Just as it was unfair to judge Barcelona at its best, we had to be careful not to dismiss Berlin at first glance. Compared to sunny Barcelona, arriving in Berlin was quite a shock as we were greeted by below-freezing temperatures and rain mixed with snow. The boisterous crowds of tourists gave way to bone-chilled locals who all seemed to be on edge. As we arrived at the metro stop near our Airbnb apartment, we saw two people fighting in another car. Pepper spray was deployed. It wasn’t pretty.
Our apartment ended up being further away from things than we anticipated out in the eastern suburb of Wedding (pronounced Vedding), but that gave us a chance to explore the real Berlin. On a Sunday night, that means most things are closed.
The neighborhood is one of Berlin’s poorest financially, but richest in terms of diversity with 48 percent of the population made up of non-Germans, primarily Turkish immigrants. We saw this walking through the streets as we ended up at a small, family-run Turkish restaurant for dinner. Of the three tables, we occupied one and the family, sitting down for their own dinner, occupied the other two. The food and atmosphere were both great.
After dinner, we walked to Vagabund Brauerei, one of a growing number of craft breweries in Berlin. Vagabund considers the movement a renaissance instead of a trend. During the 19th century, more than 700 breweries existed in the city with a focus on the signature Berliner Weisse, a white sour beer. Today, there are around 20 craft breweries in the city, combining old German-style recipes with influences from around the globe. The IPA we ordered at Vagabund was packed with Oregon-grown hops.
Next we stopped into Simit Evi, a bakery (or konditorei) packed with people enjoying a late-night sweet. We shared a slice of cake and drooled over the other treats on display. Before heading home, we bought a loaf of bread at a small bakery. The old lady behind the counter handed us a couple of of sesame rings—also called simit in Turkish—as we headed out. So kind. So delicious!
On the way back to the apartment, we heard the familiar sound of drums. Unlike in Barcelona, these drums were accompanied by a flute. We followed the sound to the community hall where a Turkish wedding was underway. The bride and groom had just arrived and the party was headed inside. A wedding in Wedding… perfect!
More Photo of the Day posts from our January-March 2016 trip to Europe