I left my heart in Berlin

Okay so its obvious that im a tad late on getting around to posting my Christmas break in Berlin and I could give you plenty of un-excusable reasons as to why. But I wont. 

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Berlin has been on the top of my list of cities to visit for quite sometime now. Either my friends have already been there on multiple occasions or ‘thinking’ about it going but not without a clue as to when that will be. Thats until my fellow Aussie mate, Emma asked me if I would like to join her for an orphans Christmas with a bunch of other Aussie girls and celebrate it a slightly different way on the 25th day of December. Of course I said yes and before you knew it, my flight was booked and I could hardly contain my standard travel excitement.

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I took a rather early flight with Easyjet on Christmas Eve and was pleasantly surprised how empty the flight was and the fact that we left 15 minutes before the departure time. The one thing I really a grateful for is living so close to Europe. Literally an hour and 25 minutes later and youve stepped foot into the land of beer and sausages. I was the first to arrive out of the five and was welcomed with open arms by a friendly chap called Enrico at the Riverside Lodge, just adjacent to the river and so im told, a very cool neighbourhood to hang out in.

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I was in charge of the grocery shop before it was about to shut on me, so I scurried over to the local supermarket to grab the supplies for our Christmas brunch and more importantly not forgetting the champers.  Once everyone had arrived and settled into our new home for the next 5 or so days I had worked up an appertite and was ready to go exploring to these talked up Christmas markets. Forgetting that it was in fact the night before Christmas, disappointingly the one in Alexandra Platz was closed when we arrived. So that could only mean one thing – dinner and drinks at probably one of the most tackiest restaurants I have ever stepped foot into. Did anyone say pink flamigo Las Vegas? The food, luckily was no where near as bad as the decor and I settled for my very first curry bratwurst followed by a soothing German beer to wash it down.

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Christmas day I clambered out of bed at a respectable hour of the morning to Skype my family back in Queensland. These damn time zones can be fairly tricky, especially when its 10 hours ahead. Ive said this before and I will say it again Skype really is an a amazing piece of technology and its times like these where I have to thank the developer for creating such a marvelous invention.

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We had organised to have brunch together and the thought of sitting around in my PJs, scoffing on fresh bread, sipping on the bubbles while bopping along to cheesy Christmas carols was some what pleasant after a horrendously busy nonstop month.

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Going for a stroll around Berlin seemed rather appropriate after the festive binge and the wall was a high priority on the list  of things to tick off on this trip. At this time of year the city is particularly cold, actually make that freezing! Wrapping yourself in layers is a must when your out and about in -7 temperatures! I was surprised when we got to the wall, just how many other people had the same idea on Christmas day. Random. Anyhoo the artwork is astonishing and seemed to go on forever. Its a airy, yet a truly fascinating experience being able to see it in full view.

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That evening I had reserved us a special fancy dinner at a restaurant called Volt. Still feeling rather stuffed from brunch we couldn’t say no to the lavish 6 course menu on offering. Followed by a couple of bottles of red, we were set for the evening. Im not going to go into too much detail as I normally would about my food but judging by everyones faces, I was feeling rather proud of myself in regards to my choice of location.

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As boxing day approached I was eager to get up at a reasonable hour and continue to explore around the streets of Neukölln. As it was the christmas holiday period, sadly a number of places were closed but this didn’t stop us from getting out and about. I stumbled across a tiny, dingy little bar that was calling my name and before you could say drink please, we were ordering straight up whiskeys, margaritas and meze plates. Something tells me this holiday is not going to be a quiet one.

That night we had planned to try our luck at Berghain, one of the best clubs in the world and also known as one of the hardest to get in. The funniest part about this, is only half of us managed to do that, leaving me and my three other friends cabbing it over to another wicked club called Renate. Let me tell you, this place is beyond wild. Filled with rooms, ladders, a bed, dance pole, wacky bar tenders and some of the best underground minimal techno ive ever heard. Im not going to proudly announce what time we left but I will tell you, come with an open mind and to party. HARD. The best thing about Berlin is that you don’t have to make an effort. Really. Getting dressed up all fancy is just not cool in their regard. Go comfy, embrace the music and just let go! 

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With a beyond disgusting hangover to wake up to that afternoon (no not morning) this hardcore blonde struggled to get out of bed until we all agreed that feeling sorry for ourselves was a waste of our holiday and time.  I had been strongly advised to check out a burger bar like no other. Berlin Burger International. Its about the size of my bedroom with some comedian waiters adding plenty of entertainment value. The size of these burgers is monstrous. Obsurd! How I managed to eat all of it is a mystery but I did reach a point afterwards where I nearly fell off the stool from a food coma. Not the day for this! Back to a bed for another few hours then back up again for dinner. Eat, sleep, repeat. This time around we choose a Vietnamese restaurant up the road which was another fantastic recommendation. Local knowledge is certainly helpful when travelling.

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On our last day we thought it might be a good idea to get in some culture, rather than more boozing. Oops. Although it did sound rather tempting to head to another bar, since there are so many to try. No Steph, no!

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We did one of these free walking tours which after experiencing in Prague I was pretty impressed by the concept of it all. Not so impressing was the day we had pick to do it.  One of the coldest and I was a little unprepared for this. I swear I could not feel my feet for about 2 hours. This is not recommended when it is close to -8 and everything is starting to freeze.

Being Christmas in Germany means plenty of markets, in fact dozens. Most are pretty much the same, filled with all things german – beer, sausage etc etc but worth checking out.

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After finishing up at the Brandenburg gate and watching the gorgeous sunset, we headed over to a restaurant called Nocti Vagus also known as dinner in the dark. This is something I have always wanted to experience and I was a little excited to get my first taste of what it was like eating in the pitch black. One of the options was to have the ‘surprise’ menu which of course had to be done. Its really hard to describe what actually happens when you enter darkness. You have your own visually impaired waiter who asks you to pop your hand on his shoulder and directs you slowly to your table. There is a lot of touching going on. No not with the waiter! It completely takes you out of your comfort zones and really makes you appreciate having your vision. We had to pour our wine which was hilarious and scary at the same time. Your eyes take a while to adjust and you may feel slightly freaked out by all the voices in the room. They say that your hearing and taste senses are dramatically heightened. They were not wrong. None of us guessed the meat in the main meal right and by the end of it we were eating with our fingers. This is one of the greatest eating experiences I have ever had and I now have the upmost respect for blind people.

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Last stop of the night was the Neue Heimat market. Located in a dodgy industrial area, filled with old shipping containers and abandoned warehouses, this is undoubtably the reason why Berlin is just super cool. Entrance is only a few euros and its filled with street food fans, mulled wine, an ice skating rink, a drinking hall with wine bars, dance floor and unreal house tunes.

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If all of this doesn’t sound unreal enough for you then picture looking out the window and seeing the snow falling like you wouldn’t believe! After calling it a night it was time to be a kid again and have my last chance to play amongst the fluffy white snow flakes. I was not ready to get back on a plane to London but duty calls and so does a thing called work. *Sigh*

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Theres no denying my love for this city. To the point where if I was younger and spoke German, I would have no problem in saying that I could easily live there. The food is of a high standard. Its affordable, rich in history and the nightlife/music scene is sublime. Berlin has left such an impression that I am coming back for more. Im very much looking forward to more crazy antics in November. Good times 🙂

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