TRAVEL GUIDE | Gay Berlin: Bring down those walls
Berlin might not be the first place you think about when you want to have a romantic weekend away; most people head to Germany’s largest city for the history, wild parties, and relaxed sexual liberty. However there is another side to this amazing city, a romantic, softer side that most people miss out on.
My boyfriend and I visited Berlin over the Valentine’s Day weekend to check out what the city had to offer.
Berlin was founded in the 1300s and is the capital of Germany. It is also one of the largest metropolitan cities in Europe. With nearly 8 million people residing in its boundaries, there really is something to excite everyone’s tastes. Berlin and its people (and yes, they are ‘Berliners’) are well known for their love of a good party. From weekly romps at the many and varied night clubs, to Pride festival, film festivals, and a myriad of other cultural festivals, it’s almost impossible to come to Berlin and not find anything of interest to do. The hard part can be deciding which of them we should do first.
After arriving in the city we checked into our simply beautiful room in the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mitte area, a short walk from Alexanderplatz. The hotel itself is quite incredible, with an enormous aquarium tank in the foyer, stretching almost from floor to ceiling commands most of the attention of everyone in the room, whether you’re checking in or enjoying a drink in the foyer bar, or even riding in the glass-lifts to and from your room, it’s hard not to stare into the water watching the fish swim around.
Once we checked in, we got to our room and found we had an excellent view of the Berliner Dom.
After my boyfriend prized me away from the window looking at the view, we headed into the city for a little sight-seeing. As we walked down the street towards the Brandenburger Tor (which I am pretty sure seemed closer on the map) the sun started to set behind the Tor, providing for some engaging photos and a great atmosphere.
After spending a couple of hours wandering around the Tor, Jewish and Gay & Lesbian Memorials, the Tiergarten Park, we headed back to our hotel to begin the search for a place to have dinner. Since we’re pretty lazy, but enjoy something a bit different, we decided to check out 360, the revolving restaurant in the TV Tower. (Fehrnseheturm) This is a well-known Berlin landmark, the giant tower can be seen from anywhere in the city. It’s located in Alexanderplatz, and we paid the €23 fee to ride to the top and guarantee a table at the restaurant. The restaurant revolves once every hour, providing a wonderful view of the entire city as you enjoy your veal roulade and red wine. This is without a doubt the best view of the city, and it is totally worth the entry fee. (Buy your ticket online to save waiting in the sometimes massive queues.)
Later that night we hit the town and headed over to the world famous Kit Kat Club (yes, like in Cabaret) for the monthly Revolver Party. Easily one of the best parties in Berlin, this monthly event brings in some of the hottest DJ’s, floor shows, and men from around the world. A word to the wise: Don’t follow regular German clubbing tradition here: arrive shortly after 12 for speedy entry, arriving after 1am might see you stranded on the street for a couple of hours waiting to get in. Once you’re inside, the venue has an in ground pool and lounge area, several bars, dance floors, and darkrooms/areas to keep everyone busy until well into the next morning.
It was just after leaving Revolver that I was very happy to have booked the breakfast buffet at the hotel. After a long night of clubbing, one thing I didn’t look forward to was searching the streets of Berlin for breakfast. Luckily, with the wide variety of food available from the hotel’s buffet, we didn’t have to worry about that at all. The breakfast was a welcome way to start the day, and (to my boyfriend’s delight) included an egg chef to prepare your eggs exactly as you like them, while you wait.
After a short nap it was time to discover some more of fun Berlin. Since the weather was playing ball, we headed into the Kreuzberg area to wander around the markets and stores that line the streets. Since it’s very un-German to give things a name that describes a specific thing, without that thing being there, you may be unsurprised to find that there is, in fact, a Kreuzberg, in Kreuzberg (crossing mountain). It’s pretty generous to call this a mountain, but considering how flat everything else in Berlin is, it’s pretty high. From the summit you can look out over almost all of Berlin.
While in the area we took a little stroll through the market hall in Kreuzberg, and grab a little bit of Spanish tapas from a stand there. I also found this very cool little store that sold various household items and gift ideas
A quick subway trip back to the hotel to rest and refresh was well deserved. We had thought about heading down to the basement level and having a couple’s massage or a dip in the pool, but the overly comfortable bed got the better of us. As the night rolled in we enjoyed a couple of glasses of Champagne before heading out to dinner and a show. Berlin has, unsurprisingly, a plethora of cultural events to see. From live theatre, musicals, classical music at the Philharmonie, there’s so much to choose from. We decided on a personal favourite: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Check out the English Theatre for an excellent program of events this year.
If you head over to Potsdammer Platz, where you can find the Philharmonie, Mall of Berlin and the Sony Centre, which has an awesome indoor ceiling design and a lot of touristy restaurants, you can catch a tuk-tuk style trip around the city from one of the many riders waiting on the corner. The very best of these is the rolling bed. Basically a guy on a bike pulling a double bed. You hop in, snuggle up under the blankets and enjoy a tour of the city while warm and cozy in the bed. A great idea for a coldish winter night. Prices vary depending on how far or how long you want a ride, but if you’re keen to try something different, this is certainly that.
The following morning saw us getting up a little earlier to grab another buffet breakfast. The hotel’s team are awesome about late checkouts, with the regular checkout being at 12, and you can of course leave your bags in the hotel so you can spend your day doing something more interesting than waiting around for your taxi to the airport. Next time you’re planning a romantic getaway, give Berlin a try, you’re sure to fall in love.
The reporter stayed as a guest of Radisson Blu Berlin.
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY: Aaron Holloway
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