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Kreuzberg is a full of playful street art and murals. The borough is home to a large Turkish and immigrant population as well a the left-wing, art community.
If you've ever wanted to see a fairy tale come to life, visit Neuschwanstein Castle in the lush Bavarian countryside. Built in the late 19th century as a royal retreat for King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public after the King's death and is now one of the most popular castles/palaces in Europe. The castle, begun in 1868, remained unfinished at King Ludwig's death in 1888. It was completed in 1892, complete with large window panes, central heating, telephones, an elevator, and indoor plumbing - overall, quite innovative for its day. For the best views of the exterior of the castle, take a short walk to the Marienbrücke, an iron bridge high above the Pöllat Gorge. The small bridge is so high above the gorge that it made my knees wobbly, but it was worth it for the stunning view of the castle, mountainsides and beautiful Bavarian plains. WARNING - the castle is extremely touristy and crowded and tickets to enter must be bought in the small village of Hohenschwangau, below the castle. Unless you want to see the interior of the castle, I recommend skipping the tour entirely. Just do the lovely drive to the castle and walk from the town to Marienbrücke. It's free (though you'll need to pay a few Euro for parking in Hohenschwangau). The uphill hike takes about 45 minutes. Then retreat to one of the quiet, nearby Bavarian villages for beer and a hearty meal. www.neuschwanstein.de
Munich Ice Magic ("Münchener Eiszauber" in German) takes place every winter from around the third week in November to the third week in January (check the website below for exact dates). It's hard to imagine a more unique place to skate than at Karlsplatz in the centre of Munich, with a view of the Palace of Justice. Skates can be rented onsite.
I'll never forget that day in 1989 when the wall came down—and the iconic images that followed. It represented freedom, the success of democracy and the West, and it marked the end of the cold war! It was the Reagan era, Saturday Night Live was hilarious, and MTV was actually cool! So when I got the opportunity to visit Berlin more than a decade later, I had to pay a visit to the wall. The Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is a 1.3km-long section of the wall near the center of the city. Approximately 106 paintings by artists from all over the world cover this memorial for freedom and make it the largest open-air gallery in the world. It is an amazing site and a "must see" on any visit to Berlin!
You can't be in Berlin without passing through or near the Brandenburg Gate. The gate is located in the western part of the city, at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, just next to the Pariser Platz. One block to the north stands the Reichstag building. So it is a good thing to combine all these monuments and visit them maybe on the same day (although reservations should be made to the Reichstag building). The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the tree-lined boulevard (named after linden trees) which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs.
The Barn is a bucolic coffee bar in the Mitte district that boasts top-quality coffee (from Copenhagen's famed fair-trade Coffee Collective) and a local-food ethos, inspired largely by the owner's formative years in rural Germany and his mother's penchant for baking. Ornamented with rustic touches, like bales of hay, knotty wood benches and tables, and a large chalkboard menu, the cafe has cultivated a large bean since it opened two years ago and shows no signs of slowing. I'd make the trip to Berlin just for a cappuccino and a scone.
Every Sunday in Berlin the world of kitschy fleamarket finds and cool hipster crowds meet at Mauerpark Market in Berlin. The market is full of antiques and dusty relics but also mixed with stalls of young designers selling inventive new fashions designs one would find in hip boutiques. If you are in the mood to shop - be prepared to spend an afternoon wandering around the endless rows of stalls searching through piles of flea market treasures. But just when you think you are ready to drop - you can get an energy boost from one of the many food/drink stands intermixed between the stalls. You'll find Turkish delights such as pide (Turkish pizza) or lahmacun to brautwurst, as well as cafes, bars, and organic juice stalls. Mauerpark is not just a place to find unique souvenirs and hot new designers, it is simply a place to people watch and get in touch with the vibe of Berliners. Over 30,000 people visit the market each Sunday which runs throughout the year. And since it's held in a park, there is ample room to get away from the crowds and go enjoy some green space. You'll probably even be entertained by a few tunes as locals bands come to play in the park periodically. More Information: Mauerpark Market Bernauer Straße 63-64 Berlin-Mitte Telephone: 0176 29 25 00 21 www.mauerparkmarkt.de Every Sunday 08:00 – 18:00h How to get there: U2 stop: Eberswalder Straße U8 stop: Bernauer Straße Tram M10 stop :Wolliner Straße
Some friends had been hiking in Austria in May and had to cut the trip short because of an unexpected blizzard. After all day hiking in the snow and not prepared for it, we came to a hut that was open to guests run by a woman named Helga. Helga didn't speak a word of English, but she served us some delicious Mittenwald beer, that tasted like the best in the world. So a few days later, we decided we had to go to the source of this magical elixir, the town of Mittenwald in Bavaria. We went to the brewery and met the proprietors of the restaurant associated with the brewery, Postkeller, where we thought we would have a couple of tastes. Instead, it turned into an all-day affair. We tested the many different varieties of Mittenwald, and our hosts cooked up a roast for us, and we had a great evening of laughs with them.
Each fall, crowds of partygoers at Munich’s Oktoberfest lift steins of golden beer skyward and bellow “Prosit!” The German holiday began more than 200 years ago at the marriage celebration of Bavarian Crown Prince Louis and Princess Therese. Many of the locally brewed beers served at today’s festivities are also rooted in history. Lagers such as Hacker-Pschorr’s Oktoberfest Märzen adhere to traditional Bavarian purity laws that allow only water, barley, yeast, and hops. Revelers fortify themselves with grilled bratwurst, salt-dusted pretzels, and roast chicken while they watch men dressed in lederhosen (leather shorts) twirl ladies to the oompah of brass bands. The holiday has become wildly popular outside Germany, but the largest celebration, which attracted more than 5 million attendees in 2011, still occurs on the original wedding fields in Munich, in late September and early October. Photo by Relaximages/Corbis. This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
Munich in winter has it all: Christmas markets (the largest and most famous is in Marienplatz) redolent with roasting chestnuts and mulled wine; historic baroque architecture topped with fluffy white snow; and easy access to the best ski slopes in Germany. But don’t let all the nutcrackers and beer-drinking men in lederhosen fool you. Underneath this traditional holiday-time facade you can also find cutting-edge design and a spirit of humorous irreverence. This appeared in the November/December 2011 issue. Photo by C Reiter.
One of Berlin's busiest flea markets is in Mauer Park in the Prenzlauer Berg district. The name means Wall Park, after the Berlin wall, whose remains can be found there. The market is open on Sundays only, and visitors and shoppers can find secondhand furniture, vintage shoes and clothes, some old utensils and dishes, and even some leftovers and souvenirs from the Soviet days in East Berlin. Alongside the vintage booths, a food market serves German beer, sausages, steaming sauerkraut, corn, and more.
There’s no better way to experience the festivities of the holidays than Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) in Germany, and Frankfurt's is particularly beautiful. The markets take place usually in the center of the town, and you'll find all manner of stalls selling a wide array of crafts and tasty regional delicacies, sweets, cakes, food, mulled wine (Glühwein) and other delights. Especially, if/when there’s snow, the atmosphere is absolutely magical. Almost every city, town, and village in Germany has its own Christmas market, and deciding on which one to attend is not easy, as each of them are unique and reflect local & regional culture.
One evening while I was strolling the streets of Mitte, I noticed a hectic scene and a young crowd outside a buzzing restaurant. It was Monsieur Vuong, a hip Vietnamese restaurant with pink and red walls, great cocktails, and fresh Vietnamese food. It was actually my last night in Berlin, and I wished I'd found Monsieur Vuong earlier. It offered a great variety of food, refreshing cocktails, reasonable prices, and a fun, lively atmosphere. Highly recommended, even just for a drink.
The next time you visit Europe, don’t opt for the train. Instead, cruise Germany’s Autobahn at speeds up to 100 mph (or the speed of your choice!), with the top down in a MINI Roadster. Driving through the curvy, emerald green fields and mountainous valleys with the music blaring and wind in your face gives you the ultimate sense of adventure. Then, drive down to Italy and have your own Italian Job experience: whip in and out of the narrow, cobblestone streets and bring exploration to an entirely new level. You can have your own custom MINI built, awaiting your pick up at BMW Welt (World), BMW and MINI’s headquarters in Munich, Germany. Design your own style icon on wheels with custom paint and interior, and drive it from Germany to Italy or the European destination of your choice, feeling only air and freedom.
The name Mauer Park means Wall-Park, named after the former part of the Berlin wall, which can be found there. A 30m strip of the Berlin Wall still stands in the park today as a monument, and is a popular place for graffiti artists to paint and display their work. The park is located in Prenzlauer Berg district, one of the young and trendiest neighborhoods of Berlin these days. Mauer Park attracts basketball players, jugglers, musicians, families and graffiti artists. It is quite popular during summer days, mostly thanks to the flea market on Sunday, and also for summer concerts in the two stadiums next to the park. This is an open park all day long, but I would check with a local if it is safe after dark hours.
Freshly cut flowers, rustic wood tables, and an artsy crowd pepper this Mitte standout where ingredients are natural and sourced, as you might have guessed, locally. The menu changes almost weekly and features variations of simple dishes like quiches and salads for lunch and a more meat and fish focused selection for dinner. I recommend going midday for the gorgeous natural light that beams through the tall windows lining the dining room.
It’s like a typical southern European market, with shouting and chaos—not very German. Maybachufer between Kottbusser Damm and Friedelstrasse, Tuesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m.–6:30 p.m. This story appeared in the July/August 2010 issue. Photo by Achim Hatzius. See all of Philippe Werhahn’s favorite places in the Neukölln neighborhood of Berlin.
If you've ever seen a piece of jewelry set with lapis lazuli, then you know the shade I'm talking about—a deep, rich blue like a Van Gogh painting or expensive silk. Now imagine an entire city entrance that color, and you've got the Ishtar Gate, one of the gates of the ancient city of Babylon. But this is in Berlin. The structure was built around 575 B.C. during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II. The Ishtar Gate was the main entrance of Babylon's eight city gates, and stands almost 50 feet tall. After a period of German excavation in the early 20th century, a replica of the gate was built using original material brought back from modern-day Iraq. The Ishtar Gate is just one of the amazing pieces in the collections of the Pergamon Museum, Berlin's most-visited museum. The other exhibits—divided into three categories: the Antiquity Collection, the Islamic Art Museum, and the Middle East Museum—are equally as mind-blowing. If you've got a hankering to see an enormous sculptural frieze depicting an epic battle between the Greek gods and the giants, then this is also the first stop you need to make on Museum Island. Walking through the gate, you can't help but imagine all the people—not just museum visitors, but men and women through the millennia—who have done the same. Babylon is one of those ancient sites that you know once existed, but it has descended more into mythology that history. But in the Pergamon Museum there is a real, tangible part of it.
A vast majority of Berliners will gladly stop for a good old currywurst on their way back home from a festive evening at the pub. The history of this mouthwatering dish goes back to the 1950s when a German woman was given ketchup, curry powder, and Worcestershire sauce from British soldiers. She mixed these ingredients into a delicious sauce that she poured over pork sausages. She started selling them to construction workers in Charlottenburg who were then working long hours to rebuild this devastated part of Berlin. Nowadays, an estimated 800 million servings are sold all over Germany every year. My favorite joint in Berlin is in the heart of Prenzlauer Berg, the perfect place to stop for a heartwarming meal and some good people watching from the window seats.
Tiergarten Park is the largest public park in central Berlin and is a surprisingly cool (as in temperature) retreat in the summer. Heavily forested, with wide walkways, boulevards, and hidden spots of seclusion, the Tiergarten is one of the easiest and most interesting escapes from city life in Berlin.
The Dong Xuan Center is a collection of several warehouses which have been converted into a market where you can buy everything from iPhones to knock-off Nike sneakers. In addition to the strange assortment of shopping, though, you'll find several restaurants and grocery stories throughout the warehouses. At the entrance to the warehouse park are two large Vietnamese restaurants, each selling authentic Vietnamese food. I particularly love the Pho (soup) that's available here, though there are other main dishes are equally good. Prices are a little higher (6-10€ for basic mains) than some of the budget-friendly, all-Asian restaurants in central Berlin, but the quality is exponentially better. You can combine a small shopping spree with a great lunch or dinner. And the market is open on Sundays so it's a great thing to do on the weekend!
Viktoriapark in Kreuzberg is a great gem of a park hidden in Berlin. The park is located on a small hill and is easy to get to with public transporation. There's a beer garden at the top of the hill with great views of the city. The western side of the hill is popular with sunbathers and there's even a small oasis in the center—a waterfall and stream where you can go to cool off.
Not only do you get great beer in the Hofbrauhaus but there is also delicious food. If you're not too hungry, then one of these pretzels served by one of the lovely waitresses will do the trick.
Notorious in Berlin, and certainly in the techno music scene, the Berghain nightclub has been called by many the best club in the world. Located in a former power station, it’s a giant warehouse turned into one of the most intense and incredible clubs in the world. I’ve heard it called a gay club, a gay-straight club (whatever that is) or just the best club in the world, whether gay or straight. The door policy for getting in is practically legendary. The people who visit the club each weekend are here for one thing: to have fun. And lots of it! Open after midnight on Saturdays, people queue up for hours to try and get inside. Plenty of people visit the club alone (but quickly make friends in line or inside) and, in fact, this can make getting past doorman Sven Marquadt easier. The club is open all day Sunday. You'll find people still visiting the club Sunday morning and afternoon. Locals tend to visit Sunday afternoons after brunch. Berghain has two dance floors: Berghain on the main level and Panoramabar on the second. Read more: http://travelsofadam.com/2011/10/berghain-nightclub-the-best-club-in-the-world/
In Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, here you’ll find racks constantly restocked with coveted labels (Wood Wood, Acne, Kenzo, Opening Ceremony) and supersmall brands such as Stutterheim, a Swedish design house that handsews raincoats. In addition you can enjoy coffee from Voo’s in-store Companion Coffee Showroom, serving specialty coffee and tea and limited baked goods. The store also hosts exhibits, readings, and concerts. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Kalle Koponen
Described as serving eco-Bavarian delicacies, Milchhäusl is a rare find. The 100% organic, hearty local specialties at this charming park-side outpost are in high demand. You'll find them near the main entrance to the English Garden—perfect after you've worked up an appetite exploring. Image courtesy of Milchhäusl.
The Römer is a medieval building in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and one of the city's most important landmarks. The buildings in the area were destroyed in the war, and they were later rebuilt.
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