Tuesday, 29 June 2010

BERLIN: A Metropolis Guide


After you’ve bought your day pass or parked your bike, pick up a copy of Zitty magazine at a newsstand or record store, it’s similar to Time Out. It’s all in German but you can figure out what exhibitions are on in the Kunst (Art) section and what gigs are on.

See what's new at the Hamburger Bahnhof modern art museum and the small Guggenheim museum Unter den Linden 13, Train: Französische Straße. It’s fun to wander around the contemporary art galleries in Mitte. Also Sprueth Magers Gallery usually has excellent exhibitions on. Gallery Oranienburger Strasse 18. Train: Oranienburger Strasse. The Helmut Newton Museum is also worth a look if you love photographs of beautiful statuesque women. Jebensstrasse 2. Train: Zoologischer Garten.

The best time to visit Berlin is in the summertime, though any season will be interesting, as long as you bundle up. If you do go in warmer months hang out at the Badeschiff- an outdoor bar complete with sand underfoot, iron beds, hammocks, a bar, free gigs, and an open air swimming pool. The view is amazing, the vibe is relaxed, and it’s open late. Eichenstraße 4. Train: Treptower Park.

My favourite hairdresser in the world, Persona Non Grata, is based in Berlin. Or fly him out if you can afford it. He’s known for hair sculpture: avant-garde cuts and colours with the obsessive precision of early Vidal Sassoon. He also specializes in going platinum and asymmetric fringes, though he can do understated styles upon request. If you want a real Berlin souvenir book Persona Non Grata to cut your hair.

Oh, look who we found in the hall...

Hair by Persona Non Grata. Photo by Jeffreyvanhoutte.be


Young indie rockers and hipsters: go to White Trash Fast Food on Saturday night for dancing or Monday night for screenings, Schönhauser Allee 6/7.

For tasty cocktails and a lesbian/ mixed scene go to Barbie Deinhoff’s in Kreuzberg Schlesische Straße 16.

Feeling experimental? If you’re a fan of massive nightclubs and minimal techno you might want to check out the infamous Berghain/ Panorama bar, preferably around 6 am Sunday morning. Public sex (gay and straight welcome) at this club is allowed, cameras are not. Some people say it’s hard to get into but I’ve never had a problem, just look bizarre and not too wasted and be prepared to queue. Am Wriezener Bahnhof. Train: Ostbahnhof.

Also keep your eyes peeled for club night flyers in record shops. (Leave any other nightlife recommendations or funny stories in the comments box...)

Josephine in Treptow. She likes behrensen saurer apfel and dead beat poets.


For vegetarians on a budget: order the hot halloumi sandwich from the falafel place near Barbie Deinhoff’s on Schlesische Straße; the nearest train stop is Schlesisches Tor. Expect warm cheese on a bed of lettuce and onions and salad with a creamy garlic sauce and a dab of spicy chili. It’s about 3 Euros and fills you up for hours.

Delores. This inexpensive California/ Mexican café offers delicious quesadillas, burritos, and salads filled with vegetarian, vegan, or meat ingredients. Try the lime marinated tofu quesadilla with fresh guacamole (5.50 with a side of fresh salsa), or the spicy mole burrito with peanut salsa if you’re feeling adventurous. Delores plays cool music and has a selection of new fashion magazines in English and German for you to peruse. Rosa-Luxemburg Strasse 7. Train: Alexanderplatz.

Room 77. As you walk in it looks like a cross between a dive bar and a living room. There’s a random old man playing the guitar, numerous sunken velvety sofas, maybe a floppy eared dog wandering around. Everyone was really friendly when we went, including the waiter and the people whose booth we squeezed into because every table was occupied. Room 77 specializes in juicy cheeseburgers with crispy potato wedges that come with a sour cream dip. 77 Graefestraße. Train: Schönleinstraße.

If you’re a candy freak and a fan of Germany’s famous square chocolates visit the Ritter Sport Chocoworld Store. They have every type of Ritter chocolate including limited edition flavours, (such as vanilla bourbon and creamy cashew) bite size, giant size, and melted praline hot chocolate as well as a build-your-own bar, where you pick the fillings and they make the chocolate fresh for you that day. Upstairs there’s a café and an exhibit explaining the manufacturing process. Französische Strasse 24 Train: Französische Straße.

Have you ever tried honey-hazelnut-yogurt milk chocolate? What are you waiting for?


Close to the Ritter Sport Chocoworld is the French department store Galleries Lafayette. The food hall stocks an impressive assortment of French mustards in a plethora of tastes and sizes, from caramelized onion to cognac. Upstairs, the beauty department sells unusual products such as expensive cologne that is meant to reek of the four body excretions and perfume that is marketed to smell like the blood of a virgin on clean sheets. Französische Straße 23.

Glasses aficionados: rush to the vintage specs shop Lunettes Brillenagentur. They sell beautiful frames and quirky one of a kind designs from about 20-200 Euros, most priced around 120. (You can get the prescription put in cheaply in Berlin or at Mott Street Optical in Chinatown, NYC or at Arckiv in London.) Marienburger Straße 11. Train: Senefelderplatz

If it’s the weekend, check out Treptow flea market on Saturday for knick knacks, vinyl, random electronics, and inexpensive china or better yet, Mauerpark on Sunday for sheepskin rugs, 60s lamps, and vintage treasures. Train: Treptower Park. Mauerpark: Bernauer Strasse 63-64. Train: Eberswalder Straße.

Do You Read Me? is a phenomonal magazine store. They have hundreds of international contemporary magazines (specializing in fashion and culture) plus zines and books. They don’t mind if you browse for a while either. Auguststraße 28. Train: Rosenthaler Platz.

Reach for the scent of virgins.

Cologne scented like blood, sweat, tears, and sperm. About 50 Euros. Or you could mix that up at home.

A fox stole in a vintage shop near U2 Eberswalderstrasse.

A Constructivist zine at the Guggenheim.

Artwork at a train station.

Berlin: A Metropolis Guide by Margo Fortuny originally appeared in Fine Magazine: http://finemagazine.co.uk/author/margo-fortuny/