You may have heard before (even from our previous blog!) that Berlin is one of the coolest cities in Europe. Recent history has left its scars on the city and in the case of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church literally so, even if in a beautiful manner (the blue glass bricks were put up due to the original walls being destroyed in World War II).
People always ask us for tips of what to do in Berlin that is different from norm. A little bit off the beaten track. On this blog we are going to explore 3 things that you should do in Berlin if you have been a few times before, or if you fancy a break from the (fascinating) history.
1. Spree Park (via Treptower Park)
Have you seen the excellent Joe Wright film Hanna? We won't give you any spoilers, but one thing I will say that doesn't affect first-time viewers is that one of the main settings is in an abandoned theme park in Berlin - Spree Park. It is beyond eerie and adds to the films atmosphere. If you follow us on Instagram, you may well have seen a few of our shots from this theme park before (if not, find us on Instagram here). We have heard many stories as to why it is abandoned, and almost all of them involve some sort of bureaucracy! The reasons for its continual closure are numerous and you can read them here.
Despite this, Spreepark - opened originally in the late 1960's in then East Berlin as Kulturpark - is still an attraction for visitors to Berlin. The gates, guards and dogs don't seem to put many people off and it doesn't take that much imagination to work out how to get in. When you do, everywhere you look has a gem. It seems as if they simply pressed the 'stop' button on the last day and the rides stopped in their place, never to move again. They weren't put into storage or packed away out of the elements, they just stopped. Part of us thinks that maybe they thought they would be pressing the 'start' button sooner rather than later...it has been 12 years.
Like they say, pictures tell a thousand words:
To get here, we recommend coming via the Treptower Park S-Bahn as this allows you to also see the overlooked Treptower Park with its phenomenal Soviet War Memorial, statues and sarcophagus's.
From here, Spreepark is about a 20 minute walk. If it's a nice day, you could even start the walk over the Spree river at East Side Gallery
How many times have you flown to a city and thought to yourself, "if only the airport was in the centre of the city"? Berlin had one but it was closed down in 2008. It had a long and sometimes muddled history (as is the case with many places in Berlin and Germany) but it is the current phase which we find fascinating.
In line with plenty of other places in Berlin, it is a perfect regeneration of an otherwise unused space. Instead of putting up high-rise apartments, buildings and offices (that they have tried) this airfield has been transformed into a public park complete with an urban gardening allotment space!
In summer it is packed with Berliners relaxing and although we were there in November, there was still a fair amount of people having fun. When was the last time you were able to stand on a runway with no planes and able to take in the sheer scale of it?!?
Every city has its corner shops. The trusty local shop that never seems to shut and sells cheap cans and bottles of beer. But Berlin takes it one step further and have put tables and chairs outside of them. Whatever the weather, Berliners will meet each other and drink outside these cornershops until the early hours before going out to a bar or club, normally around 2am...
The full name is Spätkauf but it is shortened to Späti and is another great example of how Germans have it right with regards to alcohol, going out and public order. There's even been poems written about them here.
For those that asked, yes, we did go to Mustafa's for their world famous kebabs...!!
What do you enjoy most about Berlin that's a little off-the-beaten-path?
We have plenty of tips for your visit to Belin so just drop us a line and we'll be glad to chat more :)
If you want to learn German in Berlin then click here for more details on the experience.
Read more about the fall of the Berlin Wall here.