Ah Berlin… where the party goes for 24 hours, there are more canals than in Venice or Amsterdam and museums (180) out number rainy days (106). 70 million curried sausages are eaten each year. Bits of the infamous Wall sit beside glamorous 18th century palaces, a constant reminder of the cities long and checkered history. So much wall remains because there was so much wall built…it was actually two barriers built with a 140 m death strip between them to discourage anyone planning to hop this nasty fence. JFK’s speech was grammatically questionable but he never actually said “ I am a jelly donut”. For the gentleman on the go Berlin is packed with places to tempt and entertain. Start by withdrawing a gold bar from the ATM at Galeries Lafayette.
The Classic Remise Berlin
Housed in an old tram depot, this is a vintage car lover’s dream. Part show room, part service center, part shopping mall, 100 percent car envy. All the classic cars on display in the museum-like setting are for sale. More gems are stored in 88 glass boxes; only the owners have access but everyone else can admire. The mechanics keep the finest cars in the world in tip top condition while the on-site café is the perfect place to recharge.
East Side Gallery
A huge stretch of the old wall exuberantly painted in the year after the fall. Graffiti had covered the west façade of the wall but was never allowed by the repressive regime in the East. 118 artists took part, some of the panels have become iconic. Major restoration was performed in 2009, often with the original artist involved in the refresh. Open 24/7 and visited by millions every year, the best time to go is very late at night, no crowds, more magic.
The X-burg duck at Orania Berlin
Named for the trendy Kreuzberg neighborhood, influenced by Philipp Vogel’s experience in China, this exceptional four course duck menu is a must eat for anyone visiting Berlin. The first course is a deeply flavorful rich broth accompanied by a single heavenly dumpling filled with duck leg, liver and heart. Philipp imported a special oven from China which cooks whole duck in the traditional Peking way. He tweaks convention. The crispy roasted skin is thinly sliced from the duck table side then served with garlic cucumber, pickled radish, ginger, hoisin sauce and French crepes in lieu of the standard rice pancakes. The duck is placed back in the oven for just enough time to crisp the thin layer of fat left over the still pink and juicy breast; served with a Szechuan pepper sauce and a side of lightly picked bok choy. The final course, as in a typical Chinese banquet is rice… fried with duck leg, veggies, sausage and served with a raw egg you whirl through the hot dish for richness. Cocktails are heaven, as is the live jazz and the stunningly designed rooms in the hotel.
The most famous and impossible to get in club in Berlin, maybe the world. Located in an old power station, renowned for having the best, loudest techno music and coolest crowd, 1500 people dance here every night into the wee hours… once they get past the doorman. No one knows who gets in or why. Rumour has it speaking German, dressing in black and looking like you’re not trying too hard will help. Even regulars don’t always make the grade. Luckily there are hundreds of other clubs. Try SchwuZ, Anomalie Art Club , Chalet (only on weekdays for the cool crowd) or the legendary very naughty KitKat Club.
Base Flying at Alexander Platz
Not for the faint of heart, this 125 meter jump off the roof of the Park Inn Hotel is one huge adrenalin rush with beyond fabulous views. Strapped in a harness with a cord attached to your back, there are a few seconds of almost free fall. As close to flying as you may come.
Sunday at Mauerpark
THE place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. This is no secret spot, the crowds are part of the fun. Treasure hunt in the flea market collection of mixed up stalls selling everything you can and can’t imagine. Then risk humiliation in the pursuit of glory at the Bearpit Karaoke Show in the amphitheatre. Boos and cheers are delivered with friendly enthusiasm. A pint or two in the beer garden before heading onstage provided liquid courage!
This information was originally published in my column “a gentleman abroad” in iconic concierge magazine