Kathryn Nilsson Reichert is a corporate communications strategist and social media professional who spends her days working for a Fortune 100 financial services company. In her off hours, she dreams about when she can return to Paris and Berlin and sit in cafes, write, and look at art. You can follow her on Twitter at @knreichert.
I’ve traveled a lot and continue to think of new places around the world that I’d love to visit. And I try to go to Paris as often as possible – it’s a place where I feel comfortable, and the city has a history of helping me work through life’s dilemmas. But there’s one place that I can’t stop thinking about: Berlin.
I took my second trip there this summer and realized that Berlin feels different from other cities. I’m not sure if it’s the weight of its history or something else, such as the contemporary art and progressive architecture that pops up everywhere. Where Paris is languid and relaxing, Berlin feels like a city of innovation and endless possibilities.
I stayed in Mitte near the Brandenburg Gate and Unter den Linden, one of Berlin’s grand boulevards. Somehow, I managed to get a room at the Sofitel overlooking the Gendarmenmarkt, a beautiful square with interesting shops and restaurants nearby. (It’s also conveniently close to a superb chocolate store, Fassbender & Rausch)
First stop on my self-guided art tour: the Guggenheim Berlin, located two blocks from my hotel. The exhibit on Indian video art was strangely interesting – weird and not my taste, but interesting. The next morning, I walked through several residential neighborhoods in Mitte to the Berlinische Gallerie, a museum in a refurbished industrial building devoted to art, photography and architecture. I loved Marianne Breslauer’s pre-war photos and was especially taken with the building’s courtyard and the sculpture scattered around.
Last stop on the art tour was the Neue Nationalgalerie, housed in a spectacular building designed by Mies van der Rohe. The building is so breathtaking that I almost skipped the art, but after an hour looking at the building from every side, I decided to make a quick trip through the exhibit and was very glad I did. The show was called “Modern Times“ and covered art from 1900-1945, including several disturbing “ghost paintings“ – reproductions of paintings deemed degenerate art in the 1930’s and that subsequently disappeared forever.
I walked several blocks along the river Spree to my favorite square (so far) in Berlin, Lutzowplatz, to think about everything I’d seen. Then I remembered an art and sculpture gallery on the square that I missed on my last visit.
Unfortunately, it was closed again, but next trip I am definitely going to Das Haus am Lutzowplatz. And when I’m in this neighborhood, I’ll go back to the Bauhaus Archive, which is worth a visit just to see its landmark building by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus.
When you go to Berlin, you will want to walk a lot, so plan to eat well to keep your strength up. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to German food than sausage and schnitzel. Yes, I had both on this trip: I love a good currywurst and really enjoyed the schnitzel at Lutter & Wegner. But I’ve never had a meal like my dinner at Vau.
The words that come to mind are “sublime” and “mind-blowing good.” I was there for almost three hours and had several types of fish and wines paired with each. The staff was friendly and helpful and highly knowledgeable about their food and wine. Overall, it was pricy, but worth every euro. I’m already looking forward to my next meal there.
When I returned to New York City and was browsing in a bookstore, I saw the book “Berlin: The New Architecture.”
Of course, I bought it….and I’m already planning my next trip.