Then we take Berlin
September 20, 2011 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Berlin. Will be there celebrating my son's birthday, between 25th and 28th of september. He runs a cool restaurant in Stockholm, loves beer, football and music and will be 47. I am 70 love museums, art shows, wine -and still like whooping it up. Will be staying in Kreuzberg. What shouldn't we miss?
posted by jan murray to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Checkpoint Charlie museum. Amazing. Small, focused, incredibly moving. One of my three favorite museums in the world.
posted by zanni at 4:25 PM on September 20, 2011

Here's an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend who was going for a visit. He was going to stay in Prenzlauerberg but some of the same advice applies! Don't know if these suggestions reflect your interests but it's one way to get started.

Have a great time!

You'll be smack in Prenzlauerberg, which was one of the few Berlin residential neighborhoods that wasn't totally devastated by the bombing. It was part of the former DDR, and after the wall fell it became famous as a haven to artists and squatters, who took advantage of the newly abandoned buildings, but it also became gentrified at a pace that was breathtaking even for the standards of post-reunification. It's beautiful, full of wonderful old buildings, charming side-streets, and many parks. Everywhere you walk you'll see all sorts of wonderful places to have a coffee or a drink. Try to get to the Mauerpark Flea Market if you can. The Kollwitzplatz market (Weds. and Sunday, I think) is great and very "typisch" Berlin (Gugelhof features fine "noveau German" dining, and is where Chancellor Schroder took Bill Clinton out to dinner, and a short walk away there's amazing pizza served by cute Italian communists at I Sue Forni on Schonhauser Alle), and I'd also recommend the area around Zionkirchplatz (including Weinerei, the "pay what you think you owe" wine bar). It's just a stroll down Kastanienallee, Berlins' rough equivalent to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg (look for amazing falafel at Babel). You'll see all kinds of new developments, but some of the old squat houses from the early 1990s are still there and the place still has a wonderfully rough-hewn edge to it -- many buildings still have old shop signs and some of them even have artillery damage from World War II. You have easy access to the Bahn via the U2.

I highly recommend renting bikes for your time there -- it's just the best way to get around and the best way to see the city. You may not be a club person, but even if you aren't, reserve a Friday or Saturday night (and a morning) to go to Berghain. It's really like nothing else. Don't get there before 3 or 4 AM (they serve breakfast).

I'd also recommend getting out to Kreuzberg. Get off at Gorlitzer Banhof or Kotbusser Tor, wander around Oranienstrasse (cafe and DJ at Luzia, epic falafel at Maroush on Adalbert Strasse, great Italian at Gorgozola Club on Dresdner Strasse, amazing ice cream in the mini-mall of the dreary social housing project at Korbusser Tor as well as mucho-fun gay bar Model Olfe. Take a walk in Gorli Park to visit the burnouts, punk rockers, musicians, and barbequers, and maybe stop for a coffee at Edelweiss inside the part. Take a walk on the canal and head over to the Maybachufer Turkish market if it's a Tuesday or a Friday. Pizza on the water tastes great at Casolare and you can check out the crowds on the Grimmstrasse bridge. Explore my old hood just south of the Maybachufer and visit the world's most awesome gay bar, Silver Future on Weserstrasse, where you can ask for my friend Jan. Another day, go to Schlesiches Tor and visit the Badeschiff and Treptower Park (including the epic Soviet War Memorial). Take a walk over the Oberbaum bridge over to Simon Dach Strasse. Maybe plan for it on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night so you can go to Watergate (another marvelous club, memorize who is playing that night before you go so the doorman lets you in; once again, it's Berlin so everything starts late and goes late!) Another day, start out at Museum Island (it's an island! Of museums!) and see the Pergamon Altar. You can check out Norman Foster's Reichstag building, make a picnic in the Tiergarten, and visit the Gemaldegalerie at the Potsdamer Platz Kulturforum -- it's relatively small but breathtaking.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:16 PM on September 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh and here's more:

Try to pick up the current version of the Berlin gallery guide, available at most of the major galleries. It includes a list of openings (usually on Thursday and Friday nights) which are fun and scene-y in a charming way. It would be a fun Friday to hit three or four and then get a drink and a late snack before heading to Berghain or Watergate. Near the concentration of galleries in Mitte is Oranienburgerstrasse, which has two wonderful must-see buildings: the "new" synagogue and the former, soon-to-be defunct art squat Tacheles, an old Jewish-owned department store (the name means "matters of substance" in Yiddish, in honor of the area's old Jewish neighborhood destroyed by the Nazis) which artists took over soon after the fall of the wall. It's going to be turned into something horrible by a greedy developer soon so go and have a drink in the backyard bar ASAP.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:17 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

A tour of the Olympic stadium.
posted by brujita at 5:48 PM on September 20, 2011

Go to the Pergamon Museum to see the altar that the Germans lifted whole from Greece and the giant Babylonian Ishtar Gate, but if you're interested in Ancient Greek art, the Altes Museum (which is different from the Alte Nationalgalerie) is really where it's at. Also, if you're going to be there on a Thursday, all of the state museums (i.e. the Staatliche Museen) are open until 10 pm, so if you go at 6 or 7 pm, they're pretty empty and much more pleasant.

Use Hackescher Markt and Alexanderplatz as U-Bahn stops, but don't go to them looking for food. They're tourist traps.

If you're going to be in Kreuzberg already, there's a fairly good chance that just by walking around your immediate neighborhood you'll find something interesting. The neighborhoods around Kottbusser Tor are interesting (lots of cafes and bars and street art).

If you're interested in history, then the Deutsches Historisches Museum is amazing. It covers German history from the Romans on forward and I've literally spent days inside of it. Also, go see the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauerstra├če. It's the only place in Berlin where you can see the wall as it used to be. The Topographie des Terrors museum is also pretty amazing (it's about the Nazi secret police).
posted by colfax at 7:14 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

the pergamon museum also has a statue of a dude with a really REALLY great ass. you will know it when you see it. you will laugh and think of me.

the film museum is also a lot of entire set from 'metropolis'...a whole room dedicated to the works of ray harryhausen (including the original king kong models) etc etc

the food halls at KaDeWe department store...their pickled herring makes sushi look like cat food...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:46 PM on September 20, 2011

oh...and the number of straight boys i ended up making out with while i was there was truly absurd. they are shockingly liberal in that know, if that's, um, your thing...
posted by sexyrobot at 8:54 PM on September 20, 2011

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