Markets, Market and More Markets!
Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
34Trip End Sep 17, 2011
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I was lucky enough to win a place on a famil trip through work with Birtish Airways and Sol Melia to go experience the best of Berlin and what it has to offer. I'd been to Berlin before but as always I had itchy feet and was rearing to go. The start to the trip didn’t quite go to plan but it definitely did add to the experience.
Snow in London had resulted in hundreds of flights being cancelled in the days leading up to my departure so needless to stay I was a tad stressed. As I now lived in Oxford, and was due to have a 7am flight I booked the night before at an airport hotel to ease the stress with the hope my flight wouldn’t be cancelled and paying for a hotel would not be in vain. I envisioned a girl’s night soaking in a deep bath and watching tv in a big bed wrapped in a white hotel gown
After work I met a friend for tea in London with the intention of taking a quick tube ride to my night of luxury at the Radisson Heathrow. But alas my ‘quick’ tube ride was not meant to be and what should have taken only 20 mins took me just under three hours to get to the airport. My tube was terminated in Hammersmith leaving me at 9pm alone with no sense of direction and an almost flat cell phone. Three hours, 4 busses, one stressed walk around Hounslow in the pitch black with a non English speaking girl I picked up along the way, a screaming bus driver and the usual London late night crazies later I made it to Heathrow to find the shuttle to the hotel was no longer in operation.
After walking to the hotel to top it all off I found the hotel didn’t have my reservation despite confirming it that evening and had no room for me. I think my ranting about my crap day must have made an impression on the poor concierge who looked about 12 who relented and said they had a room for me after all. He made some snide remark about it being my lucky day and after half a hour of waiting gave me room keys.
I trudged up to my room more than weary to find the concierge had actually given me the 2 bedroom penthouse presidential suite
Despite it being so late and with my early departure looming there was no way I was going to waste such a suite when my usual standard of accommodation is a 3 star backpackers, so I ploughed on with my rainforest steam shower, late night movie marathon and complimentary snacks all while in the comfort of a big white fluffy hotel gown with matching slippers.
The next morning I met my colleagues at the airport and although our flight was not cancelled it was delayed adding a spanner in the works to our carefully planned 3 day brief trip to Berlin.
On arriving into Tegel Airport we were greeted with the whitest fluffy snow and biting wind making me finally understand all the kerfuffle causing the flight days. Even the view of white scenery from the airport was stunning but in those few seconds I lost the feeling in my nose, toes and fingers.
Whisked away by taxi we arrived at the Melia Berlin-a beautiful modern hotel in central Berlin. The hotel featured what surely had to be the worlds biggest ginger bread house. It was every child’s dream and stood taller than I do. It was the size of a wendy house and had me drooling at the sight of it.
As a word of warning the rest of this blog will feature me drooling a lot
After checking in and promptly stashing the free hotel toiletries in my suitcase ( a bad habit of mine) I headed out with some colleagues to the first of what would many trips to the world famous Christmas Markets.
I’ve been to more than a fair few Christmas markets in my time, I’ve done them in France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and even England and not one of them compares to those in Germany. It was only 3 in the afternoon but with the setting sky, fairy lights bouncing off the snow and a warm cup of gluhwein wrapped in my gloved hands walking around to the sounds of oom pah pah music it was just magical.
I was desperate to get my hand on a currywurst and that’s exactly what I did the minute I finished my gluhwein. What I didn’t realise then was that it would set the pace of the rest of our three day visit. I can honestly say that we did nothing but alternate between all the markets and switching from one German delicacy to another….not that theres anything wrong with that……lucky for me Id done the touristy side of Berlin before so for me this trip was all about the food.
The worst bit was that all our meals were provided for us by the lovely hotel we stayed at and you would think that would put us off eating no? No all it did was meant we ate from dawn till dusk.
It was a foodies heaven, for tea that night we had a culinary roadshow as we toured the hotel. A different course of tapas served in every room of the hotel. I write this blog more than 2 months after the event and still the memory of all the market food and that first hotel meal still has me drooling….
Despite being shattered from the night before it seemed a shame to pass up on Berlin’s famous nightlife so Bex, Nikki and I headed for a local bar. I can honestly say it was the weirdest bar I have ever been to. It felt like we had walked into somebodies living room. It had a bar in the middle of the room that the punters just walked freely about and could reach all the alcohol. After an awkward period of wandering wether we were even allowed to be in this bar or was it indeed someone’s private house and whether we too could walk around the bar we finally took our perches and sat down for some beer and cocktails.
More than a few drinks later we had made friends with the bartenders. All 2 of them. Just 2 guys running a massive bar and it ran like clockwork…..and this, this is what gets me: Despite being so busy they managed to go open the door and help each client put their coat on every time they left the bar. Now that’s what I call service
The next day we had a showaround at another hotel….also complete with another meal and the a brief trip to go see the East Side Gallery and all the hand painted murals associated with Berlin. We made a dash to Alexanderplatz to another market and also to the department store. I brought 3 giant nutcrackers to match the one I had brought on m last trip and lucky for me the price hadn’t changed in the 2 years since I was last there.
That night was filled with another trip to another of the many Xmas markets in Berlin and yes even more food including hot roasted chestnuts. I still maintain my theory that they taste like dry ash however when its fricking freezing cold the warmth is like a little piece of heaven.
We walked back to the hotel to get a night view of the giant Christmas tree all lit up next to the Brandenburg Gate before retiring for bed.
Our last day in Berlin started with a visit to the Holocaust memorial
The afternoon was spent at the markets making dashed back to one already visited in order to so last minute shopping and yes to eat more food. I think in ess than two hours we each ate, raclette, a schinken pizza, a waffle, chestnuts, a currywurst and believe it or not that wasn’t even including the lunch we had in that night. It was one of those moments where everyone felt they had to cram in as much as they could and soak up the experience because who knew when we would get to experience it again.
After our sh back to the markets it was time to collect out luggage and wave good bye t Berlin and Hello to London.
I have to say I had an absolute ball. Compared to my last visit there was no feeling of being so rushed while trying to cross of all the tourist attractions from my 1000 things to do before you die book. It was just relaxed and fun and carried a feeling of pure utter indulgence. I can’t remember how long it been since I had that pure pleasure of eating just for fun!
Who knows when I will have the chance to go back but there is no doubt in my mind that at some point I will.
Until Next Time,