Burgers, books, trees: My Berlin!
We want to know what our students like most about the place where they study. Today Lina tells us about winter semester in Berlin.
Berlin is simply Berlin. Big. Loud. Fast. Colourful. Diverse. Every day you see something new: street festivals, construction sites, soap bubble artists, spontaneous police operations in the train. Berlin is always exciting, yet at the same time, it also has beautiful places where you can relax completely. Today I will tell you about my favourite places in our beautiful capital.
My favourite place in Berlin…
…to eat out: Burger Ring
Close to Ostkreuz and easy to reach from everywhere with nine different S-Bahn lines, there is a rather inconspicuous restaurant: Burger Ring (not to be confused with a similar sounding burger chain). It has the most outrageously delicious burgers with original Berliner names such as Boxhagener, Friedrichshainer or Warschauer. For those who don’t like their food piled up in layers, there is also salad, chicken, hot dogs, Halloumi and the best ring-fries in the city!
I like to come in the afternoons during the week when you can get a table even for a party of six people. If you are going out partying on the weekend, Burger Ring is a perfect meeting point for a night snack and you can meet very odd characters from around the world. On weekends, it can get busy in the evenings. However, regardless of how full the place is, the burgers are made up fresh and taste fantastic every time (and here the homemade burger sauce deserves special praise!). The rolls are toasted to perfection, the cucumbers and tomatoes deliciously fresh, and the meat slightly pink on the inside. Top this with ring-fries, and dinner is perfect.
Afterwards, both regulars and new customers leave their mark on the half renovated brick walls – ranging from slogans by true Berliners to honest messages by international tourists, one can find just about everything.
…to study: Jacob-and-Wilhelm-Grimm-Centre
The library at the Humboldt University in the centre of Berlin is one of the largest university libraries in Germany. You can find literature here on every subject area a student’s heart could desire, and much more.
However, the best part of the Grimm-Centre is the architecture: It feels like you are in a kaleidoscope. The straight lines of wood and glass give the building a unique flair. The huge entrance hallway has high narrow windows, yet radiates warmth due to the bright walls. Every time I enter the building, the incredible tranquillity that prevails despite the masses of people inside impresses me.
The only problem: the books are not sorted by subject. Next to a standard marketing textbook, one can find an introductory book about investing in the construction industry and on the other side, an anatomy book. It is therefore a good idea to do thorough research in advance, so that you know what book you need and where to find it. Otherwise, one can run in circles. I once spent half an hour running around four different stories of the building in search of one of five copies of a book, only to then figure out that all five of them were loaned out.
Library membership is free of charge (which is not common in Berlin) and the building in itself is definitely worth a visit. Remember to have a padlock for the lockers – you are not allowed to have bags, jackets or food inside.
…to contemplate: Central Cemetery Friedrichsfelde
I think cemeteries are beautiful. I always get a little sad when I enter them, but they also radiate an incredible calm and energy. When I walk between the trees, I can let my thoughts run free.
I feel protected between the trees and gravestones at the central cemetery and can surrender completely to the atmosphere. The size of the park accommodates even large numbers of visitors so one can enjoy peace and quiet. You can also always find a place to sit on a bench and be undisturbed with your thoughts. I like to watch the trees and their beautiful colours in autumn. Because the whole place feels more like a park, where people are also buried, instead of a traditional cemetery with only gravestones, I always feel welcome here and can relax on a bench with a book. When the body rests, I can then let my thoughts run free.
…to shop: LP12 Mall of Berlin
From elegant flowing coats in a fancy boutique to the clearance section of a discount store, you can find everything at the Mall of Berlin. I find the diversity of people there particularly fascinating. The classic hipster with jute bags stroll around, as well as chic older women in fancy outfits and groups of teenagers in leggings. A full spectrum of Berlin comes here.
One highlight without a doubt is the huge food court with culinary choices from around the world. Be it sushi, pasta, ice cream, baguette, burgers, steak, falafel or coffee – everyone can satisfy their appetite. Even if you ate something different every day, after a month you would still not have tasted everything!
Especially on days with nasty weather in autumn, the Mall of Berlin – with over 250 stores – is a great escape and an entertaining place to while away your time. Thanks to the central location of the mall, just a stone’s throw away from Potsdamer Platz, even a big shopping trip with bulging shopping bags is not a problem. A true shopping paradise.
…to relax: Gardens of the World in the Marzahn Recreation Park
For those who love landscape design and foreign cultures, Marzahn is the place to be. Here you can find the most beautiful gardens from China, Japan, the Orient and many other regions. My personal favourite as a child was the Japanese garden. There are large areas where gravel is used to create water-like wave patterns. This combination of inflexible stone and flowing forms exudes a fascinating calmness. In between cherry blossoms and bonsai trees, it is an easy place to relax.
Another place that has always been special for me is the rhododendron groves, or, as I used to call it, the fairy tale forest. There are sculptures of characters from the fairy tales of brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson as well as summaries of the related stories to read. When meandering between the Frog King, Snow White and the Valiant Little Tailor, one feels like a child again.
For those who have had enough of artistically designed landscape, they can try out the hedge maze at the back part of the park. Or simply lie back on one of the many chaise loungers set up on the large open lawns. In every corner of the park, you can find a spot to relax and enjoy the sun.
The colourful flower gardens are also a great place to take photos. I spent a whole day with my friend taking pictures there and still love those photos to this day. So: don’t forget to bring your camera!
…burn off energy: Treptower Park
Water. Trees. An old amusement park. What else do you need for a perfect workout? As someone who jogs on a regular basis, at some point I need a new jogging route. It is no fun to run around the same five blocks every day. Lo and behold, the Treptower Park is perfect for all kinds of workouts. On a regular basis, warmly dressed enthusiasts meet up in groups between the trees to do yoga together, for example, or practice Capoeira. After all, movement is the best cure for cold feet.
Especially in the morning hours, when the city still sleeps, the almost empty paths and chirping birds are paradise for diligent athletes. I like to run through the park: from the S-Bahn station over the promenade and along the water until I reach a small bridge. At this point, I usually choose to go over the bridge to the Island of Youth, which is deserted in the morning. I run a circuit around the island and then enjoy the quiet.
Sometimes I run past the bridge and towards the old Ferris wheel. This is part of Spreepark Berlin, which used to be a big amusement park. If you keep running, you see the old carousels and tramways that were decommissioned 15 years ago. Since this section is a bit creepy – especially when one is alone – I run back to Treptower Park at a very fast pace. This short straightaway sprint lets me burn off a last bit of energy before heading home.
…to get in the Christmas spirit: Christmas market at Red City Hall (Rotes Rathaus)
A little off the beaten path of the huge Christmas market on Alexanderplatz, that in the end is really only a lot of food stalls and colourful amusement rides, there is a Christmas market at the Rotes Rathaus. For as long as I can remember, I go there every year with my dad: it is our little father-daughter Christmas ritual. The little wooden houses serve a lot of food, like all the other Christmas markets, but here there is a bigger selection of authentic foods. My favourite is the “Langos”; they are absolutely delicious! Every year I need to have at least one with garlic and tomatoes for Christmas to feel like Christmas. There are also many colourful stalls with beautiful craftwork. From cheerful felting work, delicate glassware and fine jewellery to cooking utensils made out of olive wood – you can find a last minute present for everyone in your family. If the Christmas market is not enough to get you in the spirit of Christmas, I can recommend only one thing: make yourself some mulled wine, cuddle up on the couch with cookies and watch the Muppets Christmas Story. Trust me: this is unbeatable!
My favourite place: Restaurant Hannibal in Friedrichshain
Hannibal simply makes me feel happy. Again and again. I know the restaurant from a friend who took me there. In turn, I have also brought friends and colleagues and every single one has really loved the place. When the question comes up with friends, “Where should we go out to eat tonight?” the answer now is always “Hannibal!”
No matter how the weather is, there are always delicious burgers, crispy French fries, savoury Alsace Flammkuchen and fresh salad. And, to top it off, they have the best and cheapest drinks in the area. This is where I discovered my taste for Cosmopolitans and realised that this pink lady’s cocktail goes well with a juicy beef burger. The décor, as well as the customers, are a quirky assortment and reflect the individuality of Friedrichshainer. The combination of fond memories collected over the years and the friendly and relaxed staff that has only occasionally forgotten to prepare my burger without onions, makes Hannibal the perfect bar-restaurant and my favourite place in Berlin.