Archive for the ‘’ Category

So, what is left of the GDR?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Nowadays you will probably not be able to distinguish between the 2 halves. Guests always ask us if we are located in the East. Well, we surely are. Look at our name. EastSeven.
But it is a good question indeed. Most obvious signs disappeared and are not easy to read by people who haven’t lived in the GDR themselves.
I have collected some of the spots you shouldn’t miss out if you want to get an eastern point of view.

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1)    Abandoned embassies
We have 2 of everything in Berlin. 2 zoos, 2 football clubs. Makes sense for a once divided city. All countries had embassies in the west and the east. Most left their eastern ones after reunification. And by left I mean vanished, disappeared. Still today, 25 years after the wall came down you can enter vacant buildings formerly used by ambassadors and find some official papers. Go to northern Pankow (Tschaikowskistrasse) and see for yourself. Old empty socialist concrete beauties.

2)    Monuments
You want some Lenin but can’t be bothered travelling to mother Russia? No worries, we have some stunning Monument ourselves. The purpose of socialist monuments was to prove that communism was superior over capitalism. You don’t believe me?  Go to Ernst Thälman Park and have a vodka on the base of this bronze sculpture. Such a pity they don’t build these anymore.
3)    Karl Marx Allee
Alright. So you have all these shiny tanks and missiles you want to show off with. You need to it with style because your fellow dictators have some awesome taks themselves.  Why don’t build yourself a nice little road for all the parades? Something to stress your love for Russia.
This street once called Stalinallee is a perfect replica of Russian architecture. It is gigantic like a spaceship, somewhere between picturesque and awe.
4)    Water from wall
Don’t laugh; living in a concrete block was the dream. The alternative was living with your parent or in an old prewar house with coal heating and outside loo. You had to wait for years before getting keys to an own concrete prefab apartment. Take the M6 tram from Alexanderplatz to the eastern suburbs. Experience the dream yourself.

5)    No such agency
Not really. Everybody knew of the Stasi, the infamous secret service. And on the other side, haha, they knew everything about you, too.  Check out the Stasi museum at Ruschestrasse 103 in Lichtenberg to get an insightful feeling for this organisation


Struth! the germs got me

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

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some weird homespun remedies Germans really use.
i shit you not – they actually work

 

 

1) snuffles: inhalation of salt and chamomile
bring 2 liters water to boil, mix with chamomile ( you can use teabags) and 3 spoons of salt – inhale. helps fighting runny noses
2) sore throat: cold pack
put a wet cloth around your throat, then wrap it with a scarf over night. your body will pump as much blood as possible to the cold region, i.e. your throat. satisfaction guaranteed
3) sore throat: gargling
depends on whether you like it salty or not. I usually gargle a salt solution. alternatively you can bring 500 ml to boil , add  2 spoons of sage and let it simmer for 15 minutes. this tincture tastes better than salt and helps too.
4) cough: onion syrup
cut up an onion in half, sprinkle with sugar and leave covered for 1h. „enjoy“ the juices that appear on the surface. they will not only soothe your cough but are rich in vitamin C.
5) all purpose: beer cure
my fav – it either helps or not, but you  tried at least. beer cure is common on bavaria, but so are marian apparitions….
6) chicken broth
boy, these chicken need to run quickly during flu season. a chicken broth is ubiquitous in winter. it is literally the WD-40 of flu remedies

enough voodoo.
there is also a pharmacy just round the corner from the hostel. ask for aspirin complex if you want to be fit within minutes.


you can’t survive on doner kebabs

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

better than dönerwell, technically you can. however, if you are tired of lying to your mum what you had for dinner there are some great alternatives.
we have all been there, the question of all questions: food or beer. if you have just a nickel for food here are some suggestions how to save there. canteens are the answer. dirt cheap and apparently healthy. at least they don’t sell ketchup as salad.

there are some great canteens throughout berlin which are open to public, not just the staff.
let me begin with a strange one
police canteen in marzahn (märkische allele 174). renowned for its authentic east german food ( better than it sounds and quite filling)
you will spend less than 4€, guaranteed! it’s for police so don’t go there straight from the club

 

kiezkantine (Oderberger Straße 50,)
a stones thow from the hostel, open on weekdays between 12.00 to15.45. there you get  some great food prepared by people who have  mental issues but make it up by  great  cooking skills. veggie options available.

 

canteen at the volksbühne theather (Linienstraße 227)
accessible from the back of the massive building. food is nothing special but down-home and you will be able to spot some truly interesting people you would normall have to pay to see.

 

universal music canteen (Stralauer Allee 1, Friedrichshain)
pretty swanky – with some wannabees. the highlight is the deck on the river on the oposite side from  watergate.
the food is more international than in the other ones but slighty more expensive. i just checked this week’s menu, pretty delicious for max 7 euros.

 

isin japanese canteen (Mittelstraße 24 , mitte)
just  round the corner from branderburg gate in a bleak back-road you’ll find this fine, yet still affordable sushi restaurant. it’s not really a canteen, however it mostly caters for japanese staff from companies nearby

 

now you don’t have to lie to anybody anymore – you are welcome


ELI5: berlin public transport system

Thursday, November 27th, 2014
a different ay to use the U-bahn

also a way to use the U-bahn

there is much confusion about how to use our public transport. let me try to explain

tickets:
tickets are valid for 2 hours and must be validated (small box usually located next to the ticket machine). you can only go in one direction. for going back you need a new ticket, even if you still are within the 2 hours.
AB tickets cover all of the city. an ABC ticket is only needed if you want to leave town, i.e. if you want to go to schönefeld airport of potsdam
sort trip tickets are good for 3 stops on U & S and 6 on busses and trams
reduced tickets are for elderly, children or unemployed only.
best value is the day ticket – stamp it ONCE only. if you are staying longer than 5 days buy a week ticket – stamp that one also once only.

means of transportation:
no, there is no difference between U-bahn, S-bahn, busses or trams. tickets are valid for all of them. to companies run the network, the yellow one ( the good ) and the red one (the bad)
S&U usually rum at lest every 5 minutes, from 4am till midnight. N-busses run along underground lines when the underground has stopped.
M-lines: introduced a couple of years ago, confuse still most of the berliners. either trams or busses which operate 24/7 every 10 minutes. quite handy to get home.

what to do at night:
take the following lines to get home:
tram M10 – runs between friedrichshain and prenzlauer berg every 10 minutes. get off at eberswalderstrasse
bus N2 – night bus, operates almost the same route as the U2 every 30 minutes
tram M1 – runs from friedrichstrasse and mitte. get off at kastanienallee
bus N8 takes you from neukölln to hackescher markt, take the N2 from there

this journey planner is also pretty handy 

that’s all folks – if you have any further questions we are more than happy to help. come down to the reception


some songs about the best city in the world ( not NY )

Thursday, November 20th, 2014
Marlene-Dietrich-Berlin11

all rights reserved by Paramount pictures

before techno there was….singing. I KNOW!!!

in chronological order, some musical gems

1899 berliner luft
a well known paean of praise for the berlin air which makes everything splendid. obviously written before traffic jams. berliner luft is also the name for a refreshing mint liqueur.

1929 roter wedding
translates to red wedding – no connection with GOT! wedding was a communist district and so is the song. written in a time in which street fight between fascist and “reds”  were on a daily bases. watch the vid for some awesome pics of that time

 

no list is  finished without marlene dietrich

1954 Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin
she is the original star of the golden 20ies. said fuck you to the nazis and their wish for some more propaganda. stayed true, made an international career  and died in paris. this song is about her never ending love for her home town. the title means ” i still have a suitcase in berlin. big up marlene!

1972 Rauch-Haus-Song
THE song about the vast squatting history in berlin. half of kreuzberg and schöneberg was squatted at that time. jolly times. there are better versions of this song, but the

1973 berlin
i don’t exactly know what lou reed was doing at that time here, but i assume the same david bowie was doing -….i was all so nice, it was paradise…
well, enjoy boys

1980 berlin
 boy, so many great songs emerged in the 80ies. this is my fav. nice NDW touch

no listing for the 90ies.  i have no idea what happened then i think i went to a party or sth.

2001 dickes b
translates as fat ( or rather phat) b, noting dubious here. a big berlin tune and an anthem for years.

2013 where are we now?
david. we still need to figure it out

 

enjoy my little list – see you at the reception


Berlin microbreweries

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

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alright , alright. German beers may have a good image, but let’s face it. IMHO Pilsener is boring. It is designed to be drunk in large quantities, and it really works! You can have 6, 7, 8 or more beers and the next morning you are like “half an aspirin, a glass of coke and off I go”. But really., every time I drink a Helles, I almost fall asleep from the boredom in my mouth.

here are some lovely, local alternatives, in case you think the same

1) Eschenbräu

the premises don’t look inviting, unless you grew up in a concrete block like me. they have different type of brews, also pilsener.. however theirs tastes so much better than the bottled alternatives from the  bottle shop. try the dark one if you are more into malty flavors. definitely one of my favorites in Berlin. once you enter the pub you will quickly forget the bunker feeling you had outside.

2) hops and barley

beautiful pub in an old butchery. in their cellar they brew pilsener, dark, wheat beers and always a special. i usually take the special. the prices are surprisingly moderate and the beers delicious. they also show football games and have a down to earth menu: sausage and pickles.

3) Prassnik

I promised the owner not to promote his pub since it is rather small, but hey! the pub is a 5 minutes walk from our hostel. please only go there if you are a smoker or want to take up smoking. as i mentioned, the pub is small but the beer is totally worth it. cheers

4) Vagabund

definitely the spot for those who miss a proper pale ale.  in the absence of alternatives to pilsener he owners found their own brewery. perfect spot for great minds who think alike.

5) Bier kombinat

a no frills bar for those who don’t need any bling with beer. alongside own creations they have a large collection of bottles from other microbreweries. don’t miss this spot if you are in kreuzberg, it is truly unique

 

come people, come. fine beers have finally arrived in berlin.

cheers

 


Berlin Berlin

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Alex

You might have heard of, Berlin once had a wall running through the middle.
After 25 year of reunification most signs of the separation have disappeared. Quite often you don’t really know if you are in the west or the east. The years of division have nevertheless left some peculiar trails. In most cities you usually have only 1 of which Berlin has 2. Some examples?
The zoo
Do you want to visit the zoo? Alright, you can choose between the famous one and the Tierpark in the east. I prefer the second. Why? Because it is much more spacious and renowned for its reproduction which means many cute baby animals in springtime.
Botanical garden
You can choose between a park style garden with admission or the botanical peoples park with no admission. Have a guess which one is where…
Football
For its size and importance Berlin has 2 bleak football teams. One is Hertha with the fantastic Olympic stadium as home ground. The other one is Union, a working class club. Union fans collected money to rebuild their stadium as the club itself did not have enough capital.
Airports
Landing in Tegel feels more like arriving by bus. The Airport is small and cozy with short transfer to city centre. There was simply not enough space for a huge airport in a fenced up city.
Arriving in Schönefeld doesn’t feel like landing in the economic power horse of Europe at all. This was the GDR Berlin Airport and hasn’t lost any of its socialist character.
The new, central airport was due to open 2 years ago. The new deadline is 2016. Berlin, you did it again…

There are many more examples, like e.g. 2 opera houses, 2 observatories and so on.
Be careful in taxis – -the Schwedterstrasse you are looking for is in the east!!!


Uncanny places – a cemetery tour to Berlins history

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

There are many places to visit in Berlin. Some are less obvious than others. Cemeteries give you a profound insight in the past. There are many throughout the city worth visiting. Easiest to be visited with a bike of a jetpack.  We do have some for rent at our reception, bikes I mean.

Soviet War Memorial at Treptower park
One of 3 built soviet memorials in Berlin after WWII. 5000 of the 80000 soldiers who fell during the battle of Berlin are buried there. With its huge statues it is one of the most compelling places in the city. The maintenance and repair of the site was a part of the agreement between Germany and USSR. Otherwise the Russians would have said NJET to the reunification.

Dorotheenstadt cemetery
Dates back to the 18th century – this is the VIP cemetery in Berlin and also one of the abundantly decorated. If you are into German philosophers this is the one you must not miss. Hegel und Marcuse, Heinrich Mann and Bertolt Brecht are buried here. Berlin maintains also  a number of honorary graves for people who made distinguished contributions in politics and culture. The entrance is Chausseestr 126 in Mitte

Friedhöfe am Halleschen Tor
A complex of several cemeteries connected rich in famous names
E. T. A. Hoffmann, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and  Carl von Siemens ( the founder of the famous German Corporation) are buried here. Entrance is Mehringdamm 21 und in der Zossener Straße 1

Invalidenfriedhof
Different histories collide here. Resting place for Prussian generals, this cemetery was cut in half to make room for the Berlin wall and watchtowers. You can still see the madness of both, Prussian warmongering and GDR madness.  This was also the last resting place for Manfred von Richthofen (the ‘Red Baron’)

Weißensee Cemetery
Second  largest (100acres) Jewish cemetery in Europe. 1880 the existing cemetery at Schönhauser Allle ( 5 minutes walk from our hostel)  became too small so this one as established. It contains approximately 115,000 graves. Entrance Herbert-Baum-Straße

Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde
Definitely THE socialist/communist  cemetery in Berlin
Among others Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Walter Ulbricht and Erich Mielke are buried here. There is also a permanent Exhibition about the labour movement and its members. U-Lichtenberg


Made in West-Berlin

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The fall of the berlin wall celebrates its 25th birthday this year. The focus was always on the changes that took place in the East. But there was this hidden gem called West Berlin, too. This city has its own stunning history. For example, many young men escaped from W-Germany to W-Berlin to get away from compulsory military service. This city also attracted other alternative groups. And yet, it was  an almost normal German city, almost.

For all of you who are interested in more, I highly recommend an upcoming exhibition called AN ISLAND IN SEARCH OF THE MAINLAND in the beatiful Ephraim-Palais. The location itself is quite stunning, situated right in the middle of the Nikolaiviertel. This is the cradle  of the oldest part of Berlin, unfortunately almost completely damaged  in WWII.

Ephraim Palais

 

If you have any more questions on Berlin – we at the EastSeven Berlin Hostel are more than happy to answer all your questions

 

Run-time
14.11.2014 – 28.06.2015

 

Opening Times
10am–6pm, Tuesday/Thursday–Sunday | 12pm–8pm, Wednesday Opening times


The streets of Prenzlauer Berg

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

So, what’s going on in our neighbourhood?
Our hostel is surrounded by many interesting streets. One of them is Torstrasse, a 5 minute walk to the south. A couple of years ago expats tried to establish the terms NoTo and SoTo to describe the areas north and south of Torstrasse. The question is not if they succeeded ( they did not), but what makes Torstrasse so interesting to be compared with Houston Street in NY. For sure, it is not its beauty. With its loud traffic and grey facades it resembles more the typical Berlin street just after the wall came down.  However, here you will find some of the most interesting shops, restaurants and bars Berlin has to offer. Let me try explain. Here is a small selection of places I really like.
Themroc
They serve only one menu per day, but the effin best authentic French food you find that night. Reserve ahead

 

Muschi Obermaier
Good beer, proper drinks  and the best thing – you are protected from the outside by dark curtains and masked windows. Hire somebody to drag you out at a fix time, or you will start the next day here.

 

St. Oberholz
An institution for the digital Boheme due to its free wifi ( and the beautiful view of Rosetnthaler Platz). There is also an ever-changing daily menu as well as a variety of fresh juices and coffee

 

Toca Rouge
Modern Chinese kitchen with  delicious and exciting  dishes. Just order the crazy orange chicken. Not too expensive and plenty of seats.

 

Lunettes Selection
You like some fancy shades that would compliment face ? They are best destination for vintage glasses in Berlin, not only because of their range but also for the professional guidance.

 

3 Minutes sur Mer
Oh lala. This is some really nice French food. Make sure you reserve in advance. This is the smaller and cheaper bistro style brother of Bandol sur Mer. If you are into French cuisine, but prefer a more relaxed atmosphere this is your place.
Adonis
My fav halloumi shawarma place. Easily to overlook and quite  non-descript, thiss place serves delicious arab street foods for a decent price. ( in case you spent too much on a French tarte and are still hungry)

 

Tor-Sportsbar
Well, not really a bright star on Torstrasse, but an honest one. The best description is in the name already – sports bar. No-frills, no bs, but beer and Bundesliga.

 

Prassnik
Unpretentious 1920s style bar. They brew their own beer, which is by far less boring than most pilsners you can get in Berlin  bars. The service is not overly friendly but low-key, so you can spend hours there. Located on a corner, you have many windows heading on Tortrasse. Please avoid if you are non smoker.

 

no74
Adidas’ first select store worldwide. They have, what other won’t, limited issues of Adidas collabs with renowned designers – always strictly limited and hard to get.

 

The only thing you need to do now, is to come to our hostel and we will point to the right direction. See you in NoTo