All good stuff. But today it’s the turn of the German capital, right?
You got it. Berlin has so much to see and do, both sides of the former wall. Regular readers will know I lived there for a couple of years, and have taken some pictures to show how much the city has changed since 1990. You should also have a look at this article on Ostalgie and how to cure it before you go and get hung up on all that Trabi love. But if you also want to do something a little less off the tourist trail, read on…
5 things in Berlin your friends won’t have heard about *
* er, I’d be fairly confident betting that they haven’t, anyway.
Image (c) Suddeutsche Zeitung
Located right on the banks of the River Spree in Kopernick on the outskirts of Mitte you’ll find the former soap factory, squat and now ubercool entertainment sport KaterHolzig. The compound contains a club, rooftop café and a gem of a restaurant in Katerschmaus. If you arrive at night finding the latter can be an adventure, but don’t give up. You’ll find clues in the graffiti-covered industrial ruins that lead you through an ‘adults-only playground’ past art installations, wooden shacks, a ship in the middle of a dance floor, beds, couches, beach huts, huge leather sofas, homemade furniture and old vending machines until you climb the stairs and open the door to the restaurant itself.
Image (c) Berlin.Unlike
You’ll be greeted by the sound of happy guests enjoying themselves and a visual as well as gastronomic feast. The grungy appearance of both the locale and staff (tattoos and piercings are clearly obligatory) contrast with both the excellent food and attentive service.
The seasonally-inspired menu changes on a weekly basis and usually features provincial specialities as starters and main courses. The desserts are worth the journey alone and the wines are well-chosen to accompany the food. This “cat’s feast” is ver popular; I was lucky to grab the last table and reservations are definitely advised.
Image (c) Angelikabooks.com
Make sure you give this place a try for an unusually successful combination of Berlin alternative and gourmet food in a highly unique setting. Rumours are that the building will close for renovations in a couple of years so don’t hang about either.
Katerschmaus – KaterHolzig, Michaelkirchstr. 23, 10179 Berlin. Reservations 030 51 05 21 34. Open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 1900.
U and S Bahn Jannowitzbrucke. Check website for details: http://www.katerholzig.de/restaurant/
The motorway disappearing under the apartment complex – image (c) Andy Higgs, Grown-up Travel Guide
Berlin’s mayor at the time famously said that “if the devil wants to do harm to this city, he will make sure that another Schlange is built”. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for this slightly nuts architectural experiment, but it certainly remains a revolutionary slice of town planning. It is the only example of its kind in the world – an apartment complex built on top of a motorway in the 1970s. Others were planned, but perhaps due to the reaction to “the snake” and its huge budget overrun never got off the drawing board.
Yes, the autobahn is in that tunnel there, halfway through the complex - image (c) Andy Higgs, Grown-up Travel Guide
The scale of the project becomes clear when you visit this part of Wilmersdorf in western Berlin. 1064 apartments sit on top of 600 meters of motorway. The sound and vibration proofing are so efficient – well this is Germany – that even when standing directly underneath the motorway all that can be heard is a low drumming sound – and for the residents above there is only silence.
And out it comes the other side, after some 600 meters under the 1046 apartments - image (c) Andy Higgs, Grown-up Travel Guide
The Schlangenbader Straße property remains the largest connected residential complex in Europe and is well worth a visit. Berlin offers many architectural curiosities and another, more central one can be found at Pallasstrasse – see the photo and brief description here.
Schlangenbader Strasse, Wilmersdorf, Berlin. U-Bahn Breitenbachplatz
Breakfast on top of the Reichstag
Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) SIRDS
Okay, it’s time to share one of my top tips for Berlin. I’m sure you are planning to visit the Reichstag and climb its impressive glass dome walkway when you visit the German capital. After all, it’s an amazing sight and free too. The only problem is that the queues can be horrendous. But if you know how, you can skip them and enjoy an extremely heart breakfast on top of the building at the same time!
The German Bundestag is in fact the only parliament building in the world to house a public restaurant, situated right next to the glass dome with superb views over the city.
Image (c) Andy Higgs, Grown-up Travel Guide
The restaurant Kafer serves quality modern German cuisine accompanied by German wines – but perhaps the best bet is breafast. Simply email them before visiting to book a table between 0900 and 1015 and turn up at the main entrance. If the weather is good sit outside on the terrace and try to make it through the full breakfast with Sekt (sparkling wine) while admiring the panoramic view over the city.
Image (c) Andy Higgs, Grown-up Travel Guide
Note that you will have to provide your full name and date of birth when booking and that you should bring ID for security clearance purposes. You will have to go through an airport-style body and baggage check before being escorted into the building, where you can pick up a headset and audio tour for the dome. It’s a wonderful experience and you’ll then be free to visit the dome afterwards and walk off a few calories…
Restaurant Kafer, Reichstag Building. Reservations email: email@example.com Breakfast 0900-1015 Lunch 1200-1430 Tea 1530-1630 Dinner 1830-0000.
U Bahn Bundestag. Check website for details: http://www.feinkost-kaefer.de/dt_bundestag10/
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