Friedrichstraße, Sunday morning: quiet (all shops are closed) and foggy. We’ve just checked-out from the hotel and we’re on a mission to make the most out of the six hours left before our flight back to Amsterdam.
We pass by Friedrichstraße train station and I just realise I’ve never walked in this part of the city before. I can see the Museum Island in the distance, and even the Fernsehturm, covered in mist. It’s all modern, calculated, untouched – a big contrast to what we saw in Neukölln and Kreuzberg yesterday.
At House of Small Wonder – a place we’ve been told not to miss while in Berlin – we’re cosying up in the warm, light atmosphere, created by plants and wood. There are a lot of Japanese influences on the menu, dishes that I’m curious to try, but I’ve already made up my mind. I take their famous croissants served as French toast, with fruit salad, maple syrup, and whipped cream. My boyfriend, a big fan of everything Japanese, goes for the Soboro Don: ground chicken and scrambled organic egg, over rice, spinach, and red pickled ginger. We indulge into matcha latte, coffee, and ginger tea – all at the same time. Everything tastes delicious, and I’m finally happy to be eating French toast (if you read about our previous day in Berlin, you know why)!
The air feels warmer and even the sun looks like it might come out. We still have four hours to spend in Berlin, and we think of the best way to do this. We could go to Friedrichshain and revisit the area where we stayed on our previous visit to the city, in May 2015, or we could go to Prenzlauer Berg again. We know it looks gorgeous in the autumn light. We don’t need to think any further. We’re already in the U-Bahn, off to Prenzlauer Berg.
We start at Senefelderplatz, continue to Kollwitzplatz, then further to Eberswalder Straße area and Schönhauser Allee. The colours of autumn are amazing in this leafy neighbourhood, and we’re happy to be here at this time of the year. It has always been a dream of mine to see Berlin in October.
We stop for lunch at yet another place from our personal memory book – Fräulein Dickes. It’s a small café, so it feels nice and cosy. We know the food is going to be good. We’re not disappointed. It’s actually hard to find bad food in Berlin, we realise. Pumpkin soup and warm sandwiches – that’s our choice. The bread is amazing – as everywhere in this city – so even the most simple of sandwiches feels like a treat.
Prenzlauer Berg is the first part of Berlin to be considered alternative when the Wall came down. It’s also the first one to become fully gentrified. Nowadays, it looks like a little paradise with its countless cafés, restaurants, trendy boutiques – particularly on Kastanienallee – health shops, yoga studios, and its proximity to Mauerpark. No wonder it’s very popular for young families with children and it’s considered “uncool” for Berlin standards. Nonetheless, from an aesthetic standpoint, Prenzlauer Berg is, no doubt, the most beautiful place in the city. And this is exactly what draws us here, time and time again.
Memories come back to life as we walk down Stargarder Straße, the street where our apartment was located when we visited back in January 2013. We feel grateful to have shared so many beautiful moments together in Berlin.
Leaving nostalgia aside (or maybe not), we stop for one last coffee at this corner café. The place is full, but we squeeze in at the communal table. The view toward the U-Bahn line, with golden leaves falling from the trees in the autumnal sunlight, makes me realise how much I’ll miss Berlin. I am slightly saddened. I’ve been here many times before, yet it has never felt so good. I will miss the Berliners – some of my favourite citizens – I will miss the rides with the U-Bahn – my favourite metro – I will miss the complexity of this city, its seducing mix of a little bit of everything. At the same time, I am happy we live close enough to visit often. And I’m thinking that, as long as we have Berlin, life can only be good.