Now on to the German speaking countries we were fortunate to visit!
Berlin aka the not so sunny city
Ok don’t get me wrong, Berlin was a really awesome city, but we did not catch a single glimpse of the sun during the 3.5 days we were there. It also didn’t rain so I guess Berlin was just plagued with chronic grey skies.
Regardless, there is so much to see and do in Berlin so the grey skies didn’t hold us back. We were all very enthralled with the history of the Berlin Wall – Checkpoint Charlie, East Side Gallery, and the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse were all highlights. Despite its recency, that part of history has always been particularly hard for me to grasp and retain so I feel like I learned a lot in those few days. Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial is also very unique and the free museum underneath it was extremely powerful. I have seen several holocaust museums throughout Germany and been to Dachau concentration camp, but this museum has been the most powerful for me to date. This was because they include a lot of personal anecdotes (including excerpts from letters and post cards) and the stories of specific families.
Other than the unmatched history, we were also happy to discover a bunch of lively little neighborhoods scattered around the city with cool shops, bars and restaurants. We ate a variety of foods including vietnamese, sausage, burgers, and mexican, and it was all very good!
Highlight: The many historic landmarks and eating at an absolutely delicious Vietnamese restaurant with a friend that I met in Prague earlier this summer 🙂
Recommendations: Holocaust Memorial Museum. Walking through the Tiergarten – particularly beautiful with all of the fall colors. Fam. Dang – Vietnamese restaurant. Good prices for amazing food.
Vienna aka a city where there’s no shame in eating apfelstrudel for lunch
Compared to Berlin’s grey self, Vienna was out of a Disney fairytale. The architecture is stunning, and the sun peaked out which was helpful. We did a lot of walking around and just admiring Vienna cause it’s that pretty. Kalyna’s mom was in Vienna for work so we were lucky to get to stay in an Airbnb with her right by the opera house – ideal location. Some of our other activities included the Belvedere, paying 3 euros for standing room tickets to the opera, the Sigmund Freud Museum, checking out St. Stephen’s cathedral and exploring many cute cafes throughout the city.
The Belvedere features a bunch of paintings by Gustav Klimt which are pretty awesome. If you’ve heard of or seen the movie Woman in Gold then you’ve heard of him. His most famous painting – “The Kiss” was beautiful in person. As for the opera, I hate to say it, but we didn’t make it through the whole thing and left at intermission. When you don’t speak the language and don’t recognize any of the music, it’s kind of hard to stand through a near 4 hour performance. We also ate at a Pakistani restaurant that was not only scrumptious, but also “pay as you wish” so you literally paid whatever you felt appropriate for an all you can eat buffet. We discussed whether or not that concept would work in the U.S. but didn’t really come up with a conclusion except that location would be key.
Other than the Pakistani restaurant, Vienna’s food scene for us included a lot of sausage and sauerkraut, apple strudel and other sweets, as well as my first experiences (both good ones) with roasted chestnuts and warm wine. My mouth is watering so that’s enough about that.
Highlight: The wonderful cafes and their delish offerings
Recommendations: The Belvedere. Der Wieder Deewam – Pakistani restaurant. Harvest Cafe – vegan cafe with very good sweets and a brunch that looked the same.