One of my favorite things to do in Berlin was just wandering around aimlessly. Some of the coolest hidden gems are not plastered all over tourist pamplets, and you have to find them yourself or get locals to show you around. Here are some random tidbits that I captured around the city.
boxoffBerlin is chock full of cool little gadgets and souvenirs. Instead of your usual tacky magnet or postcard, their stock has a very distinct Berlin feel which is grundgey, rebellious, and artistic. If you are looking for Berlin gifts or things to put around your house as decor, this is the place to shop.
Just a few steps away from boxoffBerlin is Checkpoint Charlie, the crossing point between East and West Berlin. It’s a pretty well-known tourist spot and the guards are really there just for show. You can take a picture with them (for a fee). Nothing too special.
The monument I pass by all the time near Friedrichstrasse on my way to the library where I study.
As recommended by a friend, I went to check out the John F. Kennedy museum which is literally in the middle of no where and I got lost quite a few times before finding the hidden building which is shared with a restaurant and some other exhibit one floor above this. I wouldn’t even consider this a museum as it was only one floor with a collection of photos and documents of the Kennedys. The Berliners are nuts about Kennedy’s most famous line “Ich bin win Berliner” which means I am a Berliner.
It was probably one of the most underwhelming museums I’ve been to, and unless you’re a Kennedy nut head, I would skip this.
On one of the hottest days during my stay in Berlin, somehow I dragged myself out to meet up with a local who took me to an outdoor market/park. On Sundays, everything is closed and as entertainment, Berliners have open karaokes. They didn’t have it when I went (too hot maybe) but there were other festivities; food stands, dancing, vendors selling trinkets, and people just chilling and talking with beers.
Speaking of beer, this is how a typical convenience store in Berlin looks like. Yup… nothing like cheap and accessible alcohol.
The Berlin Wall Memorial is one of the most vivid pieces of history in Berlin. It stands raw, real, and tangible. Just a few decades ago, Berlin was split by this massive concrete slab, lined with armed guards, barbed fences and other nasty things to prevent East Berliners from escaping into the West region. Many died within the dead strip between the two walls trying to run away.
Right across from Friedrichstadt-Palast (a hugely popular theatre), the streets are lined with restaurants, cafes, gelateries, and an abundance of stores for shopping. This one caught my eye immediately as I was walking by. A camera/photography store complete with a wall of multi-color polaroids.
I really wish I took more photos of this place, it’s the biggest book store in Berlin called Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus. One can literally spend hours in this place. It offers not only books, but it has a section for music, stationary, and a cafe downstairs. Very beautiful space and so much to explore. They have an English section as well! A must visit.