A guide to a short break in Berlin-Part One

We’ve recently been for a few days to Berlin, our first trip there since 1991, just after the wall toppled, and wow what changes there have been! Also buoyed up by the fact that somebody has just messaged me on Instagram, to tell me that they are in Paris and visiting a bar that I blogged about, on my recommendation, I thought I’d post a short blog about our mini break, in the hope that it might be interesting & useful to somebody else!

The city has always been vibrant and exciting and a magnet to creative types and that is still very much the way it remains. Although many of the areas have been gentrified since our last visit, such as AlexanderPlatz and Potsdamer Platz, there are still lots of areas that remain full of small galleries, independant shops and clubs.

The Optimistic Store

I can highly recommend our lovely small boutique hotel, which was ideally located in SavignyPlatz Charlottenberg and right next to a U Bahn station, for easy access around the city. Its located on one of the oldest squares or Platz in Berlin and surrounded by cafes, bars and restaurants so no need to go far out of your way in the evening, its all here.

On our first morning, to get our bearings, we walked along one of the main thoroughfares Kurfurstendamm, which is lined with all the large department stores, cinemas and global High Street names. Not the most exciting part of Berlin but the old heart of the West and a good place to start. Back when we were first there, in the 1990’s it was the location for the only department store KADeWe. This still remains but has had a serious revamp and now rivals any high class department store in any major city. The food hall on the upper floor, is well worthy of a visit and the cakes and coffees are amazing.

We then made our way to Schloss Charlottenburg, the palace of Kaiser Wilhelm. The area is rich with Art Nouveau buildings and there is a lovely park next to the palace. Our intention was then to walk along to the Brucke Museum, which houses the collection of paintings formed by the Brucke group of artists from Dresden that later went on to inform Expressionism. It was also the art that inspired David Bowie whilst living in Berlin and  with Mr B being a huge Bowie fan, more of which in a later post, influenced our planned visit. Unfortunately, as with all the best laid plans, which often go wrong, this wasn’t to be. After stopping for a coffee and checking the opening hours, we learned that the museum was closed until Easter. However from the look of the 1930’s modernist building and the collection of art it houses, its certainly worthy of a visit next time.

Schloss Charlottenberg

Brucke Museum

One of my favourite areas of Berlin that we visited was Hackescher Markt, which is full of independent shops, cool cafe bars and graffiti everywhere, which in Berlin is a major art form and not frowned upon as you you would expect. You can actually take part in an organised graffiti tour and part of this tour involves a visit to Cafe Cinema which has a courtyard full of graffiti. Its also a really cool cafe for a spot of lunch or a drink.

The area is also home to Clarchens Ballhaus which is a dance hall built in 1912, still open every night for live music, food and ballroom dancing. Our hotel barman told us its a really cool atmosphere where people of all ages dress up in feather boas and finery and dance the night away together.

I’m going to break down some of the other things we did into separate blogs as they deserve a special mention but in a nutshell, Berlin is an amazing city with a creative energy which you can feel as you walk around the streets. There are so many different areas and it is so vast that it would take weeks, if not months, to explore properly. The main sights are so historic and really give you a sense of how much this city has changed and evolved over the last 25 years.

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