Sunday, 13 September 2015

We went to Berlin! (Super-long post alert!)

Brandenburg Gate

So it's been a whole month since I blogged. I really needed that month. A month to just concentrate on life and on all of the stuff offline that's been going on. There's been a lot of it. August was hard. I felt like I was forcing myself to blog because I felt like I had to, despite the fact I had a million and one other things going on in my mind and in my heart which were pulling me in other directions.

I took a minute and remembered why I started this blog; because I love to try new things and I love to write. I felt like blogging had become an inconvenience and a chore; something I felt I had to do, rather than wanted to do. I'd put too much pressure on myself at a time when my attention and energy was better focused elsewhere. So that's what I did. And now I'm back from a blogging break, back from a trip to Berlin, and really ready to get back into blogging again. I'm happy to be back.


Berlin was wonderful but not at all what I expected it to be. The city was big, much bigger than Paris or London or any of the other cities I mistakenly thought it would be like. Despite this, we packed a lot in to our four day trip. Here are some of the highlights (and a lot of the food!)

The acceptance of veganism over there is just incredible - there is vegan food everywhere, right down to the street vendors selling vegan pizza from a cart.

We started our trip with a train ride to London and a hotel stay just next to Luton airport before our 6am flight (sleepy emoji). For dinner in London we headed to Covent Garden and took a seat at the Wild Food Cafe in Neal's Yard.

Wild Food Cafe Covent Garden

Wild Food Cafe Covent Garden

All of the food is vegan / vegetarian and most dishes are raw. It had a wonderful, relaxed atmosphere and we were lucky to visit on a warm evening so the sash windows were flung open onto the bustling Neal's Yard beneath us.

Wild Food Cafe Covent Garden

I opted for The Wild Burger, a patty made from olives and shiitake with a cultured Wild Sauce, salsa verde and baba ganoush in a grain-free seed bread with delicious sweet potato wedges and side salad. It was incredible, flavourful and exciting.

Wild Food Cafe Covent Garden

Since we were technically 'on holiday', we went for dessert, and this raw white chocolate tart with caramel brittle was the obvious choice. Cacao butter, maple syrup and cashew cheesecake on a base of walnuts and dates, topped with cacao nibs and salted caramel pecans. It was every bit as divine as it looks.

After what felt like the world's worst nap, we were up (at 3am!) to fly to Berlin. We landed at 9am, headed to baggage reclaim, and made our way to the train station at Schonefeld airport. We got the S-Bahn to Warschauerstraße and walked the five minutes over the road to The Bowl for breakfast.

The Bowl Berlin

The Bowl Berlin

The Bowl Berlin

When we arrived we were both ravenous. I'd eaten nothing since the night before (not counting the jam doughnut I'd picked up at Vegan Cross that I snarfed down on the plane at 6am whilst in the depths of a sugar lull). The menu was delectable, with every dish suitable for vegans. It took Andrew and I a good 15 minutes to decide what to eat, and I think we had changed our minds eight times before the waitress arrived to take our order.

The Bowl Berlin

Japanese matcha tea served in a huge earthenware bowl.

The Bowl Berlin

The Bowl Berlin

I went for the Banana Bread Bowl - seeded banana bread served with a bowl of seasonal fruits, chocolate mousse and a homemade raspberry jam. The fruits were perfectly ripe, a selection of peaches, apples, nectarines, figs, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple and blackberries and three generous slices of banana bread ensured I was well fuelled for a packed day in the city.

The Bowl Berlin

The Bowl Berlin

Andrew opted for the overnight oats which were soaked in almond milk and served with fruits and a smattering of nuts and seeds. There were loads of oats and he was suitably stuffed by the end of his meal, which he paired with a chinese green tea.

After The Bowl we checked out Avesu - a vegan shoe shop - before venturing downstairs into Veganz, the fully vegan supermarket.

Veganz Berlin

Clearly I was too overwhelmed to take any pictures inside Veganz! It had everything - fresh produce, cereals, jams, spreads, canned foods, pet foods, beauty products, toiletries, chocolate, cheeses, fake 'meats' - even frozen Tofurky pepperoni pizza! It was absolutely mindblowing to see such an incredible range of vegan friendly products all under one roof - not checking the label before buying is definitely the way forward!

After a scoot round Veganz to pick up the essentials (Daiya cheese, chocolate spread and Club Mate), we set off to find our apartment. We booked to stay in an Airbnb in Kreuzkölln - a sort of made up region inbetween Kreuzberg and Neukölln which has been dubbed the hippest area in Berlin. This is the apartment we stayed in, the location was perfect, right in the middle of all of the places we wanted to visit with excellent transport links and some great restaurants and bars on the doorstep, as well as an Aldi and Lidl just around the corner. The apartment itself was comfortable, clean and really spacious, we could have easily shared with another couple. Highly recommended.

We dropped off our suitcase, had a quick change of clothes and headed into the centre of Berlin to explore. Here we stumbled upon stores like Weekday and Monki, and Berlin's answer to Sephora - a store called Douglas. I picked up some goodies in Douglas which I'll blog about soon, it was a well-stocked store with a lot of cruelty free and vegan options.

Next, we headed to the Mall of Berlin - Berlin's largest indoor shopping mall. It was huge! We didn't have much time to look around but we did have some excellent food from Boussi Falafel with vegan raita... they even had vegan halloumi made from tofu!

Boussi Falafel at the Mall of Berlin

As we left the Mall of Berlin it started to rain, but I still managed to get a quick snap of the Holocaust Memorial with the iconic TV Tower in the background.

Jewish Memorial and TV tower, Berlin

The memorial is comprised of almost 3,000 concrete blocks arranged in lines along a slope and at varying heights. You can walk amongst the blocks which are deliberately arranged to make you feel confused and disorientated. A striking place.

We had booked a visit at the Reichstag Building - Germany's historic parliament building. The roof of the building hosts a glass dome with views across the whole city, which is free to visit (but you must book in advance). The centre of the dome is mirrored, with views down into the parliament chamber.



Unfortunately I couldn't get many good pictures because of the rain on the glass! Above is the Brandenburg Gate from the dome and below is the TV Tower.



The roof is open to allow fresh air to circulate inside the building. When it rains, the water comes inside and is funneled away through a sophisticated drainage system, apparently.


After our tour, we headed back to our Airbnb, exhausted from a long day of travelling and exploring. We grabbed a Vegan Hit from Burrito Baby - a 'mextralian' street food cafe just down the road from the apartment. I didn't take any pictures but I can assure you the burrito was delicious and bigger than my head.

The next day we stumbled upon one of the 'Photoautomat' booths which are dotted around the city and had our photo taken. We were not ready for the first photo. Not at all ready.

Berlin photoautomat

Berlin photoautomat

Next on the list was Berlin's Museum Island which is a collection of museums housing some of the world's most important historical artifacts. We had purchased the Berlin WelcomeCard online before we traveled, which covered all of our travel on public transport for three days, as well as entry to all of the museums on Museum Island. If you're travelling to Berlin I would wholeheartedly recommend the WelcomeCard - we paid 42 euros but the museum alone would have cost us 12 euros each so we essentially got all of our travel for 10 euros a day and didn't have to worry about buying tickets.

Altes Museum

The Altes Museum.

We only had time to visit one museum so we chose the Neues Museum which was filled with Egyptian artifacts. I find Egyptian culture so fascinating, and this did not disappoint.

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

Neues Museum Egyptian Artifacts

The museum also holds the original bust of Queen Nefertiti which we weren't allowed to photograph but it was pretty darn beautiful.

Next we swung by Hans Im Glück for some lunch. I'd actually seen this in Lily Pebble's Berlin vlog so was excited to check it out. The interior was really cool - filled with silver birch trees which meant you had to weave in and out to get to your table. I can't imagine it's much fun for the staff but it was pretty good for us.

Hans Im Glück Berlin

Hans Im Glück Berlin

Hans Im Glück Berlin

The vegan burger was really good, a seitan burger with the restaurant's own vegan burger sauce, veggies and sprouts.

After lunch the sun made a welcome appearance, so we jumped on the S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz, where there is a trusty old Primark. I picked up some sunglasses for 1.50 euros and took some snaps.

TV Tower Alexanderplatz

The TV Tower at Alexanderplatz.

World Clock Alexanderplatz

 The World Clock.

Little Bird Tattoo Berlin

Next on the agenda was a tattoo! We had booked an appointment with the lovely Carly a couple of weeks before our trip and were lucky to secure a spot. Little Bird Berlin is a fully vegan tattoo parlour - from the drinks selection to the inks, the tattoo paper and even the 'goo' used to stick the ink pots to the stand (usually Vaseline which isn't vegan friendly).

Heisse Liebe

Carly introduced me to 'Heiße Liebe' tea - an amazing combination of raspberry and vanilla. Andrew surprised me with a box the next day so I've brought some back to the UK!

Little Bird Tattoo Berlin

Andrew went for a slightly more obvious vegan tattoo on his wrist

Little Bird Tattoo Berlin

Little Bird Tattoo Berlin

Whilst I went for a little letter 'V' on the side of my arm. I love my tattoo and I loved the experience of being tattooed by Carly in such a relaxed environment. We had a great chat and shared stories - it was a really fun, chilled thing to do! I'd have loved to get a slightly bigger piece but didn't want swelling or pain to affect our holiday... maybe next time Carly's in the UK! Also coincidentally, this was my fifth tattoo!

Carly drew us directions from the tattoo studio to a vegan patisserie called OhLaLa which was next on our list. She recommended the 'Tresor' which we were only too pleased to order! Imagine a big purple quality street wrapped in chocolate cream and hazelnuts. OhLaLa indeed...

OhLaLa Berlin Tresor

We also took home an incredible thing called 'Peanut Conspiracy' which was swiftly eaten without a picture. It was covered in gold dust.

After a quick sugar stop, we jumped on the S-Bahn to Neukölln and pulled up a seat at Sfizy Veg - Europe's only fully vegan pizzeria.

Sfizy Veg Berlin

It was pretty dark inside and I struggled to get a good picture, but I had a VEGAN BACON DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER PIZZA. Just let that sink in for a second. This thing had cheese in abundance, red onions, burger, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mayo, it was the ultimate anti-diet meal, a true rite of passage.

Sfizy Veg Berlin

Berlin street art

The next day we decided to head out early to visit the other Veganz store in the North of the city. On the way we spotted this cool street art up the side of this building. We forgot to take pictures inside again but basically we bought a lot of biscuits and some soya schnitzel. It was good.

Alpro Cremoso apple strudel

In another supermarket we picked up this Alpro yoghurt which we can't get in the UK - it was apple strudel flavoured and it was divine.

River Spree Berlin

After Veganz we walked from our apartment to the East Side Gallery - it was a gloriously sunny day, thankfully, and we snapped this pic as we crossed the River Spree.

River Spree

Andrew almost lost his tote bag in the wind.

East Side Gallery

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love Berlin 2015

The famous art, 'My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love', painted in 1990, restored in 2009.

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery


Remaining tower from the Berlin Wall.


 Peek-a-boo!

Vegan Berlin

After we'd walked along the wall we headed back over towards OhLaLa and set our sights on Vöner - a vegan döner kebab house. This sign outside felt apt.

Vöner Berlin

Vöner Berlin

Vöner Berlin Special Chips

After much deliberation, Andrew and I decided to share the 'special chips' and have a kebab wrap each. The chips were seasoned, twice cooked and drizzled with a vegan cheese sauce and fried onions. Whattttt. They were amazing. So indulgent, the perfect cheat food.

I haven't eaten meat since I was 14 years old so I've never had a kebab. Living in the North East, this is rare. Vöner was the answer to my kebab-shaped dreams. I had a beer first.

Vöner Berlin

Full from all of the food, we headed back to the Airbnb for the last time and packed our bags. The next morning we took a bus from the end of the street to the airport, and flew back to Gatwick. We stopped off at Platform 9 3/4 before catching the train back to the North East and going on a diet.

Platform 9 3/4

Berlin, you spoiled us.
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1 comment

  1. Photos are awesome! You make me want to get out and see the city more, instead of spending Sunday at home! was suer nice to meet you both & hope to see you guys again. Heiße Liebe für immer! xx Carly

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