Our time in Berlin was such a rainy mess, it made us realize just how much harder everything is to do in the rain – so on our first day in Berlin, we saw very little of the city. This wasn’t because we stayed inside like everyone else on such a bad day, but because it was so windy and was raining so hard that we were too busy using our umbrellas as shields against the rain to even look around. It was exactly how Forrest Gump described the rainy season in Vietnam ”it rained… and it rained, sometimes the rain even seemed to come straight from underneath!”
In flip flops (my shoes broke a couple of weeks earlier and I hadn’t found any to replace them), I felt completely out of place around everyone else in their winter jackets and gumboots. But hey, people, it’s July! It’s supposed to be warm now! We probably saw Berlin in the worst conditions, and yet we both quite enjoyed it.
The Holocaust memorial was really touching, and I loved how it was like a maze where kids played hide and seek, adults got lost and confused and others simply didn’t really understand what was going on. It was a very self -reflective monument, made to make the visitor feel uneasy – which is what a memorial should do, in my opinion.
It should awake an emotion in you, it should provoke you and make you reflect on what happened and how they must have felt. We also found Berlin full of awesome cozy cafes which all had one thing in common – everything was double the size of normal portions. A small coffee was like a large one in any other country, and one portion of traditional German food was big enough for two people to share.
I also understand why many of the travelers I’ve met found that just sitting down in one of the cafes in Berlin reading a book (secretly waiting for a hot guy to chat them up) was one of their highlights on their Europe trips – the vibe was just so cosy and relaxing. There is a lot more for us to explore in Berlin with its underground clubs and 1 Euro wine bars where you only pay for the glass, so it’s definitely a city we will return to soon – hopefully in better weather and for a longer period of time.
Visiting The Most German Cities In Germany
Our first stop after Berlin was Nuremberg and Rothenburg – which according to Hitler were ”the most German of German towns”. Nuremberg is perhaps most famous for its significance to the Nazi era and the huge Nazi party rallies that were held there. But strolling around the city center we were amazed by the beauty of the medieval city we found behind the surrounding stone walls. The traditional German houses lined along the cobble stoned streets was a big contrast to what we had seen in Berlin. Nuremberg did feel very German, and very traditional.
There were shops selling Lederhosen and Drindls (traditional Bavarian pants and dresses) everywhere, every five meters there were shops selling traditional Lebkuchen (a type of gingerbread), and every ten meters a stall selling fresh Pretzels.
Within ten minutes of arriving we had already bought and finished a whole bag of Lebkuchen, and I was already fantasizing about when I could possibly find the excuse to wear those Drindls.
You could tell the people were proud of their food, and I would definitely say that when it comes to food tradition, Germany has a lot to thank Nuremberg for its Lebkuchen and sausages.
The Christmas City
The next day we took a day trip to a small town outside of Nuremberg called Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber. Rothenburg is everything foreigners picture of Germany.
This place seriously looks as though it has been taken from a fairytale like Hansel and Gretel, with wonky half timbered houses in different colors, and steep red rooftops.
It’s often nicknamed the ”Christmas city”, since the streets are lined with amazing Christmas shops that are open all year round. If Nuremberg doesn’t captivate you with its food, then Rothenburg will with its quaint Old Town. For some reason the people in Nuremberg were the friendliest out of all the places we’ve visited in Germany – the easy going and cheerful strangers we met made this place Nathan’s favorite.
Tea In Berlin – The Tajikistani Way
Tucked away on the second floor of a theater building in the center of Berlin, the Tajikiztan tea room is well hidden for those who are not looking for it. Even if you do have a rough idea of where it is chances are you still won’t find it. Last summer we spent a good half hour looking for it without success. That was the reason we did not want to give up this time. But when we finally entered the fancy theater building we were wondering if we had really found it, or just gotten lost again. It just didn’t seem to be a place for a tea room, and it was far to late for the usual afternoon tea. But this tea house is very different from the English tea houses you’re used to. Before entering the room you have to take your shoes off and leave them outside. Once you’re inside you sit down by one of the low tables surrounded by colorful cushions in different sizes.
It is almost impossible to sit on the cushions. Sooner or later you will find yourself half lying down, but that’s OK because everyone else is doing it too.
And once you get used to the idea, it is really cozy. In fact I have never been in a cafe where I have felt as much at home as in this odd place. The atmosphere is relaxed, almost drowsy, and people sit and drink their tea for hours on end.
To give you an idea, at 11 pm after having been there for about two hours we basically forced ourselves to leave, and everyone who was there when we arrived was still there, ordering a second, third perhaps fourth refill. The waiter brought us a thick menu of different teas to choose, and we picked a Russian smoked tea flavor, curious of how a tea can possibly taste of smoke?
Surprisingly, it tasted just like smoke. This tea was far from the fruity flavor of berries or the fresh mint teas you normally find. It was a strange but somehow still nice flavor similar to burned wood – strong and manly, and exactly the way I would have thought Russian tea would taste like. In Tajikiztan women are not allowed in these tea rooms, they are strictly meant for men to meet with friends, drink tea and do business. So I am glad that this place which was initially set up during the Soviet era for Tajikiztanian people/ soldiers? Was still there. When the Soviet era saw everything else falling down, the Tea room remained, and little has changed since. So if you want to experience part of Berlin’s history but in a different way, this is a good place to visit. It is right in the middle of Berlin’s Mitte – but once inside you feel like you’re a world away from all of it.