One only has to look on Trip Advisor to see how much people enjoy Berlin.
“The huge open greens paces of the Tiergarten.”
“The painting collection in the Gemaldegalerie.”
“The European sculpture collection in the Bode Museum.”
The enthusiastic comments from returning visitors are endless. Many remark on its powerful history – and it is that very thing that stops some of us from visiting. It shouldn’t. Germany’s capital does carry its past visibly, but it doesn’t shy away from acknowledging it by letting visitors know what the Jewish community contributed before 1933. There are framed ‘this was once’ signs on a myriad of streets, a soulful kindertransport statue at Fredrichstrasse station and Peter Eisenman’s imposing holocaust memorial of claustrophobic concrete slabs fills 19,000-square-metres of public space. As a must-see the Jewish museum’s zig-zag Libeskind Building named after its architect Daniel Libeskind is intentionally disorientating and delivers a powerful message with final letters and shabbat candlesticks set in a cold concrete void. For that and so many emotive reasons Berlin is a place to visit and the best place to stay and feel cosseted is the Ritz Carlton on Potsdamer Platz. Art Deco-décor, chic comfortable bedrooms and generous marble bathrooms with all amenities are selling points, but the primary reason is the staff who go above and beyond for guests. Whatever they can do to improve your visit is the rule from last minute additions to room service or meticulous directions to a landmark.
A history discussion with the knowledgeable team at reception was a highlight and the sublime champagne afternoon tea, a valuable lesson in brews from around the world. The pastry chef has mastered delicious in miniature form and there is a stylish gym and pool if you over-indulge, which is just as easy to do at the tasty breakfast. Executive Chef Dieter Müller has brought a creative twist to German dishes at the Pots restaurant offering as an example lightly smoked fjord trout, cured mackerel with beetroot or banana soufflé. Not all together. If you stay or just pop by, be sure to have a nightcap at Fragrances bar where the mixologist invites guests to discover a signature drink by scent. Food and drink are a big part of Berlin and as the ‘vegan capital’ of Europe it will be hosting Veggie World
7-8 March 2020.
Some 10,000 visitors are expected, so reserving a table is wise, possibly at Feinberg in Schoneberg, which does great vegan dishes and lsraeli specialities. The photographs of rabbis on rollerblades and award-winning hummus on the menu are the work of owner Yorai Feinberg, a former ballet dancer born in Jerusalem.
After dancing at the Vienna Staatsballett, then Paris, Tokyo, Leipzig, London, Tel Aviv and San Diego, Yorai decided to jete to Berlin and opened Feinbergs in 2013. There is no shomer and its open on Saturday, but meat and dairy are separated and there’s plenty of kosher Israeli wine and beer. Yorai talks to every customer and pours Arak shots for the brave. This year Bobbe Speisesalon, the first fully-certified kosher restaurant opened on Prager Platz which is another good sign. Taking its name from grandmother in Yiddish, the building back to 1903. A lot has happened since then, but Berlin makes no secret of that and extends a warm welcome .