Category Archives: Shops & Markets

Furry Shades™ – Novelty Sunglasses

Lion Sunglasses - Furry Shades by Novelty Sunglasses

Photo: noveltysunglasses.com

A little something to (hopefully) make you smile.  I saw these Lion Furry Shades™ by Novelty Sunglasses in Urban Outfitters in Berlin yesterday and they made me chuckle.

I also thought the Tiger sunglasses were pretty funny.

Tiger Sunglasses - Furry Shades by Novelty Sunglasses

Photo: noveltysunglasses.com

And for the Playboy Bunny look how about the Rabbit version.

Rabbit Sunglasses - Furry Shades by Novelty Sunglasses

Photo: noveltysunglasses.com

Someone could probably make a killing with these Giraffe sunglasses at the Tierpark in Berlin where baby Giraffe, Eric is the latest star attraction.

Eric the baby Giraffe at Berlin Tierpark

Photo: Markus Schreiber/AP Photo

And finally, what could be more Berlin Hipster than a pair of sunglasses with attached moustache (found on Amazon.com)?

Mustache Sunglasses at Amazon

Photo: amazon.com

Christmas Markets in Berlin – 5 Stars

Angel at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The Christmas Markets season in Berlin is well underway now and I’ve been out and about trying to sample as many as possible.

A friend recently told me that there are 60 Christmas Markets in Berlin this year.  It’s no wonder then that Berlin is popular with tourists who plan holidays specifically to take in some festive cheer.

With so many markets in the city it is difficult to know which ones visit so here’s my pick of the best Christmas Markets in Berlin I’ve seen so far.

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber (Magic Christmas Market) on the Gendarmenmarkt is one of Berlin’s most popular Christmas Markets and it’s not difficult to see why.

Set between the Deutscher Dom, Konzerthaus and Französischer Dom on one of Berlin’s most picturesque squares it has many food and drink options and stalls selling decorations, craft and gifts

Merry X-Mas heart-shaped sweet at Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt - a Christmas Market in Berlin

When I visited on a Saturday evening the market was so busy it was difficult to move at times but even on a Wednesday evening it was thronging with people.

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt and Französischer Dom - a Christmas Market in Berlin

If you have a mug of Glühwein here look out for the image of Knut (a famous Polar Bear at Berlin Zoo, sadly no longer with us) as an angel inside the lip, as pointed out to me by an eagle-eyed Digital Cosmonaut on a recent visit.

Tip: Climb the Französischer Dom (entrance fee €3) for a bird’s eye view of the market from the viewing platform.

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt - a Christmas Market in Berlin - from the Französischer Dom

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Gendarmenmarkt – nearest station – U Hausvogteiplatz / Stadtmitte

Every day until 31 December: 11:00 – 22:00.

€1 (Free Monday to Friday 11:00 – 14:00)

Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais

Stalls at the Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt (Nostalgic Christmas Market) at the Opernpalais was one of the busiest and most atmospheric that I visited last year in Berlin.

Unfortunately, I think its popularity has been affected by virtually being surrounded by a building site, as visitor numbers seem much lower this year based on the few visits I’ve made.

Despite this it is still an interesting setting with some great views and the market is well laid out and offers a good variety of stalls.

Wooden Decorations on a stall at Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Hopefully, as we move closer to Christmas, the crowds, and with them the atmosphere, will return to Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais

Tip: Stop by the stage in the southeast corner for musical performances.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Opernpalais (Unter den Linden) – nearest station – U Hausvogteiplatz

Monday to Thursday: 12:00 – 21: 30; Friday & Saturday: 11:00 – 22: 30; Sunday: 11:00 – 22: 30 until 26 December.

Free

Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg

Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Schloss Charlottenburg lit up in many colours, Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg is the most impressive looking of all the Christmas Markets I’ve visited so far.

Stalls at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The cupola of the Schloss dominates the skyline over the market but the minaret of one food and drink stand and the Christmas Pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide) of the Deutscher Winzerglühwein stand provide interesting counterpoints.

A Food and Drink Stand at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

People Drinking Glühwein at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Tip: Arrive early and take the time to stroll around the Palace Gardens or go inside Schloss Charlottenburg.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

In front of Schloss Charlottenburg (Spandauer Damm) – nearest stations – S Westend / U Richard-Wagner-Platz

Monday to Thursday: 14:00 – 22: 00; Friday to Sunday: 12:00 – 22: 00 until 26 December.

Free

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei

A Glühwein stand at Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

My favourite of favourite Berlin Christmas Markets of all those I’ve experienced this year (I haven’t been to all of them) has to be Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt at Kulturbrauerei.

Smaller and therefore more intimate than any of the other markets I’ve visited, Lucia has the best atmosphere.

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Having read the Tourist Information on the market’s website I can tell you:

Named after Lucia, the Nordic goddess of light, the market is dedicated to the Scandinavian countries.

The emphasis here is on food and drink stalls, with just a few selling the usual trinkets, and it seems that it is popular as a meeting place for the local community.

A Glühwein stand at Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

As this market is behind my local supermarket I have been here on all days of the week and have yet to go without walking into the buzz and chatter of groups of friends.

A Dinosaur and a car on a Carousel ride at Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Tip: If you’re feeling a little chilly look out for the ‘Coat-Open-Air-Heater’, a circle of Sheepskin coats strung around a fire.  Sit down and slip your arms into a coat where it hangs – add Glühwein for added fortification against Berlin’s winter weather if needed.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Kulturbrauerei (Schönhauser Allee / Sredzkistrasse / Knaackstrasse) – nearest station – U Eberswalder Strasse

Monday to Friday: 15:00 – 22: 00; Saturday & Sunday: 13:00 – 22: 00 until 23 December.

Free

Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding

Extinguisher - Art by KEN (aka Plotterroboter) at Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding in Berlin

If you’ve had your fill of Glühwein and Bratwurst and would like an alternative to the many traditional markets in Berlin, head out to Stattbad Wedding for Stattmarkt.

This former public baths (Stadtbad), now a gallery/club/performance space, is hosting an art market Thursday to Sunday until 16 December.

Lost - Art by ALIAS at Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding in Berlin

With over 300 artworks from new and established urban artists Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding is an opportunity to view some outstanding art in an innovative and intriguing setting.

Tip: Make sure you check out the outside of the building too as this is a popular spot for Street Artists.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Stattbad Wedding (Gerichtstrasse 65) – nearest station: S + U Wedding.

Thursday to Sunday: 12:00 – 19:00 until 16 December.

€5 (€3 concessions).

Flohmarkt am Mauerpark – a Berlin Flea Market

The crowd moves through the stalls at the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark (Flea Market) in Berlin on a Sunday

The crowd at the fleamarket at the Mauerpark yesterday was a real mix of the optimistic and the pessimistic.  Some were wearing hotpants, vests, flip flops and sunglasses.  Others were in overcoats, scarves and woolly hats.

For those of you that haven’t been there yet, and if you’re in Berlin on a Sunday I urge you to put that right, the fleamarket at the Mauerpark is a sprawling collection of stalls selling everything from original art and homemade pottery to house clearance junk (one man’s junk is another man’s treasure) and second hand clothes and books.

I came across a stall yesterday, that is either new or I have missed before, selling Lego figures.  There were Harry Potter characters, knights, Red Indians and Star Wars characters galore.  I even spotted Father Christmas and a snowman.

Star Wars Lego figures on sale at a stall at the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark  (Flea Market) in Berlin on a Sunday

Lego figures, including Father Christmas and a Snowman, on sale at a stall at the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark (Flea Market) in Berlin on a Sunday

There are also plenty of stalls selling food and drink (it was a running joke with some recent visitors that you can get beer anywhere in Berlin).

Having experienced Berlin in summer three times I was amazed to walk through the stalls with relative ease during the winter but with the sun nudging the Mercury up on the day the clocks changed it was a different story.

The crowd moves through the stalls at the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark (Flea Market) in Berlin on a Sunday

The Mauerpark was swarming with bargain hunters, people spotters and Sunday strollers.  Those who weren’t thronging the aisles were lazing about on the grass in the shadow of the wall or gathered around the Bear Pit (site of the famous Karaoke sessions that I still haven’t seen) to enjoy the entertainment.

A crowd gathers at The Bear Pit, site of the famous Karaoke, on a Sunday at Mauerpark in Berlin

There were some people being a bit more active: jugglers, swingers and singers.  And a changing cast of characters on the basketball court.

Basketball game on a Sunday at Mauerpark in Berlin

And bearing witness to Berlin’s alternative tendencies a diver was making his way around the crowd.  He was either as mad as a box of frogs or very adept at drawing the attention he craved.  Probably a bit of both, as he seemed a lot happier when he had a crowd gathered around him and was having his photo taken.

The Flohmarkt Frogman moves amongst the crowd at Mauerpark on a Sunday in Berlin

A close up of The Flohmarkt Frogman as he moves amongst the crowd at Mauerpark on a Sunday in Berlin

The Flohmarkt am Mauerpark is held every Sunday (with a few exceptions – check the website) alongside a former strip of no-man’s-land off Bernauer Strasse.

I would definitely include a mooch here on my itinerary for the perfect Sunday in Berlin and if you’ve got the bargain hunting bug you can move on to the nearby Flohmarkt am Arkonoplatz.

For more information on the flea market you might like to read this article on Slow Travel Berlin.  And Zoe gives some insight into the people/style-spotting opportunities on überlin.

Urban Outfitters – Take Two

The Store Opening Party at Urban Outfitters Ku'damm on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin

Urban Outfitters opened a second Berlin store on the Ku’damm yesterday and they had a party.

This store opened with a bit more fanfare than the Berlin Mitte store on Weinmeisterstrasse in January.

On the ground floor there was a bar handing out bottles of Estrella beer and on the first floor there was a DJ.  And everywhere, people were milling around checking out the wares and generally having a good time.

I was a little disappointed that the bar had taken over the Vintage Menswear section (one of my favourite spots in any Urban Outfitters) but when there’s free beer on offer it’s hard to complain.  I can go back and check out the clothes.

This T-Rex Hates Push-Ups t-shirt caught my eye, having recently seen this Tumblr, thanks to a tweet from @uberlinblco.

T-Rex Hates Push-Ups T-Shirt on sale at Urban Outfitters Ku'damm on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin

 

Amongst the usual great selection my other favourite things were the ‘Potato Gun’, which took me (way) back to my youth and the Mirror Bear by Arran Gregory in the corner of the basement.

For me the only mistake here was Bon Iver’s second LP mislabeled as For Emma, Forever Ago on the shelves.  And I can forgive that, for now.

As the store in Mitte always seems busy, I can only assume that this one will be a roaring success too.

A Potato Gun or Spud Gun on sale at Urban Outfitters Ku'damm on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin Mirror Bear - a sculpture by London-based artist Arran Gregory in Urban Outfitters Ku'damm on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin

 

 

Fassbender & Rausch – Sublime Chocolates in Berlin

Kir Royal Trüffel (Truffles) at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

A trip to Fassbender & Rausch would be one of my top tips for anyone visiting Berlin.

Of course, on your first visit to the German capital you should see the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), but why not also see them crafted from chocolate.

Fassbender & Rausch was formed in 1999 when two families of chocolatiers joined forces.  Heinrich Fassbender started making chocolate in 1863 in Mohrenstrasse, not far from the present shop.  Later, in 1890, Wilhelm Rausch established his first confectionery.

Entering the shop on the southern edge of the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin’s Mitte, you’ll feel like Charlie stepping into Willy Wonka’s factory.  Your eyes will be on stalks as you walk passed all the sights listed earlier and the chocolate volcano.

The Fernsehturm made from chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

To give you some idea of scale, the Reichstag here measures 1.6m x 1.6m x 0.65m and weighs in at a staggering 285 kg.  Oh, and it took 492 man-hours to create it.

The Reichstag made from chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

There is a huge array of truffles on offer and after enjoying some yourself you can earn some serious Brownie points if you take some home as gifts.  Fortunately, the staff here are incredibly patient with customers who find it difficult to narrow down the wide selection.

Shoppers at browsing the Truffle counter at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

Truffles cost €5.75 per 100g but the less fancy (but still wonderfully tasty) Borken Schokolade costs €3.45 per 100g.

Above the shop there is a Café and Restaurant.  I’m told that the hot chocolate here is something special but I’ve never been so can’t vouch for that.  The desserts on the menu outside look like they are to die for.

For most, Fassbender and Rausch in Berlin is a fantasy world of chocolate creations.  For a chocoholic like me, it’s a little slice of chocolate Heaven on Earth.  On leaving, those worried about their waistline can cross the Gendarmenmarkt to the Französischer Dom, where climbing the steps to the viewing gallery will help burn off some of the calories just consumed.

A box of Berlin souvenir chocolates at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

A white chocolate rabbit at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

Mazipan Herz (Hearts) at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

Urban Outfitters – Berlin Mitte Opening

Stickers on the window the new Urban Outfitters Store on Weinmeisterstrasse in Berlin Mitte

When I was out walking one evening last week the lights in a new shop on Weinmeisterstrasse in Berlin Mitte caught my eye.  As I got closer I was able to see ‘Urban Outfitters’ written all over the window.

Now, I’ve been a fan of Urban Outfitters since I went to my first store in San Francisco way back in 1998.

And I’ve always thought that it would be ideally suited to Berlin’s style.

I popped down to the store opening today and judging by the queue waiting for the doors to open it looks like it may prove popular.

I decided not to join the queue but once I got back from a quick snoop around some of the other shops in the area people were already inside and already heading for the tills.

There’s not a lot to say about the shop design and stock – it was the usual UO (high) standard and eclectic mix.

A second Berlin shop will be opening on the Kurfürstendamm soon.