Making this list is sort of oxymoronic… Berlin is such an incredible city, with so much to offer for so many, that to even assume that a “Top 10” can be produced is really arrogant, and really ignorant. Nevertheless, I march forward into the idiotic, and bring you…. PRATTLER’S TOP TEN ‘BERLIN’!
Fat Bike Tour
1. First up, get yourself onto a FAT BIKE TOUR. These guys know how to have some serious fun whilst giving you the perfect overview of the city. The bikes are structured so that you feel like an absolute boss whilst riding them, and you can’t help but smile like an idiot as you cycle through the Tiergaarten on a sunny day, seeing naked old men and rabbits alike frolicking through the beautiful (and ginormous) gardens. This is the perfect way to start off your trip without being TOO or NOT SO informative. (Also, this will tick off all the major tourist attractions like the Brandenburg Gate/Reichstag/Victory Monument/Jewish & Homosexual Memorials/Berlin Wall… so you’ll feel like you’ve seen it all). I also recommended doing the afternoon tour as they take you to a legitimate Beer Garden with great wurst/schnitzel and beer (of course)
2. There are a shitload of museums in this city, and you’re going to have to see one to make yourself feel like you’ve indulged the “culture within”. So, I suggest you skip the Neue, the Historiches Museum and all the other ones and head straight to the PERGAMON MUSEUM. It probably doesn’t get much more impressive than this. I mean… alter to Zeus AND the entire gate to one of the oldest cities in the world… need I say more?
3. Z BAR in the heart of one of the major suburbs, Mitte, is a fantastic little watering hole without pretention. It’s dark and dank interior serves a grungy chic backdrop for a long catch up with a group of friends. The cocktails are fast and messy, and the bartender doesn’t have time for your bullshit. Get in, order, grab a seat, and expect some beast of a dog to rub up against the leg of your barstool whilst its owner strikes up a conversation about the Australian desert in winter in near perfect english.
4. KATER HOLZIG & CLUB DER VISIONÄERE are household names in Kreuzberg. One simply cannot exist without the other. Whilst Der Visoanaere serves as the perfect beginning to what will surely be your most alternative night out in Berlin, Kater Holzig is its younger sexier best friend which can’t stop dancing until the wee hours of the morning (which in Berlin translates to about 8am). Der Visionaere’s setting off the River Spree draws a wide demographic all looking super cool, but leaving behind the attitude. The same goes for Kater Holzig whose door policy is second only to Berghain (the most notoriously difficult club to get access into in the world). Don’t speak, don’t smile, don’t wear heels or a shirt and absolutely NO English. Hand over your ID and look the bouncers straight in the eye with a sense of sincerity and you’re guaranteed entry. This is where the pretentiousness ends, and once you’ve overcome that whole ordeal, a hipster’s paradise awaits. Set in a courtyard of sorts and enclosed by multiple abandoned warehouses and gigantic graffiti pieces, Kater Holzig is divided by 4 dance spaces, a restaurant upon an artificial wooden hill, and some fantastic real estate on the River Spree where you’re emplored to watch the sunrise around 4:38am. Go mad, and don’t leave until you’ve had your fix.
5. Outside the (insert station) Strasse Station once lay a humble forest green lavatory, where the odd hobo, and some drunken hipsters could perch their weary and inebriated bodies, and empty their bloated bladders to much relief. Well, the toilets don’t exist there anymore, but hobos and hipsters can get a different kind of release there now: BURGERMEISTER. Brainchild of SNYSOLUTIONS is a reconverted burger joint serving some of Europe’s finest burgers without apology. Think the ‘Huxtaburger’ of Berlin. My recommendation is the ‘insert burger’ with jalapenos and mushrooms. Whether it’s for a late lunch or a very early hangover cure at 4am this lavatory does not disappoint.
6. Every Sunday morning in Maüerpark, on the cusp of Prenzlauerberg, is a long winding flea market appropriately named the MAÜERPARK MARKT. It’s the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday morning as the market hugs a huge grass oval where Berliners from all walks of life come to BBQ on their throw-away BBQ’s (a concept Australian’s really should have coined many moons ago), and partake in the karaoke amphitheater where the leader drags his little karaoke machine for all to enjoy. Pick up some flavored quark (think yogurt like dish) and watch the market grow busier and busier. On the way home make sure you pick up a currywurst from Madonna’s favorite place under Uberswalder Strasse Station.
Graffiti of Teufelsberg
7. A visit to Teufelsberg (a half hour train ride and hefty 30 min hike) will make you feel like one of the spies that inhabited this now abandoned USA spy tower. Sitting upon a hill overlooking all of Berlin and its surroundings, you will ponder how the Russians turned a blind eye to this intergallactic eyesore. It’s contemporary purpose is negotiated through the voluntary security personnel who run tours that wind in and up the tower with no allowance of return until the end. You’re stuck in a multilevel art installation that provides each visitor with many haunting and fantastical graffiti pieces. Once at the top, you’re greeted by awe-inspiring views over the Berlin forrest, and soft whistles of the ind through the dilapidated tower balls.
8. As expressed in my previous post ‘A Barista’s Burden’, I am a self-proclaimed coffee wanker, and so, after having departed from South East Asia, the addict in me could not wait to quench my withdrawals in Berlin. Of the many café’s and coffees I frequented around Berlin in my 2.5 weeks there, it is my belief that THE BAHN & FIVE ELPHANT are making some seriously good things happen… mainly coffee (of course). The Bahn has two venues in central Mitte, their roast house and their café. The café is tiny but their head barista knows what’s up, and their fig, beetroot and chevre sandwich is a delicious brunch option. On the other side of the city in Kreuzberg lies Five Elephant, a beautiful little nook in the hipster suburb of Berlin. This place roasts in house, and knows what it means to be coffee obsessed. The crew are hilarious and so nice. Get them chatting and they’ll set you up with some excellent coffee of the day, a piece of their INFAMOUS cheesecake (it really can’t be avoided it’s THAT good), and some hot tips for other cool spots around Berlin that shouldn’t be avoided.
9. For those seeking a more cultural side of Berlin, you have a plethora of galleries to choose from. Of the many I was dragged to by my father, SPRÜTH MAEGERS GALLERY definitely did not bore. Not only is the space absolutely incredible, housed in a renovated old Berlin building in central Mitte, but the standard of the exhibits is world class. Showing throughout June was Joseph Kosuth and George Condo.
10. WOOD WOOD & BAERK are two excellent shops if you’re in need of some new threads. Though it’s basically possible to find decent clothing anywhere in the world nowadays, these stores are pretty selective with their collections and often stock local German and Berliner brands. BAERK also acts as an exhibition space and often has some interesting local artists showing their works at the front of the store.