Prior to our city-break in Berlin I'd never visited Germany before. The only knowledge I had of the language was from German lessons at secondary school - which I never exactly excelled in. It wasn't long into our trip that I was searching back in the memory bank trying to remember crucial phrases that would come in handy; it turns out I never learnt how to ask "do you have any vegan options?"
Our first day consisted of mainly that - eating. We arrived around lunch time, so we decided to visit the first on our long list of vegan restaurants to try, which was Soy on Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse, an exclusively vegan/restaurant which specialises in Vietnamese cuisine. Immediately we were thrilled with our first choice: the place was filled with plants and cushions, making it feel very homely and inviting. I knew I was going to like it before I'd even tasted the food. After a lot of flicking back and forth through the menu trying to make up our minds, we settled for the Asian Tapas, consisting of vegetable dumplings, summer rolls and crispy tofu pancakes. Definitely a great first impression of vegan food in the city.
We visited plenty of fantastic vegan restaurants throughout our trip, but my favourites were: Kopps on Linienstrase (who do the BEST vegan cheeseboard ever), Rawtastic on Danzigerst, Pizzare on Eberswalder Strasse and Beets and Roots on Grosse Hamburger Strasse.
We decided that the natural progression from here was to find a spot for coffee. We walked for just a few minutes down the road and found The Barn Roastery on Schonhauser Allee and were immediately taken aback at how light and airy the place was. Filled with wooden desks against the white walls, lit by the huge windows looking out onto the street, I instantly thought of this place as a haven where I could sit and work at my laptop for long afternoons. We drank our coffees and treated ourselves to one of their vegan chocolate and coconut cakes (as though we weren't completely stuffed from lunch... when on holiday, eh?)
Our other favourite coffee shops included: Silo Coffee on Gabriel-Max-Strasse (pictured), Disrikt Coffee on Bergstrasse and House of Small Wonder on Johannisstrasse.
That night we hit the local bars, not knowing what to expect. We found that most of Berlin's bars and pubs are pretty casual places - nobody tends to dress up, which only adds to the relaxed atmosphere of them. I was still wearing the black jumper, black cord trousers and white trainers I'd arrived in and I fit in nicely! My favourites were Fitcher's Vogel on Warschauer Strasse, a dark and smoky hide-away on the bustling main street, and Wohnzimmer Bar on Lettestrasse (pictured), just a short walk from our AirBnB. Wohnzimmer was dimly lit and made to feel worn and distressed, yet cosy with an abundance of comfy sofas and seats to lounge on. We both tried their 'Velvet Underground' cocktail - admittedly, this was purely for the name - and spent a pleasant couple of hours relaxing and chatting away, almost forgetting time was passing outside.
We stumbled back to our apartment and crashed into bed, feeling very content and at home in this new city.
The next morning we were up bright and early to hit the ground running, this time our first stop was the famous East Side Gallery. We spent ages walking up and down the wall admiring the art covering what seemed like every inch of it. Then we stumbled across Veganz, an entirely vegan cafe and supermarket with branches located all across Berlin, including Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. Needless to say we were pretty giddy about this and spent potentially too long browsing the isles of delicious vegan cheeses and meats, before stopping off in the cafe for (another) slice of vegan cake.
Next it was time to try out one of the things about Berlin I was most excited about: the Photoautomat. Situated in large numbers all across the city, the original black and white Photoautomats of the fifties and sixties have been restored and maintained in an attempt to embrace the nostalgia of classic photobooth photography.
For just €2 you can create one of the loveliest, most personal souvenirs. I must admit, you need to be patient enough to wait the longest five minutes of your life for the strip to develop. Trust me, it's worth standing out in the cold.
We continued on exploring the more historical sights of Berlin, including the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror, all very sombre and emotional places, but completely necessary and rewarding to visit; I learnt so much about Berlin's history and came away feeling very moved. I'd recommend these sights to anyone visiting for the first time, or the hundredth time.
Finally, we finished our afternoon with a trip to David Bowie's old Berlin apartment at Haupstrasse 155, a pilgrimage I was incredibly eager to make. We stood outside the door to his building for a while just imagining it being 1977 and seeing him and Iggy Pop going in and out. Then, by complete chance, someone who lived in that same building walked past us and through the door into the lobby, giving us a peak inside. For me (a Bowie mega-fan) it was the perfect end to a brilliant day. Now to find the closest vegan pizza and largest glass of wine - all that walking is a killer.
I'll leave you with a selection of other photos I took throughout the trip, including one of a little friend I made on the tram. Enjoy.