Berlin | The Hipster Mecca


Travel Dates | July 14, 2017 to July 20, 2017

Berlin is a hipster’s dream. The graffiti, or excuse me street art, paints the town a metaphorical red. Museum Island grabs your attention for hours, there are biergartens on biergartens, some of which are dedicated to craft beer, and you’re a stones throw away from a gluten-dairy-vegan-fun-free ice cream shop.

So needless to say, I loved Berlin.

It spoke to my bourgie side. Sans-exaggeration, in every area of the city there were minimalistic coffee shops, farm-to-table restaurants, and well-curated museums with fascinating exhibits. So it’s no surprise I placed Berlin at the top of my favorite cities list. And what I loved the most was that Berlin, and all of Germany for that matter, transparently incorporate the past with their progress.

For example, the architect Daniel Libeskind designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin. His parents were Polish-Jew survivors of the holocaust. And I don’t know how he did it, but each room elicited a specific emotional response. I remember thinking that it was almost eerie to walk with the museum crowd and feel our emotion shift. We were queued when to be somber, happy, to talk and laugh, or to contemplate what was before us.

But I say all this to validate that Berlin did an incredible job of keeping the important parts of history, and becoming this incredibly artsy and open society. It reminds me of a much cleaner New York. It has everything from chic and aloof locals to a Little Vietnam.

My only regret with Berlin was not staying a tad bit longer, because in my – limited – experience with Germany it was unique. So grab an artfully crafted coffee (try Bonanza Coffee or BARN) by morning and a hearty German beer by night, pull up a seat, and take it in. Berlin is sure to provide endless, yet posh, entertainment.


A Different Meaning to Tuck and Cover

The Cherchez la Femme exhibition at the Jewish Museum is asking the question of how much religiosity secular societies can tolerate. It begins with the headscarf’s history intertwined in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but then brings it to modern day. What I found the most impactful was a video of women, from both sides, justifying why they do or do not cover. It was aesthetically pleasing, informative, and culturally relevant.

Thai Cajun Curry & A Classic Brat

The Markthalle Neun food market has a flurry of international vendors. To just name a few, you can find handmade pastas, American barbecue, a Japanese bakery, and even a vegan stall (because no country wants to claim that one). But there were two real standouts for me. The first is Bone.Berlin, which brings soul to the plate with their Cajun-inspired Massaman Thai curry. And then Kumpel & Keule, a badass butcher crew that pride themselves on transparency. Ask for any cut of meat, and they’ll cut it and grill it for you then and there. But word to the wise, you’re a fool if you don’t try their classic brat or dry-aged beef burger.

Huh, So It’s Like A Vietnamese Subway…

I have two multisyllablic words: lemongrass meatballs. At the Cô Cô - Bánh Mì Deli the majority of their menu is dedicated to making a really solid banh mi. And in case you didn’t get the hint, order the lemongrass meatball banh mi, it’s amazing.

Am I The Only One Seeing This?

There were other checkpoints devoted to keeping East and West Germany divided. However, Checkpoint Charlie is famous to Americans specifically, because it was located in a predominantly American area. And sure, it’s kind of neat to see the original stand. But true to American form, just a few steps beyond Checkpoint Charlie, is a big ole McDonalds. Let those golden arches fly #’murika

Ich Habe Drei, Bitte

Bier, bräu, beer, whatever. I think it would be a small crime to not explore the biergartens in Berlin. And though there are plenty from which to choose, three stood out to me.

1. Café am neuen see Biergarten

This was my favorite, and not because of its extensive beer selection, but it’s snuggled up against this lovely lake with rentable paddleboats and ducks. It’s a dreamy little oasis tucked away in Tiergarten Park.

2. Zollpackhoff Restaurant & Biergarten

With large steins and larger-than-normal menu, gave me a good indicator that people have been coming here for years. It’s that place with the reliable after work happy hour.

3. Prater Biergarten Berlin

This is the oldest, and most extensive biergarten, in Berlin. I liked it, but it reminded me of Bangers in Austin (or I guess Bangers would remind people of Prater). It’s open, with plenty of seating, and more to eat than just a pretzel. I was eyeing their lamb bratwurst, but alas, for another time.