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Berlin

Berlin: Worst of the Wurst

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Well, I just got back from Berlin.  Let me tell you it was so much fun.  I had studied German in the past, but never really got a chance to use it.  So this trip was an opportunity to put my German skills to work.  And it did pretty good.

The first thing that amazed me about Berlin, is that he’s really in Eastern European City.  I know it is in the east of Germany, but because half the city and belonged to West Germany, I expected the architecture to look very European.  So the vibe of Berlin is similar to eastern European countries like the former Yugoslavia as well as the Czech Republic.  I love it.

What was meant for the culinary scene is that the food was outstanding.  It was fresh.  It was warming.  It reminded me of what food was like when I lived in Yugoslavia 25 years ago as well as the food I had in Prague 11 years ago on my honeymoon.  It was real comfort food.  Not the kind of food we normally get in American Restaurants.

This made shopping in supermarkets a real pleasure.  I was able to get fresh lard, butter, eggs that looked farm fresh even though they weren’t, a wonderful array of fresh pork products,  and even 10% fat yogurt.  Now most people even than people who believe in being fresh foods that are full of fat, would think that eating this way would have made me gain a bunch of weight, but in fact I actually lost about 3 pounds while I was there.  Pretty cool huh?

In addition to several farmer’s markets nearly every day of the week, there were lots of health food stores scattered about the city. Some were more like oversized vitamin shops with some dry goods and perhaps a few veggies, others were more like diabetic shops which really only carried some herbs and sugar-free stuff and then there were the bonafide health food shops that were like Whole Foods with less of a vegan slant.

This was kind of exciting to me as it is in any country where I find a health food store, but what was unique about this is that Germany supplies all other non-health food producing nations (like Spain) with the bulk of their organic and biodynamic products. The producers there also go the extra mile to offer little things you wouldn’t find in most American organic brands. Two things that comes to mind is organic spelt alphabet pasta and buffalo milk (yum!).

The one we frequented in central Berlin was BioCompany. It is located under the train tracks at Hackeschermarkt. It was a relatively small store, but they have just about everything you need from milk, wine, meat, dairy, and fresh veggies to ethnic foods, diapers and cosmetics.

Outside of Berlin, we were able to find another shop that was located inside of an office or apartment building (was hard to tell which it was). You’ll know it because it’s on the main road leaving the Sanssouci Park just inside the courtyard of Cafe Kiestelstein which is on the main drag. Really nice selection of foods. There’s also another Bio Company out there, but we never got to see it. I figured it would be interesting to see what another shop had to offer plus this one was on our way back to the center of town.

Anyway, I kind of have two disappointments with food on this trip. One the apple strudel was always microwaved. Who the heck would think to take a delicate, flaky pastry and stick it in that death trap to make it a soggy disgusting mess is beyond me. After the first time I ordered it, I learned to ask. And not one place heated it up in a real oven. Oh well, at least since we were staying in a Turkish neighborhood, I was able to bring home some real phyllo dough so I can make my own.

The other disappointment with food on this trip — well, not really — is that I didn’t try the currywurst. It’s basically a hot dog with a curry sauce on it. Sounds disgusting, but locals swear it’s great. After all, it’s their local food! Supposedly there are two places where you can get it best. One is called “Konnopke”, which is located in the Eastern part of the city. The other is Curry 36 in the West. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to either. So I can’t tell you if it’s really good or just as disgusting as it sounds. But maybe next time. I can tell you now that I will definitely be going back to Berlin. Curry or not.


About Adrienne Hew

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Adrienne Hew is a Certified Nutritionist and the Nutrition Heretic Podcast Host, but is best known online as an author of the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller 50 Ways to Eat Cock: Healthy Chicken Recipes with Balls! Receiving a certificate in Chinese dietetics in 2002 and her degree as a Certified Nutritionist in 2004, she has helped many clients and workshop attendees to decode their own health dilemmas by understanding the inconsistencies in conventional nutritional dogma. She currently resides in Hawaii with her husband and two children.

Things to do with kids in Berlin

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One thing that I love about Europe is how children are considered in almost everything they do. Just because a person has children, doesn’t mean that they have to stop living. Berlin is no exception. The wide variety of monuments are all interesting to children and adults.

For history, you may want to take your kids to see the section of the Berlin wall that is on display near Potsdamer Platz by the Sony Center. And to the DDR Museum which displays what life was like in the East. For our “spoiled”, basically care-free lifestyles, it is a wake up call to both adults and children as to what life was like there only 20 years ago.

On a lighter note, not far from there is LegoLand, an underground playground for kids who love Legos. We actually found it quite depressing (as well as expensive). It was about 50 euros for 2 adults and a child, but one ticket was free since we found a coupon in a restaurant called “Lemke Brauhaus” in the Mitte section of the city a few nights before. Some of the Lego creations were pretty cool, like the Indiana Jones and the reptiles, but even our daughter Daisy who is 7 wasn’t terribly impressed with it. I think we killed like 2 hours there.

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The Berlin Zoo was actually really nice. This is not to be confused with the Tiergarten Zoo which is in the Tiergarten park. They got it right. The Berlin Zoo is an exquisitely designed space that provides its animals with lots of room to roam and interact. Beware though. Lines are loooooooong! You would probably have to wait upwards of an hour if you go during the summer. You can get coupons for this zoo as well, but you must present one for each ticket you want a discount on. The discount is only for a euro or two, but better that than nothing.

Many people like to exaggerate that zoos are cruel, but their function is to raise consciousness about animals and their habitats and how to protect them. In fact, I’d argue that most of the zoos I have visited treated their animals far better than the average pet owner in terms of trying to recreate the animals natural environment as much as possible and feed them the foods they are designed to eat instead of boxes of kibble or other non-nutritive foods, which would cause their fur to fall out and to develop a bunch of human illnesses. Something to think about before shaking a finger at anyone.

We only really had about 5 days completely without rain during our 2 week stay, so we didn’t get to do a ton of stuff, but we did stop at a number of parks along the way. There are playgrounds everywhere! Daisy loved the playground up the street from our apartment. And we stopped in a number of others around town as well.

There are also lots of 20-somethings who provide activities for kids. Be sure to tip them as many people seem to want to have them entertain their kids for free. They provide a great service and deserve to be patronized.

Daisy is also a huge fan of all things ancient Egypt. So imagine her delight to see the actual bust of Nefertiti up close! She received a replica as a birthday present a few years ago, but seeing the real thing was surely a highlight for her. If your kids love antiquities, then head over to the Neues Museum on Museum Island.


About Adrienne Hew

Adrienne-Hew_BlackWhite.jpg

Adrienne Hew is a Certified Nutritionist and the Nutrition Heretic Podcast Host, but is best known online as an author of the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller 50 Ways to Eat Cock: Healthy Chicken Recipes with Balls! Receiving a certificate in Chinese dietetics in 2002 and her degree as a Certified Nutritionist in 2004, she has helped many clients and workshop attendees to decode their own health dilemmas by understanding the inconsistencies in conventional nutritional dogma. She currently resides in Hawaii with her husband and two children.

Surprising History in Berlin

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Berlin has so much to offer to the traveler. Just make sure you don’t do what we did and leave your guidebook at home. It can be a challenging city to get around without enough information, and the frequent rain can put a damper on your plans but if you can plan out your days ahead of time, you’ll be able to squeeze most of it in.

Even tough the guidebook was sitting on an end table in our family room during our trip, we still had a great time and saw quite a bit. We did the obligatory trip to Kadewe — a mega, luxury department store, but we also did the traditional museum route.

What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the amount of art that was hiding in its museums. The Pergamon gate was perhaps the most impressive sight that we saw. In the 1880s this gate along with the street leading to it were removed from Turkey piece by piece, tile white tile, brick by brick and brought to Berlin where they were reassembled in housed within a museum. It was absolutely amazing to see this. In a way, it’s good that it’s no longer in Turkey because it probably would not have been appreciated and even destroyed over the last hundred years. But they say that the mayor of Pergamon today wants it back. So we’ll have to see if he gets his way.

Another site we didn’t realize was in Berlin was the statue of Nefertiti. My daughter is a huge ancient Egypt fan and a particular she loves nefertiti. She was really surprised and elated to see the original sculpture of Nefertiti which was the inspiration for the bust she has in her room.

One problem of getting around Berlin and in particular with museums, is that it’s not very tours friendly. When you get to museum island, the museums are not clearly marked. In fact we walked past me to get counter several times before realizing that it was not a special counter only for large groups. I don’t think you can buy tickets at the door in any of the museums. So you’ll have to find a long line of people in the middle of a bridge in the center of museum island and that’s the ticket counter. Before leaving the ticket counter, make sure to ask clear directions to the museum you want to go to first because they have specific entry times and you don’t wanna get lost on your way there.

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I’m actually not sure if there is even tourist office in Berlin. We got most of our information about things to do was see from the management office for the apartment we stated. They supplied us with lots of maps, directions for getting around town, the best places to eat and shop, and even coupons for entry into the museums, the zoo and several restaurants.

You must make sure to see a DDR museum. This museum tells the story of what life was like a former east Germany. In a way, it feels like propaganda when you’re there, but the reality is that life was not fun for most east Germans. The gov’t supplied them with plenty of food to eat, but most of it was bread. In fact they had so much bread that a fed it to the pigs. What they didn’t have was the freedom to choose their jobs, their music, where they went, or even their clothes to some extent.

As you move through the museum, you eventually begin to learn of politics that were used to keep people in a place. That way they felt people were less likely to revolt. Of course, that wasn’t totally true because in 1989, the wall came down. And even show a timeline of the last few months and in particular the last few hours that led to East Germany earning its freedom. I was living in Spain at a time of the wall came down an annual was important, but reading the history seemed living conditions, watching the videos of interviews with former east Germans, the significance of these events came alive. It is very moving.

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We tried to get to checkpoint Charlie, a kind of museum in itself to commemorate the many checkpoints that were located throughout the city during the city’s separation, but the evening we had time to get there, we missed getting a passport stamped. I didn’t realize before going there that Berlin was divided into four separate sections, not just two: one occupied by East Germany, another by West Germany, one by the Brits, and the last one by the United States. So there were checkpoints all over the city. I can’t imagine living like that.

Berlin is certainly an eye opener which makes one grateful for the freedoms we have. If nothing else, Berlin makes you happy for what you have.


About Adrienne Hew

Adrienne-Hew_BlackWhite.jpg

Adrienne Hew is a Certified Nutritionist and the Nutrition Heretic Podcast Host, but is best known online as an author of the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller 50 Ways to Eat Cock: Healthy Chicken Recipes with Balls! Receiving a certificate in Chinese dietetics in 2002 and her degree as a Certified Nutritionist in 2004, she has helped many clients and workshop attendees to decode their own health dilemmas by understanding the inconsistencies in conventional nutritional dogma. She currently resides in Hawaii with her husband and two children.