Currywust & Champagne, this is a great option you can taste Saturday mornings at the Kollwitz- Market, where all the bourgeoisie from Prenzlauer Berg go for fresh regional and oecologic food shopping with their toddlers and strollers. If you want to see the real life of medical doctors in Berlin – go there and you will meet me with my wife and our daughters buying regional honey and milk and you will get some handcrafts as a souvenir.
I am a Berlin citizen since 2001 and I got old with the former coolest and hottest district in Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg). For all who are coming to Berlin to visit #dasSMACC, I can show you around to the places I like, but the real cool guys moved along long time ago (->districts of Neukölln, Wedding, etc). You won’t find any recommendations for Berghain in here, you will go there anyway. I am more a sunshine- lover, so my activities are during daylight (though the best time for Berghain is Sunday mornings, they say). I will recommend in this post some places, where you can find the real Berlin life, few nice touristic places and one must-visit location in Berlin.
To start with the must-visit location: It’s the Holocaust Memorial. If you want to understand the germans of today you have to go there. In the heart of our capital we have a Field of Stelae and it remains us at the shame and horror our grandfathers did to the jews, the people of europe, the world and ourselfes. Why doesn’t Germany act politically and militarialy concordinant to it’s economic power in the present age? Because we still have in mind what we did in the past. We are still hesitating and trying to avoid physical force against someone else. Even though the place is on one side intimidating, on the other side it’s well accepted and a kind of playground for visiting school-classes. It’s really impressive.
Enough of the heavy stuff.
My fist place, I myself explored in Berlin as a visiting school-kid in the 1980ies (born in the west, now living in east-Berlin) was the white sea in Weissensee where I did a rowboot’s tour over the small sea and had a refreshment at the Milchhäusschen, which still exists and represents the urban life in a fast developing district of east Berlin with a still existing east-Berlin charm. Take the yellow Tram M4 to experience our beautiful east-Berlin transport-system which was replaced in the west by buses during the time of division..
For a different, but just as relaxing event in west Berlin I recommend an excursion to Pfaueninsel Wannsee, a small island in the Wannsee where free living peaufowl walk around and you might find a peacock’s feather. To get there, a tiny ferry takes you over. You will meet in the weekends for sure the real west- Berlin bourgeoisie with their toddlers and strollers, too.
It’s not hard to get good and affordable food in Berlin. If you want to taste “real german” food, there are plenty Currywurst- possibilities at the street corners. But for the real heavy meet&beer diet you should try a bavarian restaurant like Augustiner at Gendarmenmarkt where you need a taxi reservation afterwards to get to your hotel. It’s really good and friendly and autentic. To get this “bavarian experience” in a more basic style with a lot of fun, the Hofbräu Berlin is the right place to go. Take a bunch of people, reserve a table and you will dance on it after two Maß of beer to the traditional band playing bavarian folklore (together with the japanese tourist group and other lost souls). I go there once in a while for Sunday morning brunches with the family after parties, because it’s rich and funny.
In case you prefer more light and up-to-date culinary dishes, Cuckies Cream is called the best vegetarian restaurant in Berlin. And the way to get there is very old-style east-Berlin, like it was short after the fall of the wall. It’s not easy to find, located behind dustbins in a dirty backyard, but worthwhile to visit. To feel at home, to get rid of the tourist-feeling for every native english- speaker, Bird-Burger is the place to go. I myself feel always like a Tourist in there, because official language is english. No-one of the staff speaks a word of german. And the Burgers are fantastic. It’s just around the corner of Mauerpark. The park is directly on the old wall- stretch between former east and west Berlin and now populated with young people from all over the world, playing frisbee and having barbequee. Sunday afternoons at Mauerpark is a great Karaoke show in an old atrium, where everybody can try it’s best to entertain the audience. Loud music, tons of people, nice weather and peace. Good place to be, if you don’t leave the city to see the nature (as I do). To continue the roundtrip of the day, go for dinner to Oderberger Strasse, where there is a good original Berlin restaurant (Oderquelle). If you are fine with the meet&beer diet, just across the street you will find a very decent Korean Sushi….
If you want to see the wall in it’s original version, you have to visit Bernauerstrasse. A beautiful memorial with an impression of former times. Actually the restored wall starts at Mauerpark and you can walk down the street to a memorial center. I pass the wall always by bike on my way to the city centre and I am still impressed. The former wall is on the eastern side of the road and storries tell of old west- ladies with their dogs, who still refuse to cross the street, because “there is east Berlin”.
To relax after a day-loog sightseeing you have to go to Beach Mitte for barefoot- volleyball in a sandy beach- location with cool Berlin inhabitants. It’s open air and a grat exhibition of the latest tatoos, pircings and styles.
Furthermore, I like the SPA and Sauna culture of Berlin, so if you need a day off, you should try Vabali SPA near the Main Railway station in Berlin Mitte. To immerge into the local scene, there is a backyard sauna in Rykestrasse, where you can meet the bohemians from the Kollwitz market again (and me).
Getting around in Berlin is easy by Metro- Tram, Bus, Underground and Railway, but the best way to get a feeling for the city is a roundtrip by bike. There are several agencies with guided bike-tours like Berlin on Bike. A cool alternative is also taking a boat trip on the river Spree.
For an evening chill-out at the Spree, I love definitivley the Holzmarkt– area. There you will find the young folk hanging around with a drink and there are several different possibilities to take away a pizza, burgers or a currywurst…
Enjoy the city
I just forgot the CPR section: When you still have time to show up at #dasSMACC at Tempodrom I see you there