Our first night in Berlin started with a visit to our friend Steve G and Melanie and their new baby Sam. Steve took us to a nice little local cafe where I had the sausage bread (like a thinly sliced piece of meatloaf) and sauerkraut. Delicious mustard! I forgot that the Euros like to smoke a shitload even in restaurants (the Finns sensible ban this!) and this does slightly detract from the meal.
The next day while Gordon went and fetched Pamela from the airport, Lisa and I checked out the Berliner Dom, with its fantastic crypt of nearly all the Electors of Brandenburg (Kaisers of Prussia). Then we headed out with Gordon and Pamela to check out the Brandenburger Tor and the Potzdamer Platz. Potsdamer as a shopping destination was highly disappointing. The most surprising thing around the Brandenburg gate was the very simple Memorial to the Holocaust Victims. A grid of square concrete blocks of varying heights. Sounds uninspiring but a very delightful piece of public sculpture.
Berlin is a city of interesting small bars! Around the back streets of Mitte and Prenzlauerberg you can wander around and stumble into some quite interesting bars. Last night we started with some wine at Weineire, a wine bar with a buffet dinner that charges 1 euro for a glass, and a selection of wines. After you drink (and maybe eat), you pay into a jar what you think what you just drank/ate was worth (we paid about 12 euro).
Thereafter we were figuring out where to eat when Lisa found Imbiss (translated 'Lunch') - a place we had read about previously with an upside down McDonalds sign for a logo. Beautiful vegetarian restaurant. I had the Quessidilla which was delicious, 4 meals, 2 beers, an apple spritzer cost us 30 euro. This restaurant is highly recommended!
Based on a recommendation from Rick B., we walked up into Prenzlauerberg through a quite dark and gloomy bit a bit to locate the bar "Dr Pong". This is a small and smoky bar with the central feature of a ping-pong table that players walk around in a circle and play ping-pong. Its hard to explain but a simple and brilliant concept once you see it. Very dingy and unrenovated. The music is soul, funk and hip hop via a highly informal collection of old stereo speakers. Props to Rick Bull for the recommendation.
On the way home we decided to try a bar called 'Yesterday' This is a 60s/70s bar on Schoenhauseralle. Jagermeister shots and a strange soundtrack resembling a triple-M playlist from 1984 interspresed with the occasionally weird oddity. Evocative decor and only a short drunken stumble to the 4th floor apartment we have rented!