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German: Berlin – Cafés and Hispter

Published: 22.12.2014
Berlin has become a center of art in Europe. It is a place where strong alternative culture has grown and is still growing. Its “tourist” side I know well already. I decided to see places where an ordinary tourist doesn’t go. Places with “vibe” and something interesting is happening there.


This time I went to Berlin for a business trip to Innotrans exhibition. I utilized the options offered by Couchsurfing services (organized accommodation in private) to have the possibility to explore with locals.


I step off at the terminus of the U1 line, the Warschauerstraße stop. I wait for a girl I stay over this night at. I happen to be in the district of Friedrichshein, near former border between western and eastern Berlin. The local subway stop is basically a unique one as it was the only U1 station located in east Berlin. Since 1961 to 1995 the station had been closed. It is interesting that it is adjacent to the S-Bahn station of the same name. They are only couple of hundred meters apart yet it takes a long time to transfer from one to another.



Couchsurfer arrived. After a short stop in the shop we move to former factory that hosts couple of clubs today, boulder wall, roofed skatepark with furniture, restaurant, ateliers, and many other interesting space that I did not discover. I am fascinated with perfect graffiti covering almost all walls. Some of them could be displayed in world’s best galleries (too bad it is impossible to transport). We meet here another couchsurfer and then we will hit some of the clubs. Obviously, local hipster community hangs out there. The place has really good vibe (and it is only Tuesday).



Along the way to the night bus, we stop below the Warsaw Bridge. Couple of spontaneous concerts take place there. Music is not the best yet there are interesting people – where you can dance if not under the bridge at improvised concert?


On the following day, when I finished tasks given at the exhibition, I use S-Bahn to get to the district of Kreuzberg, to use the first of famous cafés. This one is called Five Elephanta. Coffeé is there the most important thing. I taste one filtration and a cappuccino, and one of their home-made pies. Cafés with premium quality coffee can really increase price, yet it is worth the premium quality. Bit later with my couchsurfing partner, we move to a cozy wine-cellar in the same district. There one can observe what is happening outside, street life. Berlin is alive – not with drunkards but rather young people who know their boundaries. They want to enjoy the evening rather than drink themselves as much as possible.


I bought a ticket for the last daylight train from Berlin. It means that I have free time until 4 p.m. I want to check out one of the cafés. Having in mind my location, I decided to visit Bonanza Coffee, near Mauer Park. It takes me a while. I did not save the map and I cannot find a wi-fi signal. So I wander about this silent district for about an hour. As I tweaked my backpack for this type of travel, I do not mind. It weights no more than 5 kilograms, a liter of water and camera equipment included.


Bonanza is a place really hard to notice. I am not surprised I almost could not find it. Inside are just few chairs and they serve nothing else but coffee. Unfortunately, they are renovating the “brew bar”, thus they don’t filter. Well, cappuccino tastes good as well. As I mentioned earlier, I came there from Pilsen to test their fresh coffee. Essentially I get a cup of testing filtration right from the roasting room. For free. Long live Berlin!


Text/photo: Matouš Vinš

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