If you have recently been thinking of taking a summer time trip to Europe, but you’re wondering where to visit. I highly recommend Germany! I’m lucky enough to have some distant family friends who live in a small town called Leest outside Berlin. I spent six days in this quaint town with one of the most loving families I’ve ever met.
We stayed with my cousin’s grandparents and they don’t speak a bit of English, so over the course of the week I got pretty good at reading body language and picking up on context clues, which helped me learn some words and phrases. Definitely try to study up on necessary sayings before you go because I noticed most of them don’t speak as much English as they did in Barcelona. Luckily I had my cousin as a personal translator by my side the whole time.
Travelling around Berlin you will definitely need to know your way around their bus and train system. A helpful app that we downloaded and used was DB navigator, which helped us get around the city on the days we wanted to visit Berlin or Potsdam.
I arrived at night and the next day we headed into Berlin, and we didn’t have anything specific planned out, but I knew that I wanted to eat some awesome local food and go to the dome cathedral. That’s exactly what we did! Jeremy took me to get a Döner first, which was amazing! With the Döner you can also order fries which they serve with a curry ketchup and mayonnaise, which is how they eat them in Germany, and it is delicious. They are a must try when you visit Germany!
We found our way to the Berlin Cathedral where we took an audio tour of the inside of the church. I didn’t know the tour would be as long as it was (like an hour and a half), so I stopped listening about halfway through and just decided to take in the beautiful architecture and art techniques that were used within the cathedral. It’s beautiful enough that if you don’t want to you don’t need to pay for any kind of tour of the place. It was amazing to be standing in a building that survived World War II and had been rebuilt. A few of the relief sculptures in the church were untouched and original to the cathedral.
Once we were done inside the Cathedral we headed to the roof access, and we made our way around the dome overseeing the city of Berlin. After we finished seeing the roof we descended to the crypt. The crypt holds many Prussian royals who are kept in large decorated coffins.
After visiting the Berliner Dom we set out to find an Eiscafé, ice cream shop, nearby before we took a boat tour ride on the Spree river through Berlin, and that way we were able to see a little bit of everything while relaxing with drinks. The boat ride was at least an hour and by the time it was over we were both pretty tired and ready for dinner, so we took the train to get back to Leest.
The next day after the family returned from church we traveled with everyone to the Sanssouci palace of King Frederick II of Prussia in Potsdam. Frederick II was known as the “Potato King.”
Frederick II brought potatoes to the Germans. He planted many potato crops, but the Germans didn’t care for the potatoes until he decided to make them illegal. Once the king did this all the people went to the fields and stole plants to grow at home for themselves. Ever since then potatoes have been a large part of the cuisine in Germany. Now we place potatoes on the King’s grave to remember him.
We walked the grounds of the palace where there is a lovely garden and tree groves with walking paths to go through. You could probably take a whole day just to walk through this palace and the surrounding palaces of other Kings and their wives/families houses. We spent the afternoon walking around before going home to eat lots of homemade pizza for dinner with the whole family.
I really did enjoy going to Berlin, but my favorite was the time we spent in Potsdam and had my cousin’s cousin show us around for the day. He told us he was taking us to all the places he usually takes his dates. It ended up being a very romantic day. 😉 Potsdam is a small city not far from Leest and Berlin. First he took us on a hidden trail through the woods that opened up to these huge columns and what look like ancient ruins. At first I spent time taking it all in, but I quickly was like, wait, this doesn’t make sense. I didn’t know the Germans built things like this, and so Anna Lea explained to us that the King wanted ancient ruins to look at from his palace so he had them built within viewing distance, and surely enough we turned around and down the hill the was the King’s palace.
Later as we walked through the city we found ourselves in front of a terraced vineyard I believe it was, and we climbed the steps along the edge of the vineyard. At the top of the stairs there was a gate with a bench where we sat and looked out over the city of Potsdam. Very romantic as I said.
Then Aaron led us into the city to an Einkaufsstraße, which is basically just a long street lined with shops where the Germans go to shop and buy their food, and they might meet up with friends and grab ice cream or lunch and a beer. My cousin was explaining to me that most Germans visit the market every couple days if not every day as it is just part of their routine.
We grabbed some ice cream cones as we walked down the long stretch of road and took a peek inside the church at the end of the street. We checked out the cute little shops and walked all the way to Aaron’s favorite coffee shop only to find out it was closed because it was Monday. We made our way back to the street where we started and we grabbed some yummy burgers for lunch.
After lunch we took a stroll through the park in Potsdam, and tired from all the walking we decided to lay down in the grass near the small river there to rest our feet. A walk in the park was the perfect end to our day in Potsdam.
The next day we spent lounging around hanging out in the garden eating more delicious food. Before Oma left in the morning she made left us some Eierkuchen batter to make ourselves German pancakes in the morning. We ate them with sugar and Apfelmus, which was the best applesauce I’ve ever had. It was some that Oma made with apples from the garden.
Our second day in Berlin we honestly didn’t know what we wanted to go into the city and do, so we just got on the train and headed out, and when we got into Berlin to the stop where the zoo is and they have all the signs we decided that’s what we wanted to do for the day. I believe it was around 21 Euro per ticket. The bird exhibits were my favorite. They go around the world and show birds that are native to each different part of the world. It is quite a big zoo, so if your decide to go make sure you’re aware of the time and get to see the aquarium. We ended up forgetting and we got to it last right before they were closing, and we didn’t have time to go through the entire aquarium. Surprisingly they had some really good food at the zoo. We stopped in one of the restaurants where they served Currywurst, which is something else you must try during your time in Germany. It was so good! They also serve Currywurst with mayo and curry ketchup, and it is the perfect combination.
On the last day of our stay in Germany we visited a Kletterwald park, which is a ropes course, called “CLIMB UP!” You pull up to this large building with a cute little market outside and around the back there is a big playground for kids with slides and bunnies and chickens for the kids to check out. If walk away from the market and follow the trail through the trees eventually you’ll reach an entire park of obstacle courses up in the trees. I was a lot of fun! Beware if you get motion sickness though, which is what happened to me halfway through. The little zip lines are the most fun, so I just tried to keep going to the parts that had only zip lines. On those you don’t have to look down as much so it didn’t make me dizzy.
Once we got home from the climbing park it was time to finish packing our bags and head to the airport for our flight to England.
While you’re staying in Germany if you’re interested in eating authentic German food around the clock make sure that every meal includes bread/rolls or brötchen as they are called in Germany. They also have all kinds of crazy and yummy meats that you have to try if you want your experience to be as authentic as possible. The first day my aunt brings me a plate with an assortment of different kinds of meat that are her favorite. The plate contained buttered bread with leberwurst, more bread with cheese and sliced meat, and then at the end of a few toothpicks was cubed sülze. Sülze is meat suspended in gelatin that they have in Germany. The jellied meat is definitely an acquired taste that I don’t have.
Leberwurst, or liverwurst, a pureed meat spread, was definitely my favorite meat that I tried. It can only be described as a meat spread, which is definitely not something I would have thought I would like, but after being urged to try it leberwurst ended up being my favorite. My second favorite thing I tried while we were there was the döners that they make. If you can’t remember the word once you get out on the streets of Berlin just look for a large meat spit where they are shaving thin slices of meat off to add them to a Turkish flatbread with lots of veggies and a sauce inside. Döners are something that Turkish-Germans came up with in Berlin, and now they are an East-German delight you’ll have to try. They also have them in Turkey, but I was told that the difference is that they have more veggies in Germany and they have sauces to add as well in Germany. Also the curry wurst is amazing, so make sure you try that too!
You can’t be picky if you want to eat like the Germans.
If there is at least one thing you must try while you are in Germany it is their chocolate!! They add hazelnut to their chocolate so it all tastes like Nutella! Of course the Kinder brand is delicious, but it’s something you can get in America. Make sure you try all the chocolates that you won’t be able to get when you come home. My absolute favorite that I could eat all day and did eat all day are the Knusper Flocken they have there. My cousin told me these are mostly only a thing in East Germany, and they are actually hard to find even in other places in Germany, so be sure to find some when you’re in Berlin.
Only fill your suitcase half way so you have enough room for souvenirs but mostly chocolate!
Safe travels, my friends 🙂