Berlin was very high on our list on top cities to visit in Europe and it certainly didn’t disappoint. After a long search for accommodation we found BRILLIANT APARTMENTS. As the name suggests, they are brilliant. We ended up extending a couple of times, so we ended up staying at three different apartments over the 5 weeks we were in Berlin. If you are ever in Berlin, we recommend them.
Prenzlauer Berg, one of Berlin’s prettiest neighbourhoods (we think so). This neighbourhood, once the epicentre of working class Berlin and government resistance, has undergone significant gentrification in the past few years. After reunification this area became one of the most bohemian parts of town. Lots of great and diverse restaurants (Vietnamese, Turkish etc) right on our doorstep plus very close to the gritty but awesome Mauerpark (more on that later).
The name translates to “Wall Park”, referring to its status as a former part of the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip.
Mauerpark Sundays are like taking a trip to Berlin’s heart. A mix of rundown park, Berlin Wall monument, public hangout, flea market, pocket music festival and karaokeville. It’s gritty, chaotic but absolutely mesmerising.
Bearpit Karaoke is giant public karaoke experience. Folks volunteer and sing to a very animated and fun crowd. Sometimes the performer are truly amazing and sometimes they are not.
You are welcome to bring your booze and snacks. Take part in the karaoke if you like the attention. In the end, nothing beats just finding a spot and observing Berlin life and a very intereresting mix of people. Mauerpark is a magical place that brings people from all backgrounds, ages, races, ideologies together. Very Berlin!
Berlin Bike Tours
The tour started in our hood of Prenzlauer Berg, the formerly club-driven-now-gentrified with its collection of beautiful little shops and the famous Mauerpark, to Friedrichshain with its countless bars, clubs and street art. Then it’s over the river into multi-ethnic Kreuzberg and Neukölln with their cross-cultural hipster-crowds. A great way to see a city.
Berlin Half Marathon
Scott entered the iconic Berlin Half Marathon on April 8th. Running through the many iconic sites of Berlin.
David Bowie and Berlin is a long and intense relationship. Discovering the city in the early 1970’s Bowie finally started to work in the city back in 1976 at legendary Hansa Studios together with his mate Iggy Pop. The tour started in front Martin-Gropius-Bau and go on to legendary Hansa Studios – the musical center of Bowie’s Berlin universe. From there we check over to Potsdamer Platz and Brandenburg Gate, heading to Berlin Reichstag – here Bowie had a very special live concert back in 1987 during his Glass Spider Tour – directly at the Berlin Wall. From Friedrichstrasse station we took the S-Bahn for a short ride to Kleistpark area in Schöneberg where Bowie & Iggy used to live and end the tour with a free drink at Café Neues Ufer.
As we know, the Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany), starting on 13 August 1961, the Wall cut off (by land) West Berlin from virtually all of surrounding East Germany and East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989.
Two interesting facts:
Fact 1: The Berlin Wall was constructed as a way of preventing East Germans from entering West Germany. It was not so much a boundary for West Germans wanting to enter the East, who were able to do so by obtaining a permit several weeks in advance. It didn’t face much opposition by the western powers as its construction confirmed that the Soviet Union were not planning to take over West Berlin.
Fact 2: When looking at old photos of the wall, how do you know if it was taken from East or West Berlin? The west side of the Berlin wall was covered in graffiti. The East side was not.
Topography of Terror
Remembering terror and persecution – the documentation centre Topographie des Terrors is one of the most-visited places of remembrance in Berlin.
A place where terror is tangible, a place of remembrance and a warning from history, the “Topography of Terror” exhibition is located on the site where between 1933 and 1945 the principal instruments of Nazi persecution and terror were located: the headquarters of the Gestapo, the high command and security service of the SS, and from 1939 the Reich Security Main Office.
On a very much lighter note, we attended a Mossy concert in Berlin. An initiate, acoustic set with about 100 punters. A great night in typical gritty Berlin venue.
Other races and runs
Scott signed up to the Berlin Midnight Runners who do 10km runs around Berlin on Wednesday nights and als did a 10km charity run at the old airport. A great way to see the city and meet people.
Catching up with Hils Goldman
Great that Hils flew over from London and visited us and Berlin for a couple days and had a great time.
Other random stuff