Today’s post comes from someone other than myself. Guest posts are not something I have feautured on here before but when Nicole got in touch, explaing how she had so many photos and things to say about her recent trip to Berlin I was all for it. As I mentioned in a post recently, sharing other peoples work should be a regular thing, but especially when it’s about a city I love, about travel and love for experiencing new places – there was no way I could say no!
Berlin for people who like coffee, design, books, magazines and relax
After the recent news of the referendum, the obvious thing to do was to end up in Berlin the following week to enjoy my love affair with Europe while I can.
In Berlin, the streets and bike paths and pavements are vast, giving space for the sunlight to fill most spaces in the city, despite the domineering, brutalist architecture. The infrastructure, the layout of the whole city makes sense, and there are far less people than, for example, London so it feels less chaotic and fast paced. It seems as though Berliners are able to live creatively; there is no pressure to fit into a certain box and everybody expresses themselves unapologetically. There is more trust and good will. I’m able to sit outside a coffee shop with my coffee having not paid yet, I can use the public transport freely, without getting stopped by ticket barriers, because you are given the trust that you will buy a ticket anyway. This trust that’s set in the city infrastructure leads to less suspicion and more wholesome residents. It’s friendlier. People smile more.
Berlin’s history is not confined to museum walls, but sits heavy in the architecture and in the concrete beneath your feet. Some of the most famous areas, such as Checkpoint Charlie, have unfortunately been accustomed to tourists, plastered in advertising, souvenir shops, KFCs and Starbucks. However, remnants or the Berlin Wall run from north to south throughout the city and enormous photographs of the build up and break down of it is plastered on the vast buildings, along with relevant information. It’s impossible not to notice the effect that World War Two had in shaping this city into what it is today.
I stayed an apartment in a historic, beaten up building, with huge spaces and an abundance of natural light. It was close enough to the buzz that you felt like you were among it, but high up enough that I could observe and breathe deeply. It was in a peaceful district, Mitte, set away from the main tourist attractions. It’s a residential area, scattered with bars and wide open spaces. It’s easy to spend an evening sitting in the warm air with a German beer and the sun on your face as the buildings are not too tall.
A list of places that are worth your while:
Mauerpark and surrounding area
Mauerpark is one of the bigger parks around Mitte. It’s a sun trap during the long summers, it’s a popular yet peaceful place to listen to live music from unknown or growing artists, or watch graffiti artists create at the top of the hill. You’re surrounded by people from different walks of life, some walking their dogs, some rollerblading, hula hooping, playing basketball, or just lying about listening to good music and getting high. On Sundays, this is amplified, as Mauerpark takes on a festival feeling, the famous flea market (Flohmarkt) pops up, and the food trucks provide an endless array of incredible food, including currywurst, bagels and crepes. You can also watch or even join in with the enormous public karaoke. It’s a must-see.
Just by the park on the south side is The Juicery, who serve the freshest and most attractive smoothies and juices in Berlin. And just round the corner is Bonanza Coffee Heroes, internationally renowned coffee roasters, with kind and talented baristas. The seating area outside is relaxing and sheltered from traffic noise and a perfect place to people watch.
Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers
Set back from the (very good) main shopping stretch in Mitte, Father Carpenter is in a private yet sunny courtyard with gorgeous outdoor seating and an incredible light lunch and drinks menu for very reasonable prices (as is everything in Berlin). Nudie Jeans is also right behind it, so never suffer a crotch hole again.
White and minimal, with a mini library of gorgeous magazines where you can pitch up with your laptop and work, or lavish yourself in print design. The baristas are all English speaking, knowledgable and funny, and have been serving coffees from Drop and Five Elephant recently, as well as salads, sandwiches and cakes. There’s a garden out the back to put your feet up. Be wary of the hoards, three minutes up the road at Checkpoint Charlie.
A beautiful store, set back from the high street in Kreuzberg, selling high end brands, gorgeous books, posters and other bits and pieces. It also houses Companion Coffee, which often serves sweet flavour notes and always provides gorgeous latte art. The concrete tables are the cherry on top.
Any fan of architecture/graphic design/fashion design/independent magazines/politics/art and theory will fall in love with this intimate book shop on the east side of Mitte. Very aesthetic and very easy to hunker down and get lost.
Also in Mitte, Soda gives way to books on graphic design, an array of independent magazines and the owner has a completely fabulous and grumpy looking bulldog who stands on the door.
Do you read me?!
This small and unnassuming book shop is crammed with magazines, new and old, a mixture of literature and design books, as well as boxes and stacks of archives. It’s quiet and elegant charm makes is an essential place to get lost in.
An incredible, stripped back building, a little out of the way and not talked about enough. It’s enough of a reason to go and see it for the space and the architecture, but at the moment there’s a vibrant exhibition of satirical oversized book covers (better than I can describe) by a very talented Brit called Harland Miller.
The best food I’ve had in Berlin (other than the Currywurst) is actually on the Vietnamese scene. Pho Hoi is in the east side of Kreuzberg, beyond Voo Store and The Record Loft (if you’re into vinyl, look up). It’s got a lovely outside tables to sit in the sun, and I will never forget the duck I ate there.
Other coffee shops worth popping into are Nano coffee (near Voo Store etc), Five Elephant and The Barn. You can also pick up Berlin’s speciality coffee map for €3. Other galleries you might want to see are Sammlung Boros, Berlinische Galerie, St. Agnes Church and Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art. There’s great shopping around Mitte for clothes and you have to visit Hay.
Let’s love Europe while we can.