What a place is this Berlin! If I had to describe it now to someone who had never been there – I would be in trouble.
The first thing that I observed as we were driving to our hotel was Togliatti (my hometown) all around. I knew that there would be a lot of Soviet architecture, but didn’t expect THAT much similarity. I swear I could even name the streets those would be if we were in Togliatti! We drove through the whole eastern part of the city to reach the hotel and I never lost the feeling that I was just back to Russia. Maybe only smooth and clean roads would make a difference, but once some crazy girl jumped out in front of the car and we almost hit her – that absolutely felt like home. Eastern Berlin really is something most of my European friends have probably never seen in their lives.
First night we just walked in the direction of Berliner Fernsehturm – another quite weird thing to be in the very city centre. It was in general hard for me to evaluate where the city center begins and ends at all. But when we found ourselves in the street that after 3 days became my favorite in the city – Rosenthaler Strasse – no more Soviet backyards where it’s impossible to park mattered. I think we spent more time in that area than I ever spend in Vienna center. It’s simply the quintessence of the best street food and the most lovely boutiques, all in one place! We had our first Berlin dinner @Revolver Burger (I was sure the name was Kreuzer Burger, no idea where that came from, but just in case I will mention both), and it was just SO good. Usually when we travel we look for some delicious exotic food places in advance, but Berlin’s exotics for me personally was the street food. SO good.
What do you do after some intro sightseeing and the best burger in town? A fancy bar, of course! From the barkeepers I know I had heard so much about “bar culture” in Berlin, so we were extremely excited. That night we went to Amano that I had already heard a lot about. It was exactly what I expected: chilled atmosphere, very good cocktails, nice music. I think it can be really a lot of fun if you know people there, like out Viennese bars are so precious for us mainly because of that.
The next morning we were gonna start with sightseeing, but that area around Rosenthaler Platz had attracted us so much the night before so that we went back there to grab brunch first. Which of course ended up with shopping. Berlin has EVERYTHING, from UrbanOutfitters and AllSaints to the cutest handmade fashion in the windows next to the most desired mass market. When I become rich – I will go to Hong Kong first, and then to Berlin simply for the jewelry to begin with.
We did manage to do the sightseeing after. I won’t focus much on it, though, because that’s the stuff you all can find in any tour guide. I can just say that Berlin is extremely interesting for any kind of tourist. It’s not only its disturbing and controversial history but also some kind of gloomy and even freaky spirit that is maintained there nowadays. I wish I had weeks more to visit museums there (which I only do in Florence and Cairo; not my type of vacation) and explore the most significant city sights.
Another place (other than “go try all the burgers you can find!”) I definitely recommend in Berlin and which you can’t just come across by accident is Klunkerkranich. It’s something between a terrace open area with DJs all days long and hipsters laying on the couches with some punch and a typical afterhour place for hardcore party people, if you know what I mean. Quite authentic, though. I felt like that only at some people’s apartments, but never in a public area. Loved it.
A very important part of Berlin culture is graffiti. I have never seen anything like that, even in the US. It’s more than just arts, it’s history looking at you from the wall. There are a lot of remarkable places, but definitely go see Teufelsberg Spy tower, East Side Gallery and the walls of Niederbarnimstrasse.
The neighborhood around last location is worth walking through, too! I have hardly seen so many attractive food places one after another, they just don’t end no matter how many corners you turn around! Was very hard to chose a place to eat, we changed our mind like ten times, eventually stopped at Homemade, and the food was just great! We had a problem with their service, but my shitface got us extra lemonades and any cake from their delicious selection for free, so that was no problem. For three days we were doing just sightseeing and foodtasting during the daytime…
…and during the nighttime we kept exploring the bars. Two highlights I must name would be bar Tausend and Buck and Breck. Both are similar in being very hidden and hard to get in, in both you ain’t allowed to take pics. I like that kind of concept a lot. But the places themselves are very different.
First we tried Buck and Breck. We went early to be sure to get in, because the bar has only 16 spots and they hardly let more than that in. Yes, a bit cocky, be ready for the doorman (who comes out only after you ring the bell on the wall – the door itself looks like just a closed shop at night) to check on you. Drinks are pure alcohol, a lot of spirits; barkeepers consider themselves to be presenting arts there for you. And you gotta respect the performance – talk quietly, sit straight, don’t move chairs and ashtrays, don’t take out your phone. You are are watching the beauty of barculture from the front row. Simply enjoy! And be aware that strong drinks mean it there.
Buck and Brecks inspired us to search for another Gatsby style exclusive and elegant place rather than going for typical for Berlin Berghain style of party (well, we saw Berghain at 3 p.m. the next day – nothing changes there as day and night switch). That’s how we found ourselves on the way to Tausend. I simply knew about it from somebody who had worked there. It is so hidden under an iron door of abandoned storehouse under an old railway bridge that you never just pass by. People who go there know where they are going. There is just a small window in the iron door. You wait. They even open it only if they consider you as their potential guest – if not, they won’t even bother. But even if the door is opened for you – there will be a second round if getting in, too. Speak German everywhere in Berlin while entering any worthy place, only German! But be ready for the Tausend doorbouncers’ German to be very hard to keep up and joke around with, at least for those who don’t have German as mother tongue.
The bar is magic. I can even claim that is the best bar I have ever been to. You feel more special and exclusive than anywhere. But it’s not the doorpolicy, secrecy or whatsoever, no. You are just feeling yourself in some movie about the 30’s mafia. I know it is very regular in Tausend to turn around and see some celebrity. And they don’t make any big deal out of it, at all. They can just not let a celebrity in. Because at Tausend it doesn’t matter who you are. If you are there – just have fun and enjoy life. They also had the best playlist I have ever heard at the bar. There are performances there, too.
I know bars, I have my bars where I feel like at home any time, where I can just go talk to a barkeeper whenever I want to talk. And with my tradition to be friends with bars and never betray them I honestly would never expect myself to feel that comfortable at the bar where I had never been before. And I was! On top of that, everything, from shelves to ice cubes, is such good taste there. And the Eye got our hearts. That night out was beautiful. Especially when I was laughing like crazy lisping while trying to get to know some policemen.
Ok, my idea to keep it short didn’t work out. I can talk about Berlin for ages now with anybody who had been there. Finally getting to the conclusion, our last destination as we were driving out of the city: Teufelsberg Spy Tower. First of all, read the history of the hill itself, it’s quite weird. So is the place. Very creepy and cool. Now I know the real meaning of word “underground”. Indeed it is. Not only it’s open for visitors now (in restricted hours), but we also met a guy there who invited us to the party – yes, they have raves there. Just imagine one of those as you look at the place (and remember, I am posting pretty pictures of it, in reality it’s much more freaky). Must be one hell of a rave.
Berlin, you are amazing! Thank you! Will be back. Kisses.