Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Berlin from kneipe to kneipe

Berlin is a great place to roam from kneipe to kneipe. This genuinly German word is even used here in Norway, meaning a bar in more than one sense of the word. Kneipe is often used as a term to describe brown bars, places that are growing increasingly rare in current Europe, as one country after another bans smoking in bars. As little you may like smoking, the kneipe as a cultural-historic phenomena is disappearing. Well in Berlin we found some very brown waterholes, as here smoking is (yet) not been banned.

Wednesday, November 21st 2007

Cancun Potzdamer Platz

Ebertstr. 14
10117 Berlin

Cancun was actually not a kneipe in a traditional sense of the word, but rather a Mexican style restaurant and bar. The reason why we ended here, was thirst for our first pint of beer around noon, and the sense of being lost. We had walked down Unter den Linden, passed under Brandenburger Tor and passed the Holocaust Memorial, on our way to West Berlin.

Cancun had really worked on the South American theme, with maya paintings on walls and columns, and the beer taps were shaped as large cacti.

With a pint of Warsteiner, einer Königin unter den Bieren, we retrieved our sense of direction, and our thirst was satisfied for the time being, before we headed for Kurfürstendamm in old West Berlin. Cancun - not really my place really. A little too hip for my taste.

El Curandero
Schönhauser Allee 10
10119 Berlin

After a long day, after one lunch, and with a great Vietnamese meal in front of us, we went out for a drink and found another bar, inspired by South America.

El Curandero is located in Schönhauser Alle, in my favourite part of Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg. Once a part of East Berlin, it has escaped some of the worst examples of the old regime, and today you find old brick buildings and small restaurants along Schönauser Alle and Eberswalder Strasse.

And if you are going South American, why not order a Margarita. This is one of my favourites. Lime juice, Triple Sec and Tequila in a glass lined with salt crystals. And the price - €4,50!! It was delicious as we were lost again, in our quest for a place to eat dinner.

Bierstube Alt Berlin
Münzstr. 23
10178 Berlin

Well here is an old kneipe for you, located by Alexanderplatz, going back to the last decade of the 19th century, to 1893. Der schönster aller Dinge, ein schneller Schluck bei Heinz und Inge, and so we did late on Wednesday.

This was a dark kneipe with a century+ of tobacco colour - dark mahogany. It was very small, and as a non smoker I am happy that it was just a few people there. We sat down and ordered Krusovice Kralovsky Pirovar - a Czech beer, and sat down.

We were immediately far away from this slick modern world, and back in a century old bierstube. This was our first encounter with a genuin Berliner Kneipe, and we were mesmerized. This is one place for you to visit on your journey.

Thursday, November 22nd 2007

Bistro am Gedarmenmarkt
Markgrafenstr. 41
10117 Berlin

Once this charming old bar was located in East Berlin. Gendarmenmarkt is a charming square with some very impressive large buildings. Das Schauspielhaus (1821), flanked by der Französischer Dom (1701-1705) and der Deutscher Dom (1708). Both cathedrals and das Schauspielhaus were bombed during the Second World War and rebuilt 1977-1985.

Her we found a small intimate bar with a little and very German lunch menu and a few pints of Berliner Kindl, another beer we had grown very fond of. We were actually looking for the main centre of Kreuzberg, and we were not to succeed and were lost around Alexanderplatz again. But Bistro am Gendarmenmarkt is another place to visit or revisit.

And we paid €6,40 for two pints of Berliner Kindl!

Bezenkammer Bar
Rathausstr. 1
10178 Berlin

This is a tiny bar, and may I confess, a very gay bar, under the railway bridge leading into the Berliner Alexanderplatz Railway station. Very urban indeed under the trains thundering over our heads and just by the pride of the Deutsche Demokratishe Republik - the Television Tower.

As I was the gay guy and my companion were not, I was determined to take him to a place that would not intimidate him, and Das Bezenkammer is definitely not the place. Here you have the bar and small tables along the walls to place your beer.

Das Bezenkammer is a very relaxed place and very far removed from the hip crowd of young gays and lesbians. This was a place to enjoy a beer before we headed for dinner at Prenzlauer Berg, and another bar or two.

We loved the price of a 4 cl Jack Daniels - €4,40!

Danziger Strasse 3

10435 Berlin

We wanted to go for a coffee and maybe a drink, but found it not very cosy. So we just ordered a Coca Cola Light, an espresso, and an Averna - an Italian digestif - price €5,40. That was all, and we do not care to revisit.

Eis-Café Family
Gleimstr. 29

10437 Berlin

This is the only place we went twice, as we found it to be the most charming neighbourhood hangout, where everyone seemed to know each other. Drinking beer, playing retro music and playing dart, trying to have a conversation with the locals.

This is maybe the nicest place we visited during our stay in Berlin. Here we talked with those clearly happy that the days of the DDR had gone, as well as those having difficulities to adjust to the new reality.

This is the place I certainly will come back to the next time. The drinks were inexpensive, the people were nice, and the atmosphere of Eis-Cafe Family was Super!

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