Berlin, the chic capital of Germany and vegan capital of Europe has something for all. With quaint cafes, independent designers and bookstores, and an underground music and art scene, Berlin could be a creative’s paradise. During my 3-month solo stay in Berlin, I stayed in four different neighbourhoods meeting different people each time, exploring subcultures that co-existed. Soon I knew that the main themes for my journey were going to be exploring the coffee cultures and a newly cultivated art scene in Berlin with the growing cross culture communities from Syria, Palestine and other eastern cultures. I knew I needed to really engage in the community to get a real taste of the city, hence I decided to work out of a conscious co-working space in Mitte ( centre of the city) and also worked for a Foundation that supported education in Morocco by selling artisanal products. During my stay, I attended the Berlin art week which is an art festival that takes place every September with many independent art galleries as well as some popular ones like Sammlung Boros and me collectors room.
In a week’s time, I had met a lot of creative seekers, all engaged in the community in alternate ways. During these working days, I had a chance to meet artists who were part of a collective called ‘A Journey of belonging’ an open studio initiative at Bikini Berlin. Their work spoke of the experience of war and crisis they had experienced in their native homes and it influenced my experience too as an artist to express all that noise inside with such grace. Jeanno and Ahmed particularly made an impact on me. Jeanno used textiles as a material memory to speak of her times in Afghanistan. She explored the ritual of hair braiding in Afghanistan and that special intimate moment's young girls share with their mothers. Ahmed used broken glass with hints of charcoal and blues to express his experience during the Syrian war. I guess all pain does lead to creativity, some thoughts I had on the way back on U-Bahn. With art on the underground, spending more than an hour every day on the Ubahn kept me inspired. U Bahn had some conic tiled stations, I noticed. I read somewhere, ‘What canals are to Amsterdam, street art is to Berlin’. One can see that Berlin’s political history and the suffering has definitely led to a lot of creativity.
I started living in Berlin in the first week of September, and in a month winter had hit and fallen leaves that made the city gold and mustard now had turned grey. I was going to be in Germany during Christmas and I was already planning a getaway. Berlin which is well connected with most cities in Germany was only 2 hours train ride to Hamburg. I had made a list of must do in the city covering Kunsthalle Hamburg, Speicherstadt and Harbour cube, Trostbrücke, Beatles Platz and Town Hall, St Pauli Elbtunnel, St. Michael’s church, Elbe Philharmonic Hall and Alsterarkaden, but most time was gone at the Christmas markets eating sausages and mulled wine! Well, no place can be completely experienced without its food and Berlin has a lot to offer and could I call Berlin the cafe capital of Europe? Almost! The German capital is a lot more than Pretzels and currywurst, a stereotype about Germany ( Although I absolutely love them) From its famous brunches and vegan options to commonly found Vietnamese. Also, Did you know Doner kebab was founded in Berlin?! Berlin also has some great street markets that one could explore for food or vintage finds on both weekdays and weekends. The one on Hackescher market on Saturdays had my favourite avocado hummus! Markthalle Neun is where I would go for local produce and Flohmarkt mauerpark had its last few weeks left before it would close for winters.
Journey of Belonging
Berlin art Week
Lost and Found in ART
Weekend getaway to HAMBURG
Food Trail : Brunches and Vegan
U BAHN and art
Being touristy: Kreuzberg and Mitte
SOUVINIERS and bookstores
MUSTARDS AND GOLDS OF fall
JOURNEY OF BELONGING
During my 3 month stay in Berlin, I spent half of my time at ‘A Journey of belonging’ an open studio initiative by CAA berlin at Bikini Berlin. With artists from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, "A Journey of Belonging" gave artists the opportunity to pursue their artistic work and to present the results to a larger audience. 15 artists moved their studio in Bikini Berlin which included artists like Marwa Abou Hatab, Mohanad Adwan, Khaled al Boushi, Fadi al Hamwi, Hiba Alansari, Akel Amer, Jeanno Gaussi, Mohamad Halbouni, Fadi, Keith King.
To know more about their works, Follow A Journey of Belonging
SIIN started as a fusion between traditional Arabic sounds and techno music made with love in Berlin. The love for music brought Rafi from Palestine and Uros from Serbia to meet in Berlin and begin this uplifting project. Their wish was to create quality new music that makes people be present and happy. They soon realised that the best way this could be done is by bringing techno and quick Arab’s rhythms in a sophisticated combination together. Rafi is known for his amazing bright energy and creativity and Uros has been a long time DJ, entertaining the Berlin and international scene with Balkan and oriental beats.
Tell me a little bit about how it all started? When did you realise your artistic instincts? Did you study arts? Was the switch a conscious decision? Talk about your journey.
I studied actually civil engineering, but was always interested in art. Of course when my journey brought me to Berlin suddenly I was exposed to a big volume of aesthetics. Soon I realised that this is what I do best, creating. Office work became a memory and I started focusing on sharing beauty through art to the world, of course I also had the best scene here in the capital city. Since we started our project, we collaborated with many artists, sharing knowledge and experience. From distant ancient genres to modern unrelated beats and art manifestations, we mix together musical and visual elements in new projects.SIIN also played at gallery vernissages and soon became a part of the visual artist community. I myself did wood sculptures and glass melting art with different projects. I read some of my poems in different occasions and started collaborating with professional painters and drawers in learning new technics. Coming together and exploring ideas made magical things happen and brought us amazing results. This concept is based on the idea of fusion in art.
It has shaped our identity, made us evolve as artists and shift our focus through the influence of others to new perspectives and paths.
I understand that you combine your marketing skills with music skills? How do you balance the artist and the business guy in you?
I am a communicative person and became also involved in management and event organising in our projects. This is a skill I naturally have, I didn’t study in University, although I would probably do a Master at some point to improve myself. But I guess I’m learning on the way and had also a lot of help from the people around me that teach me or showed me how the things here work. It was kind a learning by doing.
How different is the community in Berlin and back home? Elaborate with examples.
My home is earth. My vision about life changed over time accumulating new experiences. I am grateful for all of them. I discovered my artistic abilities in Berlin, where people from all over the world live together and there is a very diverse art spectrum. But still I think there is enough need for sharing fresh perspectives and showing ‘exotic’ visions. I believe flexibility and opening the heart to new is a key in learning about oneself and getting closer to the divine. Traditions, fixed thoughts and routines do have a role in our society but without change there is no real evolution.
According to you the future of eastern artists in Berlin?
Techno is of course the main music in Berlin, because of it’s tradition and meanwhile worldwide popularity. But from techno many other styles evolved and the international input created different mixtures and new genres. I think it’s in an improvement to the sometimes monotonous minimal techno. Adding instruments, voices and for the locals unknown rhythms etc. can entice curiosity, enthusiasm and bring novelty. Taste is of course subjective and Berlin has place for everyone.
Are there any artists who inspire you? Share their names and music.
In an ideal world, what goals do you wish to achieve with SIIN?
Make people happy and work towards unity, loving and understanding each other.
A CONsCIOUS BRAND
Abury is a sustainable fashion brand that supports crafts community in Africa, South America and Asia. Andrea bury’s trip to morocco and finding rare vintage leather- hand embroidered berber bags started it all four years ago. Today Abury also supports the Abury foundation through its various projects like the Portraid Project. I was fortunate to be a part of their Breast cancer awareness campaign. To find out out more about Abury here.
I worked out of Lover’s space for about 2 weeks during my stay. Located between Mitte and Prenzular Berg, it’s a perfect space for individuals and creative freelancers. Quiet and cozy with 3 different rooms, lovers’ also organises various wellness and spiritual events for the community. Founded by yasmine, a conscious living ambassador, the place has great positive energy and I highly recommend it.
The creative community in Berlin is wide and experimental. Here are some useful organisations and spaces to know about for artist residencies and galleries.
Visit the Museum Island and check out at least 3 out of 5 galleries and Museums that include.
Walk along the east side gallery for Street Art that stretches for more than 2 km.
Visit the Jewish Museum to understand the Jewish history in Berlin
Bethanien Centre is an open studio and gallery for artists to rent. One Could expect unique events like book festivals and movie screening at this space.
Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt: House of world cultures organises exhibitions from around the world with relevance to politics, anthropology and history. One can also attend movie and theatre at the auditorium
Co Berlin: A contemporary space dedicated to emerging and established photographer with quint cafe and bookstore.
Sammlung Boros: Influenced by modern architecture, the space exhibits contemporary art installations.
Bauhaus Archive: Dedicated to the Bauhaus school of design, space could be a delight for an architect/ designer looking for inspiration and homes a design shop and cafe.
Me collectors room: Located in the centre of the city, the gallery is surrounded by many other independent galleries and works on cross-cultural initiatives.
Zentrum fur Kunst und urbanistik
English theatre Berlin
Museum fur fotografie
University de Kunst
Could I call Berlin the cafe capital of Europe? Almost! Here is a list of my favourites in Mitte, Kreuzberg and Prenzular berg
1. Refinery High-end Coffee:
A perfect destination for high-end single origin African and South American roasts. One must try their latte with cheesecake.
Location: Albrechtstrasse 11b 10117 Berlin
2. Distrikt coffee:
Fantastic breakfast all round (berry Brioche and eggs/avocado on toast), great coffee and juice with very quick friendly service.
Location: Bergstrasse 68
Berlin, Germany 10115
3. Five elephants:
Roasters with a chain of stores serving a perfect cuppa, whether you are an espresso person or a latte lover.
Location: Kreuzberg Cafe & Bakery
REICHENBERGER STR. 101
ALTE SCHÖNHAUSERSTR. 14.
4. The barn cafe coffee roasters :
For the ones who like a freshly roasted and brewed cup with an outside seating or beans to take back home, this would be perfect. With a coffee academy, the barn truly does excel in what they do. Location: Auguststrasse 58, 10119 Berlin
5. Bonanza coffee roasters:
A roastery and co-working space, this is an experience in itself with its chic interiors and outstanding coffee and croissants.
Location: Oderberger Straße 35 | 10435 Berlin
6. Father carpenter coffee brewers:
Hidden in a courtyard in Mitte, This is a brewery and cafe that serves delicious eggs benedict, cakes and coffee.
Location: Muenzstrasse 21 - 1.Hof
Berlin, Germany 10178
7. Companion coffee:
Coffeehouse that also serves delicious tea, located in a high-end boutique called voo store. One could spend a perfect afternoon shopping, sipping tea and coffee with cakes.
Location: Oranienstr. 24,
8. Chapter one coffee:
Small cafe for taking away in Kreuzberg is perfect for the ones who like it simple.
Location: Mittenwalder Str. 3010961 Berlin
9. The visit coffee:
I would visit it just for the experience of the space and of course an amazing cappuccino
Location: Adalbertstraße 9, 10999 Berlin
More than just a coffee shop, this space also organises workshops for the curious customers. Offering a range of coffee brews, they are also great for a hot chocolate.
Location: Ackerstr. 173 D-10115 Berlin
Friedl rotisserie and kekse
Cafe im literaturhaus
Best Brunches :
Definitely, reserve before you go, as there has never been a time when there was no queue. A small space serving the best eggs and croissants I have ever had.
Visit: Pannierstraße 64, 12043 Berlin, Germany
A high-end brunch place that serves till 4 pm. Their pancakes are incomparable.
Visit: Oranienpl. 14, 10999 Berlin, Germany
Cafe am Neuen see Biergarten:
Think of cedar wood, pretty lights, Christmas carols and oven made pizza with Beer. Located in the middle of Tiergarten, this place is super romantic even during the day.
Visit: Lichtensteinallee 2 ,10787 Berlin
House of small wonder:
You might just experience Food coma. Croissant with eggs and maple syrup is my recommendation for sure. They also serve matcha coffee!
Visit: Johannisstraße 20, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Tadshikische tee tube:
A truly hidden gem, a tea room from Tajikistan that offers an experience of Russian and Chinese cultures with its brocade silk interiors and vodka tea with raisins. You cannot miss this one.
Visit: Oranienburger Str. 27, 10117 Berlin, Germany
A high-end cosy vegan bar that serves protein-rich snacks and brunches. One could expect avocado bowls, smoothies, chia seed puddings and eggs.
Visit: Weinbergsweg 3, 10119 Berlin, Germany
Located in Mitte, this is an authentic Vietnamese cafe serving, Phos and baos with coffee and chocolate, all sourced from Vietnam.
Visit: Max-Beer-Straße 37, 10119 Berlin, Germany
Mustafa Demir gemuse kebap:
When speaking of Doner Kebabs, there is nowhere else to go. Mustafa Demir also is part of the food history of Berlin as kebab was founded in Berlin when the Turkish migrated to Germany 3 generation ago and this became one of the first shops to open.
Visit: Mehringdamm 32, 10961 Berlin, Germany
Monkey bar :
A rooftop bar at the 25- hour hotel, Bikini Berlin, could be classified under indie luxury. With a spectacular view of the Tiergarten on one side and view of the Kaiserin Wilhelm Memorial Church on the other, this is the perfect destination for a drink during the week or weekend.
Visit:Budapester Str. 40, 10787 Berlin, Germany
Le bon food and drink
Jivamukti yoga berlin
12 apostel berlin mitte
Ritrovo cucina ( favourite)
W- der imbiss
An einem sonntag im August
Black isle bakery
Chilees korean burger
A checklist for a first timer in berlin
ast Side Gallery
Jewish Museum Berlin
Berlin wall memorial
St Nikolai Kirche
Memorial of murdered jews
Topography of terror
St hedwig’s cathedral
German historical museum
Anne frank zentrum
Kaiser wilhelm memorial church
Flohmarkt arkonaplatz + mauerpark for local designers and food
Markthalle neun for local food
The berlin art market by the zeughaus supports local artists
Boxhagener platz for furniture, vintage and books
Gendarmenmarkt is the best christmas market
Hackescher Markt is in one of the most central and hip neighbourhoods of Berlin
Winterfeldtmarkt is along a canal in kreuzberg
Bebelplatz and Trodelmarkt are more local
Paper and tea
Design/ concept stores
Present and paper
The amazing crocodile design store
Furst nebensortimente im buchhandel
Le labo for perfumes
Starstyling for clothes
Ace and tate for glasses
Modular art supply store
Neurotitan shop and gallery
Kochhaus kreuzberg for organic grocery
Buchhandlung walther könig gmbh
Saint georges english bookshop
Do you read me
Shakespeare and sons
The berlin book nook
Die buch konigin
Bücherbogen am savignyplatz
Marga schoeller buecherstube
pro qm thematische buchhandlung
Here are upcycled silver earrings from a flee market and handmade organic dark chocolate
Kunst: Art | Kirche: Church | Roggenbrot: Rye bread | Hafer: Oats | Kiez : Neighbourhood | Schokolade : Chocolate | Indisch : Indian | Samlung Contemporary | Kaffee : Coffee | Damm : Road | Strasse : Street | Bahn: train | Dom: Cathedral | Rathaus : government building | Mitte : Centre | Danke: Thankyou | Tschuss : Bye | Ja : yes | Nein : No | Hallo : Hello | Zentrrum Center | Apotheke : Medical Store | Hauz : house | Flohmarkt : Flee market| Platz: Square | Tee : Tea | Milch : Milk | Buch : Book | Gemuse : Vegetables | Vernisaage : Party