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The Berlin Bunch: After Dark

ctr-berlin-bunch-cover2Berlin’s nightlife is an ever-changing beast, with countless ways to experience and enjoy it. As such some sort of comprehensive list of places just isn’t feasible. You can have as chilled or as crazy a night as you wish – it does have it all. Just wandering the streets at night taking in the sights and sounds with a road beer is an awesome adventure in itself, you are never too far from a corner shop, a staple in Berlin nightlife. Look out for the signs Spätkauf or Stube indicating little shops to hook you up with a cold pilsner, a bottle opener available right at the cashier counter. The transport network’s 24 hour service on the weekend enables you to keep it moving if you want to bar hop or club hop.

Revaler Straße provides partying opportunities – hip-hop, reggae, techno, etc. can be found from one bar to the next. You can walk into one of these crazy places and find deep house music, then come back to the same spot the following night and they have sixties themed swing music from a live band. The spontaneity and randomness of it all will put a smile on your face. If you’ve got the techno craze, then the notoriously strict Berghain may have to be visited, or you can hit up the more lenient Watergate.

Alternatively, if feeling super adventurous, there is KitKat club, a place glittering with nudity, absurdity and awesome techno music.

There is a traditional German beer hall in Alexander Platz if a stein of beer takes your fancy, quite a funny venue when packed on the weekend, although you may find a bunch of English people getting smashed for their mate’s stag do which hardly gives you an authentic Berlin experience. Unsurprisingly, central areas tend to be a tourist trap: a bar called AM to PM is the worst example of this – rip off watery beers, tacky music, depressed staff and drunk tourists – please God no!

A lot of locals will cite Kreuzberg as the area with the best nightlife. It’s not quite as easy as just heading there and finding places as it’s a vast neighbourhood with tucked away streets, but the area near Görlitzer Park, while somewhat sketchy, has a sprawl of heaving bars. It’s where the “cool kids” hang out, so be prepared for some in your face pretension and backwards hats and neck beards. Nevertheless, there are some sweet spots to be found here.

It’s impossible to give a comprehensive guide but hopefully this is a start.

CTR Berlin by William Barber

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The Berlin Buch: A Vegetarian in Berlin

cover-berlin-bunch-citytravelreview-curso1People usually presuppose that Berlin (or anywhere in Germany, really) caters to everyone but the veggies, the vegans or the like. Yeah, this is not true. For the non-carnivorous traveler, food is still what’s for dinner. Sure, currywurst and bratwurst joints line the streets, but even these places have at least one vegetarian option. Try the vegetarian currywurst – it’s delicious.

Once upon a time, a young, vegetarian woman was going to Berlin but feared that her “balanced” meals would consist of pommes frites “fries” and beer. Although pommes frites are surprisingly tasty with ketchup and mayonnaise, better food can be found. Look for the word vegetarische, and life will be a pretty thing.

If the desire for a vegetarian/vegan restaurant is still weighing heavily on the mind, never fear. Berlin has so many options for the average veg, and all you have to do is look. Heck, you may even just stumble upon a place! The city is full of surprises.

For the best tofu-burger you’ve ever had in your life, head to Burgermeister. If you love pho, head to Viêt Phô’ for the vegefied version. Maybe you like burritos, and if that’s the case, head to Burrito Baby. If you want Turkish, Mexican, Spanish or Italian food, you will find something. Don’t miss out on the döner culture and try out Vöner, where vegan döners are the specialty. Seriously, I’m telling you that Berliners understand the veg-life, and you won’t have to starve. That’s pretty nice, right?

So, next time you have an ounce of fear that you will have to denounce your vegetarianism/veganism in order to eat in Berlin, let it go because you have nothing to worry about. You can still enjoy German food without having to crack.

CTR Berlin, Laura Hendricksen

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Love it on a Budget: Street Art

citytravelreview-curso-berlin-love-on-budget

Since the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, it became one of the world’s largest canvases for street art and graffiti. The artists of West Berlin covered their side of the wall head to toe in paintings, murals and tags whereas the East side stayed completely blank, imitating the disparity between both sides. When the wall came down, Berliners preserved a section of the wall, creating the famous East Side Gallery. However, now graffiti and street art is no longer exclusive to the wall and can be found on nearly every street.

There are many different artists to look out for, through their distinctive styles and repetitive motifs. For example, you will notice the tag ‘1Up’ scattered around Berlin, the tag of an international collective that stands for ‘one united power’. There is estimated to be over 70 of these tags dotted in Berlin, and once you start noticing them you’ll find that you can’t go a day without seeing one!
The same applies for ‘Mr 6’ and his tag of a painted 6. Mr 6 is more old school: he is an older man that rides around on his bike with merely a pot of paint and a paintbrush, painting 6s in various locations. Another common sight is Sober and his dancing girls. Unlike Mr 6 and 1Up, Sober does not work in paint but rather in print due to the decreased fine if he is caught in the act. He photographs dancing girls in one of Berlin’s many techno hotspots and blows up the picture, ready to plaster walls and buildings. What makes his work especially unique is that he throws confetti over his dancing girls, making it easy to spot a fresh Sober piece.

As well as these small, light-hearted paintings or posters, much of Berlin’s street art is grounded in politics and is often directed at the growing problem of gentrification. Large parts of Berlin are being bought out by large co-operations, such as Media Spree, thus upping the prices of rent and forcing out Berliners. In response, look out for the ‘FUCK YOU MEDIA SPREE’ tag scattered around the city. Another example of street art acting in response to this co-operate takeover is the large face next to the East Side Gallery. This was done by an artist named Villes, who uses dynamite to create the facial features. It is impressive and large, a piece that would normally be applauded in the street art community. However, it was soon discovered that is was not the work of an independent artist but rather an advert for Levi jeans. As this went against the grain in terms of street art morals, graffiti artists replied with a mural of an angry mob next to the advert.
By not actually defacing it, this response encapsulates the artists’ passive rebellion against gentrification through the medium of art.

A must-see if you’re interested in Street Art is Hackescher Markt. Situated in the over-developed Stadt Mitte, Hackescher Markt is an expressive oasis for street artists. It is an area with free art studios and the walls are plastered from head to toe in different types of street art. Look out for the famous painting of Anne Frank. What’s more there are a few beer gardens, shops and galleries, making it an interesting and easy place to spend a relaxing afternoon.

CTR Berlin, Hannah Turner

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