Minu and Sebastian's Berlin

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©Minu Chawla. All Rights Reserved.
©Minu Chawla. All Rights Reserved.

Many of you know that we moved from San Francisco to Berlin last year. It is a city very dear to both of us. For Sebastian, it’s almost home. As for me, it served as a frequent escape from business school’s stress while studying in not-so-distant Leipzig. It was after wandering through the inspiring museums of this city that I resolved to build a museum someday. While the dream of building a physical museum remains unfulfilled, RoadsWelltraveled’s Museum is a manifestation of that dream.

We left San Francisco exactly a year ago. While there are still some months to go till we can celebrate our first anniversary of the move to Berlin, we wanted to dedicate this post to this enigmatic city that we now call home.

Berlin was the capital of Prussia, a small but powerful kingdom. At the end of the World War I, and with the emergence of the Weimar Republic, Berlin came to the forefront as a progressive, intellectual even decadent city (think Bauhaus, Einstein, Tucholsky and Metropolis). It is the idea of this Berlin that I am so in love with! I suppose the ‘Poor but sexy’ reputation the city carries now would have aptly described the 1920s Berlin too. The Third Reich turned things around, of course. At the end of the World War II, Berlin was broken down and the spoils were distributed amongst the victors. This is a well-documented and visible part of Berlin’s history.

There’s the Berlin that you see as a tourist here- the Brandenburger Gate, Potsdamer Platz, the Wall, the Museum Island et cetera. And then there’s our Berlin, that of its residents. Here’s a glimpse of the Berlin and its little corners that Sebastian and I love.

Kunstfabrik Schlot

This is where we go to get my jazz-fix every now and then. I am a sucker for live music, particularly those small, intimate, unplugged performances. Schlot is a dark, brooding place in the basement of a complex replete with startups. Yet, it is every bit the place for serious music lovers.

Kunstfabrik Schlot
Kunstfabrik Schlot

Krumme Lanke

A bicycle or an S-Bahn ticket, and a sunny weekend is all you need! Krumme Lanke is our favourite Berlin place by far. I am writing this with a slight bit reservation for the fear that masses might consume this little gem on Berlin’s periphery. It is beautiful. If you walk to the farthest end on the other side, you can be rewarded with your own little piece of this lake’s idyll. And if you take your moleskine along like I do, hours will melt away between sounds of silence and the words of your poems.

Krumme Lanke, Steglitz-Zehlendorf
Krumme Lanke, Steglitz-Zehlendorf

Mauerpark

I know it couldn’t get more touristy than Mauerpark on a weekend. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun! It’s the best place to go people-watch, or watch some great live acts. Music, monologues, a rickety remote-controlled beer-spewing robot, tomfoolery, Mauerpark has it all!

Mauerpark, Mitte/ Prenzlauer Berg
Mauerpark, Mitte/ Prenzlauer Berg

Cinestar Berlin at Potsdamerplatz

Okay, so one of us likes to watch movies. I’ll leave it to you to guess which one. Unfortunately, most of Germany still doesn't accept un-dubbed movies. If not dubbed, they almost always come with subtitles. I’m not talking about world cinema. I’m talking about English language films. Cinestar Original at the Sony Centre is the only theatre in Berlin (to the best of my knowledge) that dishes out original version movies. Come to think of it, this shouldn’t make it to a ‘favourites’ list but a ‘necessities’ list.

Sony Centre, Potsdamer Platz
Sony Centre, Potsdamer Platz

Am Ende de Welt

We may have left San Francisco behind, but Sebastian hasn’t been able to leave behind his love for IPA. This gorgeous little café not only whips up lovely coffee, but also has a fridge full of handpicked beers, some from SF! And it’s never without some IPA! It sure helps it’s just around the corner from where we live, and is at its charming best whenever the sun’s out.

Am Ende der Welt, Mitte
Am Ende der Welt, Mitte

Café Butter

Berlin loves a good weekend brunch. And why won’t we? I have to admit we haven’t tried too many brunch places yet, but maybe that’s because Butter stole our heart the first time. It’s nothing too fancy. It isn’t pricey. And the food is good.

Cafe Butter, Prenzlauer Berg. Photo credit: Cafe Butter

Manufactum

I first discovered Manufactum years ago while working in Munich. It was just around the corner from my office and it was the place I stumbled into while looking for a birthday present. I came out with an expensive but the most relevant gift, and  had later longed to be back at the store the entire time I was away from Germany. Now that I’m back in Germany and there’s a Manufactum in Berlin, more presents and gifts have been bought here. If quality, craftsmanship and a feeling of nostalgia are what you often look for in the things you buy (much like RoadsWellTraveled!), this place is it!

Manufactum, Charlottenburg. Photo credit: Foodie in Berlin (www.foodieinberlin.com)
Manufactum, Charlottenburg. Photo credit: Foodie in Berlin (www.foodieinberlin.com)

Walk along Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal (Berlin-Spandau Ship Canal)

I love the idea of having a home at or close to water bodies. We lived right at the beach in Dubai (JBR ftw!), by a swollen stream that cut through campus in Costa Rica, and then a couple of kilometers from the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. I sometimes crave the cool air that sweeps over water before it reaches you. Which is why I am often found along a small, beautiful stretch of this canal close to home, sometimes with work and other times with my moleskine or a book.

Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal, Mitte
Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal, Mitte

Streetfood Thursday at Markhalle Neun

This one’s a recent discovery! We are both big fans of San Francisco’s Off the Grid. We were always at our grumpiest best for a week after OTG would close for the winter season. So when we heard about Streetfood Thursday at Markthalle 9, we were there the next Thursday walking around with absolute glee. The only things missing- open air, live music and Magnolia’s IPA (the last one is Sebastian’s inclusion)

Streetfood Thursday at Markhalle Neun
Streetfood Thursday at Markhalle Neun

That was our favourite Berlin. Check back here as we add more. So, when are you coming to Berlin?

Read more about RoadsWellTraveled in Berlin here.

Much love,

Minu