New Years in Berlin

Last year Kev and I spent New Years skiing in Park City and the year before that we spent it in London, so this past New Years Kevin and I decided to go somewhere we both had never been before, Berlin. I wanted to go to Berlin not only because I’ve never been but also because I’ve heard good things and after seeing Cabaret on Broadway which I loved, it also had me more interested in the city.

We took the red eye to Berlin leaving NYC on Tuesday evening and arriving on Wednesday morning. We stayed at The Dude in Kreuzberg which was a really nice, boutique hotel we booked on Jetsetter. After sleeping in, we walked to Mitte and had dinner near the Berlin TV Tower which is a tower with a sphere that enables visitors to see a 360 view of the city. Throughout our trip the TV Tower was often used as a point of reference to help us navigate. After dinner nearby Kevin and I walked around for a bit and picked up some gloves at the nearby Berlin Mall because it was pretty cold and I of course forgot gloves.

On Thursday, New Year’s Eve, we went to the me Collectors Room and KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Both galleries were cool and interesting. me Collectors Room had a Cindy Sherman exhibit. At first I was a little appalled by her work with dolls seemingly lifelike in inappropriately sexual positions and other grotesque figures, but then Kevin and I watched a 20 minute video on her work, and I began to appreciate her work. It was after I learned Sherman’s reason to create the art and the statement she was making that I realized how talented she is. How I originally viewed and felt about the pictures was the reaction she wanted from viewers.

After the museum we had a great lunch at Vietnamese restaurant, District Mot, before heading back to the hotel for a nap. After resting and lounging around for a bit we headedto the Brandenburger Tor around 10:30pm to get ready to see the fireworks. We had some spiced mulled win at a spot with a great view of the Brandenburg Gate but we started to get hungry so we decided to walk around to see if we could find a large pretzel or something. That was probably our mistake because once we were out of that area, we came across more and more gated areas and things got crazier and crazier. Germans seem to be prettyorderly but on New Year’s Eve things were crazy and people were lighting off fireworks left and right. It was a little scary seeing children lighting fireworks in the middle of the street along with other amateurs blasting off M-80s (M-80s require a license in the U.S.) and road flares.

I have grown up watching fireworks on Independence Day and other events so I was surprised how frightened I felt.I was on edge, expecting to be hit by a firework at any moment. I realize that it is because at any firework display I’ve seen there has always been a show in which there is a focal point the fireworks are lit from. In this case, there were fireworks and loud booms coming from every direction. Kevin was also uncomfortable with the situation so we both practically ran the half hour back to the hotel. We got back to The Dude minutes before the New Year.

A lot of things were closed on New Year’s Day so after having breakfast in the hotel, we took a long nap. The time difference was really hard on us the entire trip, so we were a little thankful for a day of rest during whichwe didn’t feel guilty staying in our hotel for the majority of the day. When we finally did wake up we hopped on the last bus tour of the evening to try to see as much of the city as possible.

At our last stop we jumped off the bus in order to grab some dinner and see some of the preserved Berlin wall pieces. We also spent some time in the Checkpoint Charlie museum which was pretty neat. I wanted to check out one of the large Christmas markets after but since it was New Year’s Day it was unfortunately closed.

On Saturday, our last day in Berlin before flying back to NYC on Sunday, we had a jam-packed day. First we went to the bakeryZeit Brotwhere I had the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had in my life. And believe me, I’ve had a lot of pastries in my day. There is a glass window atZeit fج_r Brot that enables you to see the pastries being made from scratch. It was cool to watch and just confirmed how fresh they are.

After our breakfast we did the street art workshop and tour through Alternative Berlin Tours. The tour and workshop was my favorite thing we did in Berlin and it lasted half the day. We had an awesome guide that took us around the city for about two or so hours explaining the history and etiquette of graffiti (yes, etiquette of graffiti seems counterintuitive but it’s really a thing), and showed us some really cool street art pieces. We learned about crews and how difficult some of the tags are.

After the walking tour we proceeded to the workshop portion. I do not consider myself a very artistic person, but I had a blast creating my own art at the workshop. First we got to choose a photocopy of an image, then we used an x-acto knife to cut out the outline of the image to use as a stencil. From there we took our new stencils to spray paint. The instructors showed us a few tricks and then left us to our own devices. Kevin did a Banksy piece of the guy throwing the bushel of roses and I did a bunny in a cage to make a ethical statement.

After the graffiti tour, Kevin and I were luckily able to get dinnerat the popular Katz Orange. They were fully booked but since we got there about 15 minutes before they opened for dinner they let us sit at the bar for dinner. The food was delicious. After dinner we had a night cap at the speakesay Becketts Komf which is acclaimed as one of the best cocktail bars in Berlin by The Guardian and Time Out Berlin. We had reservations for when they first opened at 8pm and we were the only ones there for the first hour which seemed odd to us. I guess Berliners are night owls. The cocktails were good though and Kevin and I had a nice time.

Berlin is a really cool, eclectic city. I had a great time exploring and I definitely recommend checking it out.

P.S. Thank you Natalie and Karim for all of your Berlin recommendations. As you can see, we took many of them!