Earlier this month, my cousin Ine and her husband Dedo did a whirlwind two-week-long trip of western Europe. In two weeks, they managed to do London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Milan (and a day trip to Florence) and since their Milan-Istanbul flight was delayed and caused them to miss their Istanbul-Jakarta flights, they got a day to sightsee Istanbul too, at the expense of the airline.
I was ecstatic that they were coming over to Berlin, and since they were only here for a short time before we drove to Munich for the weekend, I made a Berlin itinerary that balanced the historical*, commercial**, culinary*** and social/emotional**** needs of the trip.
So, the night they arrived, I made a huge Italian-style dinner. A cheese and coldcuts plate, all halal, because my cousins don’t eat pork, and some wine as aperitif. First course was a butternut squash risotto with brown- butter-and-crispy-sage “croutons”, which they loved. This was followed by pan-fried duck breast with orange sauce and a side salad of lamb’s lettuce. My intended dessert was lemon sorbet but my cousins were rolling around on the floor, too stuffed to eat another bite.
The next day, we had a quick breakfast at home (omelette, cheeses, croissants, jam, fairly continental) before heading out together. We first headed to the Berlin Wall Memorial, an easy walk up Brunnenstrasse from our place.
From there we grabbed a quick coffee and snack at Alpenstück, before jumping on the S-Bahn to Brandenburger Tor and Jewish Memorial. Alpenstück started out as an Austrian restaurant on the corner of Garten- and Schröderstraße. In the last few years they’ve extended into a cafe on the opposite side of the street, and a “manufaktur”, essentially a production kitchen and shop, that sells ready-made soups, Knödels (German dumplings), cookies to takeaway and prep at home. The cafe is a local favourite of ours.
After Brandenburger Tor and the Jewish Memorial visits, we had a late lunch was at KaDeWe’s Food Hall, where we opted for the burger bar. I like sitting at the bar, watching the line cooks fill up orders. One person per station: the grill, the fries, the buns + condiments, the drinks. It all just comes together in a delicious burger tower. Did I tell you they use brioche buns? Yup, very yummy!
Friday night was at Alois Oberbacher on Torstrasse. The food was good when it eventually came; we waited 2 hours for our main course! I picked Alois Oberbacher since our other local favourites, like Schwarzwaldstuben and Alt Wien, are heavy on the pork, and my cousins don’t eat pork. We probably won’t dine at Alois Oberbacher again, or not on a Friday at least. We had a two-hour wait for our main course!
Anyhoo… one bad service amongst a long weekend of delicious food and friendly service didn’t ruin it for us.
Our original itinerary was to do a road trip from Berlin to Milan, with a Munich stopover. A change of plans (long story), meant we drove to Munich anyway and visited the BMW museum. Dedo is a huge BMW fan and that’s like Disneyland to him. Of course, later they went to Florence, to the Gucci Museum and went shopping and that was Ine’s Disneyland, so I guess it evens out.
We had a pretty uneventful drive from Berlin to Munich. The good thing about that drive was that we could catch up and talk about a multitude of things. We also got silly and did in-car karaoke. Which my cousin videotaped, but that clip will never see the light of day : )
We stayed at a nice, centrally located AirBnb place, just down the street from the Löwenbräu and Augustiner beer cellars. We ended up at the Löwenbräu for dinner and beer. Service was fast and friendly. The food on offer was a mix of classic German pub fare (Schnitzel, Knödel, pork knuckle, Kässpätzle), seasonal items (dishes with pumpkin and game), and modern interpretations (sous-vide meats). We found everything really delicious, and stuffed ourselves silly again (what else is new?).
That Sunday we had breakfast in the flat and headed to the BMW Museum. I thought that the vintage BMW motorcycles were absolutely beautiful, that BMW Welt was more interesting than the BMW Museum, but then again, I’m not a car person. We do rent the BMW/Audi/Volvo class when we travel and I look at the user experience from a human, albeit informed designer-strategist-researcher lens, but I certainly don’t geek out over the horsepowers, etc.
For lunch, we went to Altstadt, to eat Bavarian food at a gastropub. We went to Wirtshaus zum Straubinger on Blumenstrasse 5. We really recommend it! The service was friendly and attentive, the food was high-quality and well-prepared, and for a Sunday, we were placed in the quiet side of the restaurant.
At the end of the afternoon, we drove to the Munich airport, returned the rental car, then we put Ine and Dedo on their flights to Paris, and then I put the handsome and talented husband on his flight to London.
I immediately missed my cousins and the handsome-and-talented husband as soon as they disappeared out of view but hopefully there will be more of these trips and holidays in the future!
It was a really happy and delicious long weekend in Berlin and Munich : )
* Berlin wall memorial, Brandenburger Tor, Jewish Memorial, Gedächtniskirche, Checkpoint Charles, Tiergarten, Alexanderplatz
*** my cooking, our favourite local eateries
**** catching up with each other, getting enough sleep, doing laundry