WHERE TO STAY
If you’re a fellow backpacker, I highly recommend staying at Generator Berlin Mitte. Generator has a string of hostels around Europe (I also stayed at a Generator hostel in Venice) and they are all super hip and fun. I stayed in a four bed mixed dorm with an ensuite bathroom and it was super clean. Each bunk is a pod type bed with charging stations and a light so you can sleep with your valuable electronics charging next to you. There is also a dedicated locker underneath the bottom bunk that you pull out and lock your pack inside of when you aren’t in the room.
Downstairs, the hostel had its own café and bar, so you really don’t need to leave for anything. I had a beer in the café (Astra Rotlicht… which tasted ok, even though the label looks kinda odd) on my first night and got an amazing tip from the waiter to take a Berliner Unterwelten tour (see details below). There was even an older woman sitting near me who picked up on my Newfoundland accent and told me about spending a summer on Fogo Island when she was a young girl!
The main reason to stay here is the location. It’s right next to the major subway station/bus stops, a block away from Museum Island and the area in general is really hip. Plus, it’s only $36-$46 (CAD) a night. Not bad for a downtown hostel!
WHAT TO DO
Bear Pit Karaoke
The single coolest experience I had in Berlin was taking in Bear Pit Karaoke in Mauerpark. This event only happens on Sunday afternoons starting at 3pm and is weather permitting (it takes place in an outdoor amphitheatre). If you love karaoke as much as I do, you’ll want to join hundreds of other people from all around the world when Joe Hatchiban — the Irishman who owns the mobile karaoke machine — sets up and passes the mike to the first volunteer.
You will want to get to the park early. The stands get full quickly and you’ll want to get a good spot to sit. Also, I recommend taking in the Sunday market that you pass through while walking through the park to get to the amphitheatre. Bringing food or buying a snack from a vendor in the park before taking a seat is also a good idea. There are a few fellas that will walk around selling beer (like at a hockey game), but it’s nice to have a sandwich to nibble on as well because you’ll want to stick around for a while. You might also want to study the lyrics for your favourite tune and volunteer your pipes to entertain the masses!
Berliner Unterwelten Tour
This one is for history buffs and anyone looking for a more unconventional and authentic look at WWII Berlin. I actually stumbled upon this tour by accident but I recommend it every time someone asks me about Berlin. This tour takes you into an underground bunker where people from the area took shelter during air raids in WWII. I loved how comprehensive the tour was. We saw the remnants of fluorescent paint on the walls that was used to see at night with no electricity. There were still suitcases strewn around the bunkers that were left by families, and the space also showcased objects discovered in the rubble after the war was over. Most notably, to my geeky delight, I got to see an actual Enigma machine. It was sitting in a display case and I only noticed it as we were walking by, but I was gobsmacked. How they didn’t show this off as the main attraction on the tour is anyone’s guess. Unfortunately, photos aren’t allowed on the tour or I’d have so many to show you!
Keep these things in mind if you choose to take this tour:
- Photography is not allowed
- Cost is 11 euros
- Get tickets early (not sold online or in advance)
- Must pay in cash
Here’s a list of things I enjoyed taking in but if I ramble on about them anymore, you’ll just get bored. So I’ll give you pretty pictures to look at instead.
WHERE TO EAT
Oranienburger Str. 66
Ok. I didn’t stray far in order to get food while I stayed in Berlin, but the meal I had at Rosmarin was delicious. For 10 euro, I got a massive helping of Triangoli with diced salmon that was served with spinach in a white wine sauce. It was absolutely mouthwatering. And the waiter, who seemed to talk to me more than other patrons because I was eating alone, recommended I try a Wittenger as my first beer in Berlin. Not too shabby, I must say.
Have you ever been to Berlin? I’d love to hear about your visitor recommendations!