The City of Cranes
I feel this picture best describes the Berlin I saw in 2002. Colorful Cranes reaching for the sky in front of the amazing glass structure atop the government building. The glass tornado dome is said to be symbolic of the public's new ability to see into the affairs of the government. I have never seen a city in such a phase of growth. Even with Berliners realizing that capitalism is not as easy as it seemed to be, the region seems to be exploding in construction.
Currywurst & Pommes
At every second corner in Berlin you can find these little stands where you can buy a typical german dish, a typical Berlin dish, the Currywurst & Pommes. It is a fried sausage with a tomatoe curry sauce and french fries with it. It is a must do to try one when in the city.
Berlin is a city where there is so much history around it, but where a lot of the time you just don't actually realize it. On the first night of my visit I stayed in the East near Rosenhalter Platz. The following morning I went for a wander in the neighbourhood and ended up in Bernauer Strasse. This street was the scene of many daring escapes and brave escape attempts while the wall divided the city (one half of the street was in the west, the other in the east) - yet it barely got a mention in my guidebook.
Along the street there were signs describing some of these escapes, in particular the famous run and jump by Conrad Schumann, an East German soldier. Further down the street, heading west, there was a memorial for wall victims and a remaining piece of the wall. It felt rather eerie standing there, trying to imagine how the people would have felt being boxed in.
I spent well over an hour exploring this street, but it made me think that since little of this history is told in the tourist books, what other interesting streets and stories had I missed?
KaDeWe - Great department store
A visit to KaDeWe is a must for every visitor.
This department store is huge, one of the largest in Europe.
Check out the food section on level 6, impressive! Everything looks delicious.
There is a great cafe/restaurant on level 7 called Wintergarten with superb food and desserts, I've tried it myself.
Not very cheap but the food is delicious so it's well worth the money I think. Everything is sold here. A quality department store with prices to follow.
Excellent Jazz and Dining
Oneof the great bastions of jazz in Berlin, Soultrane is extremely cool. Many great performers play and sing here, as well as it being a great meeting spot. From Latin Jazz to Groovy funk and soulful R&B, this is your place if you like the genre. Performers like the Trio Plus, Dagmar Wieth Westphal, the Andy Winter Group and Bessie & Billie have all played here.
Saturday nights just can usually find a jam session going on after midnight and an after show dance party into the wee hours of the morning. There is dining from 20-24, breakfast between 10-12 and lunch between 12-17. Plus you can order ala' carte throughout the night.
How I got introduced to this place? On my first trip to Berlin I was wandering through an U-bahn station with friends when an older woman who reminded me of a grandmother on a south US front porch picking turnip greens, exclaimed loudly after looking me over a few seconds, "You from the US?" I replied, Somewhat.
She said, "I thought so!" in triumph. "How you liking Berlin? Mmhmm, I can see you love just like me. Berlin is great, but don't go down to Wiesbaden, it's f***ed. But do come see me at Soultrane performing tomorrow night."
I felt like I had known her all my life, and we've been friends since. She handed me a flyer, and told me to ask for Bessie when I got there. And I did. She had come to Berlin in the early 70s and never returned back to the US. It definitely is a thriving capital in many ways, especially in the music business. Competitive but thriving. It's more up a upscale bar so nice evening clothes or something stylish.