It was a really cold and rare sunny day in Berlin. It was also Saturday morning, a time I usually devote to sleeping in. Excitement prevented me from hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock, as I was about to do a Withlocals tour through Berlin’s Steglitz-Lichterfelde districts, a south-western part of the city I’d yet to fully explore.
Better yet, the experience would conclude with a tasty home cooked meal made from our tour guide’s great grandmother’s dutch recipes. So just like when I was in Brescia, Italy last month, I was more than happy to stuff my face with delicious food.
My friend Adam and I met up with our tour guide Jeanette at Schwartzsche Villa, close to the S/U-Bahn Rathaus Steglitz. We spent a brief time walking through the area, learning more about its 19th century history, and checking out more modern monuments, like the mirrored wall memorial. The memorial lists the names of local Jewish people who were deported from Berlin in the time leading up to and during the second world war.
We then jumped on the S-Bahn to continue our WithLocals experience in Berlin Lichterfelde.
Getting off the train and walking into the square outside was almost surreal. This didn’t feel like the Berlin I’ve come to know and love. Where was all the street art? Why weren’t the streets lined with empty beer bottles, cigarette butts, and confetti?
Though I did have one of those “only in Berlin” moments, when we came across this guy winding up a music box which blasted a playful version of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons. It reminded me of the time I saw her play in concert at Brandenburg Tor three summers ago.
As we strolled to the residential area of Lichterfelde, we saw that the neighbourhood was beautiful, clean, and best of all, filled with tons of palatial Jugendstil and Grunderzeit villas.
This area of Berlin was developed in the late 19th century as a “villa colony” and become the exclusive home to some of the city’s most wealthy of residents. All of the villas are unique in their architectural style, with some even containing castle-like drawbridges.
Throughout the tour, Jeanette regaled us with facts about the area and stories behind some of the more notable villas.
Through our wandering, we also came across some Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) here and there.
These stones, by artist Gunter Demnig, commemorate people who persecuted under the Nazis regime. Small concrete blocks are laid into the pavement in front of various residents, in this neighbourhood, and all around Berlin. Their names and other information are listed on brass plates.
I highly recommend this Withlocals experience in Berlin to anyone wanting to see a different side to the city. You won’t be bumping into tourists, only locals as you tour around the Steglitz and Lichterfelde areas. With Jeanette leading the way, you’ll see many of Berlin’s lesser known sights and learn more about the history of these specific neighbourhoods.
Our Withlocals Lunch
After our walking tour finished, we headed to Jeanette’s home back in Stegletz. We happily warmed up and sampled some of her great-grandmother’s cuisine, including a cucumber soup, quiche with salad, and a dessert.