Tag Archives: Alexanderplatz

Berlin

Berlin_10.9781786572257.browse.0

Berlin
By Andreas Schulte-Peevers
Lonely Planet – £14.99

Bismark and Marx, Einstein and Hitler, JFK and Bowie, they’ve all shaped – and been shaped by – Berlin, whose richly textured history stares you in the face at every turn. This is a city that staged a revolution, was headquartered by Nazis, bombed to bits, divided in two and finally reunited – and that was just in the 20th Century!

                                                                            ‘Welcome to Berlin’

There you go: simple, succinct and severely to the point, which, depending on how you like your literary explanation(s) delivered, is just as it should be. And if said opening gambit doesn’t entice you to either visit Berlin or continue reading, then I don’t know what will.

As is per norm with Lonely Planet Guides, Berlin really is a tour-de-force when it comes to both detailed description and colorful display. Replete with a pull-out map, each of its 320 pages bequeaths the traveller with everything they will fundamentally need to know with regards this most durable and wonderful of cities.

From The Berlin Wall (”It’s more than a tad ironic that Berlin’s most popular tourist attraction is one that no longer exists. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall, the most potent symbol of The Cold War, divided not only a city but the world”), to the Berlin Art Scene (”Art afficiendos will find their compass on perpetual spin in Berlin. Home to 440 galleries, scores of world-class collections and some 33,000 international artists, it has assumed a pole position on the artistic circuit. Adolescent energy, restlessness and experimental spirit combined and infused with an undercurrent of grit are what give this ‘eteranlly unfinsihed’ city its street cred”), this travel guide does indeed wield a mighty potent punch.

To be sure, it’s hard knowing just where to start, as one can readily dip into any section of this rather fast-paced book, and be idiosyncratically enlightened and informed nigh immediately. Whether it’s ‘High on History,’ ‘Party Paradise,’ ‘Museumsinsel & Alexanderplatz,’ ‘The Reichstag,’ ‘Laidback Lifestyle’ or ‘Cultural Trendsetter’ you’re after; Lonely Planet’s Berlin absolutely won’t disappoint. Simply because the photos are fab and everything is explained in an easy going and most convivial manner.

For instance, ‘Literature & Film’ on page 259 opens with: ”Since it’s beginnings, Berlin’s literary scene has reflected a peculiar blend of provincialism and worldliness, but the city’s pioneering role in movie history is undeniable: in 1895 Max Skladanowsky screened early films on a bioscope, in 1912 one of the world’s first film studios was established in Potsdam and since 1951 Berlin has hosted a leading international film festival.” The section then continues in more depth on such subjects as: Literature, Modernism & Modernity, New Berlin Novel, Film, Marlene Dietrich, After 1945 before finally concluding with Today.

So in all, this colourfully compact travel guide really does cater for everyone: from yer all round curious back-packer to yer everyday culture vulture.

There again, we are talking about Berlin; upon which the authoress, Andreas Schulte-Peevers also writes: ”To me, this city is nothing short of addictive. It embraces me, inspires me, accepts me and makes me feel good about myself, the world and other people. I enjoy its iconic sights, its vast swathes of green, its sky bars and chic restaurants, but I love its gritty sides more.”

Me too.

David Marx

Eyewitness Travel Berlin


Eyewitness Berlin
DK Publishing
£13.99


I recently went to the centre of Berlin, where, for the first time, I investigated The Reichstag, The Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz; and to be honest, were it not for this exceedingly groovy travel guide, I’d have been completely lost. Not lost in the sense of being dazed and confused and not knowing where north was, but lost in the sense of not knowing anything of the background or history of said sights.

For sure, DK’s Eyewitness Travel Berlin is a travel guide, but it’s also a whole lot more. It’s colourful, it’s compact, it’s factual, it’s well designed and it’s both inviting and compelling to read.

Apart from focusing on much of the historical and cultural background of Berlin – where more than one hundred and fifty places of interest are described in the Area by Area of the book (which, along with the aforementioned, invariably includes all principle places of interest such as the Zoologischer Garten, the Fernsehturm and Schloss Charlottenburg) – there are also two sections called ‘Greater Berlin’ and ‘Further Afield’ which cater for the even more culturally inclined (and adventurous).

Along with Practical Information, Travel Information, Restaurants, Shopping, Entertainment and a Children’s section on Berlin, the guide comes replete with sixteen pages of really helpful maps (including the Berlin U and S-Bahns).

So in all, there’s not really anything else one could wish for from a travel guide, without becoming deeply entrenched within that of the scary specialist arena – such as Berlin for Night Owls or Neurotics, Panzer Manoeuvres or Perverts.

That said, it does take all sorts, and this colour-coded book on Berlin essentially addresses all sorts. From women’s fashion and perfume, to Kneipen and Gay and Lesbian Bars; from an abundance of hotels in almost every area of the city, to antiques, classical music and Potsdam. Indeed, there’s something for everyman and woman contained herein.

For instance, in relation to shopping on page 250, the editors write: ‘’With a shopping centre in every district, each selling a wide variety of merchandise, Berlin is a place where almost anything can be bought, so long as you know where to look. The most popular places are Kurfurstendamm and Friedrichstrasse, but the smaller shops in Wedding, Friedrichshain, Schoneberg and the Tiergarten are also worth a visit. Small boutiques selling flamboyant Berlin style clothes crop up in unexpected courtyards, while the top fashion houses offer the latest in European elegance. Early on Saturday morning is often the best time to visit the city’s various markets, the most popular of which – with their colourful stalls full of hats, bags and belts – can be found on Museum Island and at the Tiergarten. The Galeries Lafayette, KaDeWe and any of the city’s numerous bookshops all make ideal venues for a pleasant afternoon’s window shopping.’’

Clearly written, concise, and containing some really wonderful photographs, DK’s Eyewitness Travel Berlin is as fundamental an item when visiting Berlin, as is one’s passport and hotel reference.

David Marx
www.davidmarx.co.uk