Bumbling around Berlin

Whenever we visit a new destination there are two things we want to see: the landmarks that have made the place famous (yes, the ones that grace several pages of any well respected travel guide) and those places that only locals seem to be able to stumble upon.

So, starting out on this bright but fresh morning we wander into Hackescher Markt to see whether, at this time of day, it is as deserted as everywhere else appears to be.

As we turn the corner, to our surprise the chairs and tables from the surrounding bars and restaurants are stacked to one side making way for several creamy canvas-type market stalls selling all manner of delightful trinkets, hand-made clothes, children’s toys and food…more food than I have ever seen on any other market of this size. Fruit and veg stalls shout out next to popcorn producing adolescents; selections of savoury snacks line up to fight it out against the copious amount of sugary joy winking at you as you walk by. The cacophonic dissonance surrounding us is quite alarming – market traders yelling, trains screeching above us and bells ringing to indicate the coming of the hour – just minutes ago we had been in the serenity of a street nearby. Having said that, for the first time since waking, I felt like I was actually in a city and not the countryside where the only noise came from the birds.

Hackescher Markt Berlin Germany

Hackescher Markt first thing on a Saturday morning

Hackescher Markt Berlin Germany

Hackescher Markt just as they are setting up for the day


Hackescher Markt Berlin Germany

Hungry anyone?

Walking on, and without any real plan we head off to see what else we can find. Now, both being stubborn and neither of us particularly wanted to look at a map, after all that would indicate to others that we are in fact tourists in this unknown city, it isn’t long before the crowds thin out and we once again find ourselves on a side street completely alone.   The great thing about this pig-headedness is that we often stumble across places that we would otherwise never find and today is no different. Empty space is making way for modern new apartment complexes with penthouse suites looking out over small green parkways mingling in with old buildings that look long past their sell buy date. Half way down one residential street and you are faced with a contemporary, almost out of place, art gallery on one side of the road whilst a more subdued one sits directly opposite it on the other side. Walking under the archway of the second art gallery, pass the climbing ivy, the space opens up and you find locals sat sipping coffee and chatting over their morning brunch in a courtyard.

Streets of Berlin

Old meets…

Side street art gallery in Berlin


Courtyard to art gallery Berlin Germany

Courtyard for Brunch

Graffiti can also be found gracing buildings across the city but not in the way you normally associate it. Here it brightens up buildings that have been left in a state of dilapidation and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. Artists are expressing themselves freely and it seems to be an accepted art form here.

Graffiti around Berlin

Graffiti around Berlin

Heading back towards Friedrichstraße Station and the main area of Mitte we discuss the fact that we are walking down a major street, close to lunch time and yet a town in the UK at this time on a Saturday morning would probably have more people sauntering along. It appears that both residents and visitors alike are late risers at the weekend in this city.

Quiet Streets of Berlin

Quiet Streets of Berlin

Friedrichstraße Station Berlin Germany

The ‘infamous’ Friedrichstraße Station

Taking stock of our morning rambling around the outskirts of Mitte, whilst relaxing in the sun with a coffee near Wilhelmstraße Bridge, we decide that a more structured afternoon is in order, one where we can see the major sights and understand a little bit more about the history of this once divided city. So we head off in search of the Starbucks on Unter den Linden next to the Brandenburg Gate for the free tour I have booked us on with Sandemans.

love locks of Berlin on Wilhelmstraße Bridge

the famous ‘Love Locks’ have made it to Wilhelmstraße Bridge

Coming next: Our experience with Sandemans New Europe Free Tours.

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  • Amber Ray says:

    I really want to go back to Berlin and have a bit of a wander as you did… I was so rushed when I was there before that I didn’t get to take the time to really kind of explore. I love the graffiti, also, so cool!

    • Berlin has some of the best graffiti I have seen in any city. Its amazing that, a few years ago, we would have been condemning cities for all the graffiti but it has become such an art form that people actually seek it out today. Hope you get to go back and explore. My advice head out early whilst the streets are still quiet! 🙂

  • Gabor Kovacs says:

    Berlin, one of my favorite cities in Europe! Such a multicultural place with so many inspirational sites to visit. I was there the first time when my cousin studied there, so I was also lucky to be taken to local places! I really enjoyed your tour around Berlin!

  • Great post!! I am with you on finding places only the locals know about – the best kept secrets of the place!

    I have heard that Berlin has some awesome graffiti which I would love to see. BTW, the ‘love lock’ picture is absolutely awesome!!

  • Any you would share? 🙂

  • Anabel Marsh says:

    Berlin is one of my favourite cities. Last time we visited, we stayed near the area you wrote about so it was great to recognise the places in your lovely photographs. The Circus Hotel was excellent.

  • Great post and I am now hooked… waiting for the next post to take a virtual tour of Berlin, while you do the free tour 🙂

    • It was a great city. We are always saying we will return to places but this is very close to the top of our list. Hope you like the free tour post that will be posted in the next couple of days 🙂

  • LuceLuxe says:

    Interesting post.

    Funny you should photograph Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse, I’m abut to start writing a dissertation on sexual murders in that area. (Grim I know). It’s interesting to see it now with ll of its hidden secrets. – Random question, what type camera do you use for your photos?

    • That sounds like an interesting dissertation – it seems that Friedrichstrasse is a location for distress across history!

      We have a couple of cameras – I tend to use the smaller Nikon D5100 (and is what all the images on this particular post come from); my husband takes photos using a Nikon D600 which in comparison is probably the better camera but the body alone is quite heavy so when you add a lens I find it uncomfortable to carry around although it does take a great photo and has a higher mega pixel count. 🙂

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