Vivian told me that I would be amazed, but having grown up in the consumption obsessed land that is America, I had my doubts. The KaDeWe or Kaufhaus des Westen (shopping center of the West) is a huge department store on the Kurfuerstendamstrasse, Berlin’s premier shopping street. It’s over 60,000 square meters on 7 floors, making it the second largest store of its kind in Europe (trumped only by Harrod’s in London). It boasts an average of 40-50,000 visitors a day! During the final months of the Berlin Wall in the late 1990’s, East Berliners were amazed to see the selection and abundance of clothing, housewares, and especially food that they had only dreamed about in the East. Having seen the abundance and selection that exists at the KaDeWe today, I am not surprised that many cried at the sight of the plentiful and beautiful wares that contrasted so sharply with the shortages that they faced.
It’s about the food
Entering the KaDeWe is not too different from an upscale department store in the U.S. or any other European city, but past the gleaming cosmetics counters and clothing floors is where the KaDeWe is a sight that shouldn’t be missed. The 6th floor at KaDeWe is a gourmand’s dream. Whether you love cheese, wine,
chocolate, coffee or something else, there is an incredible selection of specialties from around the world. Like Scotch Whiskey? There’s a whole department dedicated to fine whiskeys. How about cigars and cigarettes? There’s a section for this too. Maybe tea is your thing. There are hundreds of teas to choose from – boxed, bagged, loose and everything in between. Every food specialty imaginable has its place in KaDeWe and they are all staffed by polite and helpful sales associates.
Throughout the floor there are food counters serving different types of gourmet food and drinks. There’s a champagne counter serving Moet and another with Veuve Clicquot.
You can have sushi and sake, pasta and prosecco, seafood and wine, or schnitzel and beer – among many other choices. At one point it started to feel a little like a casino, a place where you loose complete track of time. Instead of being disoriented by the ringing of slot machines and lights, you’re overwhelmed by the sight, smell and taste of endless fine foods. If you’re a foodie, you’ll be like a kid in a candy store.
I never thought I would write a post about a shopping experience on our travels, especially since one of the values we’ve come to enjoy as a family is being able to live life with less. That said, I am now recommending you see the KaDeWe if you find yourself in Berlin and need an activity that will appeal to the whole family. It was not too busy on a Tuesday afternoon, and our children were simply amazed. Even if your kids have no appreciation for food, take them. The children’s toy section is sure to impress them and probably you too. All said we were in the KaDeWe for 4 hours. We bought a few small gifts, but mostly we enjoyed being amazed and eating at the various gourmet departments on the 6th floor.