City Guide: How To Tick Off Berlin's Alternative Scene in 24 Hours
What does every twentysomething do after graduating? Book a holiday of course. As my jollies aren't for a couple of months, I've decided to share a previously visited city guide, in case any of you little minxes are off to Berlin this summer. This guide (on the city I hold closest to my heart) also bonus nosey content about the shenanigans I got up to with my friend, Katie. I actually met Katie whilst travelling around Thailand in the summer of 2014. Someone once said that travelling's supposed to be a time of self-discovery but the most life-changing event I 'found myself,' was in fact in an Internet cafe at 4 am. It was here whilst I and Katie, who I had met four days prior, decided to bind our new found friendship together for infinity, with a good old matching bamboo tattoo.
Now I’m not sure if it’s down to Katie’s tolerance to my sometimes sassy persona or the sheer pressure of keeping the matching tattoos relevant but in four years, we’ve since holidayed all over. However, this time I finally got to show her around my favourite city of them all — Berlin! You can enjoy the guide below:
10am / Spreegold’s
Discovered whilst extremely hungover on New Year’s Day, this Pinterest-esque café quickly became our favourite place to grab a nutritional breakfast albeit a cheeky Instagram photo or two. Over the course of the city-break, I tried a handful of their breakfasts: the ‘Paleo power omelet’ (€9.20) (chicken strips, spinach, crispy bacon and mashed avocado) and their ‘hot fruits porridge’ (€5.00). However the main attraction has to be their ‘Jack’s Farmer omelet’ (€8.90), which combines my two favourite meals: an English breakfast and a burrito. Made up of bacon, sausage, mushrooms and potato wedges as well as a sour cream and salsa topping, it was absolutely divine. As for drinks, I guess entering the New Year in such a cosmopolitan city left me with a “New Year, new me” approach of trying all of the healthy juices. A personal favourite has to be the ‘green dream smoothie’ (€4.70) (apple, mint and ginger) as well as the homemade raspberry lemonade (€4.60).
11:30am / Memorial
After grabbing breakfast, I would whole-heartedly recommend grabbing the U-Bahn to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews. On a serious note, this was the second time I’ve visited the memorial but the experience was just as breath-taking and as thought-provoking as the former.
1:00 pm / Berlinische Galerie
Afterwards we took the 10 minute U-Bahn ride to my the most famous art gallery in the city: the Berlinische Galerie. Particularly focusing on modern art, photography and architecture, this gallery will emit all sorts of feels. On many occasions, I was besotted with the artists’ artistic ability (A* for alliteration there) but sometimes my poor brain was left feeling puzzled. For example, I was greeted into the museum by a long shelving unit covered in postal letters and delivery parcels. I couldn’t work out if there was an metaphorical message or if the artist had an Amazon addiction and thought “fuck it, I’ll forward it all to the gallery until the missus calms down about the vegetable spiralzer I bought last week.” Jokes aside, the gallery’s actually one of the best modern art galleries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.
Price: €10 (or €6 on the first Monday of the month)
2:30pm / Santa Maria Mexican Diner
After all of the standing around and staring intensely at art, my poor legs needed a rest. This is when I’d recommend the fifteen-minute walk to the Shoreditch of Berlin: Kreuzberg. Head to Santa Maria’s Mexican Diner for the lunch menu where you can grab a starter, main course and a Berliner beer for only €10. If you do go for this option, please try the corn soup! It’s the best soup I’ve EVER had, and I write this whilst fully acknowledging the fact that my mum — who regularly makes her homemade soup — will reading this.
Story-time: I was also welcomed to a candid lap dance by a German guy who misinterpreted the proximity of his (very close) seat and instead placed his hoo-haa of his ass onto my lap. I’m not sure if this is a regular occurrence but I really do hope that the diner has an entertainment license for this sort of thing.
3:30pm / Voo Store
A five-minute walk away is the holy mecca for any minimalistic fashion magpies. Here lies Voo: the shop where I lose all self-control, morale of money and any chance of securing a good credit score.
Now I’m not sure if the adrenaline had kicked in from the candid lap-dance or if the manifesting student-loan in my bank account had suddenly become a game where I have to get it as close to £0 as possible, but I wanted everything. With two seconds, I’d spotted Acne’s latest collection and some camo Nike trainers on sale, and suddenly I was visioning myself sitting on my already-full 20kg allowance suitcase as I tried to pulsate my materialistic goods into their home of “regret”.
That didn’t stop me though and within five minutes I’d purchased the trainers and a heart-shaped necklace that read, “fuck you”. Never in my life have I said “fuck you” so politely to someone as I asked to view the piece up close. I also picked up a ‘Living Well One Line A Day’ journal, which I’ve been writing all of my gratitude’s in every night. So far, it appears that I am very greatful for Sunday dinners, booking spontaneous flights (to both Paris and Barcelona) and a life-chat with an Uber driver who I discovered had been on Total Wipeout. 5/5 stars to Aaron the Uber driver from Newcastle.
4:30pm / Schwarlitz Minigolf Berlin
Next up for a bit of escapism (from your now woeful bank balance), it’s a ten-minute walk to the next stop: Schwarlitz Minigolf a.k.a. the 3D glow-in-the-dark mini-golf. At only €6.50, this is the second time I’ve conquered the course and it’s honestly just as fun as the first time.
Story-time: I first visited here back in 2012. After falling in love with the suburban estate that surrounds Gorlitz Park, we then entered the park itself where a stampede of drug dealers ran over to try and sell us weed. In a fit of spontaneity, my friend Jonathan suddenly turned into Will from the Inbetweeners and graciously replied, “no thank you, but can you please tell us where the 3D glow in the dark mini-golf is?” Feeling absolutely traumatised, I was ready to get shanked but instead the chap smirked at us before sending us in the right direction. If I were able to rate his (polite) services on Trip Advisor, I definitely would.
6:30pm / Take a break
By now, you’ll sure be exhausted from all of that wrist action so it’s time to head back to your accommodation and freshen up for tonight. As for hostels, I’ve stayed in both the Generator Mitte and One 80 Hostel (twice) and would recommend both very central hostels.
9:00pm / Dr. Pong
Now Dr. Pong will no doubt be one of the weirdest experiences of your life. You’ll no doubt walk past the venue three or four times (like we did) but it’s a secret door with no signage. Once you’re inside, slide the door to the right. Here you’ll see what looks like a graffiti-ed crack-den with a single ping-pong table in the middle, and no doubt a herd of middle-aged German men running around it.
I’m not joking when I say it feels like the Fight Club equivalent of underground ping-pong. Katie and I were absolutely traumatised after expecting to enter some hip but uber cool ping-pong club, which sells an array of house cocktails. I’d even wacked my heels on. This was very different to what we were expecting but after talking tactics (“do we stay?”), we strutted in and headed to the bar. Here we were greeted by a Noel Gallagher lookalike with a Yankee accent (this was enough to send me over the edge) who sold us two craft beers before walking past the DJ who’d stacked his pioneers on a selection of milk crates, and sat down one of the school chairs to watch the game. After having enough beer to partake, heeled boots included, I suddenly became one of the middle-aged men who took the game a little too seriously… After making friends with a Brit and ‘Merlin from Berlin’, we eventually left at ridiculous o’clock in the morning and headed to the closest kebab shop (you can take the girl out of Newcastle but you can’t take Newcastle out of the girl) before waltzing back to our hostel.