Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sweet Berlin - can you find the sweetness?

Have you ever asked yourself where you could get the most delicious chocolate, the tastiest liquorice or most exotic sweets in Berlin? Besides the expensive shops in Berlin-Mitte, e.g. at Hackesche Höfe, there are a few small manufactures or factory outlets where you can get the sweet happiness for low prices! Starting with the most expensive the list will end up with some insider-places.

Fassbender & Rausch
Probably the most popular chocolate manufacture in Berlin with the biggest store near Gendarmenmarkt (U2 Stadtmitte, Charlottenstraße 60, 10117 Berlin). That's the place mentioned in every Berlin guide but what you can't find in most guides is their factory outlet where you can buy the same products for less money! The store is located more south in Tempelhof (U6 Ullsteinstraße, Wolframstraße 95-96, 12105 Berlin).

Werkstatt der Süße
In english "factory of sweetness", a small manufacture including a café and restaurant. The owner Guido Fuhrmann worked in several high-class confectioner places before he opened his own business in Prenzlauer Berg (U2 Eberswalder Straße, Husemannstraße 25, 10435 Berlin). Also suitable for vegetarians, vegans and allergic sufferers.

Sweetmania!
RITTER SPORT - Bunte Schokowelt
A third a shop, a third a café,  a third a place for new ideas. Children can create their own chocolate, while parents have a hot chocolate in the café. The shop provides every sort of RITTER SPORT chocolate ever created. For fans of the famous German chocolate a must-see (U6 Französische Straße, Französische Straße 24, 10117 Berlin)

Bonbonmacherei Kolbe & Stecher
For over 100 years this bonbon manufacture makes sweets in a very traditional way. If you want to see how it works call +49 30 44055243 to ask for their schedule and maybe you can join the production phase! It is located in a small backyard in Mitte (S1, S2, S25 Oranienburger Straße, Oranienburger Straße 32, 10117 Berlin). It's open from wednesday-friday 12pm-8pm.

Kadó - Liquorice
Liquorice in many many variations for all the liquorice fans of you! There is one store located in Kreuzberg (U8 Schönleinstraße, Graefestraße 20, 10967 Berlin) but you can also find it at some markets: Hackescher Markt (sa 9am-4pm), Kollwitzplatz (sa 9am-4pm), Winterfeldplatz (sa 10am-4:30pm)

Lemke Marzipan
Marzipan made in Berlin and nougat in every possible variation. The outlet is located in the southern part of Neukölln (U7 Blaschkoallee, Späthstraße 31-32, 12359 Berlin).

Sugafari
Sweets and candys from all over the world, sorted by place of origin that can be found in that small store in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg (Kopenhagener Str. 69, 10437 Berlin). The owner Alexis himself is a huge fan of sweets and probably made a dream become true when he opened the shop. The sortiment can be seen at the website http://www.sugafari.com/ and if you have something that should be added you can send him an email.


Die Eismacher
One of the most creative ice manufactures in Berlin. Weekly they have new flavours made of exotic incredients like goat milk, haiti vanille or purple Philippine roots. The small shop is located near Südkreuz in Kreuzberg (U7 Südkreuz, Blücherstraße 37, 10961 Berlin).

Storck - chocolate marshmellows
A factory outlet especially for choco marshmellows where you can buy about 40 of them for 3-4€ (2nd choice). It is located in Berlin Tegel (U6 Holzhauser Straße, Flohrstraße 9, 13507 Berlin)

Maybachufer market
Every tuesday and friday between 11am and 6:30pm you can find home-made oriental and Arabic sweets and more at the Turkish market in Kreuzberg (U8 Schönleinstraße, Am Maybachufer).

BAHLSEN factory outlets
There are two factory outlet stores where you can buy everything starting from cookies, crisps, peanuts, waffles, chocolate, nuts and more. One store is located in Lichtenberg (U5 Magdalenenstraße, Coppistraße 11, 10365 Berlin) the other one in Tempelhof (U6 Alt-Tempelhof, Oberlandstr. 52-63, 12099 Berlin)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Berliner Unterwelten e.V. - Discovering Underworld

In 1997 the "Berliner Unterwelten e.V." was founded as a club with the aim to discover and maintain Berlin underground buildings of the last century. Projects of the club are the flak-towers in Humboldthain, ghost-train stations all over West-Berlin, air-raid shelters, underground operation halls or escape tunnels from East-Berlin.

Source: http://www.berliner-unterwelten.de/
In times of the Third Reich Hitler planned with the help of his "star" architect Albert Speer to make Berlin the world's capital "Germania". The Roman empire as an ideal two huge boulevards were planned, the north-east axis and the east-west axis which should cross the whole city. Epic buildings like a triumphal arch and a hall with a dome 17 times bigger than St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican should be built. Also the Olympic stadium and the building now used by the German federal office for finance were part of the whole megalomania. Hitler wanted to make the whole city non-ingestible by building a massive infrastructure in the underground. A lot of those buildings still aren't discovered yet and that's what the "Berliner Unterwelten e.V." is working on.

At the moment they are offering three small tours (without pre-booking) and seven long tours where you see something in detail or a combination of several places (only six of the tours are offered in english language). People working for the club are mainly volunteers who are totally interested in the subject theirselves which makes the tours always very personal and interesting. E.g. besides the actual tour one guide talked 15min about his fascination for bats while we walked through the flak-tower in Humboldthain.

Tickets for the tours are available in the ticket office near "Gesundbrunnen". The prices are about 10€ (students 8€) which helps the club working on its projects. Best is you buy the tickets in the morning when you want to do the tour in the afternoon so that you can be sure to get some (highly recommend at the weekends). For more information check out the website http://berliner-unterwelten.de/ .

Where: ticket office near Gesundbrunnen (Brunnenstraße 105 next to the supermarket "Kaufland", U8, S42 or S41)
When: various times for different tours, tour 1-3 are daily 

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welthauptstadt_Germania (08/31/2012)
http://berliner-unterwelten.de/ (08/31/2012)
Documentation "Welthauptstadt Germania" by N24


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fleamarkets - the magic triple

Fleamarkets in Berlin are always a nice activity for sundays after long nights of party.  As couchsurfer's usually are travelling on a small budget I need to warn you because actually no fleamarket in Berlin is cheap. On every single one you will find professional traders who want to get the most out of you but if you look carefully you will also find private sellers who will be willing to lower the prices.


bear pit karaoke with Joe Hatchiban
Mauerpark
Especially for music and art lovers this is THE place to be on sundays. The fleamarket is very colourful with lots of furniture, clothes (also from young designers),  housewares, new & old stuff and a lot of rummage. After squeezing through the crowded paths between the stands you can hang out in one of the small oasis where you can get Turkish or German specialities or just to drink a delicious Chai Latte. The other possibility is escaping from the market place to the actual Mauerpark, grab a cheap beer and listen to street musicians, see crazy street artists performing or become part of the famous 'bear pit karaoke' (application required: http://bearpitkaraoke.com).

Impressions of some Berlin musicians:
http://youtu.be/6PejFIu93pc
http://youtu.be/axpKZuSnsOc
 
So why is it called 'Mauerpark'? Maybe it has something to do with a wall. Exactly! The Mauerpark used to be part of the 'death strip' which means it was no-man's-land. A place between the BRD and the GDR where no one was allowed to be. When you walk from the subway station 'Bernauer Straße' (U8) to Mauerpark you will recognise a strip on the right where only some new buildings are standing. That's when you walk along the old border between eastern and western Germany.

When: every sunday
Where: Mauerpark, U8 Bernauer Straße or U2 Eberswalder Straße

Boxhagener Platz
The fleamarket at Boxhagener Platz is very well known, therefore a lot of people and tourists come there every sunday. It is highly recommended when you are looking for unique posters or when you like vinyls and CDs.
Boxhagener Platz is located right in the heart of Friedrichshain near famous Simon-Dach-Straße which makes it a good starting point to discover the 'Kiez' (Berlin slang for district). Next to the square you will find the 'Eispiraten' a very good ice-cream parlour or the 'Burgeramt' where you can get delicious burgers. If you follow Boxhagener Straße into the direction of Warschauer Straße you will pass by 'Mac Laren's Pub'. Yeess, they have a blue horn and also a stormtrooper suit ;-)

When: every sunday
Where: Boxhagener Platz Friedrichshain, U5 Samariterstraße or Bus 240

Arena
For all those of you who really want to get lost in a world of rummage. I have never seen a fleamarket like this. You will find every imaginable tool, screw, vinyl player, cassette recorder, living room light and much more while being overwhelmed by the totally stuffed racks. The Arena Treptow is a huge area with a lot of old an empty factory halls right next to the river Spree. There's also the Arena Club which is quiet nice in summer because they have a floating swimming pool included (entry is 4€, 3€ for students). For more information you can visit the website http://www.arena-berlin.de/ .

When: fleamarket only on sundays, the rest is open every day
Where: Arena Treptow, Trepower Park + 5min walking or U1 Schlesisches Tor + 10min walking, bus 104, 194, 265, N65 Eichenstraße/Puschkinallee

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tacheles - Symbol of a united Germany

The Tacheles in Berlin is a very unique house project started in 1990 one year after the Berlin wall fell and Germany became one united nation again. The building used to be the old warehouse 'Wertheim' which has been closed in 1914 when the World War I started. It was part of the 'Friedrichstraßenpassage' which means it connected 'Oranienburger Straße' and 'Friedrichstraße' and was therefore the second biggest shopping passage in Berlin.

During World War II the building was mainly used as an office by the NSDAP. When the battle for Berlin started the nazis flooded nearly the whole basement to destroy amounts of documents which could have been used as an evidence. Still today there's no access to the basement because it's still flooded. During the war most of the building has been destroyed and never been rebuilt in the GDR period. Due to static expertises it got partly pulled down in 1980, the rest should have been done in april 1990.


As we all know the government of the GDR never expected the wall to fall but that's exactly what happened before they could fulfill their 'tearing down Tacheles' plans. In 1990 about 50 artists from eastern and western Germany occupied the building to save it from destruction. The Tacheles (jewish origin: 'to talk turkey' or 'name things as they are') was founded as a place of contrary arts, a place where people from all over the world can come together and to share ideas. They offered a cultural programme including cinema, theatre, exhibitions, etc. In the accessable parts of the basement a techno club was established, in the backyard they openend a sculpture park and in the attic a blue salon for theatre was built. All the floors were full of colors and small galeries, workshops and artists hanging around. The whole building became one huge work of art.

Since 1993 the Tacheles was officially accepted as cultural location and therefore has been a model of how the free art scene and the financial world can co-exist.
In 1997 the Berlin court decided to clear the building but the people stayed. The artists were allowed to stay due to their contract but all the small shops, the café and also the cinema had no securities. The city of Berlin sold the whole backyard to the 'Fundus-Group' (a private investor) which is also the reason why the sculpture park is now cut off the rest of the house. Yes ... they built a wall!

The artists finally had a 10-year-contract until 2008 for a rent of 1 € per squaremeter. In 2008 the new owner claimed a compensation of 108.000 € for not being able to use the space which the Tacheles e.V. wasn't able to pay. Since then the people live in permanent fear of being kicked out. Just in november 2011 the 'HSH Nordbank' (one of the creditors) assigned a security team to infiltrate the building. Alexander Rodin who had his workshop in the attic was expelled from his place and they took all of his paintings. A huge wave of protest started but the artworks remained with the creditor. Only in July 2012 the paintings were 'released'.

After a short period of closure in march, the Tacheles is now closed again and nobody can really say when it will be open again. On August 11, 2012 an open air event was organised to show the never-dying fighting spirit of the inhabitants.

Links:
http://www.kunsthaus-tacheles.de/
http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/nach-gerichtsurteil-kuenstler-vom-tacheles-geben-auf-/6788910.html

Sources: 
Wahjudi, Claudia: Metroloops - Berliner Kulturentwürfe. Ullstein, Berlin, 1999