Hey guys! I’m alive 🙂 I know it has been a while, but I have good reasons! My March was insane; I’ve been traveling for what feels like nonstop. I was in India visiting family and friends during February for about two weeks and then I was back in San Francisco for exactly one week before I set off for Germany! It was all very exciting, and I absolutely love to travel, but I am so ready to just be in one place for a while Coming back home to San Francisco really makes me appreciate the city and realize how lucky I am to live in California. In just a few short months, I will be packing my bags and moving to Penn State University to attend the Smeal College of Business to earn my MBA. I’ll be there for two years, and when I’m done, I hope I can come back to California to work full-time. I am super excited, as I have never lived on the east coast, but I am also very nervous for the winters, and very sad that I will be so far away from my loved ones. Okay, that’s another story for another time, but for now, I really want to share with you the highlights of my trip to Germany.
I started my time in Germany in Hannover, for a tradeshow called CeBIT. I was there on my company’s behalf, doing all the tweeting, Facebook/LinkedIn posting, and just keeping the social buzz alive. Sounds fun, right? It sure was! Though by day 2, I was ready to never look at my phone again. Constantly being online and tweeting and posting gets pretty tiresome. Plus, I had jetlag 2.0. I was just barely recovering from my jetlag from India when I had to leave for Germany, so my internal clock was waayyyy off.
On to the food:
I want to start by talking about the milk. Oh my gosh. I fell in love when I had breakfast my first morning in Hannover. It was perfect, creamy, and just 1.5% milk fat. I’m not sure why I don’t like 2% milk as much…but I swear I drank like 3 cups of milk per day with my cereal. The landlord of the apartment provided some sort of muesli (and he even bought me more milk when I told him I drank the first carton!) cereal that had dried raspberries in it. I ate that for breakfast with copious amounts of milk for 5 days straight. Thank the lord I am not lactose intolerant! So someone please just bring me back milk from Germany.
Then, on the last day in Hannover, I came across a really lovely farmer’s market right outside my apartment. It was called Wochenmarkt Dohren and it was amazing; I am a huge sucker for farmer’s markets. The market had flowers, coffee, all sorts of dips and olives, fresh produce, and even crepes and waffles. I was a little bummed it was my last day and I was taking a train to Berlin that afternoon because I wanted to buy so many things. I went to a deli-looking little stall and explained to the guy that I was vegetarian, and he immediately started giving me samples as I tried to decide what to eat for lunch! I settled on two cream cheeses- one was tomat0-garlicky and the other was a little sweet, I think it was pomegranate. I also got a chunk of bread and two tomatoes and two little red peppers stuffed with cheese. I picked up a latte at a coffee stall on the way home and I was good to go for lunch! After a short nap once I was finished eating, I took a train to Berlin. I missed my original train (that was scary) but was able to catch another one shortly after!
So, on to Berlin. This is such a unique city; It felt like a mix of San Francisco and Rome. I went on a bike tour and got to see so much of the city in just one day, and then the next couple of days, I went back to the places I really loved. On the bike tour, I learned that Berlin is just 779 years old, which is very young for a European city. Also, it’s built on top of a swamp! And, did you know that Germany was JUST unified in 1999? That’s really not that long ago! I think that’s really cool because I was 9 years old when this was all happening. It was such a huge moment for Germany and I was alive. Plus there’s all the history with the Cold War and the Holocaust. It was very eye opening and fascinating to learn all about what the country had gone through to become what it is today.
Now for the food: YUM. The one thing I loved about Berlin was that it is VERY vegetarian/vegan friendly. Everyone told me that it would be hard to find vegetarian food and that I’d be stuck eating lettuce, cheese, and potatoes. Nope, that didn’t happen. I found that Berlin has many ethnic restaurants (even Indian!) all over the city and that their coffee is amazing.
On my first night, I went to Monsieur Vuong with a colleague who recommended it. The walls were painted a super bright orange. and they featured their specials on a chalkboard. The best part though were their alcoholic milkshakes. I had a citrus-y milkshake that was made with coconut milk! Here’s what I ate:
I would definitely make a trip to Monsieur Vuong again. It was bustling and vibrant, which made for a very fun dining experience. Plus, the milkshake was absolutely out of this world.
Then, for the next few days I was on a quest to visit the best coffee shops over Berlin. Berlin has many third wave coffee shops that are literally pieces of art. They are so minimalistic, hipster, and just plain beautiful on the inside. And you know you’re going to get an amazing cup of coffee. My favorite coffee shop was Distrikt Coffee. I went here twice because I could eat a healthy breakfast, have coffee, and use their wifi to catch up on emails in the morning. The first day I went there, I had toast with avocado and radishes and then their signature buttermilk pancakes the second day. Their pancakes had pieces of basil sprinkled on top. Sound weird? Yea, it did to me too, but it worked because the pancakes were sitting on top of some kind of blueberry jam. Basil+blueberries= best flavor combo ever.
Other coffee places: The Barn and Bonanza Coffee Roasters. The Barn is suuuuper tiny, but again, one of the best lattes I’ve had. Bonanza Coffee Roasters is the prettiest coffee shop I’ve been inside. I wish I had taken a picture of its interiors.
On the day that I went on my biking tour, the tour guide stopped inside the Tiergarten for lunch at a beer garden called Schleusenkrug. The Tiergarten is a huge park in the western part of Berlin, and if you’re there, this beer garden is a spot you must eat at! It was beautiful in March and I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the summer when there’s greenery everywhere. I’m not a fan of beer, so I didn’t get a huge jug of beer like my fellow tourists, but I did have a fantastic sparkling apple juice beverage. Again, this beer garden was very vegetarian friendly. I feasted on a spring salad which was made up of a leafy green I have never seen or eaten before. On the side was a stuffed mushroom, half an avocado with dressing, and a slice of bread with goat cheese. Also in the salad were fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. I don’t remember the dressing, but I can tell you that it was one awesome salad. Take a look:
For 2 of my dinners in Berlin, I went to a vegan Vietnamese place which was walking distance from my Airbnb, called Chay Viet. This establishment is perfect if you’re on a budget and are looking for something hot and filling. Which I was, since my days were freezing cold! The difference between the temperature inside the restaurant and outside was so much that whenever I went indoors, my glasses would fog up if I was wearing them.
On my second day in Berlin, I was exploring on my own and I ended up at a quaint restaurant called Hummus and Friends. Another vegan restaurant! Here, I ate a coconut curry vegetable soup, half of a roasted eggplant, and pita bread. The eggplant was a winner. You know how sometimes if not cooked properly, eggplant can be rubbery and really gross? Not this eggplant. It was some sort of a baby eggplant, and it was roasted till it was very soft with some delicious olive oil. It was so tender that I could literally dip my pita bread in it. I should have taken a picture but again, I was too hungry. The interiors were clean and the service was great. Highly recommend going here if you’ve just spent the day on Museum Island and are looking for a light, healthy, and inexpensive lunch (my bill was under $10).
After Turkey, Berlin hosts the second largest population of Turkish residents in the world. So of course, you have influences of the Turkish culture, in the form of kebabs! A friend of mine told me that I shouldn’t leave Berlin without trying the vegetarian kebabs from Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebab stand. I googled it and it was quite far from where I was staying. But I knew that I wouldn’t be back in Berlin for a while, so I had to go! I took a taxi over after I was done shopping and….there was a line. It was super long, it was about to rain, I had no umbrella, and worst of all, I was starving. I almost turned back. But the insistent foodie in me said “NO! Must eat here.” So I got in line. Stood in line for about 45 minutes and made pleasant chit-chat with two random Korean ladies behind me who spoke fluent German (and who also let me stand under their umbrella). Then, it was my turn to order. You can get two kinds of breads. Either the flat bread like a tortilla or a bun, kind of like a pita. I chose the pita-type bread. They stuffed it with warm roasted vegetables, fresh garnishes (like cilantro, lettuce, onion, leeks, etc) and then there were some sauces and cheeses too. Here, just look at how beautiful:
I had a wonderful time exploring Berlin. It’s a fantastic city to see even if you’re a lone traveler, which I was. I felt very safe at all times, it was easy to figure out public transport, and then of course, the city has Uber to save your life if you’re ever lost. And again, Berlin is perfect to visit even if you’re vegetarian. You have tons of options in terms of food and won’t stuck eating the same thing all the time (like when I went to Italy and ate so much pasta), the people are great, and the city boasts a very rich history, culture, and architecture that will leave you in awe. I’m so glad I made the trip!