Our train from Prague arrives in Berlin a bit late, but we make it back to our apartment just after 7:00. We pay Herr Hahn and then head out to der Imbiss W for a fantastic dinner. What we know about the place can all be found in our Lonely Planet: eccentric, tiki-worshipping, Canadian expat living in Berlin making naan pizza, and only one euro symbol (=cheap). Sounds good, right? The place is a tiny hole-in-the-wall in what we’ve decided is the coolest neighborhood in Berlin, Prenzlauerberg; it’s decorated entirely in tiki-themed, mid-20th-century American island kitsch, blasting loungey, classy, Farfisa-organ-driven covers of obscure American hits with a touch of early Tom Jones and Blue-Hawaii era Elvis. The kitchen, which takes up about half of the restaurant space, consists of two wok burners and a tandoori clay oven. The naan pizza is delicious. On the way to der Imbiss W we passed a couple of nicer restaurants, so we back-track a bit for dessert at Papa e Ciccio (which was also delicious) and take a cab home.
We decide the naan pizza was worth a return trip to the neighborhood the next day for a repeat at lunch. We head over at the start of the day, looking forward to a bio-vegan breakfast at Hans Wurst, the café we stumbled upon last week while looking for another that doesn’t exist. Hans Wurst is closed on Mondays. Bummer. That’s okay, it was really Zach’s idea; Danielle is commited to eating meat and dairy in the morning. We consult our trusty LP guide for another option in the area and it turns out there is a nice little café called Fellas around the corner with free wifi. We go in and have a delicious leisurely breakfast.
For the first time of our trip the weather is so pleasant (a balmy 0ºC) we want nothing more than to stroll around and let the neighborhood reveal itself to us. We check out a bag shop down the street and continue from there through the main streets of Pberg, stopping in offbeat clothing and jewelry boutiques, funky furniture stores and vintage shops. The journey ends at Weinmeister Straße 4, also known as 1. Absinthe Depot Berlin. I should say, rather, the journey begins here as Zach’s budding flirtations with absinthe were consummated in a full-blown love affair at this tiny storefront. The shop sells over 60 varieties of the “green fairy”, four of which are available by the glass for guests to enjoy. We had 3 glasses between us, in the company of the cantankerous shopkeeper and a lovely older couple from Perth visiting their daughter who works for a Berlin tour agency.
From here we head around the corner in search of a bag store that seems to have closed, we stop for some coffee to clear the absinthe fog and share a slice of awful, horrible cheesecake, and then walk back over to der Imbiss W for lunch-turned-dinner. This time the owner is cooking up the delicious eats, wearing a fez, a Hawaiian shirt and chile-pepper-print Chefwear baggies, and dancing along to this evening’s selection of eclectic melodies. We share an avocado wrap, a quesadilla and a beer and then walk back up towards main street Pberg for a drink at Rotte Lotte (RL).
RL is a pseudo/neo Victorian parlor with plush couches and chairs, gaudy light fixtures, three dogs, and a soundtrack that might have been a Pandora station titled, “American rock hits, 1986-1996.” We leave RL and head for the subway, but stumble upon Kauf dich Glucklich (KdG) along the way. KdG: waffles, gelato, booze, a sea of mix-matched vintage furniture (not unlike what we encountered at the flea market), and Radiohead. In Germany, the shopkeeper tells us, you don’t order by cup size, but by number of scoops, and then the scooper decides which cup to put your order into. Just outside the font patio area of KdG we encounter a man who appears to be having some physical difficulties with a task that we can’t quite make out. He looks at us and asks if we can help. “English?” he asks. Well, yes English, but it’s not a language issue that is so puzzling, it’s that you’ve just asked us to reach into your inner jacket pocket. As it turns out, he has a broken arm and can’t get to his keys.