Our First Weekend Guide to Berlin, Germany
Prinzessinengarten am Moritzplatz, Prinzenstraße 35-8
The concept of urban gardening in central Berlin was kick-started by the Nomadisch Grun (Nomadic Green) who dreamed of transforming a garbage dump into a peaceful garden. Since then, they’ve built a veritable dreamscape in which the community can come together and grow organic vegetables and herbs.
They also hold concerts, lectures and have food trucks selling simple soups made with their homegrown ingredients. It’s a perfect place to have a pause for reflection and plan the rest of your day. Although our eyelashes nearly froze in November so I’d think twice if you were planning on visiting in January.
Planet Modular Design, Prinzenstraße 85
The idea of going to a vast design store on your weekend away may not seem particularly alluring, but I assure you that this is no Staples, this is heaven on earth. They have two floors of beautiful notebooks, letter paper and stationary as well as every type of paint, pen and art material under the sun. If you’re a budding seamstress the fabrics are absolutely gorgeous and the 3D printer can certainly provide an alternative way of immortalizing your lover than picking up a dodgy tattoo down the road in a Kreuzberg special.
Museum der Dinge, Oranienstraße 25
The Museum of Things is the definition of quirky. It feels more like you’re exploring a flea market than a museum when you absorb the wildly eclectic selection of objects on display. The focus is the Werkbund alliance of artists and industrialists who sought to modernize the aesthetic values of day-to-day life in the early 20th century Germany. They fought for ethically sound production and upheld strong values in the face of cheap industry. Gustav E Prazaurek captured their motivation, “if we want to discern what good taste is we must first eliminate bad taste,” in response to the influx of cheap substitutes sweeping in and replacing precious materials in 19th century.
The permanent exhibition examines the relevance of the Werkbund’s ideology in relation to contemporary commodity culture, homing in on brand name products with endless rows of retro toothpastes and lurid neon hairbrushes. The typewriters, exotic tin jewelry boxes, opulent cutlery sets and floral paraphernalia all seem rather more profound within the context of a museum of ‘things’.
Street Food Thursday at Markthalle IX, Eisenbahnstraße 42-3
Keen to experience the wonders of ‘Street Food Thursday’ we dived into Markathalle for a spot of indulgence. It’s a sprawling warehouse of tantalising food stalls, all giving off the most alluring aromas. Food aside, what overwhelmed us were the swarms of beautiful Berliners rather than tourists. Groups of friends and travellers stood together, united by their adventurous eating habits, but divided by continents of gastronomy. My personal favourites were the Vietnamese and Chinese food stalls as well as the falafel.
25th Anniversary Balloons, The East Side Gallery.
Given that this November is the 25th anniversary of the Berlin wall coming down, we couldn’t have chosen a better weekend to visit the city. Parliament had decided that a beautiful way of celebrating would be to line the 15km route where the wall used to be with glowing balloons that would be simultaneously released into the clouds. It was extraordinary how viewed from the sky, the city looked once again divided, but 25 years later the biodegradable lights bring a sense of hope and joy.
The open-air East Side gallery, Muhlenstrabe lines the River Spree where the water used to divide the city. This interior part of the collapsed wall stretches to nearly 1.3km, exhibiting the illustrations of 118 artists from 21 countries. Following the corruption and exploitation, which followed its collapse in 1989, its decoration was the first opportunity for people to celebrate their freedom through their own creative expression. Not for financial gains, but for the sake of solidarity did these artists create these somewhat controversial illustrations. Visual declarations from eco-warriors, pro-gay campaigners and political protestors line the trail in splashes of bold colour.
Klunderkranich, Karl-Marx-Straße 66
Despite my taste for speakeasies, I have never encountered such an unassuming entrance to a bar. In the Neukolln district you will arrive at the address and find yourself entering a ghastly, commercial shopping mall with a 2500m² of concrete car park attached. However, if you have the right guide you’ll be led to a dingy lift and whisked up to the top floor. You’ll then follow pink chalk footprints through the car park, which twists up one more level onto the roof, from which you will be faced with a spectacular panorama across Berlin.
Not only is it the perfect place to while away an evening, but Klunderkranich happens to be ahot spot for flea markets and daytime drinks. If like myself you’re not so hot on all night clubbing, it’s the perfect anecdote. You can stay up until sunrise if you please, but in a chilled setting with good food, cheap drinks and an endless supply of kooky characters to entertain you. There is always an assortment of near horizontal acoustic musicians, tattooed DJs and hundreds of young creatives sprawled across dainty little living rooms, organic corners of green and an après-ski style bar.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.com