz

My quest for ‘the Best of the Wurst’ continues but so far this is the star performer.

It was also Steffi who took me to Wannsee, where we watched a magical sunset.

A swan shows off for the camera during the sunset over the lake at Wannsee in Berlin

It’s worth venturing out to the lakes around Berlin, especially to cool off in Summer but don’t expect to be alone during the daytime.

And it’s Steffi I have to thank for suggesting a visit to Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem (Berlin’s Botanical Garden).

A statue at the Botanical Garden (Botanischer Garten) in Berlin

I visited on a gloriously sunny day and had an amazing time.  I haven’t been back yet but I will be.

Thank you Luci.

During my first week in Berlin I watched all of the videos in Luci’s In A Berlin Minute series back to back.  They gave me inspiration for some of my early forays in the city.  I have since been lucky enough to see the shooting and editing process and now know how much work goes into creating that 1 minute each week.

Thank you Sandy.

Without Sandy I wouldn’t have met any of the previous four people.  It was at Sandy’s party (a goodbye to her apartment near Monbijoupark) that I met all four.

Thank you James and Zoë.

Until I discovered their beautiful and informative blog, überlin, I hadn’t heard of Loxx Miniatur Welten but as soon as I saw Zoë’s incredible photos and James’s enthusiastic descriptions I knew I had to visit.

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt (known to Berliners as the Pregnant Oyster) at night at Loxx Miniatur Welten Berlin

A miniature railway and so much more (a miniature Berlin in fact) Loxx on the top floor of the Alexa shopping mall is a real Berlin gem – an indoor attraction that should be on everyone’s itinerary.

You can read my post about Loxx here and see the überlin post that inspired me to go here.

Also a massive thank you for being the first people to retweet me and champion my content.

Thank you Georg.

Thanks for getting in touch and suggesting that we explore some of Berlin’s (and the surrounding area’s) abandoned buildings together.

The thrill and adrenalin rush of exploring Kaserne Krampitz and the elation at (eventually) finding the ‘Nazi Eagle’ is hard to beat.

The Motor Pool at the Kaserne Krampnitz - a former Nazi/Soviet Military base near Berlin

A Nazi Eagle mosaic on a ceiling in the Kaserne Krampnitz - a former Nazi/Soviet Military base near Berlin

Thanks also for challenging me to improve my photography – seeing your shots of the places we’ve been together always makes me think ‘I must do better’.

Thank you Oliver.

Vielen Dank for encouraging me to speak more German and for making me feel OK about making mistakes.  I now know the secret – ‘üben, üben, üben’.

And last but not least, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts and especially to those who have taken the time to ‘like’ them or comment on them.

This post has gone a little more down the sentimental route of an Oscar acceptance speech than I intended but I have a lot to be thankful for.

If anyone is left in any doubt having read any of my posts I can’t recommend visiting Berlin highly enough.  It is the most wonderful city – a place where history seems alive on every street, on every corner and in every building.  A place where there is also a feeling that the future is still undecided and you can play a part in shaping it.  A city that is constantly evolving, always changing – not always for the better unfortunately but that’s life.  Berlin, ich liebe dich.

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30 Responses to Almost 1 Year In Berlin

  1. James 29 October, 2012 at 10:37 #

    Happy Anniversary! Glad we could help you establish your wonderful blog, and welcome you to Berlin. Here’s to many more *clink!*

    • andBerlin 29 October, 2012 at 11:42 #

      Thanks James. Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post you *might* get another mention (if I can finish writing it, that is).

  2. SandyInBerlin 29 October, 2012 at 10:57 #

    Great post. Congratulations on one year in Berlin. Even though I’ve been here longer, this year has been a special one for our whole circle of friends! We’ve all met, had incredible times and grew together through the difficult ones. Glad to call you a friend.

    • andBerlin 29 October, 2012 at 11:44 #

      It’s definitely been a time of change for all of us. Here’s hoping the next chapter is equally exciting and ultimately rewarding.

    • gillyberlin 29 October, 2012 at 16:36 #

      Well. I guess I should also say: “Thank you Sandy” 🙂

  3. Sarah 29 October, 2012 at 11:00 #

    Happy first anniversary indeed. I visited Berlin earlier this year for the first time, fell in love with the place unconditionally, and have been following your blog ever since. I can’t wait to go back!

    • andBerlin 29 October, 2012 at 11:46 #

      Thanks for following, Sarah. It’s amazing how Berlin just speaks to people somehow. You’re so lucky to have so much to discover, though the city hasn’t stopped surprising me yet and I have a feeling it never will.

  4. digitalcosmonaut 29 October, 2012 at 12:13 #

    Thanks for the mention chap! Im happy to have found someone who isnt as paranoid about junkies as I am! Now go find yerself a job so you can stay a bit longer 😉

    • andBerlin 30 October, 2012 at 15:03 #

      Haha! It’s good for me to go with someone who points out the dangers I haven’t even thought of and who has the sense to carry a torch (how unprepared I was that first time).

  5. travelsofadam 29 October, 2012 at 13:05 #

    Congrats on a year in Berlin! Always enjoy your photos and how you seem to find interesting things here. I still need to try this amazing currywurst place you speak of…I’m willing to give it a shot!

    • andBerlin 30 October, 2012 at 15:05 #

      Thanks Adam. Luckily for me Berlin has so many interesting places that I often just stumble across them. Let me know if you’d like company when you go for Currywurst.

  6. Gilly 29 October, 2012 at 16:35 #

    I’m a bit speechless. Therefore: <3

  7. notmsparker 30 October, 2012 at 09:33 #

    I also want to join in congratulating you: great blog, great pics, great texts. And thanks to you I visit all of those places in town I am not able to visit in person right now:) Thanx!

    • andBerlin 30 October, 2012 at 10:50 #

      And thank you for teaching me so much about Kreuzberg and for introducing me to Everything Counts, which is included in my latest post.

  8. berlincatlady 30 October, 2012 at 11:02 #

    Nice and diverse indeed :). And now I’m hungry thanks to some of your pics 😉

    • andBerlin 30 October, 2012 at 13:01 #

      Thank you. I hope you were just pleasantly hungry not cursing the clock for not reaching lunch time.

      • berlincatlady 30 October, 2012 at 13:17 #

        I just moved lunch time up :). Which wasn’t the smartest idea since I am now hungry again.

  9. Bine 30 October, 2012 at 12:42 #

    Happy anniversary! I hope you and your great love Berlin will find a future together. When you mentioned a long blogpost nobody would like to read you were underestimating this post! With 1400 words there was not a single word too much My first reaction was “Einfach WOW!”. Every scentence shows your love for this town. And this admiration you pass to others not only with your posts but also in person. I`m glad you inspired me to look at the city I was born in with open eyes again. And like you helped me to increase my english,.. ich werde dich gern so lange korrigieren, bis du es kannst, oder du total genervt davon bist

    • andBerlin 30 October, 2012 at 13:04 #

      I was worried it was a little too personal, which isn’t my style normally, but I really enjoyed writing it and it meant a lot to me do so – I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  10. fotoeins 30 October, 2012 at 13:11 #

    Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum ersten tollen Jahr in der Hauptstadt! I now get to thank you for providing some highlights in Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and Spandauer Vorstadt. 🙂

    • andBerlin 30 October, 2012 at 13:23 #

      Vielen Dank Henry. I hope you manage to cram plenty of magic moments into your time in Berlin (and the rest of Germany). I wish I could guarantee weather like we had the other day for the rest of your stay.

  11. Steffi 30 October, 2012 at 20:48 #

    Congratulations on a year in Berlin! That’s a great post. And thank you in return. Your excitement about Berlin encourage me to discover Berlin more because there is so much left to see. I even have an eye now for smileys everywhere on the streets 😉

    • andBerlin 30 October, 2012 at 22:23 #

      Haha, Bine pointed out a couple of Meine Lieber Prost’s smiley faces to me when we were out photographing the Festival of Lights too. Mein Jahr in Berlin hat mir viel Spaß gemacht. Ich hoffe dass ich hier bleiben kann.

  12. Irene (from Singapore) 31 October, 2012 at 01:43 #

    as if i didn’t want to visit berlin already, your blog convinced to pack and go! unfortunately, i didn’t get to see everything i wanted to… but i will be back next year! 😉 cheers and happy 1st anniversary. keep on writing!!

    • andBerlin 31 October, 2012 at 10:47 #

      Irene, Berlin’s a tease like that. You can see enough to get you (or keep you) hooked but there’s always a glimpse or hint of something else to keep you wanting more. I still feel that way after a year. Thanks for the well-wishes.

  13. elizabethweaver 27 November, 2012 at 20:08 #

    Great highlights! Thanks.

  14. ebe 8 January, 2013 at 08:53 #

    Wonderful round -up! No matter how long you are in the city, there are always so many more places to go. Thanks, as always, for the recommendations.


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