A Second Weekend Guide to Berlin, Germany
Voo Store, Oranienstraße 24
If you wander down the hipster haunt that is Oranienstrasse you will eventually stumble upon this fine establishment’s subtle signage. Its entrance is somewhat unassuming given that it’s squeezed into an abandoned locksmith’s at the back of a courtyard of vintage bicycles. But, having read about their collection of art magazines, quirky literature and scents I was armed with a map and we drifted on in.
Given the cool ambience of this hipster haven, it’s no surprise that their ready-to-wear department predominantly stock nihilistic Swedish, and German brands. As is usually the case with European concept shops it’s somewhat overpriced, but you can definitely leave with a handful of trinkets to amuse you.
For a little breather, head to the adjacent Charlie’s Asian Bakery, Orianienstr 187 where you can indulge in fabulous vegan and gluten free cakes as well as Vietnamese and Matcha delicacies, which will transport you eastward.
Neue Wache War Memorial, Unter den Linden 4
The Neue Wache was one of the most peaceful places that we visited in Berlin. I loved the subtlety of Karl Friedrich’s Schinkel’s neoclassical memorial, which is made of four large corner risalits and a portico of Doric columns. Given its placement amongst the bustle of Humbolt university, the minimalist interior has a calming effect. There’s a beautiful stream of natural light illuminating the inner sanctum and drawing us closer to the seated figure with roses at its feet.
Minutes away on Museum Island is the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom). I’d recommend bringing a coffee and sprawling on the grass to absorb the opulence of this architectural triumph.
Minutes away on Museum Island is the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom). I’d recommend bringing a coffee and sprawling on the grass to absorb the opulence of this architectural triumph. The interior is beautiful, but what I found most intriguing were the crypts underneath the cathedral with an unforgettable selection of classical sculpture and decadent coffins.
Our Berlin Vodka Distillery, Am Flutgraben 2
Beyond the canals of Kreuzberg is the Our Berlin micro-distillery, a little start up brewing vodka in cities like Detroit, Seattle and Amsterdam with ambitions for more distilleries. Running their branches are local entrepreneurs like Siegfrid who are immeasurably passionate about their product. Unsurprisingly they strive to use locally abundant grains, such as corn in Detroit and wheat in Berlin – obviously gluten-free.
To keep themselves afloat they’ve been collaborating with well-known fashion houses, trendy watering holes and designers with more than 280 clients across the globe. Sampling their product and seeing the milk trays of infused vodka with confetti bombs, it’s easy to see why this pure vodka is so popular. What makes it so unique is the mild flavour that makes it feel more like a health drink than alcohol, but at nearly 40% you won’t be confusing it with coconut water. The charming bottle is designed to resemble old-fashioned milk bottles, keeping with the theme of tradition and organic production.
Long March Canteen, Wrangelstraße 20, 10997 Berlin
Entering what was recently declared to be Berlin’s trendiest restaurant feels more like slinking into a high-end brothel than popping to the local Chinese. The dimmed lights, beautiful dark oak tables and gentle aroma of incense all contribute to an infectiously sultry ambience. But, even if their interior décor resembled a school canteen their regulars would keep coming for the fabulous food. We shared exquisite plates of squid, beetroot tuna, black miso cod, scallops and endless edamame. It was all delicious and immeasurably beautiful to look at. Don’t be intimidated by the slinky hostess, because the infinite stream of food and wine only came to about twenty a head.
Gallina, Pücklerstraße 20
After dinner, there’s a gorgeous little Italian bar Gallina around the corner. You’ll find it by listening out for the relaxed jazz music drifting off the record player and into the street. The spritz cocktails and red wine are equally dreamy, but it’s the candlelit interior, which makes it the perfect spot for a romantic winter tipple.
Chalet, Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 3
Don’t forget that Berliners don’t go out until the early hours, so head over to Chalet if you fancy a dance after drinks. It’s a quirkier experience than the clubs of London with a garden drowning in fairy lights and lanterns. There’s also a lily pond, bonfires and a smokey dance floor inside an abandoned, but opulent interior. It feels like you’re being transported to some old world house party with the possibility of a fairy tale ending, but don’t get there until 2am or you’ll be dancing with the ghosts.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.com