I LOVE Berlin; it’s cool, it’s quirky, it’s filled with history and there is a million and one things to do there. I could return so many more times and never get bored as it’s constantly changing, constantly developing and constantly stealing my heart!
When I travel somewhere I always look for different things to do, different tours to partake in and different places to eat, so when I found out about the Alternative Berlin tour I knew it was something I needed to book, having booked a generic tour the day before. Sadly no-one turned up to take us on that so we made our own tour and had a great time. Luckily, for us, the Alt Berlin guides did turn up when we arrived at Alexanderplatz at 1pm and we set off with our tour guide, Debbie, to our first stop Kreuzberg.
Kreuzberg is a hub of quirky bars & shops, awesome street art and lots of history with a slight Turkish influence.
This Astronaut by Victor Ash was created in 2007 and only shows itself off fully late at night when darkness falls and the local business light up their shops. There’s a shop opposite that has flags lit up, and the shadow falls directly into the painted hand. How incredible is that?!
On the corner of Manteuffelstrasse and Oranienstrasse, you are greeted Nature Morte by Belgian artist Roa painted in 2011 as a homage to the wildlife that once lived int eh areas the humans have killed off by building homes and living there.
Just can be seen all over Berlin once you start looking, and these are created by using a fire extinguisher! Apparently, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, and he even created a YouTube video on how to do it for aspiring artists.
After a few more stops to look at the street art, and a drink in the oldest bar in Kreuzberg, we take a short walk down to Bethanien. I’ve walked past this building many times on trips to Berlin and thought it was a place of worship so we didn’t stop.
But it’s actually a wartime hospital that didn’t get bombed and the locals have fought to keep it open as an art space with low rent, lots of studios and plenty of gallery space, and so far, the locals are winning. I’d love to go back and spend more than half hour wandering round as this has so much variety within.
We then continued our walk to the home of Osman Kalin, a Turkish immigrant, that set up camp on a traffic island next to the Berlin Wall and built a tree house that it still standing today. In fact, his grandkids still stay in there during summer and he is often found to be sitting in the garden waving and chatting those wanting to find out more about his past. This home is known to some as the Guerilla Garden and well worth reading up on!
We then headed along to YAAM Beach, a project that had been set up as a youth and cultural centre back in 1994 and has since moved locations to expand is a local hotspot for food, drinks and a place to relax by the river before Media Spree inhales the remaining slices of culture along that strip of water. During the winter YAAM hosts dinners for the homeless and clothes drives to help keep them warm during the colder months really establishing itself as a big part of the local community.
From here we decided to take a walk to the final stop, as opposed to getting on the train. Whilst walking we got to witness the Berghain; one of the most famous nightclubs in the world with one of the toughest door man to ever have exsisted! And no, I’m not exagerating, there’s actually websites dedicated to helping you get in! From the outside, you’d have no idea that parties would go on for days inside.
We then made it to our final stop; RAW Gelände. Founded in 1867 as a train repair station it remained in operation until 1994, then in 199 it became a hub of culture and home to clubs, bars, an indoor skate park which is one of the biggest in Europe, a swimming pool club and a bunker-turned-climbing-wall. RAW is filled with incredible graffiti too.
It’s also home to the world’s smallest nightclub; a converted phone box complete with smoke machine, disco balls and a tiny dance floor. Watch the video to get a glimpse of our little 2 man party inside…
This tour was by far the highlight of our trip. We learnt so much, had a great group and an incredible tour guide.
The tour is listed as free but they do work on a tip basis. We gave our tour guide €20 as it was well worth that.
Be sure to go on this tour next time you’re in Berlin.