By Anna Katina
Yes, Berlin is different.
I’ll explain but first, a brief historical background.
In the 20s, Berlin was one of cultural capitals of the world, there was no place in the world like Berlin! Creative freedom of thought and expression in culture, art, sex – the city was exploding of ideas! Brecht, Isherwoods, Bauhaus, so many references! Then Berlin became the capital of the Third Reich, followed by the Allies’ bombs and Soviet tanks. The Wall was built, Berlin was divided for thirty years before it was torn down. And today you see that city has suffered. 80% of Berlin had been destroyed. So don’t expect lots of spectacular architecture like in Paris or London where all corners are photogenic. Yes, I had to admit it, Berlin is kind of ugly. No well-preserved oldtown, no design monsters like in New York, it hides some beautiful corners of course but generally speaking, it is not the prettiest city. BUT. That’s what I love about this city! This is what I expected. I wanted to see something different. I saw a lot of #architectureporn this year. My blogposts are filled with buildings, old ones in Malta, new ones in New York – next topic please!! And I got that other topic.
For me, Berlin is all about the underground scene. I loooove leaving the mainstream and my journalistic vein is always leading me towards the hidden. I can tell you something – your guide will be google or local friends because in Berlin, secret spots are kept secretly. I talk about rooftop bars, gastronomic restaurants, clubs, fashion stores etc. Berlin is known for hosting the wildest, most controversial and bizarre parties in the world. I did not have an insight into this but I thought it’s worth mentioning it. My personal fetish is to capture the mood of a city by walking through the streets, watching the people and visiting local stores, restaurants and bars.
Voilà, that’s important to know before we start the photos. My impressions of the trip are more photojournalistic, even conceptual than usual. Berlin inspired me to pay attention to details and random situations. I hope, and you’ve got to tell me, that the visual story below will transport you into Berlin, that you will feel the Berlin mood that I felt. Moody, melancholic, on the one hand oppressing, on the other hand light and free, surprising and random at the same time. Enjoy.
Ready to take off! I flew to Berlin with Luxair! Short and direct flight, breakfast and baggage included, all good! I was on a mission. Actually, the same mission as on all of my trips, as I already said: avoiding the mainstream, finding the hidden. Luxair has launched the platform LuxairSpottedByTravellers for travellers like me on which you can share hidden spots and even become their ambassador for their next advertising campaign by simply submitting your photo. If your photo is chosen for the campaign, you will see it in magazines, on bus shelters and billboards + get flights for free in return!
Arrived in the late morning, we headed to our hotel Titanic next to Gendarmenmarkt. It was 35 degrees outside already… !
House of Wonders
Our first stop, recommended by who? By you guys! The perfect spot for a healthy and yummy brunch during the week or week-end! The interior design is incredible, so green! Shortly, urban greenhouse meets American kitchen with a Japanese twist, you have to try their ice matcha latte, delicious!
As the first day was so hot we could barely breathe, we decided to visit the popular shopping mall Bikini House. The coolest mall I’ve ever seen! A mix of local, alternative fashion and popular brands like Vans or Dr Martens, but also with cool rooftop bars like Monkey Bar and the interior of the mall is so urban, love it! Here I discovered the local designer Esther Perbandt (I bought awesome jewellery, all in my insta story in the Berlin highlight).
Klunkerkranich is a popular rooftop bar in Berlin. It’s exactly what I was looking for in the city: rooftop, music, people, sunset, mojitos, lanterns, urban setup and decoration, hipster mood – mega! We had some nachos for dinner and waited until the sunset to leave towards our hotel as we were pretty tired from the first long day. How to get there? Take the U-7 (U-Bahn) and get off at Rathaus Neukölln. You will see a big shopping mall called Neukölln Arkaden! Go into the mall and head to the top floor (5th). Arrived at the 5th floor, turn left and walk up a short ramp to the garage rooftop! #LuxairSpotter
Walk to Kreuzberg along the Landwehr Canal
We started this walk by coincidence and it was a pure joy! The path is full of activites – you can have a picnic, go to a beer garden, rent a small boat, feed the swans, sunbath.. I enjoyed taking photos of the buildings, nature, the people around. I think we walked around an hour before arriving in Kreuzberg, you just have to follow the canal to get there, go with the flow;).
Kreuzberg is known for the hispters! Coffeeshops, concept and vintage stores hidden in backyards, lots of interesting street style in the streets, bicycles,.. Get lost in this neighbourhood!
The fashion stores I visited here were Broke & Schön, Voo and Zebra Club. The photos below were taken at Voo, here you can find Prada bags from the current collection as well as fashion books, crazy sneakers or have coffee at the bar. I love urban interiors like this!
This dude below rocks with his canoe!
I’m sure there are other interesting neighbourhoods to explore in Berlin but on our last day, we decided to stay in Berlin-Mitte which has a lot to offer. I didn’t take photos of the classic Berlin sightseeing spots because Google is full of them already but we visited the following ones:
Berliner Brandenburg Gate
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Fernsehturm, we watched it from distance
Gendarmenmarkt. Our hotel Titanic was located next to it. For me, the most beautiful square in Berlin with nice terraces around the French Cathedral
Rotes Rathaus (photo below)
Berlin Wall museum (very very impressive! There is a huge panorama and you feel like being part of the oppressive scenery. My personal highlight thanks to the strong emotions conveyed in this room.
Cookies Cream is a vegetarian fine dining restaurant. I recommend you to take the 5 course menu to taste different creations! An amazing local experience for food lovers! Also, go to Crackers (in the same backyard) for a drink afterwards! No photos were allowed inside so I let you discover the meals and interior by yourself but be careful, wine included, your evening may cost you 300€.
Musem Island and Monbijou Bridge
Beautiful spot!! To me, one of the prettiest of the city!! Visit the museums but don’t forget to walk around the island and admire the buildings. You can relax in front of the Old museum or move towards the Monbijou Bridge and enjoy the unique view of the Bode Museum. There is also a small bar on the banks of the Spree river near the Bode museum where salsa classes are held! I took a photo in the other direction because the scenery looked so peaceful but you can watch my instastory for more impressions of this spot!
Funk You coffee shop
We were looking for a restaurant in an other street but as we saw the magic entrance of this one, we decided to change plans. The tea house and Vietnamese restaurant is serving clay pot-cooked regional fare, afternoon cakes & dim sum. Best choice ever – the food was delicious! Try their tasting meal! We had lunch at the terrace, which is hidden in the backyard but the interior of the restaurant was absolutely worth capturing. Look at the photos below!
Photo below, spotted a Berliner look: Smooth hair combed back with gel. vintage glasses, vintage oversized leather jacket, long white socks and white sneakers.
I don’t know, somehow everything in Berlin looked vintage for me. xD Even the Mauerpark. We enjoyed walking from Gendarmenmarkt to the park by discovering other corners of Berlin-Mitte! An area where the local youth likes to hang-out on sunny days. I enjoyed sunbathing between the birches! This park is also a popular canvas for graffiti artists. In fact, a 300-meter strip of the Wall remains in the park and everyone is welcome to decorate it!
Walking back to the hotel and discovering more gems…
We had dinner at Neumond. My gastronomic highlight of the weekend, especially their starter, photo below. Wonderul corner! You sit outside, watch the hipsters in the streets, have a glass of red wine,, enjoy the sunset and feel the vibes, a perfect evening.
That’s all for Berlin my friends! I hope you like my story! Berlin may not be the prettiest city in Europe but she hides lots of beautiful gems which are sometimes hard to find. My recommendation, get lost but prepare a few notes with specific spots that you want to visit (stores, clubs rooftop bars, parks, musems etc). My aim was to feel and recreate the mood I’ve always seen in movies and artworks referring to Berlin and I’m glad I got what I wanted. Have you been in Berlin? What do you think of the city?