Rome, Madrid, London, this time we had picked Berlin for our girlfriends-weekend! By train! At least the early birds. I have actually discovered one advantage of living in the “Achterhoek”.
The train journey to the city centre of Berlin only takes five hours. Not a bad starting point compared to the Zeeland & Brabo brigade. While some were already on their way, I was able to give my children porridge, cycle to day-care, eat breakfast, vacuum, mop the floors, take a shower, pack my bag and not to forget, I prepared written instructions for Reinier. There is nothing like the Achterhoek haha.
Unfortunately, the Dutch railway company had decided to suddenly cancel our train. So two hours later than planned I jumped on the train in Hengelo. Soon I found our party compartment. Finally I was sitting! Just nothing I needed to do this weekend. Another plus, I wasn’t the one organising this trip. I only had to make sure that I just had to keep up with the group.
Once at Ostbahnhof station the hotel was located across the road. Perfect. Hotel Schulz is situated along one of the last pieces of the Berlin wall. During breakfast you are looking straight at it. The hotel looks fresh and hip. Rooms are small but spotlessly clean. Visit www.schulzhotels.com. I would definitely recommend this hotel!
In the evening, we still had to find a restaurant. Without a reservation, it could be difficult in a big city on a Thursday evening. Fortunately, we found a small but excellent vegan Indian restaurant near the Simon-Dach-Strasse. It was great! Large well-filled dosas and numerous tasteful snacks on a plate (thalis). Nobody in the group is a vegetarian, but in our own way we are all busy with healthy food and food waste. So this restaurant was a responsible start of the weekend. Restaurant Goura Pakora, Krossener Strasse 16, 10245 Berlin.
The next day, a visit to the Reichstag building was the first thing on the program. To avoid long lines and limitation of specific times to access the building, tickets were booked in advance. Once at the entrance, it turned out that our reservation seemed to have been cancelled. Now what?
Just trying to get in by showing the original confirmation email??!! That worked, at least at phase 1. We were inside, just before the security check. There appeared to be another ticket check. A lady was sitting behind a small table with a pile of paperwork in front of her. She began to browse, but of course we were not on the list. She started all over again, apologies followed. Someone was called to check again…..thereafter another one. In the meantime, we were standing there with our Dutch passports, all behaving impeccable (ahum), pretending. Once again we did receive a few intense observing looks until the chief decided that we could continue. Yes!! The German security system is not as waterproof as it seems.
The Reichstag Dome
Once on the roof of the Reichstag you have a magnificent view over the city. You get headphones with a tour. Once you arrive in the glass dome on the roof, you walk up the spiral to the top. A genius piece of architecture. A visit to the Reichstag dome is free, as long as you have made a reservation in advance. Check the website for more information.
The Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate and the Jewish monument are practically next to the Reichstag building. Definitely worth a visit. In the afternoon we tested the different octaves of our vocal cords by sliding from a high fake-snow court in rubber boats.
We had planned our “meet & greet” with the latecomers at Hofbräu München (Berlin). It couldn’t be more German! Long pine wooden tables, beer, lots of meat on the tables and waiters in Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses. I started with a modest half litre of beer, but on an empty stomach and half a pretzel that was quite enough haha. Hofbräu München, Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 30, 10178 Berlin.
That evening we had booked dinner at a club. So whoop-whoop to the hotel to dress up. I put on a dress, high heels, an extra layer of make-up and we were off. The restaurant turned out to be a tent along the waterfront (the river Spree). During the day and in the summer it must be a beautiful spot, but in November and in the dark, there was not much to notice. Some gas burners were on occasionally, so it was either freezing or too hot.
The food was fine, but the service far below par. When we were ready for dessert, it didn’t appear that the restaurant would be converted into a club. In the end, that didn’t happen at all. We were kindly asked to quickly order something because the kitchen closed. So there we were, in a club…that wasn’t…a club. I would not recommend this place, but perhaps the summer is a better time to visit. Spindler & Klatt, Köpenickerstrasse 16-17, 10997 Berlin.
The last day already. Cycling through Berlin! It’s always nice to stretch the legs after having too much food and alcohol. Luckily, I had packed my gloves and ear muffs, because it was cold. The bike hire company with Dutch/English guides is located next to the KulturBrauerei at Knaackstrasse 97, 10435 Berlin. See the website BerlinonBike.de
Once again we all enjoyed a vegan meal in a cafe close to the bike rental. The people of Berlin apparently can’t get enough of this vegan stuff. And me neither. Again, it tasted “sehr gut”. Cafe Neue Liebe, Rykestrasse 42, 10405, Berlin.
It is always nice to explore a city in an alternative way. That is, not the traditional tourist attractions, okay…and by bike! It was a 3.5 hour workout. But nine seasoned Dutch girls are not easily surprised. Although, in the last half hour I didn’t feel my fingers anymore. A warm cup of coffee and a traditional Berlin curry sausage along the way made up for the cold. I was really glad that we had started our way back. The bike tour is absolutely recommended, even in winter, if well prepared.
Berlin, the green city, the healthy city, the artistic city. You immediately understand why hipsters, artists and free spirits feel completely comfortable in this city. There is this “nothing is necessary” and “anything goes” mentality and nobody seems to be looking surprised. A city where the Berlin wall is now absent for longer than it has been, as our bicycle guide mentioned. That is how I had never looked at it before recently.
Dinner at restaurant Schneeweiss
The last evening we ate at restaurant Schneeweiss (Simplonstrasse 16, 10245, Berlin). Fine conversations, excellent food and making plans for another weekend. And a date for 2019, because by then, we know each other for 20 years! In good times and bad times, a group of 12 women who accept each other as everyone is, friends made of gold and friends for life. Sometimes we don’t see each other for months, sometimes even years, but it’s always nice to be together. I am already looking forward to our next weekend. What will it be, Lisbon, St. Petersburg, Florence or Ibiza? Just to name a few suggestions.
With many thanks to Gies and Maartje for the excellent organisation, oh and the pictures/video I am in are the ones I did not take myself (obviously).
Don’t forget to buy a copy of the Lonely Planet Berlin when visiting. Click here to buy via The Bookdepository or click on the book below to order on Amazon.
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