Well, why should they have all the fun? After three years in the city, we figured we deserve a break from reality as much as any easyjetsetter. So we packed our tour guides into our “fanny packs” and set out to the city’s most obvious attractions, in order to pick up 25 tourist tricks to rediscovering Berlin.
After all, no one wants to be seen with you on that thing.
One hour and three transfers later, you’ll have successfully made it across Unter den Linden.
See how far you get with the line, “but I’m just a tourist…”
There’s restaurants, a cinema AND DUNKIN’ DONUTS – why would you ever leave?
For Burgermeister. For Berghain. For the bloody Reichstag.
Like no one ever drew on a wall where you come from…
Abandoned in 1990, this diplomatic haunted house is a treasure chest of urban art and architecture. Official papers lie illuminated only with the visitors’ flashes and the scarce light that trespasses its cracks. In a residential area of Pankow which is said to be the home of major diplomats of the former East Germany, the abandoned Iraqi Embassy to the GDR is a delightful and spooky place to visit. Obviously, Abandoned Berlin has the embassy pretty well covered, and awesome photos can also be seen on Finding Berlin.
Did you know that Berlin is full of abandoned buildings covered in awesome graffiti? No? Well in that case, you will be AMAZED by Eisfabrik Berlin, the colourful deserted ice factory sitting on the Spree. As ever, you should check out Abandoned Berlin for the facts, history and other such information – and visit the blog of photographer Danilo Sierra for more great snaps.
This week I actually left the confines of my Berlin bubble to head north east to a teeny tiny town called Pinnow. The reason for the trip was a lifestyle shoot against the backdrop of a stunningly-designed Thomas Kröger building. Das Schwarze Haus is pretty much my dream home, with its black-stained wood, floor-to-ceiling glass walls and more angles than a dodecahedron. As if that wasn’t enough, I got to visit the neighbouring Alpaca farm and get within spitting distance (literally) of these insane-looking animals! Enjoy.
(Photos by Zoë Noble Photography)
Photos by Zoë Noble Photography.
Rumour has it that this weekend is your last chance to visit Spreepark Plänterwald! The former theme park’s future has been in question ever since its owners abandoned it to set up another failed amusement park in Peru, and then were caught trying to smuggle cocaine back hidden in their Flying Carpet ride. (True story. The documentary Achterbahn, which we borrowed from Dave andberlin, tells the full, fascinating tale.) And now, in a sign of the times, Spreepark is set to be auctioned off, although, this being Berlin, the closing date keeps shifting. Having said that, if you don’t visit before July 3rd, you might never get the chance.
And visit you should. Although we’re sure that taking the tour doesn’t come close to the thrill of breaking into the park, which used to be the only way to get in, Spreepark Plänterwald is still an unmissable, uniquely Berlin place. Apart from your fellow visitors and the odd security guard, the theme park still feels very much vacant – the big wheel still eerily turns, creakily blown by the wind, the only warnings about the parts that aren’t safe to walk on come from the guide’s mouth. It’s worth risking his wrath by sneaking away from the group, so that you can discover for yourself the lion’s mouth through which the rainbow-coloured roller coaster used to travel, or take a quiet walk through the graveyard of toppled dinosaur statues.
If you’re in Berlin this weekend, make sure you book a spot on what could be the last tour of Spreepark Plänterwald. You can find details, in German, here - hope you make it!
Photos by Zoë Noble Photography.
I love the fact that writing a blog about our lives in Berlin means we get the chance to meet likeminded people, who are passionate about following their dreams and setting up something special in Berlin.
Alex and Joe from MAR-DEN fit that bill perfectly, opening a vintage furniture pop-up store in their beautiful Berlin Wohnung. The couple source furniture and objects they would love to have in their home, each piece of which has a unique charm and a story to tell. Alex’s background as a set designer back in the UK means that she lives and breathes interiors, picking pieces that are “both functional and beautiful.” She believes that furnishing one’s home should be fun, and explains that MAR-DEN’s goal is “to help people step away from buying new, mass-produced items which can lack personality.”
I really love this ethos and James and I most certainly could do with a little help in that department. Moving to a new country with only two suitcases and two cats (not inside the cases, don’t worry!) meant that the daunting task of filling an unfurnished flat – which in Germany couldn’t be meant any more literally – seemed completely overwhelming. We practically lived in IKEA for those first few months, stocking up on weirdly-named household items like nobody’s business. After nearly two and a half years in Berlin, we now feel settled enough to start investing in some items that we really love, and say something about us as well.
Walking into the MAR-DEN apartment I pretty much fell in love with everything, which I guess is going to happen when the pieces are lovingly hand-picked, and restored by a professional set designer! Sadly the pop-up shop is only open until June 30th before everything gets shipped back to their UK store, so I urge you to check it out soon. Joe and Alex dream of coming back to Berlin to set up a permanent store as they, like us, have been bitten by the Berlin bug. I really hope they do, as not only do I love hearing about people following their dreams to Berlin, but our Wohnung could sure use their help
Photos by Zoë Noble Photography.
Today we’re going to see Depeche Mode live for the very first time! But, for those not lucky enough to have tickets for the Olympia Stadion concert, there’s another show in town: Electronic Beats’ Depeche Mode Fan Exhibition, open to the public now. Until June 20th, the epic exhibition space in the former Warenhaus Jandorf is showcasing donations from the band, including Martin Gore’s shiny guitars and even shinier vests, alongside every kind of memorabilia imaginable.
Fans have donated drawings of their (sometimes unrecognisable) heroes, fanzines, flyers from Mode-themed parties back in the 90s, and oddities like the Playmobil-based Depeche Mode in a Box. Visit the Depeche Mode Fan Exhibition website for more details – including a link to Electronic Beats’ virtual fan exhibition – and if you want to check out another extensive collection devoted to some music legends, check out Berlin’s Ramones Museum.
One for when (if?) the weather improves! Volkspark Friedrichshain is a beautiful park in the otherwise unremarkable area between Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. Officially opened in 1848, the park continued to evolve well into the Cold War, when the DDR used the rubble of bombed-out East Berlin to build two artificial mini-mountains, one 48m and one 78m high. The larger one, Große Bunkerberg, is worth scaling if you’re feeling energetic, but don’t expect a view from the top – the trees that now grow there obscure what could be a wonderful panorama of the city.
Make sure you don’t miss the Märchenbrunnen, or Fairy Tale Fountain, which depicts the characters of the Grimm brother’s stories and was one of the few parts of the park to emerge from World War Two unscathed. For a bit of history and a great video about the Fairy Tale Fountain, check out Moving Postcard, and make sure to visit Volkspark Friedrichshain as soon as the rainclouds clear.