Alternative Berlin Walking Tour & the killer Doner Kebab

Alternative Berlin Walking Tour & the killer Doner Kebab

As I mentioned in my post about the funky Berlin neighborhood of Friedrichshain, Berlin is an ecletic wonder. Unlike nearly everywhere else in Germany, there’s a creative, vibrant, off-beat energy. Street art, which literally covers the city, is just one of many distinguishing aspects and we wanted to get the skinny on what the sub-culuture was all about.
Enter: Alternative Berlin Walking Tours. A free daily walking tour run by educated and entertaining guides that rely solely on tips. Our guide, Matthias, was awesome and miraculously made a tour group of 25 into an intimidate affair. Throughout the 4 hour tour we made our way via trains, trams and lots of sidewalks to countless insider Berlin sights.

 

 

Matthias explained that the street art scene is influenced by a variety of reasons- the personal interests of the artist, commentary on current social issues, reference to historic events, attention to a cause or movement, and even advertising (near Mauer Park he pointed out a Nike ad in which they sneakily had a mural painted with a tiny, subliminal, swoosh check in the corner). As you would at a museum, Matthias identified numerous paintings done by popular street artists, recognizing them by their unique style and subject matter – so interesting. These artists are insanely talented and drastically changed my perspective on the value and beauty of street art.

 

 

 

 

The tour wrapped up at Templehof Airport Park, the grounds of the former airport. The tarmac has been lifted and all the buildings removed, leaving a huge green space outside the center of the city. While we were there we spotted a festival taking place which looked like a ton of fun but our feet and stomachs had other plans. Next time.

 

 

Afterwards we headed to theΒ #1 doner kebab shop in Berlin. A doner kebab consists of juicy meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, topped with lettuce, cabbage, onions and vegetables then wrapped in a warm flatbread. Similar to a gyro, but better and less bready. There are 4 doner kebab restaurants on the Hauptstrasse alone in Heidelberg, with endless places to get them, crushing at lease one doner in Germany is a must. Most importantly, they are D-E-licious. The story is that the doner kebab was invented in Berlin by a Turkish man so it only made sense that we try the best place according to TripAdvisor:
(click the link to TripAdvisor)
Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebab did not disappoint. Sure, we may have waited 30 minutes in a painfully slow line, but it was SOOO worth it. Unlike other kebab’s that I’ve had, Mustafa’s tops their kebab’s with a seriously delicious mix of fresh grilled veggies to seal the deal. When in Berlin, for the love of puppies, make the trek!

 

 

 

Such a funky, interesting and delicious day! What’s the best local dish you’ve ever had?
  • Love the graffiti – especially the one of the dog. Can’t beat a good donner kebab either!

  • Oh Mustafa’s! It’s seriously my favorite kebab in town yes, beats all the others. I would say Berlin is the street-art capital of Europe, there are so many beautiful (hidden) pieces to be found throughout the whole city πŸ™‚

  • Yum, those kebab’s look delicious. After seeing some amazing street art here in Reykjavik I as well have a new appreciation for it. The street art in Berlin looks amazing!

  • This is such a cool concept for a tour (the tip based only) I would love if young people offered these in Rome (Italy, in general)… this has given me something to think about.

  • I’d LOVEEEE to visit Berlin one day!

  • That is some beautiful street art! I’ve never seen that part of Berlin but it’s now on my bucket list! Also Gemüse Kebap sounds so vegetarian. Did they have vegetarian ones too?

  • I love street art! Its always so creative and interesting.

  • Oh I love your street art photos! We went for a walk around East Berlin and took some pics but the alternative Berlin tour was something we really wanted to do. We also had some really good vegetarian food in East Berlin after being a bit sausaged out from the Christmas markets. It’s such a cool place.

  • Ah man, I’m really loving your Berlin posts, so many memories flooding to me! I never even thought of taking a walking tour, I will definitely try it next time I’m there πŸ™‚

  • What a fun day! That doner place looks dang good…. I’ll definitely give it a go next time I’m in Mehringdamm. However I’m pretty partial to a stand near my old hood and not sure I could ever change πŸ™‚

  • gemuse kabab mmmmmmmm, I love me some Berlin, my favorite city ever πŸ™‚ Thanks for the awesome photos.
    Katie
    http://www.worldwidevegetarian.com

  • This tour sounds so great! I have heard about all the street art in Berlin. Love your pics. I feel like street art is actually quite a big deal all over Europe! I have never seen anything like it!

  • Your new blog design is beautiful, I love it! And this tour sounds awesome πŸ™‚ I’ve also heard about the famous doner kebab in Germany…glad it lived up to the hype!

  • That kebab looks fantastic. Yum!! What a cool way to explore Berlin!

  • I am so intrigued by Berlin street art. I would absolutely love to go on a walking tour like that! What a great way to see the city. You get to go on a tour learning from a local in a casual setting. So great. Some people from my church here in DC just started a coffee shop in Berlin that seems awesome it’s called Prachtwerk. You should check it out next time you are there πŸ™‚

  • What a cool tour to take in Berlin – definitely a perspective unique to the city. I will have to keep this in mind for my young clients headed up that way. Also, dying to try one of those Doners, I’ve heard way too much about them lately!

  • Margo, this tour looks AMAZING!!! I loved all the street art in Berlin and it looks like you got to see some amazing stuff (and eat amazing stuff :). And now you have me craving kebabs!

  • that sounds like such a great tour!! so different from your typical sightseeing rounds. and i’ve had an amazing kebab in Berlin too – not from the same place, but as you say, the city is known for their great kebab joints xx

  • I didn’t realize how much I love it too! The doner, oh boy, that was just darn delicious!

  • So happy we’re in agreement! Next time you go feel free to ship me over your leftovers! πŸ™‚

  • Here you go teaching me something new about Iceland again, I had no idea that Reykjavik had that funky/eclectic vibe, no wonder you love it so much. Heidelberg is very traditional but fortunately the university keeps things young.

  • Yeah, actually one of my friends studied abroad and did nothing but free tours in every city she visited. I found a great one for Rome with solid reviews, maybe you it’d be fun this weekend? πŸ™‚

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187791-d1549786-Reviews-New_Rome_Free_Tour-Rome_Lazio.html

  • Yes. Good! Surprisingly, it’s the second most visited city in Europe, just beating out Rome and behind Barcelona. (Well, this is the factoid our guide told us, not sure it’s 100% true.)

  • Yeah good question, I was responsible for holding the table (and drank a beer while doing so) and Dan placed the order. I’d imagine that there would be a vegetarian option though, they weren’t messing around with the sautéed veggies, they were amazing.

  • Yes, I completely agree. It’s especially creative when they use they reference the texted surface or shape of the wall in the painting, if that makes sense. They’re true artists!

  • Well it sounds like you guys really covered some ground. My favorite meal is a good vegetarian dish (Dan would not agree). Did you go there specifically to see the Christmas market?

  • Good! I absolutely recommend it. Granted, we had to use public transportation throughout the tour because it’s such a sprawling city, but it worked out really well. We did a bike tour with Fat Tire tours as well (not as easy to capture) and it was just as great.

  • Yep, completely understand. We have a doner place down the street that I visited last night, the greasy sauce is jusssst right. πŸ™‚

  • Yay, I can see why Berlin would be a favorite, what other cities do you love? There’s not many with such a cool eclectic vibe.

  • That’s dear! If it’s not obvious, I quickly grow tired of my blog’s design and like to tool around in the HTML every now and then to see what I can change it into. πŸ™‚

    Yes, the doner was so excellent! If you happen to stop by Mustafa’s during your next visit feel free to send me your leftovers! πŸ™‚

  • Thanks, dear! It was my sister-in-law’s suggestion instead of just the standard Berlin tour (which we instead did on a bike tour). I’m so glad we did it! Berlin is so huge it was good to have some direction on where to go and what to see.

  • Yeah, it was such a great way to experience the city! Someone should set on up in DC to cover the awesome neighborhoods like U st and 18th st.

    That’s awesome about your friends, did they just decide to up and leave and give Berlin a try? I kind of got a sense that the coffee culture is pretty big there.

  • What a sec, you don’t have doner places in Karlsrue? I’m about to get in my car and bring you one down from Heidelberg. Poor thing, you’ve been deprived.

  • Amazing indeed! Best of all, after walking for 5 hours we could all justify gorging on 2000 calorie doner kebabs! πŸ˜€

  • Yeah, kind of like having a crepe in Paris, it’s going to be great anywhere you go. πŸ™‚ Do you guys have many doner places in London? For some reason I can’t recall them being too common, though there are a zillion amazing Indian restaurants which aren’t as common here in GE.

  • That’s cool that they have free walking tours! I was in Berlin for half a day.. but we didn’t see much of the city bc we were just in transit. I wonder how they get paid….

  • stopping over from #TravelTuesday.
    We took SANDEMANs free walking tour while there, the alternative one seems interesting, maybe next time (we HAVE to go back since we didn’t get to try Mustafa’s Kebab)

    πŸ™‚

  • What a brilliant post, loving this. I have to get back to Berlin, asap!