Tag Archives: Berlin

Trattoria del Corso – Exceptional Italian food outside the Berlin Ring

Close up of Lamb Rump Steak at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

If you’ve got cravings for incredible Italian food in Berlin and don’t want to break the bank, I’d recommend you check out Trattoria del Corso, a large and popular restaurant on the Hauptstrasse in Friedenau.

Where’s Friedenau you ask? Sandwiched between Schöneberg and Steglitz, it may not be a part of Berlin you’re familiar with but believe me, if you’re willing to venture (400m) outside the ring, you’ll be rewarded at Trattoria del Corso with some of the best Italian food in Berlin.

Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

If you’re lucky, on a Berlin summer evening, you’ll get a table on the terrace to the side of the restaurant, covered with a series of large, white sun umbrellas.  The waiting staff here are busy so don’t expect overly attentive service but they are friendly and generally efficient.

As in many Italian restaurants fresh bread is brought to the table with the drinks.  It’s wonderfully soft and fluffy with a crisp and flavourful crust.  Olive oil and Balsamico Vinegar are provided on the table for dipping.

Fresh bread at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

The menu has a wide selection of Antipasti, Salads, Pizzas and Pasta dishes and don’t forget to check out the chef’s recommendations – an assortment of specials that changes weekly.

Unless you haven’t eaten for a week or plan to roll home I would suggest skipping the starters – the portions here are generous.

The pizzas are massive – so big in fact that the plates can’t contain them and you’ll need to bring your appetite to finish a whole one. As prices range from €6.80 to €8.30 this represents exceptional value for money.  If you’re a fan of the spicy kick of chillies you’ll fall in love with the spicy pizza oil – the good news if you do is that you can take a bottle home for €12.50.

Pizza Diavola topped with an egg at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

On a recent visit, Steffi opted to have the Pizza Diavola topped with an egg – the waiter didn’t bat an eyelid at the request and the total price was €8.30.  The only disappointment, Steffi hadn’t brought her A-game and couldn’t eat it all!

Lamb Rump Steak at Trattoria del Corso (Italian restaurant) Berlin

I chose the Lamb Rump Steak with Rosemary potatoes and beans from the chef’s recommendations.  The meat was perfectly cooked.  It was tender and succulent and complemented perfectly by the vegetables and a light jus.  I had no problem clearing my plate but felt full and satisfied afterwards.

So, make the most of the extensive and relatively inexpensive transport system in Berlin, take the S-Bahn (S41 / S42 / S45 / S46) or U-Bahn (U4) to Innsbrucker Platz, and treat yourself to delicious Italian food at Trattoria del Corso.

Lost Dreams – Spreepark Berlin

Still from Lost Dreams - Spreepark Berlin by Friedhelm Fischer

Photo: Still from Lost Dreams – Spreepark Berlin by Friedhelm Fischer

Berlin’s abandoned theme park, Spreepark Plänterwald, must be one of the most well-known urbex destinations in the world.

The neglected amusement park has been in my thoughts often since it was bought back by the city of Berlin in March 2014.

Spreepark hasn’t been open as an amusement park since 2002, when the owners ran into financial difficulties. Those troubles were compounded when a botched drug smuggling operation landed the head of the Witte family, Norbert, and his son Marcel in prison.

I wrote more about this intriguing back-story in my ‘Spreepark Plänterwald – Berlin’s Abandoned Theme Park’ post.

Since its closure, Spreepark has been an unofficial playground for curious souls eager to be swallowed by the brightly coloured tiger’s mouth of the Spreeblitz ride whilst the slowly turning Ferris Wheel provides an eerie soundtrack.

This beautifully shot and wonderfully atmospheric video from Friedhelm Fischer has me longing to return to the abandoned theme park by the banks of the Spree – one of those places that makes me think ‘Dat is Berlin!

Lost Dreams – Spreepark Berlin

Olympus OM-D Photography Playground Berlin 2014

3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

The Olympus OM-D Photography Playground has made a welcome return to the Opernwerkstätten in Berlin.

Now in its second year the Photography Playground consists of a series of 9 installations from international artists that are intended to be both visually striking and interactive.

Epiphyte Membrane by Philip Beesley at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Transforma installation at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

AlexandLiane installation at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

My favourite installations were those that I thought encouraged the highest level of involvement from the visitors.

My first encounter with the work of Argentine artist Leandro Erlich was a write-up in the Evening Standard on his work in Dalston commissioned by the Barbican.

His work, Berlin Façade, is ideally suited to the Photography Playground and visitors were thrilled with the chance to seemingly defy gravity.

Close Up of Berlin Facade by Leandro Erlich at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

Berlin Facade by Leandro Erlich at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

The most fascinating work for me though was 3Destruct by ANTIVJ, an art collective comprised of Yannick Jacquet, Jeremie Peeters and Thomas Vaquié.

The installation uses strobe lighting to create an environment that is constantly changing.

3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

A visitor poses in 3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Bright Light of 3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Surreal in 3Destruct by ANTIVJ at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Integral to the Photography Playground concept is the availability of cameras from the Olympus OM-D range for visitors to record their experiences.  The cameras have been moved to the ground floor in front of the entrance making this option much more obvious to the casual visitor.

The cameras are loaned out free of charge but those visitors who do not carry a National Identity card will need to hand over their Passport.  The memory card is yours to take away when you hand the camera back.

Last year, I didn’t have the proper identification so I missed out on the opportunity to try out a camera so this year I was determined to give it a go.

Along with details of the artists and a short explanation of the work there are suggested settings for the Olympus camera in front of each of the installations.

I got to walk around with an EM-10 and was impressed with the camera and the photos I was able to produce in the short time I had it.

Olympus OM-D EM-10

Olympus OM-D EM-10

Love for Transforma at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

Installation at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

AlexandLiane at Olympus Photography Playground Berlin

Photo taken with Olympus EM-10

I would be keen to try out the camera again and would particularly like to explore its WIFI capability, as this could be a great everyday camera for Intstagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The Olympus OM-D Photography Playground Berlin is open daily 11:00 to 19:00 and entrance is free.  You can find more details at the Photography Playground website.

Stinkfish at work on a new piece in Berlin

Street Art by Stinkfish in Haus Schwarzenberg Berlin - work in progress

Today, I had the good fortune to stumble across Colombian Street Artist Stinkfish at work on a piece in the Hof at Haus Schwarzenberg in Berlin.

Street Art by Stinkfish in Haus Schwarzenberg Berlin - work in progress

Street Art by Stinkfish in Haus Schwarzenberg Berlin - work in progress

Street Art by Stinkfish in Haus Schwarzenberg Berlin - work in progress

The piece is being painted with the permission of the owner who was also watching the artist work.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak to Stinkfish and let him know how much I admire his work.  He explained that he was painting the doors in the Hof as part of an exhibition of Central and South American artists currently running at Neurotitan Galerie.

Stinfish is hoping to complete the work today and I will hopefully be able to post photos of the completed work tomorrow.

Street Art by Stinkfish in Haus Schwarzenberg Berlin - sketch of finished work

He is also looking for more walls to paint in Berlin with permission, so if anyone knows of any opportunities contact Stinkfish through his website.

This isn’t Stinkfish’s first visit to Berlin and I have seen a few of his paintings here before.

It was a pleasant surprise to find this painting in a former Panzer Kaserne in Bernau whilst doing some urban exploring last year.

Street Art by Stinkfish in a former Panzer Kaserne in Bernau near Berlin

…and this piece at Urban Spree featured in my Berlin Street Art Vol 9 – Various Artists post.

Bright Eyes at Urban Spree - Street Art by Stinkfish in Berlin

If you’d like to see more work from Stinkfish including more Street Art in Berlin, check out his website and Flickr stream.

Sunday Documentary: Bauhaus – The Face of the 20th Century

Titles from the documentary Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century

Source: Titles from the documentary ‘Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century’

Bauhaus: The Face of the 20 th Century, a 1994 documentary, traces the development of the Bauhaus movement from its formation in Weimar by Walter Gropius to the establishment of the Bauhaus School in Dessau to its last stand in a derelict factory in Berlin.

Like so many aspects of life in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century the Bauhaus was affected by the political situation in the country – its lifecycle mirrors that of the Weimar RepublicBerlin-born architect Walter Gropius formed his ideas of simplistic design with an altruistic ideology following his service in the army during World War I.  He first put his ideas into practice in 1919 in Weimar, the political centre of the new Germany.

The growth of National Socialism in the area around Weimar and the school’s opposite political views effectively forced the Bauhaus to move to Dessau where a new building, which fully reflected the movement’s philosophy and designs was to be its new home.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the end of the Bauhaus’s struggle with the Nazi party.  The school in Dessau was also forced to close and became a training school for party functionaries.

Gropius was able to gather an impressive faculty of important names from the fields of art, design and architecture including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Mies van der Rohe, who was to be the school’s last director.  He found new premises in Berlin, a derelict factory in Steglitz, and moved operations there in 1932.

The reprieve was short-lived and the Bauhaus was forced to close its doors forever when the Nazis again intervened in 1933, the year they came to power in Germany.

Though its tenure was unfortunately short, the Bauhaus movement has had a far-reaching influence on modern art, design and architecture.  Its mark can still be seen in Berlin – the Hansaviertel, Gropiusstadt and Neue Nationalgalerie all bear its architectural fingerprint.  And of course there is the wonderful Bauhaus Archiv, with an extensive collection of Bauhaus objects and designs.

Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century

Berlin Hippo Habitat Under Threat – The Abandoned Wernerbad

Hut and Steps at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

My search for forgotten and overlooked places in Berlin led me this week to Kaulsdorf and the Wernerbad (an abbreviated name for the Freibad Wernersee) where I found Knautschke, a concrete hippo, patrolling the long grass at the edge of the abandoned swimming pool.

Knautschke the Hippo (Nilpferd or Flusspferd) at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Since 2002, when the Wernerbad closed, Knautschke has had the waters of the deserted pool to himself.  Named after a popular hippo (Nilpferd or Flusspferd in German) at Berlin Zoo, the sculpture, along with a group of penguins that supervised the queues at the water fountain, was created by local sculptor Erwin Kobbert.

Penguin Drinking Fountain by Erwin Kobbert at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The original Knautschke was born in 1943 and survived the war thanks to the efforts of keepers at the zoo, who kept him watered after bombs destroyed part of the hippo enclosure.  Unfortunately, having survived the bombing raids, he was so badly wounded by his own son Nante in 1988 that he had to be put to sleep.

The fate of the concrete Knautschke is just one of the issues that has concerned local residents since plans to reopen the pool were shelved.

Dolly's Restaurant and Kneipe at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The history of the Wernerbad begins at the turn of the twentieth century when Wilhelm Werner bought the land surrounding what is now the Wernersee (previously referred to as Katzenstertpfuhl or Achtruthenpfuhl).  In 1901 he opened the Badeschlösschen, a restaurant and bathing lodge at the edge of the water, which assumed the name Wernerbad and was formally opened in 1905.

Predating the opening of the Strandbad Wannsee by two years this means that the Wernerbad was Berlin’s first open-air swimming pool (Freibad).

The ownership and running of the Freibad was taken over by the city of Berlin in 1951 and between 1957 and 1959 a 50m tiled pool was created.

The abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

A new system was installed at considerable cost to improve the quality of the water in the naturally fed pool in 1991, which was again closed for refurbishment in 1994 before finally closing its doors to visitors in 2002 due to new concerns about the water quality.

Changing Rooms at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Kneipe (Dolly's) and Gates at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The association Freunde des Wernerbades e.V was established in 2006 with the aim of reopening the pool to the public but a number of issues meant that it was  unable to achieve its objective.  There were concerns over the lack of adequate parking, noise levels and the effect of increased traffic in the area.  In addition the overgrown pool now provides a natural habitat for wildlife.  The cost of the project also played a part as significant investment would be required to install a water treatment system capable of bringing the water quality up to current standards.

The abandoned and overgrown swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Steps and Hut at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Wassertiefe sign at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

As a result, on 13 June 2013 the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin (the state parliament or House of Representatives) approved the declassification of the Wernerbad as a sports area.  This removes the site from the responsibility of Berliner Bäder Betriebe, the body that manages the swimming pools in Berlin, and allows for the sale of the land to an investor for development.

The latest proposal is for a home for the elderly with facilities for the treatment of dementia to take up the majority of the land.  The Eastern shore of the Wernersee will remain accessible to the public.

The slide at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Since the closure, Marzahn-Hellersdorf is the only district of Berlin without a Freibad.  The local council has been hoping for some time to expand the Kinderbad in Bürgerpark Marzahn for adult swimming but lacked the funds to do so.  It is now hoped that some of the proceeds of the sale of the Wenerbad can be used to finance this project.

Hut and Lamp Post at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

As for Knautschke, Sven Kohlmeier, the SPD representative for Marzahn-Hellersdorf in the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin is determined to ensure that the hippo remains in Kaulsdorf.

The abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

For now though, the reeds continue to grow around the roaring (or is he yawning) beast as he stands perfectly still in the dirty water of the Wernerbad, and the abandoned swimming pool in Kaulsdorf, like many of Berlin’s derelict sites and buildings is visited only by those out for a little urbex adventure.

Berlin Songs: Solomun – Kackvogel

Still from Solomun - Kackvogel featuring Friedrich Liechtenstein from the Edeka Supergeil advert

Still from Solomun – Kackvogel featuring Friedrich Liechtenstein from the Edeka Supergeil advert

An advert for the German supermarket chain Edeka went viral recently. My social media streams have been full of ‘Supergeil’ all week. The star of the advert is Friedrich Liechtenstein, a German musician and entertainer.  He also stars in the video for Kackvogel by Solomun, dancing through the streets of Berlin and eventually fighting with a man in a bear costume under a bridge near Alexanderplatz station.

Solomun – Kackvogel

Sunday Documentary: Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin

Flakturm in Humboldthain Park: Screenshot from Nazi Megastructures - Fortress Berlin by National Geographic

Photo: Screenshot from Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin by National Geographic

The National Geographic documentary, Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin, tells how, determined to fight on to the bitter end, Adolf Hitler, with the help of his architect, Albert Speer, attempted to turn Berlin into a fortress with World War II approaching its conclusion.

Having turned the tide in the war, the Red Army was making significant progress into Germany.  At Seelower Höhen (Seelow Heights), near the Polish border, irrigation ditches were widened to act as tank traps, slowing down the Soviet army’s advance on Berlin.

The outer ring of Berlin’s defences was a natural obstacle, the Teltowkanal (Teltow Canal), and considerable armaments have been amassed at Flughafen Berlin Tempelhof (Tempelhof Airport).

The city was further protected by three enormous Flak Towers, concrete monoliths mounted with heavy artillery, of which only the Flakturm in Humboldthain park remains today.

At the centre of Hitler’s defences is the Führerbunker, from where he directs his forces in their last desperate attempts to hold Berlin.

A mixture of archive footage, computer reconstructions, and expert opinions with the likes of a tour guide from Berliner Unterwelten (who offer tours of the surviving Flakturm, as wells as other architectural treasures under Berlin) Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin is a fascinating portrait of Hitler’s ultimately futile defence plans.

Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin

Berlin Maps: Rents, Crime, Transport and Planning

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

Berlin Rents and Affordability Interactive Map Screenshot

Source: Berliner Morgenpost

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.

Click here for the Neuvermietungen: Wo Sie sich Berlin leisten können interactive map of Berlin rents and affordability.

Via überlin on Facebook

Berlin Atlas of Crime

Berlin Atlas of Crime Interactive Crime Statistics Map Screenshot

Source: Berlin Atlas of Crime by Tobias Burri and Lars Bullmann

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.

Click here for the Berlin Atlas of Crime interactive map of crime statistics.

Via Digital Cosmonaut on Twitter.

Interactive Berlin Transport Map

VBB-Livekarte Interactive Berlin Transport Map Screenshot

Source: VBB

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.

Click here for the VBB-Livekarte interactive map of Berlin public transport.

Via berlinish on Twitter.

Figure-ground Diagram (Schwarzplan) of Berlin (2010)

Berlin Schwarzplan (Figure-ground Diagram) 2010

Source: Shlur

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.

Click here for for the Shlur article: Schwarzplan – Maps in Monochrome.

Via Slow Travel Berlin on FB.

Sunday Documentary: Do Communists Have Better Sex? (NSFW)

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

The 2006 documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’, explores the sexual attitudes of Germans and in particular the differences between the mind-set of East and West Germans when it comes to sex and sexuality.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, scientists were keen to study the sociological and psychological differences of the previously divided people of the newly re-unified nation.

With footage from numerous TV programmes and public information films, the documentary examines the paradox that in the more controlled society of communist East Germany, people are more satisfied with their sex lives.

It is suggested that against the backdrop of seemingly overt sexual openness: pornography; nudity; Frei Körper Kultur (FKK); and prostitutes brazenly offering themselves on well-trodden streets, like the area around Berlin’s S-Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten, sex was not openly discussed in the more liberal West.

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

In East Germany where abortion and prostitution were illegal, sex education and sexual discussions were more prevalent.

At 45 minutes, all I could think was ‘Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!‘ because of Ylvis’s What Does The Fox Say?

Due to the subject matter and the inclusion of numerous scenes of nudity (including the obligatory naked volleyball shots) , the documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’ has been age restricted by YouTube so you will need to sign in to view it.

Do Communists Have Better Sex? (2006)