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Surie Nov 20th, 2007 06:14 AM

Berlin Trip Report 11/07
This is my first attempt at a report, so please bear with me! My daughter moved to Berlin in September. She had spent the summer she graduated from college there and then taught English in Austria for a year, and couldn't wait to move back to Berlin. A good friend of mine had gone with me on the spur of the moment to visit her in Linz and Vienna last fall and that trip was so much fun that we wanted to do it again.

We flew nonstop from Newark on Continental which I've done before and it had been fine. This time the plane was packed and it was a tight squeeze in coach. Even my Ambien didn't help too much.

We arrived on time, got through Tegel airport quickly and got a taxi to our hotel. (about 20E) We stayed in Prenzlauerberg at the Myer's Hotel which my daughter had found for us because it was a short walk from her apartment. It's a small hotel set back from the street through a courtyard and we liked it immediately. My daughter arrived just as we did, and my friend's room was ready so we all checked it out and then headed off to see the neighborhood.

My daughter took us to Anna Blumen, a cafe with maybe a flower shop attached-- I can't remember now, but it was very nice! She parked us there for coffee while she went to meet someone. When she got back, we walked around and stopped for lunch at Pasternak, another great little restaurant with a Russian influence. The food was good and we each had a glass of grauer burgunder from the Pfalz region which was lovely.

We saw my daughter's apartment, a hefty walk up after all our eating and jetlag, and loved the potential. There is so much great space in Berlin apartments! She has a huge room that was pretty empty so she was very happy to have me there thinking of fixing it up!

She went off to do something and my friend and I headed back to the hotel. We saw a wine store that looked appealing, Weinladen Schmidt, I think, and went in to get some more Grauer Burgunder. The proprietor was very nice and explained that this wine is Germany's version of Italy's pinot grigio-- same grape! Anyway, we liked it and got a couple of bottles to take back to the hotel. He also had some interesting seasonings, etc.

We thought we would have dinner at a cheap & cheerful in the neighborhood and my daughter had thought Mao Thai would be fun, but my friend admitted she doesn't like thai food. We found a little French place called Poulette nearby. We went in for a glass of wine and a starter while we regrouped, but the atmosphere was so nice that we ended up staying and having more wine and small plates. It was great, very cozy and relaxed but not really a casual place. The waitress brought us an amuse-bouche even before she knew we were going to stay for dinner. I love the pride and concern for their patrons that we found everywhere in Berlin.

I'm dragging this out too long, I know, so I'll wrap up today by saying we were in bed by 10pm and asleep almost instantly. My daughter was extremely happy to move into my room and enjoy hotel living!

All for now!

caroline_edinburgh Nov 20th, 2007 07:07 AM

Enjoying your report so far, Surie - please keep it up ! I love Berlin and am always keen to hear about new (to me) aspects of it.

Surie Nov 20th, 2007 01:59 PM

Caroline, thanks for your kind response. I had enjoyed your trip report in the past and just re-read it-- it's great and I wish I had read it right before we left! I loved the Nikolaiviertel part of town too, and knew my friend would like it but somehow we never got there-- there is always so much to do in Berlin.

I will get back to my report later-- I have to say that seeing yours again is rather intimidating!!

skatedancer Nov 20th, 2007 04:43 PM

We loved Prenzlaurberg. I'm sure it was a great area to stay in.

Surie Nov 20th, 2007 06:45 PM

Prenzlauerberg is a really nice area. The part I had seen on my last visit was more commercial and trendy, but the area around Kollwitz Platz is beautiful and leafy with lovely buildings.

We had a delicious breakfast the next morning at the hotel. Those German breakfasts are the best! We must have walked around although I don't remember, but we went to the Cafe am Literatur for lunch. It's a lovely restaurant in a beautiful old building on a pretty street in Charlottenburg. It's interesting because the rooms are gracious with high ceilings, moldings, etc but the art and the light fixtures are very modern. I think it's a gem!

My daughter went off with instructions to meet up at KaDeWe later in the afternoon. We shopped and walked around. We found a new (to us) store called COS with great-looking but very affordably priced clothes. My daughter thinks it might be a relative of H&M. That was a chain store but the great thing about Berlin is all the little independent designers who are able to have their own places. We were looking forward to seeing those.

It was interesting to see KaDeWe as I've heard so much about it. It has a lot of great things but with the dollar being so pitiful, we weren't tempted to buy. I did get a couple of pillow shams for my daughter. The food hall was great and vast so we wandered around there for awhile.

We had a dinner reservation at Altes Zollhaus, a restaurant in an old customs house on the Landwehr canal. I had had dinner there once before in the summer and sat outside which was great. This time we were in the dining room and it was wonderful. Everything was fabulous; this was our splurge meal-- they had a 4 course dinner with wines for 44E/per person. The service was friendly and professional and the ambiance was relaxed even though a little formal. We loved everything and had a fun evening.

We took a taxi home and had a glass of wine downstairs in the hotel. The person at the front desk doubled as the bartender and often it was a delightful young man named Knut. He was a stitch and was very entertaining. I haven't mentioned the weather but it wasn't ideal-- very cold and rainy, so it was nice to come back to the hotel and feel at home.

sandy_b Nov 21st, 2007 07:19 AM

We're planning a trip to Berlin in March so this is very timely . . . enjoying your report, thanks for posting it.

I'm making notes so please don't leave out any detail!

Sandy (in Denton)

Surie Nov 30th, 2007 07:12 AM

Sandy-- I am not good on details or directions-- I have absolutely no sense of direction, but I'm trying! (Are you from Denton, Maryland by any chance??)

The next morning we felt we needed to get busy as tourists, so we bought tickets for a city bus tour from the hotel. We walked to Alexanderplatz and hopped on the bus there. We sat up top and it gave us a good overview. We got off at the Schloss Charlottenburg and took a tour with headphones.

sandy_b Nov 30th, 2007 09:05 AM

Hi Surie,

No, not Denton, MD but Denton, TX . . . it's about 30 miles north of both Dallas and Ft. Worth, we form a triangle, thus our old slogan, "top of the golden triangle."

Sandy (in Denton)

DAX Nov 30th, 2007 07:36 PM

What a wonderful report! It makes me want to go back to Berlin again. We actually passed by Poulette after we ate at a cafe in Kollwitz Platz. Enjoyed reading about how you discovered Grauburgunder too.

How fun/good was the russian restaurant? I'd like to try it next time as there is a big russian community in Berlin. I've read a couple of books from Vladimir Kaminer, a russian author who has a humorous knack at describing life in Berlin from a russian immigrant's point of view.

altamiro Dec 1st, 2007 05:20 AM

>I've read a couple of books from Vladimir Kaminer, a russian author who has a humorous knack at describing life in Berlin from a russian immigrant's point of view

Kaminer is one of the most read modern authors in today's Germany...

marginal_margiela Dec 1st, 2007 09:50 AM

I will be in Berlin on Dec. 20-27. Where can I purchase a watercolor or pencil drawing of the Brandenburg Tor??? I am not looking for something huge--the kind of thing lower-middle class people hang over their living room couch--but something small and intimate.

Thank you for your concern.


DAX Dec 2nd, 2007 08:36 AM

Altamiro: I'm not surprised to hear that, his subtle humor make his books fun to read. His audio book however is something else; I didn't anticipate his heavy russian accent which I found too annoying to be enjoyable. Can you recommend other german authors who write with similar wit?

DAX Dec 2nd, 2007 09:04 AM

<<I am not looking for something huge--the kind of thing lower-middle class people hang over their living room couch--but something small and intimate.>>

Are you looking for original aquarelle/sketch or a tourist watercolor reprint?

Since you seem to work in the fashion industry, you may be interested in this museum event that my wife wanted to see but couldn't due to bad timing:

annhig Dec 2nd, 2007 09:18 AM

Hi, Surie,

thanks for posting. we too loved Berlin for the 4 nights we were there, and I'd love to go back.

keep it coming

regards, ann

marginal_margiela Dec 2nd, 2007 12:45 PM

I'd like an original work, please.

I don't work in the fashion biz anymore; I used to work for Todd Oldham. But, I now work for America's oldest auction house in Philadelphia.

Zeus Dec 2nd, 2007 01:33 PM

Speaking of Denton, TX, is it still true that the most beautiful women in the U.S. come from there? I remember reading that many Miss America and Miss Universe candidates hailed from Denton. I think Phyllis George was one of them(?)

Surie Dec 2nd, 2007 02:20 PM

I thought I posted another segment, but it seems to have disappeared. Oh well.. Thank you for your nice comments. I was afraid my report was too boring and frivolous.

DAX, we loved Pasternak. It was small and felt like a cafe. The food was good, but I did not have anything that was specifically Russian. We literally enjoyed every meal in Berlin-- most of the places were small and not expensive, but everything was fresh and delicious.

I would like to find something by Vladimir Kaminer-- I am not familiar with his work.

Thin, it should be pretty easy to find a nice picture of the Brandenburg Tor with all the artists in Berlin. I know I passed a couple of places in the Mitte/ Gendarmenmarkt area that would be possibilities for you.

Speaking of the Gate, there is a wonderful restaurant called Theodor Tucher that is right there. We had a family reunion dinner there last fall and I wanted to go back, and then forgot about it this time. It is a cool space-- a mix of modern with warm book-lined walls. It seemed to be a spot for locals. Does anyone know it?

Surie Dec 2nd, 2007 02:32 PM

DAX, also want to say thanks for the museum exhibit you mentioned. I would have liked that, especially for the historical photographs. I'm reading "The Good German" by Joseph Kanon, set in Berlin immediately after the war when the city was divided into sectors. His descriptions are so detailed and feel so real. It's incredible how much has changed and is still changing.

sandy_b Dec 2nd, 2007 05:15 PM

Zeus . . . Denton has had two Miss Americas (Phyllis George and Shirley Cothern) and many lesser-known winners (Miss Cotton, Miss Wool, various runners-up) . . . we have two renown universities in our modest town and draw talent (and beauty) from all over the world.

OK . . . enough bragging . . . Surie, am loving all your comments, please post more. I'm taking notes!

Sandy (in Denton)

DAX Dec 2nd, 2007 09:40 PM

Surie: Kaminer is a russian jewish immigrant who seems to have become the most popular young german author (37 year old). He writes with such a witty sense of humor, however his books have not yet been translated into English yet. Here's a website about all his books:
In an imperfect English translation:

marginal: Here's one aquarelle of the Brandenburg gate in a gallery: www.uschilange/de/galerie/Berlin.html
I personally haven't seen that many original aquarelle of the gate.

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