Tube strikes. They’re the bane of many people’s lives (whether you support them or not they are disruptive) and when the last one was announced it fell across my last couple of days in my old job. This chucked up the issue of “working from home” which, let’s be honest, wouldn’t have happened. So my old job put me on gardening leave for the last couple of days and I suddenly had a whole week off between jobs. I jokingly tweeted about taking the chance to sleep on twitter and my friend Rae of Love From Berlin intervened:
@BeardedBakery … OR you could come to Berlin. *nudge nudge*
— rae tashman (@lovefromberlin) August 18, 2015
I quickly checked some flight costs and made sure she wasn’t actually joking and booked a last minute flight to Berlin to hang out with
Rae her cats, eat loads of food and explore a city I’ve heard a million good things about. So that’s how I found myself on a coach at 4am on a Sunday morning on my way to Stansted airport (I can get the coach from basically outside my front door, that’s dangerous for me to know) and an adventure in Germany.
Rae was actually working for a chunk of the trip but the first day being a Sunday it meant that we had a chance to properly hang out. She gave me a mini tour of a few key places, took me out for Vegan breakfast and showed off her pretty snazzy apartment. We went to check out flea markets and street food vendors, popped to the German History Museum (including a fascinating, if harrowing and humbling special exhibit on homosexuality in Germany), ate some great Vietnamese food in a recently re-branded restaurant (District Mot), both napped and then finished off the day with a trip to Die Grosse Reise; a maze of candles in a park containing 8 pieces of performance art.
Day two I was out on my own (apart from lunch, where I met Rae and we popped for food so I could treat her to a vegan burger at Yoyo as a thanks for letting me crash on her sofa) so I went to the Neues Museum to look at hundreds of years of Egyptian History and then on the 3 hour free (+ tips) Alternative Walking Tour. The tour itself was a fascinating insight into a completely different side of Berlin. It focussed on Street Art (the artists and stories behind them), the artsy left, squats, punk and generally the sorts of things often brushed over by the more standard tours. Our guide Jake was full of interesting stories and useful information. I’d highly recommend doing this tour if you’re out there, alone or not. We rounded off the night with what was probably the best Burrito I’ve ever eaten, which came from Dolores.
Day Three, I was once again out on my own. So I did another walking tour (what can I say, I just like walking). This was the more traditional free walking tour of Berlin which encompassed a lot of recent (and slightly less recent) history. From Nazis to Michael Jackson dangling his child out of a hotel window this one was fascinating for a lot of different reasons to the alternative one. Both covered completely different areas of the city as well so it’s a good way to see a whole heap of places. I grabbed a burger from Burgermeister (thanks to everyone who recommended places, I’ll have to check out BIRD and some of the others next time) and then went home for another nap.
The trip was rounded off with a visit to Kimchi Princess with Rae and a number of her friends, who were all wonderfully welcoming. Outside of some issues at the U-Bahn stop with a couple of lowlifes being both racist and sexist to Rae it was a lovely evening and ended with her friend Betty and I introducing her to Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place, because you know, that’s what you do in Berlin…
Massive thanks to Rae for having me, as this wouldn’t have been possible without her letting me into her home. It still amazes me the opportunities blogging has given me and the friendships I have made through simply writing about baking on the internet. The blogging community is a wonderful thing.