Last weekend was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. I have vague memories of watching the news as a kid and seeing the wall come down, but unfortunately I was still in primary school so my knowledge at the time was limited. However ever since then I’ve had a keen interest in Berlin, and have wanted to go there for years. I had even started planning a trip a couple of years ago, and have the travel guide on my bookshelf to prove it. For some reason, I didn’t go.
So when my last birthday rolled around, the Amazing Molly knew it would be the perfect place to go for my birthday weekend.
I knew I’d love the city. I just didn’t expect to love it quite so much.
Love love love.
It just seems to have a mixture of everything I love in a city: that great clash of history and youthful energy, amazing creativity, lots of street food, incredible markets, and a public transport system that includes trams. What’s not to love?
We were only there for a weekend, but I’d desperately love to go back for longer (and I have no doubt that I will). Here is a bit of an overview of some of my favourite bits.
Whenever I travel anywhere I do my research beforehand and try to find the best local yarn shops. Unfortunately that’s a bit tricky for a weekend in Berlin, as pretty much everything is shut on a Sunday, and yarns shops tend to close early on a Saturday as well! That’s a helpful bit of info I wish I’d known before I went.
So here’s a list of yarn shops in Berlin, largely for my own reference for future visits:
- Die Woll-Lust Mittenwalder Str 49, Kreuzberg (open M-F 11am -7pm; Sat 11-5pm)
- Boucle Nassauische Str 11-12, Wilmersdorf (open M-F 11am – 7pm; Sat 10-3pm)
- Fadeninsel Oranienstr 23, Kreuzberg (open M-F 10am-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm)
- Handmade Berlin Monbijouplatz 9 (open M-F 12-7; Sat 12-5).
Handmade Berlin also do coffee, apparently.
In between trekking across town to peer in windows of closed yarn shops, we found some lovely little vintage markets dotted around. There was one (can’t remember the location!) that was full of beautiful mid-century furniture. I love the way that there would be tiny little stalls that would specialise in just one item, like milking stools or vintage sewing boxes.
No trip to Berlin could be complete without spending some time getting to grips with some of the history of the wall. Although much of it is now gone, there are sections that are still intact, including some that ironically now have to be protected themselves.
We went to this section of the wall, known as the “death strip” as so many people tried to make the crossing through “no man’s land” between the two walls.
It’s so powerful to see the tracks marked out where people built tunnels to try to escape, now delineated through freshly mown grass.
Right nearby is the amazing Mauerpark Flea Market, which I believe is quite a Sunday institution. It is definitely one of the biggest markets I’ve ever been to! Every time we turned a corner, we would think “ah, this must be the end!” only to be faced with yet more stalls ahead of us.
Vintage buttons: my favourite rummage.
It has an amazing array of general jumble, furniture, clothes, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. I could have happily bought enough vintage furniture to fill a whole house, but had to be more restrained.
We quite happily had a rummage through tubs of these and came home with a carry bag of knobs for a fraction of the price at Anthropologie:
There are still market stalls selling pieces of “the wall”, but bear in mind that it is now estimated to have been sold three or four times over by now!
The market completely wore us out, but over to the side of the park is an open-air auditorium where street performers ply their trade to huge audiences. It was amazing. We originally just went to have a sit down for a while before doing more sight-seeing, but the performers were so good that we spent the rest of the afternoon there, and gave up on the rest of the sight-seeing that we’d planned.
Next time, next time.
(PS If you like Trippen shoes, I found the factory outlet store at Kopenicker Str 187-188, Kreuzberg. Nearest U-bahn Schlesisches Tor. Keep it a secret until I get to go back again).