Off the Beaten Path: What to do in Berlin That Doesn't Make You Look like a Tourist.

April 27, 2021

Lunch is over, and a long, sunny, Berlin afternoon stretches in front of you. The group is moving back towards the bus, but you linger. Your wife is tugging your hand, and you turn back to the table. Have you forgotten your glasses again? Or this time is it the tip for the patient, smiling waiter? You smile because it’s neither of these. Your wife beckons you with a wicked grin on her face. She is sneaking away from the group! And she’s beckoning you to come with her.


Taking the path less trodden doesn’t mean getting poor blini


Your doctor back home might roll his eyes at the thought of blini stuffed with caviar and sour cream just after lunch. Trust me. You have a lot of exploring to do, so you will need the energy. Grab one to go at "Pasternak” and walk across the street to the park. Sit on the grass and enjoy the sun. Your wife never looked prettier, wiping cream from her lips, am I right?


“ … just unbelievable, it gets a bit busy, but you could sit and eat exceptional food for hours. We enjoyed all dishes we had tremendously!” Review on Yelp


Blend in with the locals at a ruined amusement park


Cotton candy would hit the spot about now, but your wife is shaking her head and pointing to your waist. She stands up and helps you to your feet, and you march across the park to Alexanderplatz and catch the fast train east. Time to rest on the train. You have a twenty-minute walk ahead of you to the old Spreepark amusement park. So there will be cotton candy after all! No, laughs your wife. The Spreepark was opened in 1969 but finally closed in 2001. Now the overgrown rides make for an exciting and nostalgic walk. Remember when you kissed at the top of the Ferris wheel back home all those years ago?


“Spreepark was once East Germany's only amusement park. In its heyday, up to 1.5m visitors a year would flock to the 30-hectare patch of land wedged between the Plänterwald forest and the banks of the River Spree to visit its rides.” Wikipedia


Two hours to shop before the group meets at Brandenburg Gates


Either the fresh air has made you giddy, or you are more than happy your wife took you both away from the tour group. “Darling, you need a hat to go with your nice yellow top.” This is a statement rather than a question, and you are feeling rather proud of yourself. There was no cotton candy at the park, but your wife has taken out a candy bar. She breaks it in half and you share it on the ride back to the city. 


At the close end of the main Berlin shopping street, the famous “Ku'damm,” sits KaDeWe. Opened in 1907 it is one of the world’s most iconic department stores. Have you been to Macy’s Herald Square? Well, it’s that old.


The cool interior is a welcome treat after an afternoon in the sunshine. Women’s hats are on the main floor. The escalators give you a nice view of the store as you ride up to the food arcade on the roof. Two glasses of champagne and a shared chocolate eclair and you are ready to meet the group. Your wife looks fantastic in her new hat. You’re a lucky man!


“Innovative, luxurious and pioneering: The KaDeWe is one of the most important department stores in the world with over 60,000 square meters floor space, such as Galeries Lafayette in Paris or Harrods in London.” KaDeWe



Back on the beaten path, and all the richer for being off of it


Marv frowns as he removes a piece of fern sticking out from the lapel of your shirt. Lucy and Francine are admiring your wife’s new hat. The tour guide is looking over her clipboard and probably underlining your names. Twice.


Life is short. Once, when you were young, the beaten tracks were themselves unbeaten. You walked over high grass that today is a concrete path. You hug your wife and whisper in her ear, "how about a river cruise through the vineyards next year?"


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