a trio of places to see, eat and shop in berlin, germany
Berlin has to be one of the planet’s most multifarious places: you can visit the city and just explore museums full of ancient cultural artefacts, or spend all your time clubbing, or only immerse yourself in the huge variety of classical music concerts on offer. Next time you visit, aim to spend at least a day or two ambling about rather like a local – take in a memorial to one of the most momentous events of the 20th century, enjoy a peaceful lunch surrounded by some of the city’s hippest locals (and visitors) and shop at one of Berlin’s loveliest independent boutiques.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
This remarkable (and, it must be said, endlessly controversial) monument commemorates one of the world’s most tragic and terrible events – the Holocaust. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe also arguably functions as a work of sculptural art in its ability to move and provoke, and was created by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, and inaugurated in 2005. It consists of 2711 rectangular concrete slabs or ‘stelae’ of varying sizes and heights, arranged in a grid-like formation on a large 19000m2 site. Situated underneath is a ‘Place of Information’ that displays the names of approximately three million Jewish Holocaust victims. Walking through the field of stelae is a strange, quite otherworldly and very moving experience that should definitely be on your must-do list for the city.
If you feel you’re not quite hip enough to be staying at the Michelberger Hotel – although let’s face it, you probably are – a stop for lunch at the hotel’s on-site restaurant is a great way to check it out without fully subjecting your wardrobe to a high level of millennial scrutiny … And more importantly, the food is delicious. Featuring all organic and where possible, locally grown seasonal ingredients, the menu changes regularly and always has vegetarian and vegan options on it. The space is charming too, rather like a super cool lunch canteen, with old-school (possibly literally, in some cases) wooden chairs and cream tiled walls. Be sure to check out the signage for the bathrooms too – they might well spark a few memories and a bit of a chuckle to boot.
Berlin is home to a huge range of beautiful independent stores – places where you’ll find genuinely interesting and unique items rather than just the usual hipster tat. Even among these shops, however, Parkhaus is something special – it stocks a brilliantly curated selection of ‘tools for living’ (everything from kitchen and dining items to storage and lighting) as well as seriously charming decor accessories and a range of extremely cool kids’ items, all of which is gorgeously displayed and seriously inspiring. Parkhaus is pretty centrally situated in the Mitte district, albeit in a quiet residential street that’s slightly off the beaten track, and it’s well worth making a bit of a detour to get here.
Public transport in Berlin is excellent but it’s not inexpensive: optimise your travel by using the Citymapper app. It will suggest a variety of transport options to any given destination, and provide live updates and tips along the way too. It compares estimated travel times and costs of different forms of transport accurately and at the end of each trip, gives you a summary of how much of your journey time was spent walking, waiting and on the move, as well as a calculation of the calories you consumed while making it. In short: super useful.