Last week visitBerlin launched a new app, Going Local Berlin, full of hundreds of tips to help tourists and locals get the most out of the city.
“The new app offers personal tips from Berlin insiders”, says Burkhard Kieker, CEO of visitBerlin. “Our goal is to provide new ideas for the increasing number of repeat visitors when exploring the city. The digital guide will help visitors and Berliners alike to experience the city from whole new perspectives.”
Menu items on the home screen allow users to choose between ‘Boroughs’, ‘Orientation’ and ‘Map’ to find the tips most relevant to their current position or requirements.
Places in each borough are categorised as ‘Must See’, Hidden Places’, Food & Drinks’ or ‘Berlin Tourist Info’. All the relevant details such as addresses and opening times are included for each entry to make visiting as simple as possible, as you can see in the above entry for the Soviet War Memorial in Schönholzer Heide.
Going Local Berlin is available for iOS and Android free of charge in both German and English. Once you have downloaded the app you will need to download a data packet of approximately 125 MB but it’s then available to use offline.
More details about Going Local Berlin and links to the iOS and Android downloads for the app are available on the visitBerlin website.
I’ve got a thing for maps so it’s lucky for me that there are plenty of people out there finding lots of interesting ways to map Berlin and present data like the city’s squatted buildings, most popular photo locations and where to get craft beer. If you’re also a bit of a map geek, you should probably check out more posts on andBerlin with the Maps tag.
Berlin Besetzt (Occupied Berlin) Map of Squats
The Berlin Besetzt website is a great resource for facts, figures and maps about squatting in Berlin. A wonderful interactive map of squats can be adjusted by way of a slider to show the buildings occupied in any year since 1970.
Eric Fischer’s Berlin Photo Geotags Map
Eric Fischer has used Open Street Maps and the geotags added to photos on Flickr and Picasa to create a map showing the density of photographs taken in Berlin. On this map blue indicates photos taken by locals, red by tourists and yellow could be either.
There are lots more ‘Locals and Tourists’ maps from Eric Fischer on Flickr from cities across the world.
Berlin Craft Beer Locations Map
Berlin Craft Beer has a map of microbreweries, bars and shops where you can get your hands on some quality craft beers, including their ‘must visit’ recommendations.
I was writing a new ‘About’ page but somehow it turned into a post about my love affair with Berlin.
‘I’m David and I’m a Berlin-aholic’.
I’ve been living in Berlin for almost three years now and in that time I have seen more than I ever thought possible. Friends, some of them native Berliners, have asked me how I know so much about the city. The answer: I’ve walked the streets, I’ve devoured blogs and scoured Twitter, always looking for something of interest in the city I love.
For me, it was love at first sight.
I first came to Berlin in the summer of 2009, lured by the promise of walls decorated with some of the finest Street Art the world has to offer. What I discovered was a city with so many layers (and with the harshness of the winters here it needs layers believe me).
On that first trip, I spent 5 days getting to know Berlin – I started with the obvious tourist attractions: the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the East Side Gallery but even then I was enamoured with the diversity of the architecture, the proliferation of bars, cafés and restaurants, and the sheer pleasure of drinking a beer bought from a Späti as I wandered.
I returned in 2010. And then with a trip in the summer of 2011 already booked I decided to quit my job in London and spend a year living in Berlin so I could really experience the place.
The love affair hasn’t waned. If anything my feelings have grown stronger. On that first visit I felt more at home in Berlin than anywhere I had been before but now ‘Berlin is home’.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud to be Welsh, to be British.
Growing up in Cardiff was great and I will always miss my family while I’m here (though Skype makes things a little easier). Likewise the friends I made at University, in London, in Kent. But there’s something about Berlin that just gets me. A feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on. A feeling that I’m meant to be here.
In my time here, I’ve made great friends and had so many wonderful experiences. Looking back now it’s strange to read some of my first posts on this blog: it was meant to be somewhere to record my experiences but over time it has become so much more important to me.
When I was looking for a title for my blog, I wanted a pun (like so many others). ‘andBerlin’ sounded in my head like ‘Ann Boleyn’ but also I remember the reaction when I told people that I was quitting my job to move here – a crazy idea as far as most were concerned. Then came the question ‘and Berlin?’ The subtext was clear, why stay in one city you could travel the world? (I’d already done this in 1998/99); of all the cities you could choose, why Berlin? (I’ve tried and probably failed to explain that already).
There was also the question directed at the city itself: And, Berlin?
What will you throw at me? What will you mean to me? What have I yet to learn about you?
Having been here as long as I have, having seen as much as I have, I still find more to add to my ‘to do list’, a list that keeps getting longer, no matter how much I try to see and do, no matter how many items I ‘tick off’.
The ‘never ending Berlin to do list’ isn’t something unique to me.
— Wilson (@UnionBerlinMan) July 24, 2014
So many other people have moved here and keep discovering Berlin and inspiring me to do the same – überlin, Slow Travel Berlin, Abandoned Berlin, Digital Cosmonaut and Stil in Berlin deserve a special mention in this regard.
One of my goals when I came here was to learn German.
Things are progressing there. My German still isn’t as good as I would like it to be. It’s a cliché, but it’s a difficult language to learn. Having said that, I can now hold a decent conversation and in May spent 4 days on Mallorca speaking only German.
A German friend recently said that Germans are tolerant of the mistakes that people make when they are learning the language. “Of course we are tolerant”, he said. “It’s hard enough for us to speak it”.
The added bonus of moving forward with one of my goals is that I feel that I understand the culture and the people here in Berlin better by speaking the language.
It’s difficult to know exactly what will happen next in a city that is constantly changing but if my experiences here so far are anything to go by, Berlin will continue to astound me, entertain me and thrill me. I’m still a few years away from a potential 7-year-itch so presumably my love will grow.
Over the last couple of weeks a number of posts have popped up in my Social Media timelines with links to maps of Berlin. The maps provide valuable insights into the history and development of the city and/or useful tools for residents and future residents alike.
Interactive Map of Berlin Rents and Affordability
Published by Berliner Morgenpost under the title Neuvermietungen: Wo Sie sich Berlin leisten können, and based on the GSW Wohnmarkt-Report 2014, this interactive map allows you to determine where you can afford to live in Berlin.
The data is based on properties offered for rental in the first three quarters of 2013.
A slider allows you to select a monthly net income for your household and by selecting the number of rooms required (bedrooms +1), the map will display rental data for each of the areas marked on the map.
The map is colour-coded to show the percentage of household income required to rent the given properties (typical area in m2).
There is also a very handy comparison with prices in 2008 for those interested in the development of the property rental market in Berlin.
Berlin Atlas of Crime
The Berlin Atlas of Crime is an interactive map created by Tobias Burri and Lars Bullmann that visualises criminal activity in Berlin for 2010 and 2011, with data taken from the August 2012 report of the same name, as produced by the police of the Federal State of Berlin.
The dropdown menu allows the user to switch between overall crime statistics or specific categories of crime: Robbery, Mugging, Arson etc. to create a Heatmap. Clicking on each district of the map displays more detailed crime figures.
You can find out more about the data represented in the ‘About the Project’ section of the website.
Interactive Berlin Transport Map
Currently in a test phase on website of VBB (Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg), the provider of public transport for Berlin and Brandeburg, the VBB-Livekarte is an interactive travel map.
The user selects the transport options required and the currently active services move along their routes on the map.
Whilst it is still in development (U-Bahn and bus data is not currently available) this is an interesting development and once full, real-time data is available with be an invaluable travel tool for Berlin.
Via berlinish on Twitter.
Figure-ground Diagram (Schwarzplan) of Berlin (2010)
Schwarzplan is the German term for a Figure-ground Diagram, an architectural map, which is described by Gareth Davies on Shlur:
Mostly used by city planners, architects and urban designers, the idea of a figure-ground diagram goes back to 18th Century Rome, when Giambattista Nolli created a detailed map of 12 copper plates using the same basic principle. White symbolises unbuilt space, such as roads, parks and squares, and black indicates built space in terms of the ground-plan of the buildings. The result is something both abstract and filled with detail, a kind of practical Yin and Yang of the city. Figure-ground diagrams help to see the ratio of built space to that of empty space, enabling city planners to envisage areas that are conducive to a good communities, have a human scale and don’t lead to a disconnectedness between buildings and the further urban fabric.
The article on Shlur has further maps of Berlin that show it’s historical development. The comparison of the maps from 1940 and 1953 show the shocking extent of the destruction of Berlin in World War II.
Early in May I went back to Burger de Ville and tried the Funky Pommes, which come drizzled in Garlic butter and topped with parsley – I recommend you try them for yourself.
I finally made it to see the Wannsee in daylight and it was so good I made a second trip and both times I stopped for a drink in the Biergarten at Loretta am Wannsee.
And I was joined by an uninvited guest…
Street Food Thursday has become one of the highlights of my week and I was back again almost every week in May. The sandwiches at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ are just that good.
I spotted this drunk Octopus looking for a fight at Burgeramt…
A brief spell of sunny weather (a false summer) meant that the flowers started to bloom in all their glory.
I took a wander around the Hansaviertel for the first time in ages and marvelled at the architecture.
Mauerpark is only a short walk from my flat so I made my first (of many) visits of the summer to the Bearpit Karaoke.
I spotted a beautiful old Ford Falcon parked on Paul-Lincke-Ufer…
And I was back at Mauerpark to take in the sunset…
Fingers crossed and thumbs pressed (even though doing both at the same time is painful) that June’s selection will involve a lot more sunshine.
At the end of March I finally got around to upgrading my iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 5 and as a result I’ve been taking a lot more photos with my phone whilst I’m out and about in Berlin.
It was at the start of April that I really started to notice the sweet machines on the walls of the city.
The ease of taking photos with my iPhone meant that I captured more of the interesting patterns in the city’s architecture like these coloured blinds contrasted against the concrete of a Kreuzberg building…
…and a Plattenbau near Alexanderplatz.
And I snapped scenes that caught my eye like these girls walking under the artwork in the U-Bahnhof at Schloßstrasse.
A great new food event – Street Food Thursday at Markthalle IX – started in April in Berlin and means there’s more time to enjoy the incredible sandwiches, like this Beef Brisket, at Big Stuff Smoked BBQ…
…which I followed up with cocktails at Würgeengel.
I spotted this cheeky monkey on my way to take pictures of one of the huge black & white portraits in JR’s Wrinkles of the City project in Berlin.
As well as the JR exhibition at Galerie Henrik Springmann I would also highly recommend the Olympus OM-D Photography Playground at the Opernwerkstätten. I took lots of photos of this wonderful installation by Korean artist, Jongmoon Choi.
Another consequence of taking more phone photos is that I have become more fond of Instagram and the breathtaking photos of Miss Underground inspired me to look for empty spaces in the Berlin U-Bahn like the exit at U-Bhf Klosterstrasse.
And finally, sunset season is well and truly underway in Berlin. Seeing the pink skies out of my window I grabbed my phone and captured this sunset over Mauerpark from my balcony.
If you’d like to keep up with my continued exploration of Berlin in real-time follow me on Instagram.
GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs) is the music artists representative group in Germany and the iron fist with which it rules the music industry is the only thing I don’t miss about Berlin.
Anyone who has spent any time in Germany will have experienced the frustration of trying to watch a video on YouTube only to find out ‘GEMA has not granted the respective music publishing rights’.
Even videos uploaded by the artists themselves are often blocked.
A hatred of GEMA is universal and protests about increases in performance fees have been frequent in 2012.
I haven’t even been away from Berlin 48 Hours yet and I already miss the city. Where else would someone take their pony on the train?
Pony on the Berlin S-Bahn
Reports that a ticket inspector spotted the pony and told the owner ‘Hay, you canter ride with that on here’ are as yet unconfirmed.
Berliners it seems are almost immune to the idiosyncrasies of their fellow citizens. Amongst other notable things I’ve seen on the U/S-Bahn in Berlin that no-one has batted an eyelid at: a man with a Fridge/Freezer balanced on a shopping trolley; a man sat in an armchair; a man dressed in stockings, suspenders, a top hat and tails.