I was chuffed to discover so many unusual things to do in Berlin when I visited recently. I actually really like visiting traditional sights when I am on holiday, but finding alternative things to do is often even better. 5 days gave me plenty of time to find some things to do in Berlin that were more off the beaten tourist path. Here is my top 3!
- A visit to the Currywurst Museum
No visit to Berlin is complete without sampling Berlin’s signature dish – the Currywurst (curried sausage). It is a really unusual dish for Germans considering its exotic ingredients, and being a sausage lover, I was keen to find out a bit more about this famous sausage.The quirky Currywurst Museum was the perfect place to do just that. It is dedicated to the Berliner’s beloved Currywurst and is very interactive museum where you can stand in a typcial Currywurst cart, learn why and how the Currywurst was invented, smell spices that are used to make the sauce, and of course sample the famous sausage. The Currywurst was invented by Herta Heuwer in 1949. After the war, prices for food went up massively and the eating habits of the occupying forces were a big influence on the locals. So when a British soldier gave Herta some curry powder, she started experimenting with it. Little did he know that Herta would use the powder to create one of Germany’s most famous dishes.It is such a fun place to discover and certainly one of the most entertaining things to do in Berlin. My only regret is that I didn’t buy a Currywurst cuddly toy! 🙂
- Getting my passport stamped at Checkpoint Charlie
Ok, this is actually quite a touristy thing to do, but quirky nonetheless. Berlin used to be divided into four occupied zones and each zone had checkpoints . At Checkpoint Charlie, which used to be the American checkpoint, you can get various stamps put into your passport that you used to be able to get when the Berlin Wall was still up. Stamps include a visa for the former GDR (East Germany) and stamps from the former allies (France, the US, Great Britain, plus also the Soviet Union). I love the fact that I now have stamps in my passport from countries that don’t exist anymore.
- Meeting Osman in his tree house
I think out of the 3 quirky things to do in Berlin this was by far the coolest. I met a charming old man named Osman and visited him in his very unusual home – a tree house (Baumhaus an der Mauer). Osman is a Turkish immigrant who has been living in Germany since 1963. The tree house is located in the district of Kreuzberg, where the Berlin Wall used to run through.
When Berlin got separated, the grounds where the house is now situated were a kind of no-man’s land. Neither East nor West German authorities took responsibility for it, so over the years a lot of rubbish piled up. In 1983 Osman, who lived in West Berlin, made it his mission to clear the site and turn it into a community allotment. He didn’t throw any of the rubbish away though. He used the rubbish to build a little hut for his gardening tools. When the wall came down in 1989, he was even able to build an extension and a second storey around the two trees that were on the ground (which is why it is called a tree house).
It is incredible that all of his building materials are “rubbish” found on the site. He actually moved into the house permanently and still lives there now. The tree house hasn’t got running water or electricity, but Osman seems to be very happy in his little tree kingdom. He told me that he doesn’t need much in life to be happy. What a wise man!
So these are my top 3 quirky things-to-do in Berlin. What have been your favourite off-the-beaten-track experiences?