1 of 3
Photo by Sigrid Malmgren
2 of 3
Photo by Malgorzata Maslarz
3 of 3
Photo by Erica Löfman
Our diligent editors, some of whom have moved on to pastures new since this list was first complied, still know a thing or two about hanging out in Berlin. Here’s where you’ll find them on a sweltering summer day.
Ben Knight, Politics Editor
If you’re like me, you don’t like summer that much. The heat bakes the sense out of your brain, the light exacerbates your insomnia and sitting on grass makes your spine ache. One of the best places to get away from this oppressive season is Café Rix, in Neukölln. There are plenty of similarly cheap, high-ceilinged bar-café-restaurants like this in the city (the Schwarzes Café on Kantstraße or Café Möhring on Potsdamer Platz are in the same mould) – but this is my favourite. The food is German, the coffee is cheap, and there is a pleasant atmosphere of faded grandeur – but it’s not artistic or cool. The small, leafy, cobbled courtyard incubates you from the heat out on the street. I recommend you ensconce yourself away from the weather and order either the surprisingly good Wiener Schnitzel (with potatoes and salad, €11.50), or the ‘Rix Breakfast’ (€8.30 or €9.80 with fresh orange juice or Sekt), which any passing Norse god would approve of.
Café Rix | Karl-Marx-Str. 141, Neukölln, U-Bhf Karl-Marx-Str. Mon-Thu 9-24, Fri-Sat 9-1, Sun 10-24
Prater for pros
Änne Troester, former Film Editor
Too many tourists in Prater? Then you’re there at the wrong time of the day. Check it out on a weekday afternoon at 2pm, when it’s just you and a book and a lecker Prater Pils. Or two or three. Plus a sinfully good bag of roasted almonds. And maybe a couple of friends later, the poor sods that have to work in an office. It’s a most tranquil spot because the place doesn’t pretend do be anything else than a Biergarten with room for everyone, from families with kids to yuppies with smartphones and, yes, the tourists find their way there, too. We don’t mind them, though.
Prater Garten | Kastanienallee 7-9, Prenzlauer Berg, U-Bhf Eberswalder Str. Opens 12 noon Apr-Sep if the weather is nice.
D. Strauss, Music/Nightlife Editor
Caffé e Gelato, to be found on an upper level of the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, brings together a couple of aspects of post-Wall Berlin in a not unappetizing manner. First, of course, is the seasonal German obsession with ice cream. Second, there is the conflict between the city’s attempt to suppress the Berlin-ness of Berlin, to make claims that this most parochial of First World capitals is an ‘international’ city, contrasted with the unavoidable truth that Berliners still live here, and are going to act as Berliners do. Its exceedingly kitschy, elaborate (and, to be fair, flavourful) concoctions are served among bankrupt Reno casino-style pyramids and cut-rate lounge furniture, and excitingly consumed by the sort of paragons that tend to haunt Potsdamer Platz – real Berliners, clueless tourists, societal dregs. It’s as entertaining at feeding time as the human zoo on Mars – and as poignant.
Caffé e Gelato | Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, Mitte, U+S-Bhf Potsdamer Platz, daily 10-22:30
The naked and the red
Walter Crasshole, Web Editor
When the sun is hot and you’re slightly hungover, take a hike to Hasenheide, strip down and lay about the German way – FKK. Almost directly in the centre of the park and inside its own green enclave is the spot. Separate, but not far enough away or closed off enough that the prudes can’t get a full view of the full skin glory. Best of all, the area is completely devoid of the dreaded yuki (well, except for me). Instead, my (non)friends are all here – the tomatenrot grandpa with tattoos, the man with one gimpy leg, the slightly self-conscious and clothed younger Germans, the two topless women in a sea of men, and, of course, a handful of Italians. A little island of misfit toys. The bushes around it are supposed to be bangin’ with fuckin’, but I haven’t actually seen that yet. For now, I’m content to strip down, pop open a beer and spread on the sun cream (the sun is hot so don’t forget to lather everywhere – no one wants a sun-burned Schwanz).
Volkspark Hasenheide | Enter at Graefestr. and walk up the middle, Neukölln, U-Bhf Hermannplatz
Chilling with the dead
Nadja Vancauwenberghe, Editor-in-Chief
Call me a creep, but I relish the company of the dead, provided they’ve been put to rest for long enough, and the premises of their earthly home doesn’t bear any signs of recent mourning – i.e. otherworldly flair kept intact. Old graves that is. So old, that they’ve been left to nature’s care. On this score, Berlin cemeteries are a godsend: the combination of the Germans’ obsession with memorialisation and municipal neglect means that many old Friedhöfe have been preserved in a ‘perfectly’ unkempt state. These leafy oases offer the nostalgic beauty of old stone, seldom encountered in a city where bygone charm was obliterated in the war or covered up by the new. The sanctuaries of peace (Friedhof, ‘peace court’) and quiet (until some barbarian sunbather starts barking on her iPhone), are perfect for afternoon downtime, sun and existentialist meditation. My latest Stamm-spot is the Old Garnisonfriedhof at the corner of Kleine Rosenthaler Straße/Linienstraße, where the Prussians used to bury their officers, those proud moustachioed men with bombastic names, impeccable posture and unremembered bravery in the wars against my Napoleon-led forefathers. I’m particularly fond of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s tombstone, not only because he was a Huguenot. The Baron who’s been resting here since 1843 was also the creator of the über-Romantic heroine Undine, the beautiful water spirit who marries a knight to get a soul. A reminder that men of war can be real romantics too, as much as the proud punks of Linienstraße 206, who penned brash and loud, “Soldaten sind Mörder,” on their wall across the street, a most fitting backdrop for a perfect summer day.
Alter Garnisonfriedhof | Kleine Rosenthaler Str. 3-7, Mitte, U-Bhf Rosenthaler Platz, Daily 7-19
Erica Löfman, Art Director
On a little jetty in Köpenick, you’ll find a sign that says, “Bitte hier klingeln!” with an arrow pointing to a doorbell. The bell alerts the crew on board the Spreearche, a floating restaurant in the middle of the Müggelsee, and a raft is sent to collect you. The kitchen at Spreearche specialises in fresh fish; the dishes are simple but good (mains, €8-12). Wernesgrüner is served in just one size (0.5l) vom Fass, and the wine choice is just between red and white – no fuss! Already after my first visit I knew I would go back again and again to quietly bob on the river, forget my worries and dig into juicy Butterfisch with roasted potatoes and Frühlingsquark.
Spreearche | Müggelschlößchenweg, Köpenick, S-Bhf Friedrichshagen, Tel 0172 3042 111, Mon-Fri from 13:00, Sat-Sun from 12:00
Charly Wilder, former Copy Editor
As Berlin’s expanding array of flea markets is methodically colonized by organic handbag weavers, outdoor elevator-techno lounges and artisanal food carts, it’s nice that there are still a few left in town that are truly, wonderfully trashy. On Sundays, head to – where else? – the Real parking lot next to the Neukölln S-Bahn, to dig through piles of minorly malformed clothing, stolen bikes and somewhat operational electronics. At the aggressively basic Neukölln Flohmarkt, nearly everything on the lot can be purchased for under €5, and at least at the time of writing, it’s yet to be discovered by bongo enthusiasts, hobbyist acrobats or that guy with the scarf you slept with in 2007.
Neukölln Flohmarkt | Real parking lot, Karl-Marx-Str. 236, U+S-Bhf Neukölln, Sun 6-14
Klares kaltes Wasser
Maurice Frank, Business Manager
The Berlin Freibäder – outdoor public pools – are a summer institution, with their sprawling lawns, multiple pools with diving boards, slides and swarms of hyperactive kids high on ice cream and pommes frites, hormonal teens and leathery sun-worshippers. Despite the fact that my glasses were once stolen there, the Sommerbad Humboldthain in Wedding remains my favourite. Kreuzberg’s Prinzenstraße pool is a little full and rowdy – and Humbolthain’s waterslide is just better. The best thing about it, though, is the expansive lawn, with plenty of sun and shade far enough away from the pool to avoid attacks by dripping, cavorting youths. After a dip, read a chapter or two of your paperback, close your eyes, savour the dapples of sunlight on your lids, and let the rustle of leaves, distant splashes, laughter and a passing S-Bahn or airliner lull you into the perfect summer dream state.
Sommerbad Humboldthain | Wiesenstr. 1, Wedding, S-Bhf Humboldthain, €4 (€2.50 reduced), Tue-Sun 9-19, Mon 10-19
Island of youth
Summer Banks, Stage Editor
Real staycation does mean some sort of retreat free of Italians, Aussies and Bavarians. The problem is that there is no place in the city completely free of the touristy hordes – yes, even Marzahn isn’t safe. The somewhat secluded Insel der Jugend in Treptower Park, however, is relatively free of the more obnoxious sorts. Bonus: it is also quite kid-friendly, as the name suggests. For those of you no longer nannying, the island offers plenty of corners to explore on your own or with the August fling you picked up at Club der Visionäre. If you wait until the sun finally goes down, the evening crates-of-beer, couple-of-bottles-of-Rotkäppchen parties start to dot the island’s edges. Conveniently (and yes, illegally), the island also includes many opportunities to jump in the Spree and soak your sun-bathed skin in the best of Berlin’s water. Wait until dark, and it might just become FKK-friendly.
Insel der Jugend | Am Treptower Park 14, Treptow, S-Bhf Treptower Park
Originally published in Issue #96, July/August 2011