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Category: Travel

Berlin & Hamburg Trip: Afterthoughts

After a good night’s sleep in my own bed, while enjoying a lovely hearty breakfast at Frank.—something that was really hard to find near my hotel in Berlin—I’m reflecting on the last couple of days.

Berlin

So Berlin started out as just a small part of a bigger trip, as a short stop mainly to attend BrewDog’s—obviously cancelled—second European AGM, but became the main destination of the whole trip. That meant I all of a sudden started to add a lot of places to my must-visit list, probably more than reasonably fitted in the limited time I had, even after adding an extra night to my stay. So the trip has been quite an exhausting and—quite literally—intoxicating experience, and had better been spread out over yet another extra day or so.
That being said, I’m quite happy I eventually got to go on a trip after all, and even managed to visit most of the places I intended to!

It has been nice to see some bars and breweries I hadn’t yet been to, but I was particularly happy to be able to attend two ‘soft openings’, notably those of the Manifest Taproom, and of the Schneeeule Salon. Since I only heard about those places just before or during my trip, they were really squeezed in my schedule, but they definitely both deserve more time next time in Berlin!

Another place I’ll be staying quite a bit longer next time, is Bräugier. These guys make incredible beers, and I would have tasted everything on the tap list, if I had had more time!
Not new for me, but definitely worth staying until the early hours of the morning—I stayed until 3:30 this time—is the already classic Protokoll!

Hamburg

Hamburg definitely deserves more time to discover! Because I was in such good company, I stayed at BrewDog St Pauli quite a bit longer than planned, and didn’t get to visit any other beer bars…
Next time I’ll book at least one night in a hotel, so I can discover a bit of the nightlife as well!

Stamps

So I managed to get a stamp both in my BrewDog Beer Visa—in BrewDog St Pauli—and my Mikkeller Passport—in Mikkeller Bar Berlin. But I actually gave out more stamps than I received: now customer registration is mandatory in bars and restaurants due to COVID-19, my stamp with my name, e-mail address, and phone number saved me a lot of precious time, and got me quite a few looks from staff and other customers!

Speaking of COVID-19: the Berliner people seem to wear their masks better where required—which is only on public transport and inside buildings when not eating or drinking—than the people of Brussels… I guess that is just the same kind of discipline they also display in traffic?

In conclusion…

All by all, even though this was already my third trip to Berlin, it will certainly not be my last! Actually, now I know more and more people over there—of which some I got to meet this time, others will have to wait until my next visit again—I can see this becoming at least a yearly occurrence!

IC Hamburg – Köln & ICE Köln – Brussel

Train route from Hamburg to Brussels, over Köln

My first leg of the journey was on an IC train. I’m not sure if it’s typical for this type, but it felt quite a bit older: lots of fake wood, actual curtains, no airconditioning… Next time I’ll try to make sure I only book ICEs!

And like it was on purpose, to rub in the fact that I had to cancel a large part of my trip, there was a ÖBB Nightjet waiting in Köln station!

The last leg was a proper ICE again, and even in seat 61! Perfect temperature, comfy seat, loads of space, and Komfort Check-in again! No clue how they actually check it, but every time I used it, they’ve always passed me by during ticket control.

Well, that was it, I’m almost back home! Hopefully next trip will be a bit longer again…

Four Hours in Hamburg

So what do you eat when in Hamburg? #RedHerringAlert Apparently the most typical thing to eat is Fischbrötchen, so that’s what I had once I reached the docks. I first had one with Fischfrikadelle, but although nice, it felt a bit like cheating: it’s just like cold fish fingers with tartare sauce on a bun. So for the next one I picked the real thing: Kräutermatjes, or spiced, soused herring!

My after-lunch coffee was at Playground Coffee. Unfortunately they were only serving in single-use cups—why?—and I wasn’t quick enough to offer them my KeepCup

Then it was finally time to get a new stamp in my Beer Visa, at BrewDog St Pauli! There I also had the pleasure to chat with Paddy, whom I had thus far only seen in a couple of Zoom beer talks, organised by BrewDog during the severest weeks of lockdown… I had scheduled time for just a short visit to Hamburg, so after that pleasant meeting, I had to hurry to the train station again.

ICE Berlin – Hamburg

Train route from Berlin to Hamburg

This Sunday morning I was in Berlin Hbf again. No, I wasn’t there to catch a train home yet, but one to Hamburg first. I was a bit early—getting up and checking out of your hotel can be so much quicker when you’re travelling alone 😉—but luckily I found a nice coffee place just outside the station, Tucano Coffee.

Now it’s just a short ride to Hamburg, so I’ll be arriving there soon!

More Breweries and Brewers

After those breweries and taprooms, and before visiting some more, I needed some sustenance, and that came in the form of this delicious Kalbsleber Berliner Art, at Gaststätte Deichgraf.

I then proceeded to the next brewery, Eschenbräu, but their beer garden was full, and there was already a line of people waiting for a seat, so I decided to immediately move on to the next stop.

Luckily, there was still plenty of space inside at Vagabund Brauerei, so I enjoyed a couple of beers there. Afterward I went looking for their new Kesselhaus which was supposed to be not too far from the taproom, but somehow I couldn’t find it… As it turned out, I was mere meters from spotting it, but I’ll have to check it out next time.

The last to-visit place was the Schneeeule Salon für Berliner Bierkultur, the perfect place to drink some Berliner Weiße in the company of the brewer herself! I wasn’t even aware that this place existed before my trip—understandably, since they didn’t even have their official opening yet—but I was very happy to be able to end my evening here!

Brewery Day!

My last day in Berlin starts with a slightly unconventional brunch: döner kebab! Different location—Hisar Fresh Food this time—but basically the same planning as about a year ago, when BrewDog organised its first European AGM in Berlin.

Although never even officially announced, this exact Saturday the second edition was supposed to take place, and even though this isn’t happening for obvious reasons, I decided to go to the brewery anyway. Still no S-Bahn station in front of the premises, so it was a bit of a walk again.

I had taken a tour the last time I was there, but it was only a short version, and at the time they hadn’t even started brewing their own beers yet. So I decided to take the tour again: the full version this time. The included tasting gave me the opportunity to try some of the beers brewed there, and after that DogTap still had a couple of beers on draught I hadn’t tried yet.

But I wouldn’t have called this post “Brewery Day” just for visiting one brewery: on the opposite side of town—after a coffee at Stück vom Glück— I also visited Two Fellas, and Bräugier, and there are some more to come after dinner!

Livin’ it up Friday night

I felt like chicken tonight—not the sauce popular in the nineties—so I went to Die Henne, where they basically serve one dish: half a crispy fried chicken. Just add some Kartoffelsalat, and that’s a meal!

Tonight’s bars were HOME Bar, and the best place to end the night—at least that’s what I’ve been told—Protokoll. There I met up with friends I already knew, and friends I had just met, and I stayed there until half past three…

Berlin from Below

I started the day with coffee and an almond croissant at Bonanza Coffee. I visited their roastery café before, on a very rainy last day during a previous trip, but their espresso bars are even nicer to visit.

Since I had already visited most regular museums in Berlin, I decided to go underground this time, and went on a Berliner Unterwelten tour. The theme of the tour was Dark Worlds, giving us an insight in the life of the average Berlin citizen during the WWII air raids that destroyed up to 80% of the city centre. Unfortunately, taking photos was not allowed, so you’ll have to take the tour yourself, if you want to see how it was…

Originally I planned to have lunch at Mogg, since I had heard good things about this place, but apparently they only accept cash, and I didn’t have any. So I went for dessert straight away, at Samy’s Berliner Pfannkuchen Cafe, for a Pfannkuchen, the doughnut-like pastry typical for the city. Although my salted caramel version was slightly less typical…

From then on, I slowly moved onto craft beer territory again, but since Kaschk is both an espresso bar and a craft beer bar—how cool is that?—I started my afternoon with another espresso macchiato.

The remainder of the afternoon I visited Lager Lager and the Biererei. The first one is actually a beer shop, but luckily they also serve serve beers—draught as well—to drink at the terrace!

Back in Berlin

So almost exactly a year after my last visit, I’m back in Berlin! After checking into easyHotel Berlin—same as last year—and dropping off my baggage, it was time to get some food in my belly.

When I visited Berlin the very first time, I already visited Markthalle Neun, At the time, they were already closing, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to check out the market itself. This time round, however, it was Street Food Thursday, meaning the food stalls were open late! Of course, brewery Heidenpeters was still there to provide me with some beer to accompany my dinner…

While I was in the neighbourhood, I paid a quick visit to Hopfenreich, before heading back north of the Spree river again.

The newest kid on the block—only soft opening tonight—is the Manifest taproom. Unfortunately, they only accepted cash their first night, which severely limited my time there. But they had a dog, so that’s a plus at least. And their beer menu, that was impressive too!

The shortened visit to Manifest at least give me the opportunity to visit Message in a Bottle as well.

A bit closer to the hotel, and already familiar, were BrewDog Mitte, and the Mikkeller bar. In the latter I finally had the an opportunity to have my Mikkeller Passport stamped!

Off to Berlin!

Wait, what? Straight to Berlin? What happened to Wien and Budapest? Well… because Hungary suddenly closed its borders for tourists, I had to change my plans a bit. The sleeper train adventure has been put on hold for now, and on this trip I will only visit Berlin and Hamburg, meaning I’m going straight from Brussels to Berlin. I’m still keeping it classy though: first class tickets all the way!

As usual, I had to change trains in Köln, giving me the opportunity to quickly grab something to eat. Don’t be afraid to ask them to put your order in your own reusable packaging, even abroad! No time to grab my usual coffee in the coffee bar just outside the station, so a train coffee had to do… Really nice of Deutsche Bahn to serve it in proper cups, at your seat!

Now just a couple more hours of podcast listening—I was running behind a bit anyway—and enjoying the view, and I’ll be back in Berlin!

Budapest & Berlin Trip

It’s—finally and hopefully—almost time to take another trip!

The recent reinstatement of the direct sleeper train from Brussels to Wien was too good of an opportunity to pass up, and a very convenient—and safe—way to get to Budapest, the main destination of this trip. Of course I will also spend some time in Wien itself, and I’ll be taking the long route back, spending a two more nights in Berlin, and a couple of hours in Hamburg.

Not surprisingly, this trip I’ll be collecting a couple of new stamps in my BrewDog Beer Visa again—at BrewDog Budapest and BrewDog St. Pauli—but this time the first stamp in my Mikkeller Passport as well. Of course, wherever I go, I’ll try to visit some local breweries and beer bars, and enjoy the the local specialities as much as I can!

Camping Misery

On the first day of August, Misery Beer Co. opened. It’s a bit hard to get to by public transport, as a lot of places in the Ardennes tend to be, so it was very convenient there was a special bus going from Brussels to the manor of Misery.

Due to the ever changing COVID-19 regulations, the opening party was a bit smaller than envisioned, and spread over two days. Once there, all necessary measures were taken to let us see the brewery and enjoy their beers in safety. And enjoy them, I did!