Welcome to Berlin, the hipster capital of the universe. It’s just like Brooklyn, except it’s cheaper, and there are slightly less Americans. If you planning a visit, don heavy-framed glasses and get your business cards printed up. The more slashes after your name, the better. Try: “writer/traveler/curator/designer/dreamer” for starters.
MEMORIAL: The memorial dedicated to the Murdered Jews of Europe by Peter Eisenmann is sobering, graphic and disorientating. During our visit we observed parents beninly looking on as their young children ran giggling through the ‘maze’; and a blonde being told off for skipping merrily between the blocks. #WhatWereTheyThinking? For details check the website.
ICH LIEBE GREEN: If the weather is good, hit one of Berlin‘s many green spaces that sprout wild and luscious throughout the city. Lustgarten is right in the middle of tourist mayhem, but we prefer biking through the lovely Tiergarten (it also welcomes sun-loving nudists!)…or take a stroll along the Spree…
ART ZONE: Looking into the window of a Mitte art gallery a middle-aged American guy enthuses, “This is my kind of art” at a knitted sculpture of Superman crashed into a wall… Get started with a chilled art crawl and coffee hop of the galleries in Mitte… Check out the latest shows on SugarHigh or create a hit-list with this gallery hit-list by BangBangBerlin. The free app by the Collecionist Art Guide is also pretty decent.
At the Barn Cafe all the waiters had Antipodean accents. They do a mean cup of coffee and some of the best sandwiches we’ve eaten. Ever. Anywhere. Too bad we didn’t have room for cake.
EAST SIDE GALLERY: A crush of elderly tourists obstruct a mural of Reagan and Gorbachev in a passionate embrace. Blocking my view: a cane wielding gent in his late 70’s wearing a New York Yankees cap, I note the blue veins running down the back of his elderly ears. The longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall is one of those ‘must-do’s. Hire a bike – it‘s more fun that way.
COFFEE: In Bonanza Coffee Heroes a near religious calm prevails as two hipsters work their magic over the Synesso Cyncra coffee machine; like priests in a pulpit or DJs at the deck. Note, seating is limited to outdoor benches and perching on bags of coffee beans. Great for a perk-me-up or refresher after a trip to Sunday‘s Maur Park flea market where gems spotted include vintage crockery sets and a child’s pair of green suede lederhosen.
MUSEUM: “I didn’t quite catch that.” Eerie, sad, kitsch and surreal; re-live the Lives of Others at the slightly-down-at-heel Stasi Museum where unfortunate East German citizens previously found themselves “detained for the clarification of facts”. An ominous charge if we ever heard one. Displays range from watch-operated spy cameras to bugged bird-houses and human ‘smell samples’ of potential dissidents. Get the background by reading Anna Fundar’s hypnotic and excellent Stasiland.
DINNER: We can’t decide what’s nicer, Da Baffi, a cheap, cute-as-a-button Italian restaurant in Wedding or old school elegance at Renger Patzch in Schoenberg. (We road tested these excellent tips thanks to Foodie in Berlin, who also suggested HBC in Mitte for the atmosphere – we’d put it on the hit-list for drinks and hi-jinx. ) Other ideas include the Shy Chef, eating dinner with strangers at a secret supper club, or pop-up, food events staged by the likes of the Agora Collective.
DRINKING: In the dimly-lit Hotel Bar a young woman sits on the floor beside me and starts eating an enormous Lebanese cucumber she pulls from her bag. Meanwhile a gently smiling bartender carefully snuffs and replaces the candles and adjusts a humble glass jars of garden flowers on my table. This innocuous watering hole in Kreuzberg hides an cheerful interior that can border on the frenzied. Hipster crowd, cheap drinks, great music,…. Low-Fi buzz meets gemütlichkeit. The owners also offerrooms (elsewhere) that are available for rent on request according to an ephemeral selection process.
Welcome to Berlin: echoing a cabaret act from the 20′s, enjoy Berliner Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester, he and his dancing girls await you…