Invitations to Dinner

When I first arrived in Berlin, the city was a maze of history and culture waiting to be explored. As a newcomer, I was both exhilarated and slightly overwhelmed by the bustling metropolis, with its blend of modern architecture and poignant reminders of the past. I was eager to dive into the heart of the city, but I knew my limited grasp of German and unfamiliarity with the local customs might hold me back.

That's when I received an invitation that would change the course of my stay. A friend of a friend, a true Berliner with a deep love for his city, offered to show me around. He was fluent in German, of course, and his knowledge of Berlin's nooks and crannies promised an insider's glimpse that no travel guide could match.

We agreed to meet at Alexanderplatz, a bustling hub that seemed to pulse with the city's unceasing energy. I spotted him easily, his friendly wave cutting through the crowd of people. He was a tall figure, his demeanor as welcoming as the cozy cafes that lined the streets. With a hearty "Willkommen in Berlin!" and a firm handshake, we set off on what would become one of my most memorable days in the city.

Our first stop was the Fernsehturm, the iconic TV tower that pierced the sky at an impressive 368 meters. He shared stories of its construction and how it stood as a symbol of the city, visible from almost every street corner in central Berlin. We didn't go up that day, but he pointed out the revolving restaurant near the top, suggesting it as a spot to enjoy panoramic views over a meal.

As we meandered through the streets, he pointed out small details I would have missed on my own—the bullet holes still pockmarking some buildings, the vibrant street art that told a more recent story of the city's unbreakable spirit, and the Stolpersteine, small brass plaques set into the sidewalks to commemorate victims of the Holocaust.

We stopped for lunch at a traditional German restaurant, where the portions were hearty, and the beer flowed freely. He ordered for us in German, and soon we were tucking into plates of Schnitzel and Kartoffelsalat, the Schnitzel nearly the size of the plate itself, crispy and golden, while the potato salad was tangy with a hint of mustard.

I paid with my travel credit card and was glad to pickup a few points.