By Steven Wright
When I travel, shopping is always on my list of things to do. I like to discover European brands that have yet to hit the North American shores and sometimes there are opportunities to catch amazing sales on the high end global brands. Then there is the opportunity to have an incredible shopping experience, either in a space that is like nothing you have seen before, or having the opportunity to chat with the up-and-coming designer whose items your are looking at.
Kurfürstendamm Strasse is the former West shopping district, from Budapester Strasse to Wittenburgplatz you can find everything from department stores to global brand flagship stores, lots of tourist shops, American fast-food restaurants, street food, fine dining and even farmer’s markets.
The first thing that strikes you is the WWII bombed remains of the Kaiser Wilhelm Kirche dominating the centre of the street. The area around the church has become the epicenter of Charlottenburg, with street performers, stands selling roasted nuts, dried fruits and other local fare. The area becomes a Christmas Market filled with amazing items through the holidays. While in the square, do not miss the opportunity to enter into the remains of the Kaiser Wilhelm Kirche to see the intricate decoration of the the interior and see a model of the structure that existed before the war. Then across the sidewalk enter the Memorial Kirche, amaze in the beauty of the blue glass brick surroundings in this peaceful space.
Back to shopping, there are a couple of locations of department store C&A. This is a discount department store with large sections for men, women and children, there is even a youthful section for teens. C&A, for me is cool, kind of like H&M was cool before landing all over North America. There are many C&A stores throughout Europe, but for me there is nothing better than getting a couple of pairs of European cut jeans for 29 Euro a piece. Also a place to get shorts, t-shirts, sweaters and underwear in a pinch.
Further down the street KaDeWe is not to be missed. You will first be drawn in to the brilliant window displays of Kaufhaus des Westens (department store for the West), and its amazing to see people lined up outside the door each day as it opens. On the first floor find many high end designer boutiques. Clothing for men, women and children, and home apparel on the next few floors. For me the pinnacle of this department store that elevates it over the rest is the top two floors. The first is the gourmet market where you can find everything from fresh fish and proteins, to vegetables, eggs and cheese, a wine store and much much more. If you can not find what you are looking for here, then it is not available in Germany. On the top floor, bounded by a huge solarium, is one of the best food experiences I have had. Grab a tray and travel through the large salad buffet, grills serving freshly prepared meals, freshly baked breads, homemade soups, coffee and tea station, amazing deserts, and more. After a long day of shopping its a great place to refuel. Across the street beside the parking lot you can check out their annex location for fabric, crafts and other supplies.
Kamps is a favorite stop along this strip. They have delicious baked treats, freshly made sandwiched and great coffee and espresso.
S & U Bhan Zoologischer Garten, U Bhan Wittenburgplatz, U Bhan Kurfürstendamm
Fredrichstrasse was to the East, what Kurfürstendamm was to the West, the high end shopping district. Here you will find flagship locations for high-end designer labels, luxury car brands and home decor.
My favorite location along Fredrichstrasse is Quartier 206. This Department store, designed by I.M Pei exudes luxury with its marble and granite floors, the exquisite decor and its triangular shaped glass ceiling. Inside find high end brands including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Versace, Valentino and more.
U Bhan Freidrichstrasse
Hackescher Markt is the Soho of Berlin. Enter under the train tracks to discover a neighborhood filled with winding streets, quaint shops, restaurants and an energy from the people pouring off the sidewalks, sharing the crowded streets with trams and other vehicles. Many of the shops have a map outlining the shopping streets in this hood. There is a great variety of shops in this area, everything from a costume shop, to modern decor stores to independent clothing chains, and the area boats the very first Adidas, and Puma stores. There are lots of shops that represent local artists and their works, which are available for sale and a great way to take a unique memory home with you.
S Bhan Hackescher Markt
If you are looking for up-and-coming designers then I would make the trek to Schönhauser Allee. This area is filled with clothing, artist and home decor shops, and great restaurants. As its a little out of the core, this is the neighborhood that artists and young professionals live, its having a renewal and a great place to find original designs, artists work and other great finds.
After a day of shopping check out Villa Rodizio for dinner. This massive space features a very casual environment where you can relax and chat with friends all night long. The air of celebration is in the air, perhaps that is just the drinks that are flowing. The main attraction is the all you can eat buffet including a 3 metre vegetable bar that includes many prepared salads and hot vegetables and the proteins are spit roasted in the back. The serving staff travel around the tables, carving freshly cooked meats to the tables. Enjoy turkey, chicken, beef, pork, and lamb of the spit. For 20some Euro it is a steal!
S & U Bhan Schönhauser Allee
East Side Gallery
Outlet City Metzingen
Potsdamer Platz – the platz to be!
Glass Ceiling walking tour: Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie
Autobahn jaunt to Düsseldorf and Köln
Schloss Charlottenburg the Palace of Berlin
Outlet City Metzingen
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Chic Outlet Shopping – Europe