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
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
BERLIN ART WEEK
Berlin art week is a 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. I visited the permanent exhibition at sammlung boros exploring minimalism in architecture ( in photos).
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.
“WHAT CANALS ARE TO AMSTERDAM, STREET ART IS TO BERLIN - UNKNOWN”
Here are some of my favourites from the East side Gallery and others from Kreuzberg and Mitte districts
LOST AND FOUND oN
Weekend Getaway To Hamburg
Art: Kunsthalle hamburg
District: Speicherstadt and Harbour cube
Dessert: Ice cream and waffles at Amorino
Touristy: Beatles platz and Townhall
Walk: St pauli Elb tunnel
Visit: St. Michael’s church
Experience: Elbe philharmonic hall
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
BRUNCHES- Napoljonska + Super + St oberholz + Le bon food and drink
VEGAN- Jivamukti yoga berlin + Funk you
PIZZA- 12 apostel berlin mitte + Zola pizza + Ritrovo cucina ( favourite) + W- der imbiss
VIETNAMESE- Huong que + Lemongrass scent + Chen che + Rou vegetarian
INDIAN- Chelany + Satyam
DRINKS- An einem sonntag im August
BAKERY- Black isle bakery + Brammibal’s donuts + L’osteria
KOREAN - Gong gang and Chilees korean burger
U Bahn And Art
A city can be judged by it's public transport. How I judge it? With art on the underground. Spending more than an hour everyday on the Ubahn kept me inspired.
Here is a photo essay capturing everyday on the Ubahn and it's iconic tiled stations.
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
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
Modular art supply store
Neurotitan shop and gallery
Kochhaus kreuzberg for organic grocery
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
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.
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
10. Roeststaette: 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
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