SIGHTS in Berlin:
Bright, airy, friendly and white: that's how you would characterise most art museums and galleries. The collection Boros in Berlin however has decided against such an exhibition space and instead moved into a premise with a moving past. A building which does not dodge behind art but tells a story of its own. The former bomb shelter was erected by the National Socialists during the second World War, later occupied by the Red Army and transformed into a war prison. From the 1950s onwards it was used as storage for textiles and tropical fruit, and at the beginning of the 1990s a hardcore techno club moved in. In 2003 the art collector Christian Boros from Wuppertal bought the building and refurbished it into a gallery under strict conditions. Now you can see - after preliminary registration - works by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Cosima von Bonin, Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Ruff and Wolfgang Tillmans, with the exceedingly interesting premises on top.
Please don't touch? You won't hear this sentence in the DDR Museum. There aren't any national treasures stored in showcases, but rather exhibits that are there for you to touch so that you can experience history for yourself. The interactive museum is a lot of fun, but it also calls for visitors to consider how life really was in DDR times. It wasn't just sunny trips in Trabi wagons and plattenbau apartment blocks, but also surveillance, fear and chocolate substitutes. So that you understand how it went, take a seat in the living room of a plattenbau apartment, but watch what you say as someone will be listening. The musuem answers the call of the DDR-nostalgia boom that Berlin has experienced in the last couple of years. The collaboration of historians has however pushed the nostalgics to the side, as this museum provides an objective and true version of the story. The exhibition pieces come from all areas of life; the home, work, recreation, holidays, fashion and culture and are nothing more as the left-overs from old DDR households. But today the kitchen cupboards are anything but private here in one of the most innovative museums in the world.
Off we go to the Grunewald and to its highest point at 115 metres: the Teufelsberg (devil's mountain), an elevation that was made from WWII debris and attracts walkers, mountain bikers and kite-flyers to the fresh open air in summer and cross-country skiers in the winter. The view is great, covering the area surrounding Berlin and it's city skyline. And this is very reason why this place was once a spy post. During the cold war, the Americans and the British used to position their listening devices here. Every now and again curious ones stumble into the dilapidated facility, even though it is prohibited and officiall cordoned-off.It looks like the building permission expired here, as a considerable apartment and hotel complex was once in the works, along with David Lynch's aspirations for a university and meditation centre. Thankfully nothing became of these plans and the Teufelsberg remains wild mountain territory, apart from the local vineyard. Those who are searching for a green space to recharge their batteries should definitely do it here. A small tip: don't forget to bring your swimming gear, as you will pass by the Teufel lake on the way up the mountain. But if you do forget them, don't worry, as the naturist community also has a good presence.
EAT in Berlin:
It wasn't all that long ago when the word 'cupcake' was a totally foreign word in this city. That however changed promptly when Carrie bit into her first cupcake at SATC. Whatever Carrie does is stylish, and many others want to follow suit, especially in Europe!That's how the small and tender cake made its worldwide debut. And it was very well accepted, thanks to the healthy demand. This is easily seen at the Cupcake bakery in Berlin, where the cupcake craze is in full swing. The marvellously colourful bonnets that the little cakes carry come in a glorious array of colours are made either with flavoured butter or cream cheese - according to your desired calorie intake.
Are you one of those die-hard soup fans who cannot pry themselves away from a bowl of the hot stuff, even on a 30 degree day? No? Then after a visit to Susuru you might be showing up to the recruitment office of this exclusive club.Susuru is Japanese for slurping, which although is not the most welcome tone at the dinner table in Europe, is seen as a compulsory excercise in Japan. If you appreciate your soup, then it is customary to show this by slurping. There's soup with noodles, with seeweed, shrimps, spices, with mini pastries - yes, with pretty much anything that is fresh and fits into a soup pot. A real highlight is the Ebi Kimchi Udon with crispy fried shrimp.Those who can't find the savour in a bowl of flavour should nibble their way through the starters menu. Even at a table of soup-freaks, anyone should be able to find a place. The decor is bright and friendly, the epitome of modern Asian design. Service comes around round tables and round benches, or you can opt for the high bar stools at the counter. Japan goes Berlin Mitte.
What do you think about those crazy chefs who throw the conventions of consistency overboard and suddenly serve chocolate air and soup-dust? Not sure? Then you should absolutely drop in at Margaux and breathe in a serving of Iced Berlin Air or nibble on Mineralwater jelly. Our conclusion - more fascinating as absurd! The aromas explode, your tastebuds will be taken by surprise and the gourmet heart will dance for joy. Of course the Margaux undoubtably belongs to the five top restaurants in Berlin. However, it 's astonishing that you don't feel like an underdressed pile of misery hiding behind a miniscule portion. At the Margaux, you are able to enjoy a perfect meal in a comfortable atmosphere. And it is all thanks to the owner and head chef Stephan Hentschel, who principally uses only the freshest ingredients, extravagant wild herbs and Himalaya sauces.
STAY in Berlin:
So what's hidden behind the name Spätkauf (late-night shopping)? A small kiosk, that is open until late at night, and the people providing with essentials at late hours. Beer is, for example, one of those essentials. This Spätkauf however, has a special secret: There's beds on the top floor, which are surprisingly cheap. You can expect to pay ? 20 per person per night, but you should book early, as there are only two rooms available. The kitchen and bathroom are shared, but with few guests at any one time, it's hardly a problem. The owners are genuinely happy to receive guests and are inclined to offer a shared round of drinks. And as a little bonus, you will recieve the best insider tips for free. Kinders under six get to sleep for free. It's a great alternative for your wallet.
Artists, bohemians and the avant-gard painted the town red here in the wild 1920's and you there is still a certain wicked aura that surrounds the building. The small Café Sankt Oberholz is popular amongst locals and visitors from around the world. Those that sit around long enough to realise they don't want to go home can bunk in one of the apartments on the top floor. So what's here? Well first and foremost, comfort, style and an aftertaste of the 20's, which melts in your mouth. The hotel boasts high ceilings, impressive views, works of art on the walls and vintage furnishings that actually appear to be really modern. Four to six people can stay in an apartment and when your travelling group starts to get on your nerves, then get out on to the street, as you are right in the middle of Berlin. ? 220 will get you an apartment for four.
You don't want to book a hotel room? Then 'No Hotel' is the right one for you. The only thing this place has in common with a conventional hotel is the fact that guests from all around the world pay for a night in a room. Otherwise, it is as if your Berliner friend has left you the keys to her flat because she is out of town.Hopefully not literally! This hotel is found on the 21st floor of an original industrialised apartment block built in 1967. The times where people were trying to flee such apartments is long gone. Amongst student circles, it is now the in-thing to move into such buildings. Here you've got the chance to find out whatever the effects of the DDR and its architectural produce are. The rich remnants of the DDR to young trendsetters have discovered the appeal of the 'plattenbau' and maybe you will too! What will help you find it? Your Berliner friend has great taste and has outfitted rooms with design classics of the period. A must see for all DDR nostalgics.
SHOPPING in Berlin:
Welcome to the Vatican. No, it's not about the frumpy or the religous, and the people here are definitely not from yesterday. The bearers of possibly the hippest corner of the city are Josef Voelk and Emmanuel Bayser count as the popes of the Berlin fashion and design scene. While one writes for Vogue, the other does Katie Holmes' outfitting. When one is giving fashion tips to GQ, the other takes Tom Cruise on a shopping tour.The store is abundant with big, elegant labels such as Balenciaga, Lanvin, Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs. Take the advice given in the store and you will be miles ahead when it comes to fashion, as both men know exactly what tomorrow will bring. One tip: Brace yourself, as you will find it all here - cosmetics, books, furniture and accessories.
The Michalsky fashion show was once an essential part of the Berlin Fashion Week in Bebelplatz and the name is not to be forgotten. Admittedly, the Michalsky-StyleNite, booked as the highlight of the Berlin Fashion Week 2009, didn't quite go down as planned. Hilary Swank, Milla Jovovich, Matt Dillon and Wolfgang Joop snuck out to the Grill Royal restaurant quickly after a disappointing show.In our opinion, it couldn't have been the collection on show, apart from the fact that Michalsky has almost become too wearable for the big, wide catwalk. Since 2008, Michael Michalsky's latest collections have been paraded in his boutique store at Monbijouplatz. His labels MICHALSKY, M-67 Michalsky Jeans and MICHALSKY-Eyewear are being sold to fashion-conscious Berliners. The setup of the store reminds one of Paris and Haut Couture. On the other hand, the fashion on sale is rather casual, a bit sporty and almost fit for everyday life. Of course there is also something for the big appearance: gorgeous flowing evening dresses.
The scene shoemakers are on the job right here: There's 60 sq metres of just about everything that would like to wrap themselves around the feet of coolest trendsetters of the world. And the latest designer handbags to boot! Need a few names? Latitude Femme, Dico und Abro. WASTE from Barcelona and Veja from France. The last two aforementioned labels don't just design for the eye's pleasure, but also for a good cause: both colelctions are made from Fair Trade raw products and recycled materials. There's also a wide range of labels from Scandinavia, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The motto demands that the shoes and brands should remain unknown, well, at least to the masses.The decor of the concept store is quite minimalistic. Each shoe has it's own lit mini-display window. Shoe fetichists agree that man's best friend should be treated so. And the customers are also treated well: the store assistants lend great advice and test fittings are done on an oversized leather couch. Even if there's stacks of shoe boxes around you the staff still remain friendly, as they know exacly how it is to be in love with not just one, but all of them.