Saturday, October 10, 2015

Return to Berlin: The Germany Diaries, Part I


My husband Rick wanted to celebrate his 70th birthday in Berlin. I enjoyed Berlin, but certainly didn’t fall in love with it and thought that it would be the last time I saw Berlin. Rick, however, had an itch to get back there and so this year we decided one more time in Berlin. We take turns with vacations. I’m drawn to Southern Europe; he’s drawn to Eastern and Central Europe and this year was his turn.

To my surprise, I liked Berlin better the second time around—probably because we were more relaxed. We weren’t ticking off all the “must see” tourist attractions—Museum Island, the Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Museum etc.

Another reason no doubt is that this time there were no hotel hassles unlike last time which was something of a horror show—the charming hotel we booked was certainly charming enough, but our room was a 6th floor walk-up.

We spend a little more on hotels now—a comfortable bed is a necessity. We loved our hotel—-Louisa’s Place in the Charlottenburg neighborhood; it is a suite hotel with really large suites and a great staff. Right next door is a seriously good restaurant, Balthazar.

We used to traipse all over town for a highly recommended restaurants. Now we take the hotel’s recommendations for good restaurants in the neighborhood and there was quite a selection of good restaurants within easy walking distance: Il Calice;Lamazere;,a wonderful Turkish restaurant Tugra ,and a traditional German restaurant Ebert.

Rick thought that since we were in Germany we should try at least one German restaurant and I reluctantly agreed. We had heard that Ebert was traditional German cooking done very, very well. It lived up to its reputation with the best duck I’ve ever had—with crispy duck skin to die for. However, the dumplings while delicious were incredibly heavy. I could manage only one bite of the dumpling and could not manage even one bite of the huge bowls of red and green cabbage.

I wasn’t interested in any more traditional German restaurants--not my type of food--but Rick convinced me that since we were in Germany, we should try at least one more German restaurants. So our last night in Berlin we went to Marjellchen, a highly recommended, incredibly friendly restaurant with reasonably priced German comfort food. The restaurant owners made you feel like guests rather than customers.

Berlin is more affordable than other major European cities—possibly because it’s not a major tourist hub like Paris or London. And we certainly haven’t exhausted the museums or tourist attractions in Berlin. Rick is already talking about going back one more time.

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