Berlin during winter is inspiring in its bleak scenery. Sitting here, breathing there – existing, like a child that was told what to do. There is no way to live it right or wrong – if you’re dressed up well, it’s going to be fine. It’s going to be fine. For myself, coming from the warmer climes, the winter here has been harder to go through than I expected. It’s colder than I can take, but that feeling when the brain freezes – that’s a true wake up! And if it’s too cold and work allows so, I can stay at home and make music in bed, pretending I’m Virginia Wolf, during a downfall. No matter what I ask for, the city can bring me. The city will accept my doings. The city will let me be who I feel like being without judgements and assumptions. The city understands it’s cold during winter, the people understand it’s cold during winter. They don’t expect much, but appreciate it when you do. So privileged we are, here in Berlin.
photo: bronx. / CC
I spent 29 nights under the same roof with a German tap dancer. In the spring of 2014. In the heart of Berlin. In my artistically-starved senses.
It started with a simple Craigslist search. I was looking for an accommodation with a limited budget in a week’s deadline. The reason? I had been offered a tremendous job opportunity at a startup in Berlin.
The money was mouth-watering. Given my absolute lack of ambition, I had already started dreaming of retirement in five years. Ergo I jumped at the opportunity and packed my bags, which were only two at that time. And moved to what I call the Bohemian Silicon Valley of Europe.
I was enthused to work among respectable professionals during the day and schmooze with pretentious artists in the evening. That was my plan. But finding an apartment in Berlin was like finding a steady boyfriend on a dating site. You had to go through a series of bizarre/eccentric/not-so-right ones to be able to meet a half-way mediocre one.
If modern politics were a telenovela, it would definitely have lots of avid fans, but also sworn detractors, who would wish to live just to see its cancellation. Yet, all of them would agree that the plot is not by far predictable or uneventful. Indeed, what is happening in the last few years in our privileged microcosmos called the West, is both scary and thrilling in the same way a traumatizing horror film would keep you at the edge of your seat or make you want to protect yourself behind your pop-corn. As fascism – or rather far-right conservatism to put it mildly – emerges steadily in countries that used to stand out for their respect and love towards life and its thrilling diversity, a gloomy pessimistic futures seems to lie ahead.
The most hurtful repercussions of this phenomenon seem to be three. Starting with divisiveness, we are all unconsciously grouped into squads based on our beliefs on social and political matters. We prefer standing exclusively next to the like-minded ones and right opposite the ones we disagree with. We constantly, proudly and fervently claim that there are way more differences than similarities among us. We have no love to give, only rants in support of our beloved “ideology”. This is exactly where the second consequence of the current affairs arises: powerful hatred and the urge to scream at everyone that might provoke us. To top that, fear lurks around the corner and renders us inactive and unable to cause any change that goes beyond the social media.
photo: Max Patzig / CC*
I can still clearly recall the first time I set foot on the Kottbusser Tor. It was just different from anything I’d seen before. Its smell, dirt, and the zombie drug dealers whispering “ecstasy?” in front of the fruit and vegetables stand definitely made up for a powerful first impression.
Further perplexed by the army of dinky mannequins supposed to represent little boys sporting traditional oriental attire in a shop on Kottbusser Straße, I pretty much knew Kotti would become a place close to my heart.
Berlin should come with many warnings, and one of them would definitely be that the city’s creative vibes may make you want to try freelancing. Which can be a good thing! To help you get over the paralyzing fear of becoming independent amongst the German bureaucracy, we prepared a succinct guide.
Learning a new language might prove difficult, especially when this language is German; pronunciation, declension, past tenses to mention but a few. Granted, every language has its own difficulties and challenges. However, the most difficult part in learning a language is not coming in terms with the basic rules of grammar, syntax or vocabulary, but maintaining regular contact with it beyond the few hours one spends in a classroom weekly.
The traditional teaching method would expect the student to improve his language skills by discussing rather mundane and/or out of touch topics and doing grammar exercises off a textbook. While that can prove efficient to a certain extent -annoying as it is, learning a new language avoiding grammar is impossible- it does not bring one’s language skills to the next level. By “next level”, I refer to the level, where the student is not exclusively dependent on a traditional course and a teacher, but they integrate them organically as one of their many tools in their attempt to elevate their language level.
In order to bring our German language guides to the next level as well, we spoke with someone who is an expert on the topic. Sela is the founder of the language school Sprachsalon in Neukölln and has had her fair share of experience with learning and teaching languages. We sat down with her and discussed some advice on how to fine-tune your German skills.
Köllnischer Fischmarkt, 1886, photo: F. Albert Schwartz
At iHeartBerlin, we believe that living in your city makes much more fun once you get to know it a little. Why not go beyond mastering the most frequented routes leading to Mauerpark, Warschauer Strasse, or Berghain (well, at least to its gates), and find out something about Berlin’s origins? We’ve got quick facts you may impress your next Tinder date with. You never know.
photo: Christian Schirrmacher / CC
Ever since I left Warsaw for Berlin, it’s become one of my favorite pastimes to mercilessly scrutinize Wikipedia to come up with names of artists that have once been just as excited as me to settle in the city on the Spree. I succeeded in many such cases, took a closer look at the immortalized in many sources exile of David Bowie, and even found some surprising names to join the list of people obviously grateful for their Berlin adventures, like that of the British painter Francis Bacon.
But as it turns out, not everyone enjoyed their stay to the same extent. Vladimir Nabokov, who lived here in the long period between 1922 and 1937 reportedly “never became fond of Berlin and at the end intensely disliked it”. If you’re anything like me, you’ve had your fair share of some Berlin inflicted distress and even though you wouldn’t really consider moving out, if you ever had the chance to express your frustration in a more elaborate manner than crashing an empty bottle of Sterni, you’d probably take it.
Hallesches Tor, 1894, photo: Robert Prager
On iHeartBerlin, we’ve already put forward arguments for claims like Berlin is a Psycho and so on, but today, I’d like to tell you for once what Berlin is not, although I might have thrown some such accusations in the past. Berlin is not a liar. Or at least Kreuzberg isn’t.
Leaving the dubious honesty of its inhabitants aside, Kreuzberg stays steadfast and true. I’ve checked. And now you can, too. Have you ever wondered why does the U1 like to trick us into believing we’d be seeing some gates (“Tor” in German)? And then you get out on Kotti and what you actually see (and smell) is so different from the Brandenburger Tor you even doubt you’re still in the same city.
We’ve found pictures from the turn of the 19th century, so before Kreuzberg was even Kreuzberg. It was officially formed on 1 October 1920 by the Greater Berlin Act, which reorganized Berlin into 20 boroughs.
Using the metro for the first time, kissing a stranger on the dance floor, sitting on the roof and gazing at the city, when the sun rises; these are all moments, which Berliners and especially those of us, who have moved to the city, associate with, when it comes down to our beloved metropolis. One knows very well, that no matter how exciting other capitals might be, this feeling of curiosity, freedom and adventure can only be found in its purest form here.
Through Priceless® Berlin we had the opportunity to recommend you a variety of special places and moments. However, every one of you has a collection of special experiences, which belong to their very personal Berlin moments; and because these moments can vary for every person, I wrote down my own top three Berlin-Highlights, as I wanted to share them with you.