We planned for our second day in Berlin to be spent getting to know Germany’s capital a little better so we signed ourselves up for the 1-Day Berlin City Yellow Tour by BEX Sightseeing (which I will talk more about in my next post). Long story short, lunch wasn’t included in the packet and after scanning through the route that the tour would take, I realised that we wouldn’t be in the vicinity of any of the long list of Vegan spots I had identified on the Berlin map.
It was 8am and it wouldn’t be till 10am before the tour started, so I told Mum and Dad that I’d be heading out on my own to attempt (no worries, I did end up finding it pretty easily) to find the Vegan café/ restaurant allllll the way on the top of my list: The Bowl. Have *a look*, You’ll know why it was on the top of my list!
We had a slightly drizzly night, hence the wet streets, grey skies and slight grouchiness of a handful of Berliners.
Now where I was staying at wasn’t terribly far away from the nearest U-Bahn (train) station, “Uhlandstraße”, which was conveniently located on the direct opposite end on U1 from the “Warschauer Str.” station, where I was headed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean ‘conveniently’ in a sarcastic way… it really was quite convenient considering I didn’t have to do any transfers between train lines and thus could sit back and relax throughout the journey and just enjoy the sights I was whizzing past rather than occupying myself with worries of possibly missing a stop I had to get off at.
The ticketing machine functioned a little differently than the ones I’d find in Munich so (because of different types of tickets and such) I ended up hogging the queue ever so slightly but thankfully for a charming chap, I was able to get on with my day after successfully purchasing a Tageskarte.
I sprinted (I was perhaps a little too excited) to the train which timely arrived at the station and seated myself at a spot on the squishy armrest-less bench which gave me a splendid view of Berlin from within the train cabin.
During my first trip with the Berliner U-Bahn, I noticed seven things:
1. There weren’t any sectioned seats – just a complete bench; so we could sit as closely or as distanced from our neighbours and I didn’t know whether that bothered or comforted me.
2. Berliners must be really proud of their Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) to have it subtly plastered all over their train windows – something I can understand. The Gate is a true beauty.
3. Everyone around me – and I do mean everyone – had their noses in their books. One was reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, another used a plane ticket as a bookmark (“He must’ve had a lovely case of wanderlust,” I thought to myself.) and one guy… well… he had his fly open and I was texting Wei about it, unsure if it was socially acceptable that I had let him walk out of the train not knowing about it. Whoops, I apologise.
4. Buskers in Berlin have taken the busking scene in Germany to a level one would probably observe in American cities such as in New York, or at least that’s what I’ve taken in from the portrayal of – as Alicia Keys and Jay Z put it – the concrete jungle where dreams are made of and where one will feel brand new. It could have been at the second or third station after “Uhlandstraße” where a smiling pair of Eastern Europeans quite literally skipped into the cabin I was in and began belting out Canon in D Major (I recognised it straight away because it happens to be one of my favourite classical pieces of all time.) using nothing more than a cheeky harmonica and a beautiful glossy violin. Their performance lasted the entire period of travel from one station to the next and I loved every moment of it – their smiles, the accurately-reached notes and the generally uplifted mood in the cabin. Before they skipped over to the next cabin, they walked around with a little coin pouch in their hand, ready for when someone was in the position to fund them for the lovely contribution they made to Berlin’s Arts scene.
5. Berlin wasn’t kidding when it branded itself as Germany’s Art capital. She sure is an artsy fartsy city. Graffiti murals could be seen everywhere – on buildings, housing areas, bridges, playgrounds, pillars, everywhere basically. I also realised that perhaps Berliners weren’t a big fan of having things neat and orderly. Windows: some were rectangular while others were circular. Roofs: some were teal green, some were yellow while others were orange. The direction of buildings: some faced a 37° angle while others faced a 53° angle. Everything was subtly differentiated from one another and in the midst of all the variety and abstractness, I took in that the mess really wasn’t a mess. It was an organised one, an organised mess, a thoughtfully & beautifully organised mess.
6. A part of Berlin is called “Ruhleben”, which I figured could have been derived from “ruhes Leben” and which translates to a calm/ tranquil/ peaceful life.
7. We journeyed past the Schlesisches Tor (Schlesisch Gate) which exuded a similar feel to a train station one would find in Harry Potter’s world.
Ta-daaaa!! If I hadn’t been in public, I would’ve probably done my little happy ‘dance’… that is, skip on a spot and clap my hands fasterthantheflappingofahummingbird’swings – as You probably can tell from my description, my ‘dancing skills’ are pretty much non-existent. Either way, happiness is happiness nonetheless and expression of it is subjective, don’t You say?
I found Veganz! THE BOWL, which is (as stated proudly on the banner) dubbed ‘RESTAURANT clean eating’! And what a surprising find: avesu – Vegan shoes.
I headed for Veganz (with-a-‘z’) first – a grocery store where Vegans can shop without the constant need to check the ingredients list, that is, provided one isn’t following a specific diet under Veganism. Why? Because it’s a 100% Vegan Superdupermart! The best part? We have Veganz in Munich too!
I got myself a packet of delicious 5-Grain Oatmeal flakes along with a packet each of Mango-Lucuma and Kakao-Date Chia Topping. I’ll write more about why I made these purchases in another post.
After that, I headed upstairs to find out that they were only serving breakfast then and that their mains will only be made available after 12pm (or was it 11.30am?). Don’t get me wrong, their breakfast options were out of this world too – think chia puddings, hearty oatmeals, smoothies, etc. – but I already had oatmeal for breakfast and wanted more variety for my meals throughout the day. So I headed back downstairs where Veganz’s bistro joint was located and this gorgeous spread greeted me:
Up for purchase was the “Ali Baba” Wrap which included red beets and falafels, “Little Italy” which had tomatoes, colourful peppers, artichoke/ brussels sprout pieces and mushrooms too I think and finally the “Mexican Burrito” which had a generous serving of rice, red kidney beans, lettuce, corn and tomatoes among other things. I settled for the “Mexican Burrito” because it looked and sounded pretty darn good to me.
I didn’t put much focus on the burgers because they were laden with mocks – mock cheese, mock mayo, mock meat. I’m not a big fan of mocks because of the preservatives and not to mention salt and oil that go into them. I’d rather go for whole foods and treat my body the way it deserves to be loved and respected.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn
Now these were a couple of things I laid my eyes upon either on the way back to the “Waschauer Straße” Station or on my way back to the hotel from the “Uhlandstraße” station.
Specimen #1: A sticker stuck on a railing. It read, “Ein Herz für Hänger” which translates to “A heart for beats (party beats)”; it’s a sticker to advertise the partying culture in Berlin.
Specimen #2: A wall overwhelmed with graffiti.
Specimen #3: A cinema which had the movie, Irrational Man, being played that day.