This post was originally published in October 2016.
My last day in Berlin totally changed my view of the city.
I went on the Alternative Berlin walking tour, which is an amazing 3.5 hour guided tour where they take you to see some of Berlin’s best graffiti, street art, and alternative neighbors.
I learned so much more about this place. Berlin has such a huge alternative scene and it is full of amazing art, crazy little bars and while streets plastered with graffiti and yet if you didn’t know where to look it’s quite easy to miss.
The tour guide Bas (?) talked a lot about how former Bohemian areas have been torn down to make room for yet another shopping mall or massive apartment duplex no one can actually afford.
Berlin in the 90s sounds amazing. There were (and still are) entire streets filled with graffiti. There were massive squatting communities, crazy neighborhoods, and wild parties.
An alternative, liberal and free lifestyle was the norm. It’s amazing to see how this city responded to their past and all this art and culture is a vital part of Berlin which it looks amazing and makes this city so cool and unique, and yet the powers that be seem set on destroying it.
They keep building expensive flats that no one can live in and more and more shopping centers and office blocks and if it keeps going the way it is then the alternative side of Berlin will keep getting smaller and smaller until it becomes another glassy, corporate and soulless clone.
I can’t understand why they think this will improve Berlin’s economy. When you travel you don’t want to go somewhere that looks just like where you came from. I love England don’t get me wrong, but if you go to pretty much any main shopping area of the U.K they all look pretty much identical. The shops might be in different locations and the buildings may be different, but it’s all the same stuff whether it’s in Cologne or London or Paris or wherever.
We have places like Shoreditch which still have their original shops and awesome little restaurants but you can see the sneaky introduction of these expensive, ‘trendy,’ chains everywhere and whilst these places try to appeal to young people and hipsters by making themselves look alternative their not. They are chains that you can find everywhere.
We still have a lot of amazing places in London, especially if you know where to look, but we are also overrun with chains and talk glassy penis buildings. I don’t know why you would want to commercialize a city which has uniqueness as one of its biggest selling points.
What I love about Germany is how they have all these unique shops, bars, and cafes which are small chains s or one of a kind. In England, you can’t walk down the street without coming across a Tesco local but apart from Lidl, Rewes and Aldi they actually have a lot of their own independent supermarkets and locally owned businesses, much more than we do, and I just hope it stays that way.
The tour meets at the Alexandraplatz Starbucks underneath the TV tower. This is a really nice commercialized part of Berlin, and it’s definitely worth going to see the fountain and taking a few photos before the tour begins.
The tour was really amazing. We went to see one of the last remaining alternative strongholds in Hackescher market.
Then we walked to Kreuzberg and saw some amazing street and learned about a lot of the artists and graffiti laws in Berlin. All of this art is illegal, but the penalties can range from €5 to €10,000 or jail.
This is a portrait of a homeless man. There is an artist in Berlin who draws homeless people and leaves them all over the city as a way to give them back their identity.
This is the tour guide. I can’t remember his name (maybe someone can help me out?) but he was awesome.
The tour ended nearish to the east side gallery by the river opposite a bar/club called Yaam, where the guide told us we could get ‘anything we wanted’. I walked in after to take some photos and ended up staying for hours. I had hot wine (and other substances) and talked to the guys who worked there.
One of my fondest memories of Berlin is at the Yaam where I and a bunch of other people just sat around a table in silent and peaceful companionship.
This place was awesome. They have a fake beach, hammocks and amazing art, there is a really mixed crowd of customers chilling and smoking weed, and the staff were very welcoming (if a bit out of it).
After that, I went to the east side gallery but my phone died just as I got there. Of course, you should be able to enjoy it without the proof and new Instagram uploads but I was still horrified so the next morning I woke up at 7 30 am to go back to the east side gallery before my coach to Prague.
I ended up very nearly missing my coach in the process as there were still loads of rail works and I got all confused and stressed but by some miracle I got to the coach at 10:57 (my coach was at 11) and made it to Prague which is where I am now.
I got a little too trigger happy at the east side gallery and so I’ll be making a specific post for it later on today. For now, I am quite hungover and I haven’t actually been outside yet (which is terrible. It’s 3:38) so I’m going to gather my bones and venture outside for some (hopefully healthy as I do not feel human) food.
Stay tuned for The East Side Gallery!