December 3, 2012

Berlin, Day 7, Part II: Konnopke's Imbiss, DDR Toy Museum, Chocolate, Schnitzel, and the Reichstag

This is the second part of a two-part post; head here for part one. For an overview of my trip to Berlin that took place from April 5 to 12, check out this introductory post. All German translations I've presented are done with Google Translate; if I've written anythphikkling that's wrong, please let me know.

THIS IS THE END OF THE SERIES! YOU ARE NOW RELEASED FROM THIS PRISON! [THROWS CONFETTI]

Noooo
Bluh.

Remember that time when I warned you about the BVG messing with your well laid-out plans with service changes? Yeaaaah. Thankfully, the BVG sets out clear signs with directions in English so tourists like me don't curse them forever.

Konnopke's Imbiss
Konnopke's Imbiss

And so tourists like me can get currywurst at Konnopke's Imbiss.

As far as I can tell, Curry 36 and Konnopke's Imbiss share the title for "Berlin's Most Famous Currywurst Shop." That doesn't mean they're the best, but when you're a tourist with limited time, you do things like eat the most famous something-something.

Konnopke's Imbiss Menu
An abbreviated menu in English and the full menu in German.
Currywurst and fries with mayo Currywurst innards
Currywurst and fries.

Since we had already eaten doner kebabs and desserts that day, Kåre and I shared a wee order of currywurst with fries and mayo (€3.20). While Konnopke's sausage was a bit different from Curry 36's, I couldn't tell you if one is better than the other in meat or sauce quality. They're both crazy cheap, satisfying, and probably health-sucking. I'd give the edge to Konnopke's for having more places to sit and stand, though—an indoor seating area in addition to the outdoor standing tables. Also, their line felt more orderly than Curry 36's mob-like line.

Fassbrause
Fassbrause

I washed it all down with a bottle of Berlin's specialty soda, fassbrause, specifically a Rixdorfer fassbrause. Sweet, fizzy, and fruity (apple-flavored, methinks), it's good for kids and for teetotaling adults. Otherwise, I'm guessing most people would drink beer, which seemed to be about as cheap as bottled water.

Onkel Philipp's Spielzeugwerkstatt

Onkel Philipp's Spielzeugwerkstatt

I'd like to believe that most people over the age of 10 walking by Onkel Philipp's Spielzeugwerkstatt (Uncle Philipp's Toy Workshop) would respond with, "HOLY CRAP [points excitedly] LOOK AT THIS FREAKIN' TOY STORE [flails arms] OH MAH GEERRDD," but if that were the case there would've be more child-ness adults in there besides Kåre and me.

But...look at this freakin' toy store:

Toys everywhere Toys toys toys Toys everywhere
Buuuuuh.

My inner five-year-old had a seizure.

Toys attack you from all sides: new and used wooden toys, dolls, model cars and airplanes, puzzles, board games, plush toys, and more. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, and probably other dimensions undetectable by humans. It's gloriously chaotic and organized at the same time, if that makes any sense. The disorganization didn't feel like neglect, but like a result of a deep appreciation for toys. Or an unhealthy obsession with toys, but I'm pretty sure it's the former. Owner Philipp Schlünemann doesn't just sell toys—he repairs them, too, hence the "workshop" name.

But the definitive sign that this isn't your average toy store lies behind this door:

DDR Toy Museum
DDR Toy Museum
R.I.P.
Spielzeug
der
DDR
*1949
+1989

Slide the tombstone door aside and squeeze through the small opening...

Stairs
Stairs/toy shelves

Carefully step down the narrow spiral staircase into the basement...

DDR Toy Museum
Toy overload is happening.

And welcome to Philipp's DDR Toy Museum, open since 2002. Here's some back story from Bates Magazine:

Philipp found himself aggravated by how quickly East Germans were discarding their childhood toys for the more brightly colored and enticing Western toys. "People simply threw away not just toys, but aspects of East German history. So I decided to collect them."

Philipp collected the hell out of those toys. The world is better for it.

Let's keep looking around:

DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum DDR Toy Museum
A shitton of toys in not a lot of space.
DDR Toy Museum
It spins!

Philipp (at least, I'm assuming it was him) sent us into the basement with a remote that controlled a few select spotlights and motors that made some of the toys spin around, such as the toy house in the photo above. Yes, Philipp went all the way with this.

Admission costs €1. Do it.

I must thank Moments of Perfect Clarity for being the Google result for "toy stores in Berlin" that pointed me towards Philipp's.

Kid's bookstore
Kid's bookstore.

There's a cute kid's international bookstore across the street, Mundo Azul, if you're looking for more kid-friendly stuff.

Fassbender and Rausch

Fassbender and Rausch Fassbender and Rausch
Fassbender and Rausch

We headed down to Mitte for a quick stop at some touristy chocolate shops. First, Fassbender and Rausch, a family-run chocolate shop and cafe dating back to 1863.

Fassbender and Rausch Bon bons Bon bons Chocolate bars
Chocolate and chocolate and chocolate and etc.

I should note that since I'm not a serious chocolate aficionado—most of my chocolate I eat is everyday Norwegian chocolate since Kåre so lovingly foists a handful of Norwegian chocolate bars on me every time we see each other—I didn't do much chocolate shop research. Fassbender and Rausch is Berlin's most famous chocolate shop, if Google is any indication. Exberliner has more recommendations. The cafe seems to be a big draw, although I didn't have enough time to try it. The store is huge and the prices aren't bad—certainly worth a visit if you're into chocolate or want to look at huge chocolate sculptures. Thanks to sssourabh and Charlene for recommending it!

Ritter Sport's Colorful Chocoworld

Ritter Sport Store

A few blocks away from Fassbender and Rausch is Ritter Sport's Colorful Chocoworld. I guess it could be considered the German equivalent of the Hershey's store in New York City, except Ritter Sport's chocolate tastes a bagillion times better. (I'm eating some right now to remind myself. Yup. It's just research.) Some stuff you'll see while squeezing through the mob of customers:

Make your own chocolate bar
The design-your-own-chocolate bar counter.
Cheapo Ritter Sport bars
Cheapo 100-gram chocolate bars for €0.85, about $1.10. (I'm not sure how much the bars usually cost in Germany, but in NYC they're around $2-3. Which is still cheap in my mind.)
Ritter Sport Store
Special edition chocolate.
Ritter Sport Store Ritter Sport Store Buying some mini chocs
Mini chocolate bars a-plenty.
Giant Ritter Sport stack
A tower of gigantor chocolate bars.

Schwarzwaldstuben

Schwarzwaldstuben
Schwarzwaldenstuben

For dinner, Kåre, Diana, and I went to Swabian restaurant Schwarzwaldstuben to meet up with Berlin-based Serious Eats contributor Conor. He recommended the restaurant when I asked for something German. My reward: schnitzel.

Schnitzel Schnitzel
FRIED MEAT YAY.

Thumbs up for the "paniertes schweineschnitzel mit kartoffel-gurkensalat," or breaded pork cutlet with potato-cucumber salad (€13). I'd be lying if I said I remembered much about it since I ate it almost eight months ago, but I know I liked it. Because fried pork + crisp coating = success. I especially liked the light potato-cucumber salad for its noodle-like ribbons of thinly shaved cucumber.

One of my friends also highly recommended their kässpätzle. Wish I could've tried it!

Kaiserschmarrn
Kaiserschmarrn.

We shared their kaiserschmarrn with sliced apple and vanilla sauce (€6) for dessert. These sweet, caramelized pancake bits were better than the version we tried at Schnitzelei, but took an oddly long time for them to make it compared to our other dishes. Not sure if they had forgotten about the order until we reminded them.

Wostok
Wostok.

I also tried a sort of local soft drink, Wostok—"sort of" local because even though the company is based in Berlin, it's a revival of a Soviet-era Russian soda called Baikal and its recipe is almost the same as the original. You can read more about it in Dizzy Frinks' interview with the company's creator, Dutch photographer Joris Van Velzen.

The drink's website describes the flavor as "early morning in a pine forest, flavored with a bit of eucalyptus and a hint of Siberian ginseng." I'm sure it was pine forest-goodness in a bottle, but as evidence of my overly stuffed nasal passages, I could hardly taste anything aside from sweet and fizzy. :( I should've blown my nose while drinking it.

Interior Interior
Interior.

Aside from the pancake delay, the dinner was great. Homey, well executed food in a cozy but not cramped space. Thanks to Conor for the rec!

The Reichstag

The Reichstag The Reichstag
The Reichstag.

Our last major stop of the night: the dome of the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, the Bundestag. I wouldn't say it's a must-visit, but since it's free, I figured we may as well go. I registered online a few days into the trip and got a reservation for 8:30 p.m. Check out more information here if you want to visit.

Your visit includes a free audio tour. Just make sure you pick the right language. I...did...n't. It definitely would've made the walk up the dome's spiral walkway more interesting, especially when there wasn't much to see outside without the sun's help. I'm glad I visited, though—the dome is beautiful and the night sky made for some interesting photos:

The Reichstag The Reichstag The Reichstag
The dome is open at the top. I'm glad it wasn't raining.
Look out below
So many purple seats.
The Reichstag The Reichstag The Reichstag The Reichstag
Goodnight, Reichstag.

A few more snapshots from the night...

Brandenburger Tor
Goodnight, Brandenburger Tor.
Hotel Berlin, Berlin
Goodnight, Hotel Berlin, Berlin. It's a large and impersonal hotel, but the service and rooms are nice and it only cost us about $580 for the week.
ALL THE HARIBO
Goodnight, Haribo gummies for a measly €0.89 a pack. Don't miss your chance to buy a buttload of gummies. I ended up buying more expensive Haribo gummies at the airport when I realized too late that I had a German vs. American Haribo gummy bears taste test on my hands.
Gay fetish cruising bar
Goodnight, gay fetish cruising bar.

Addresses

Konnopke's Imbiss
Schönhauser Allee 44 B, 10435 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 4427-765; konnopke-imbiss.de

Onkel Philipp's Spielzeugwerkstatt
Choriner Str. 35, 10435 Berlin, Germany (map)
30 4490491; onkel-philipp.de
Open Tues., Wed., Fri., 9:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Mon.

Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers
Charlottenstraße 60, 10117 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 2045-8440; fassbender-rausch.de

Ritter Sport
Französische Strasse 24, 10117 Berlin (map)
030 2009508-0; rittersport.co.uk

Schwarzwaldstuben
Tucholskystraße 48, 10117 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 2809-8084; schwarzwaldstuben-berlin.com

Reichstag/Bundestag
Platz der Republik 1 11011 Berlin, Germany (map)
030 2270; bundestag.de

Related

Posted by roboppy at 12:30 AM

Tags: berlin, diana, germany, kare

Comments ()

Am I the only one who thinks of Dance Dance Revolution when they saw DDR Toy Museum?

I can't decide which is more awesome Toy Museum or Ritter Sport Store.

Posted by: Angeline at December 4, 2012 9:15 PM [#]

Wow, what an awesome day! Between the toy store/museum and chocolate shops, this may have been my favorite TGWAE post ever. Congrats on being done w/ the series! It was a joy to read.

Posted by: Shane at December 4, 2012 10:55 PM [#]

Angeline: A week in Berlin may change that association, hehe. Definitely before I went to Berlin, anything labeled DDR = Dance Dance Revolution.

I would give more awesome points to the toy museum!

Shane: Thanks, glad you enjoyed this post!

Posted by: roboppy at December 7, 2012 6:16 PM [#]

Love your post about Berlin! You've been to some of the very best places!

Posted by: Karen at December 26, 2012 6:33 PM [#]

Looks like you enjoyed your stay at my wonderful hometown. :-)
If you liked Wostok, you should mix it with Vodtka. There is a russian restaurant in the east of Berlin where I had this drink for the first time. It is delicious.

Thank you for this article.

Posted by: Ines at January 31, 2013 6:16 AM [#]

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» 01/27/14: Taipei 2011, Day 3: Taipei 101 Food Court and Dim Sum Dinner

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» 12/02/13: Taipei 2011, Day 2: Shaved Ice Two Ways, 7-Eleven, Shilin Night Market, Etc.

» 11/05/13: My Favorite Places to Bring Tourists on the Lower East Side

» 10/23/13: How I Made My BMO (Adventure Time) Costume

» 10/20/13: Taipei 2011, Day 1: Fried Crullers, Bear Head Doughnuts, Scallion Pancakes, Etc.

» 08/19/13: Indessert, My New Favorite Dessert Shop Serving Tong Sui in Chinatown

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These friends have lent me their stomach acids on numerous occasions.

Chichi
Colin
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Eric
Greg
Kåre
Kathy
Melissa
Morten
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Tristan
Veronica