Berlin rocked. What a weekend to remember. Neither rain (we had) nor bitter cold (yes, also) could detour us from having a great time roaming Berlin, quite aimlessly at times, and creating memories that both my husband and I will forever remember. As he always says, "When you near your final days, neither your cash nor your fame can keep you company. You only have your memories, so make sure you are out creating good ones". Good advice, isn't it? So we did. First stop, getting to Berlin and hitting a good flea!
Okay, so we took the high speed train (220 km!) to Berlin, which took about 1.5 hours, arriving at Berlin main station in the wee hours so we could purchase our tour tickets + subway passes and map out how to get from the main station to strasse des 17 juni where I'd heard there's quite a great flohmarkt (flea market) that would rival the markets of portobello market in London. Hmmmm. My interest was piqued. Then came the icing on the berliner. This flohmarkt promised to be fully stocked with gluehwein and warm berliners. Sipping hot mulled spice wine, browsing antiques, stopping for a gooey-licious fruit filled treat... Why, this is the stuff that european vacations are made of. (DIY recipe for gluehwein here.)
Our healthy pre-flea breakfast - alcohol and sugar! :)
Travel tip: In Berlin, grab a subway map and look for either the U2 train to Ernst Reuter Platz station or the S3, S5, S7, S9, or S75 stop for Tiergarten (if you're coming from Berlin main station, take one of the S trains, it's about 10 minutes away). Either stop (Ernst Reuter Platz or Tiergarten) will drop you directly at the foot of the flohmarket, just on opposite ends of the street. The flohmarkt is known as Strasse des 17 Juni, Tiergarten, to the locals. This flohmarkt is quite large, held year-round, rain doesn't seem to stop 'em because it started to pour and it was business as usual, and the prices are somewhat reasonable but you can talk them down just like anywhere else in the world. For instance, I found something I liked for $10,- euro, but when I attempted to walk, they lowered it to $5,-. From what I read, the flohmarkt is only held on the weekends from 10-5 p.m. Plenty of eat and see, lots of tourists speaking English, and most of the vendors spoke choppy English so you could get some basic history of the item you're interested in and a price, but not much beyond that.
I almost walked with this lovely b/w print in the upper right (two horses) but with the pouring rain, I left it behind... Now I wish I hadn't.
What you can find: As you can see, lots of 20th century finds from tiles to china and linens, along with jewelry, furniture, art, second-hand records, vintage clothing, all high-quality in my opinion. The aisles are narrow and packed though, so arrive at opening or a little before, I noticed that after 11 a.m. it started to feel wayyyy too cramped.
Lots of linens from Germany and France...
Blurred photo (sorry) but you get the point: vintage buttons, often layered one on the other, and attached to a rubber ring to wear on your finger. Great idea. Also gave me ideas for DIY napkin rings at home. :)
This oil painting was soooo pretty. Her soft features, the lighting, everything. I called her "Catherine".
Travel tip: If you plan on visiting Berlin, plan on a time though when you don't have to brave the elements. Although our stay was beyond great, it had to do with having friends there and the fact that we love massive cities, complicated subway systems, have relatively good health, endless energy (thanks to all the Starbucks in Berlin), and we're usually based in New England, so we've grown accustomed to fah-fah-fah-freeeeezing cold weather. If you don't fancy the frost, avoid Berlin between now and next April.
Must eats: Berliners, currywurst, gluehwein.
(images from holly becker for decor8)