By Brenton Shaughnessy
SOME of the most important events in modern European history have taken place in this great city. As we all know, Berlin played host to Hitler during World War II and more recently the Soviets and the famous Berlin Wall throughout the Cold War. I love my history; this is what originally attracted me to Berlin, but what really fascinated me was the interesting alternative sub-culture that is thriving there.
It would have to be the coolest city in Europe and has been a hub for the world’s creatively minded for many decades now. Whether it is artists, fashionistas, students or musicians, you will not have to look far to experience them and their cutting edge work.
Kunst – (Art)
Where Florence (Italy) is home to the Uffizi Gallery and Paris (France) is home to the Louvre, Berlin (Germany) is home to street art. Put aside a day to wander through the neighbourhoods of Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg. The relaxed graffiti laws in Berlin allow artists, such as Banksy, Invader and VHILS to use the entire city as their canvas. It is forever evolving and in my opinion, this form of art is a lot more exciting and relevant than anything that you will see in a museum. Berlin is a world leader in this field and you need to make sure that you check it out.
Trinken — (Drink)
Mein Haus am See (BrunnenstraÃŸe 197, 10119 Berlin) in Mitte is a relaxed bar and perfect for if you are exhausted from a day of walking. There is art on display and a modern, stylish interior topped off with some of the more comfy couches that you are ever likely to lounge on. The crowd consists largely of students and is open 24 hours so can be the perfect start or finish to a night out.
We visited the now famous Dr Pong (Eberswalder Strasse 21, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin). Drink cheap beers with locals and fellow tourists while listening to great music. All while playing the biggest game of around the world table tennis as you are ever likely to experience.
GeschÃ¤ft — (Shop)
Kunsthaus Tacheles (Oranienburger StraÃŸe) is a huge artists squat in Mitte. Interestingly the building was the home of the Nazi SS during WWII. Facing constant threats of eviction, there are currently 80 artists residing in this near derelict building. You are able to wander freely throughout the building to view or purchase their artwork, listen to their music (a lot of the time live) or admire the huge murals adorning both the interior and exterior walls. A must see!
Humana (Frankfurter Tor 3, Friedrichshain, Berlin) would be one of the largest vintage clothing stores that I have ever stepped foot in. A shopper’s heaven, the prices are not exorbitant like what you will find in much of East London. There are jackets for less than â‚¬10 and many branded shirts for under â‚¬5. With five different levels and over 30,000 pieces of clothing, you are sure to find a bargain.
Essen — (Eat)
The Kebab and Falafel have recently taken over from the bratwurst and schnitzel as the Germans national dish. The neighbourhoods of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are home to more than 400,000 Turkish immigrants and the locals have embraced their cuisine with open arms. I would recommend any of the Falafel houses that you can find down Skalitzer StraÃŸe in Kreuzberg. Especially tasty after a night out at one of the many bars along the strip, you should pay no more than â‚¬2.50 for a Falafel wrap which is the size of your head.
Schlaf — (Sleep)
Baxpax Kreuzberg was our choice. Complete with pool and foosball tables, the hostel also had a reasonably priced bar. If you have a question about nightlife or day tripping, the staff are more than happy to assist. Situated on Skalitzer StraÃŸe, it is also in close proximity to many of the best bars, nightclubs, attractions, restaurants and cafes that Berlin has to offer.
If Baxpax is full, there’s bound to be some space in the friendly Generator Hostel — they have over 900 beds. Located on Storkower Strasse, they’re the sort of place where parties never end!
So, if you have had enough of museums and are sick of the sight of the same chain stores and coffee shops in every western European city, Berlin is the place to go. Steer clear of the high streets and explore the back blocks for a truly different weekend city break experience.