I wasn’t looking forward to Berlin. I hadn’t even wanted to visit Scandinavia. If you say the words “summer” and “Europe” together in a sentence, images of jagged cliffs cascading into clear blue waters or rolling hills of wineries and the Tuscan sun pop into mind. More specifically, laying on a sandy beach, a glass of wine in one hand, a pizza in the other, and a bowl of pasta next to me sounds about right. As far as I’m concerned, a trip to Europe is not complete without Italy. My vacations revolve around meals. Yes, I am that person. And no food has ever touched my heart, or my gut, the way Italian cooking has.
But my sister wouldn’t hear of it. She had studied abroad in Florence and apparently Italy was out of the question. Even when I expressed my concern that Scandinavian and German food just wouldn’t satisfy my European hunger, she ignored me. Her mind was set. She wanted something new, something different, and she wanted him to be blonde. So we went to Scandinavia.
When we arrived in Berlin, two things happened. I realized I could speak German. Well, not fluently, but those lessons in 3rd grade actually paid off. I made several taxi drivers listen as I counted to ten, showing off my mediocre accent and worldliness. Secondly, I discovered there had been no need for concern. From the edgy & hip streets of Kreuzberg to the Palace and high end shops of Charlottenburg, Berlin’s gastro scene was as diverse and delicious as it’s neighborhoods. We feasted better in Berlin than in any other city for the remainder of our trip. I could not have been more surprised by this culinary conundrum. Why had no one told me Berlin was… was… AMAZING!? From perfect Panang curry to buttery white truffle pasta, to an “I will never forget spaetzle dinner” in a hunting lodge, we were constantly delighted by the sheer options and even more surprised by the exceptional execution. Of course the beer was plentiful and delicious but that’s a given. Did I mention they serve breakfast till 3pm? EVERYDAY!!!???
The history of Berlin has shaped it to become one of the most interesting and unique cities I have visited. Each neighborhood is distinctly different from the next, filled with surprises. Yet the city as a whole feels connected, partly due to an unspoken understanding of hardships and the combined will to learn and grow from the past. As Jack Lang once said, “Paris is always Paris and Berlin is never Berlin”. Danke schoen Berlin, danke schoen.