Not having been in Berlin since right after the fall of the Berlin wall, I had no opinion and very few memories of this great city. Being back for Fashion week, seeing the level of creativity and energy in this city, made for a very busy 3 days in Berlin. Here are some highlights and things not to be missed.
Stay in Mitte, if possible. Every bit of public space is covered in graffiti or some medium of art. Even the fancy places have shit plastered everywhere. I wish I had known there was a street called BIG HAMBURGER STREET because I would have definitely paid more to stay there.
This is also the neighborhood with some of the cooler shops and galleries. Berlin is definitely not scared to do what it wants. I’ve travelled a lot of cities that are predictable in their merchandising, selection and content. Berlin was a breath of fresh air in this respect.
Remember to wear flat shoes, there is a lot of walking and biking to be done. Unless you have someone driving you around or you want to flop on the cobblestone, wear flat shoes.
The Happy Shop (Torstraße 67) was my favorite shop in Berlin. Toga Archives, Cats by Tsumori Chisato, Miharayasuhiro and other exciting, hard to find brands. I literally felt happy walking into this shop.
And right across the street was Soto (Torstraße 72), where all the cool dudes in Berlin shop. Buttero, Nanamica, Thom Browne and other brands that you don’t commonly see in brick and mortar shops.
I finally got to see Firmament (Linienstrasse 40). I’ve been following Being Hunted since 2006 and it’s where I first learned about Acronym and the Nike Air Woven Footscape which is still one of my favorite Nike styles of all time. I had sort of forgotten that it was in Berlin, and was super excited that it was right across the street from our apartment. It was filled with Hype kids and older skateboard dudes. Exactly what I would expect.
Berlin has amazing beer gardens. Pratergarten (Kastanienallee 7-9) was our favorite, we went twice in 3 days. It’s an outdoor space with picnic tables where they serve German beers (NOT ALES) and fun foods like salted pretzels and meatloaf sandwiches. They also had this weird sour beer that they’d put fruit syrup in. I had about 10 of those. And no, not all beer gardens are the same, contrary to American belief.
Do some touristy things. See the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery by bike. You can rent bikes all over the city. We chose the ones that you can rent via your iPhone, and charge by the minute. You can park them anywhere when you’re done and don’t have to worry about them being stolen because they are clunky and ugly. The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km section of the wall covered in murals. It's definitely cool to see. Also be sure to see the Holocaust Memorial. A monument of concrete blocks in various heights on an uneven incline make this memorial site a truly unique experience.
If you’re in Berlin for Fashion Week, check out some shows. I skip all the runway shows but am sure to make it to the trade shows in search of new brands. Bread & Butter is not really relevant for Acrimony but it was definitely fun to check it out. Situated in an old airport hangar, it was a massive representation of European brands and big name American brands.
Don’t get stuck eating German food. We had one night of Schnitzel and decided that that might be it. Berlin is such an international city, we found that many restaurants were focused on international foods. We tried a really good ramen place (yes, run by Japanese folks that spoke German!!) called Cocolo (Gipsstr. 3) and a Vietnamese place called Good Morning Vietnam (Alte Schönhauser Straße 60).
Take a photo in one of the many photo booths around the city. There’s nothing different about these photo booths, but it’s fun to have a strip of film to remember Berlin by.