Westley Barnes and Catherine Maguire hit the German superstadt…
Berlin is the kind of city that you really think you ought to move to – a rocking, raving, graffiti strewn modernist haven and breathtaking capital of culture. This is where a Banksy mural can appear comfortably on the same apartment block as any teenage amateur’s tag. Fusing the classical with the modern, the old spectre of capitalism hangs ghostly on some building facades, but the homogenised need not fear as you’re never too far from a Starbucks.
What really makes Berlin worth banging your bucks for is the nightlife and sheer artistic ambience of the place – one wonders where else decadence is so freely expressed, encouraged and indeed promoted. In a city described by its mayor as “poor, but sexy”, Berlin should be seen as an example to other recession-ridden European states: a city more obsessed with the here-and-now of going out, than that of “fumbling in the greasy till” and staying in.
otwo’s fondest and most ‘out-there’ experience of Berlin nightlife was at an underground rave which took place in a disused swimming pool. The pool itself is now an art gallery, with exhibitions hung in the shower stalls and adorning the walls of the pool itself. Known as the Artpool (inventive, eh?), its location in the perceptibly dodgy neighbourhood of Wedding is an attempt to clean up the area’s image and attract some boho types. Every month, quirky artsy-ies and cool-as-fuck techno DJs, collaborate to bring the clubber a basement rave under the pipes. The only downside to the experience is that the Wedding district is slightly awkward to get to and can be a bit imposing at night.
The Film Museum, with rooms dedicated to German expressionism, wartime propaganda and new German cinema, is probably the most impressive museum otwo has ever set foot in. Located in the cyberpunk-style shopping megalopolis of Potzdamer Platz, it’s a must for anyone with a bit of taste.
The Germans are known for their politeness and punctuality; they certainly live up to the reputation. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems take you from A to B exactly when they say they will, so otwo had no problem planning its trips with military precision. First on the list was Berlin Zoo (in one word: huge). It took the bulk of five hours to walk around the complex and to visit the famous polar bear Knut. The only problem with the development is that it is quite badly signposted; most of the directions shown led to somewhere entirely different and most of the five hours were spent looking for said bear, but otherwise it was an enjoyable trip.
On a lighter note, shopping and eating out in the city is as easy as Strudel. Kurfürstendammstrasse is the largest shopping street in Berlin, and plays host to the KaDiWi, Europe’s largest department store, while Alexanderplatz also has its fair share of shops as well. After a hard day of chasing retail outlets, stop off at Wittenburgplatz for excellent food and cocktails.
Successfully mashing up old and new, Berlin maintains its historical appeal, while still being the avant garde centre of Europe. From pool raves to haute couture shops, Berlin is a diverse cultural Mecca that will always be the hub of excitement.