I like Duesseldorf just fine, but Iwill admit, it’s hardly a hotbed of…well, anything. It will never be named Germany’s most exciting city, although it has a very good claim to being Germany’s most pleasant and well-ordered city, thanks to the steely, Nutcracker-like sense of law and order projected by Mayor Joachin Erwin, Germany’s answer to Rudy Giuliani.
But frequent and valued GJ contributor Ed Philp still misses Berlin, and has three priceless travel recommendations. Book now to avoid the hordes of German Joys readers!:
Friends of mine in the Rheinland all have one travel destination in mind this summer – Berlin. The popular "telenovela" Verliebt in Berlin (In Love in / with Berlin) has again raised the profile of the Hauptstadt out here in the provinces, in spite of plane crashes on the Reichstag’s lawn, or Stoiber’s references to East German calves. Having recently arrived in Düsseldorf after living in Berlin for 18 months, I have been asked many times what sites I can recommend to visitors to Berlin. Thanks very much to Andrew for providing a platform for me to sketch these briefly!
1. Tilsiter Lichtspiele
The Tilsiter Lichtspiele is a small independent movie theatre in Friedrichshain which shows low-release, foreign and documentary films hard to find elsewhere. The atmosphere is familial and relaxed, with small wooden tables in front of the 60 seats and an actual person in the screening room who occasionally swears when a film reel is dropped. The theatre is connected to a vestibule bar, itself a perfect place to have drinks, view a collection of East German beer advertisements, or play with the "Tilsomat", a vending machine with lighters, stickers, or anything of interest that past patrons might have left behind them. The Tilsiter Lichtspiele is one of Berlin’s oldest "cinematographic" theatres, dating back to 1910.
Tilsiter Lichtspiele (no homepage)
Richard-Sorge-Straße 25 A (Friedrichshain)
Program available at http://www.berlinonline.de
2. Club der polnischen Versager
Founded by a group of Polish former students in 2001, the Club of the Polish Losers consists of three small rooms and a bar, some ratty furniture and bookcases and maybe a collection of photographs of people’s hairlines, or possibly a jazz quartet or a set of sculptures of carrots made from cheese. It depends entirely on the evening, and on the whims of the owners and operators, three very friendly Polish relatives. While beer (Polish and German) and wine are always available, coffee can be hard to come by if the owner doesn’t feel like going to the trouble. Perhaps Berlin’s ultimate slacker bar, the crowd is incredibly diverse and animated, making unique conversations the only consistent event on the program. In three separate visits, I ended up talking to a German Member of Parliament, a Romanian anthropology student and a gentleman who makes shoes for (presumably) well-dressed cats.
Club der polnischen Versager
Torstraße 66 (Mitte)
3. Restaurant of the Nordische Botschaften
Scandinavians are known as being friendly, efficient and blond. Outside of IKEA’s Kottbullar though, they aren’t known for their culinary contributions to the world cuisine. The Restaurant of the Nordic Embassies seeks to demonstrate that Swedish-Danish-Icelandic-Finnish-Norwegian cooking amounts to more than meatballs and ginger cookies. The Restaurant is officially the canteen of the embassies of these five countries (efficiently) located together on one of Berlin’s embassy rows in a modern glass and cedar wood building with lots of light and spaces for exhibitions of Nordic art, culture and history. Open to the public for lunch, the Restaurant offers excellent Nordic food at Scandinavian minimalist prices, for example, lots of seasonal fish dishes, hearty meat mains and fresh salads, breads and soups. Regional drinks and desserts are available. The Restaurant is best visited in summer, when visitors can eat in the center courtyard garden, rubbing elbows with the (blond) Swedish cultural attaché or the (friendly) Transport Minister for Iceland (boating tips are free). The manager, Kenneth Gjerrud, also runs Germany’s only Norwegian restaurant, Munch’s Hus, itself offering the best reindeer or deep sea cod available in continental Europe.
Restaurant of the Nordic Embassies
Rauchstraße 1 (Tiergarten)
UBhf Zoologischer Garten
In my next contribution, I will profile three places in Düsseldorf that Berliners should visit when the planned telenovela „leicht zugeneigt in Düsseldorf" (slightly attracted in / with Düsseldorf) is playing.