Berlin Celebrates Individuality
Photo: Charlottenburg Palace © KATATONIA82 - DREAMSTIME.COM
THIS YEAR, BERLIN celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the infamous Berlin Wall. Reunited, Berlin’s 12 boroughs each boast distinct neighborhoods. Although they border each other, Charlottenburg- Wilmersdorf and Mitte (my hands-down favorites), divided by the Wall for so long, even now seem worlds apart.
Traditional and sophisticated, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf is located in the heart of former West Berlin — now called City West. A district of old villas and tree-lined streets, it also hosts the famous Tiergarten (zoo). Visit the Baroque Charlottenburg Palace to see the crown jewels and royal silver.
Stop for a drink at Monkey Bar overlooking the Tiergarten — atop the sleek and fun 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. Notable quotables stay at the classically Art Deco Waldorf Astoria with its flawless service, floor-to-ceiling windows and swanky Lang Bar (named after film director Fritz Lang).
Step back in time to the Bohemian-but-polished Literaturhaus Berlin for cappuccino and strudel in the garden café; stay for an evening poetry reading. Visit Museum Berggrun (Picasso, Matisse and more than 60 incandescent works by Paul Klee) and, just across the street, Museum Scharf-Gerstenberg, famous for its collection of Surrealists. For photography, see the Museum of Photography (more than 160,000 photographs from 1868 to today) and observe up-to-the-moment modern exhibits at C/O Gallery next door.
Languishing in East Berlin until the Wall came down, Mitte is now Berlin’s political, cultural and geographic center. Thanks to the influx of money for rebuilding since reunification, run-down buildings converted into cafés, bars, galleries and restaurants. A must: Mad Men-style Newton Bar, where photographer Helmut Newton’s giant nudes adorn the walls. Reserve a table at Borchardt for the acclaimed schnitzel.
One of Mitte’s buzziest streets is Auguststrasse, home to ultra-modern galleries, like KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Me Collectors Room, and, hidden away in shaded courtyards, some of the city’s finest Third Wave coffee shops. Don’t miss The Barn, a Berlin institution.
Jüdische Mädchenschule (Jewish School for Girls) was built in the 1930s and now houses Michelin starrated Pauly Saal restaurant Mogg (serving killer New York deli-style pastrami) and three über-contemporary art galleries in high-ceilinged former classrooms.