This last week we had a lovely half-term city break to Berlin and I thought I’d pass on some recommendations for anyone who is thinking of visiting Berlin with allergies.
We flew BA who are generally really good with making a nut announcement, and this was the case on the way out. On the way back the land crew were clearly not in the best mood and were a bit difficult, saying we should have told check in when we’ve always been told to mention it at the gate, where we are usually given the option of pre-boarding. This time in Berlin, the land crew were less accommodating but we spoke to the crew on the plane and they were as helpful as we’d hoped. It strikes me as odd because we always ask for a nut announcement but wouldn’t think of including milk, egg and sesame – I think we’d feel it would be taken less seriously (even though they’re definitely not less serious allergies) and that there would be no way the crew would ask passengers to avoid all our allergens. Do you just mentions nuts/peanuts too?
As is our preference we stayed in a self-catering apartment in the cool and lively area of Friedrichshain and took plenty of food with us. These days for a city break we all take hand luggage but have one check in bag just for food and wash bags! I always take plenty of breads such as wraps, pittas and ciabattas as often find sesame-free bread really difficult to find. This was certainly the case in Berlin, but we did find safe tortillas so we had homemade fajitas one night. I also pack lots of snacks like chocolate and always take a homemade cake! This time it was a deliciously sticky Jamaican ginger cake that travels particularly well. (recipe coming soon!)
There were plenty of supermarkets nearby (both Lidl and Netto as well as a fancy organic BioMarkt) and these were well stocked with dairy-free milks, cheeses and yoghurts. We even found a dairy-free lassi that was rather tasty! Vegan food is fairly common but we did find bread hard to find, and didn’t see any safe chocolate or biscuits (although there was a good gluten-free range).
I did loads of research before our trip to see if we could eat out easily. There really wasn’t much readily available info, but it did point me in the right direction. My lovely blog friend ‘7 Years to diagnosis’ had done a really useful write up in 2019 and I was reassured to find that there is a Hard Rock café to head for if we didn’t find anything else. We didn’t eat there in the end but at least we knew it was an option!
We were meeting up with a friend who lives in Berlin and I did a huge amount of research on the restaurants in our neighbourhood where we could meet for a meal. My friend suggested a Thai restaurant but I don’t think she realised the copious amounts of peanuts used in Thai food would make it a no-go! Friedrichshain has a lot of Vietnamese restaurants, which again aren’t really suitable due to the use of sesame so I focused my research on Italian – always a safer bet as the use of peanuts and sesame is unlikely and there should normally be a safe pasta on offer. I emailed a handful of Italian restaurants but none of them replied, and since they didn’t have allergen menus available online we didn’t feel like chancing it. However, I then came across Caffe-Ristorante Sole on Frankfurter Allee which had allergens listed next to the dishes on the menu – it didn’t look perfect (there were some obvious mistakes) but it was a good start and there were potentially a fair few safe dishes.
It was actually a good choice – the waiter clearly knew the ingredients of each dish and whilst his English wasn’t perfect, our German friend made sure the message got across. All of garlic and chilli pasta, pasta Bolognese and pasta arrabbiata were safe, so the girls opted for Bolognese and thoroughly enjoyed their safe meals. I had a rather tasty pizza too.
As we were in Germany we really wanted to try Curry Wurst and I came across a recommendation for Witty’s Curry Wurst – it’s just a small fast food joint with a few locations around Berlin and they are almost allergen free! One type of sausage contains milk but otherwise the curry wurst, vegan curry wurst and chips were all safe. We had to give it a go because they seem so popular with Berliners!
I have to say the taste was really good but we found the excess tomato ketchup sprinkled with curry powder a bit too much! However, if you’re looking for a nut-free, egg-free, sesame-free bite on the run that’s as traditional as it gets then you can’t beat a trip to Witty’s!
On the whole when we visit somewhere new we mainly eat in the apartment, but keep our spirits and strength up with regular nice drink spots – Berlin is filled with cool cafes so it was easy to find an interesting drink to give us a rest on a long day sightseeing.
Would i recommend Berlin? Yes i would – i was worried that the language would be a problem and we wouldn’t find anywhere to eat out. But everyone we came across spoke great English and the couple of meals out we tried were both really successful, and the shops were well stocked with free-from products. It’s also such a thought provoking place, and really fascinating to see the East and West joined up. We also found the prices really reasonable compared to here, which always helps on a holiday!