Felix Engelmann is a Bavarian powerhouse of a man, a good friend of ours and head of Sales for Porter in Europe. He lives in the foothills of the South German Alps, but spends a lot of his time in the German capital. We received excellent advice on where to go, eat and sleep on our last visit there, and we thought we’d continue our small city guide-series and share some of his wisdom with you!
So without further ado heres the city guide to Berlin:
What do you like about the city and what are some of the differences between being in Berlin and where you live in the countryside?
Berlin is like a second home to me, I spend several months a year in the city and love the diversion between the countryside of Bavaria where we live on a horse manor, and the city of Berlin. With a travel schedule of being away approximately 200+ days a year, with two daughters and a very acquiescent wife, I've learned how important a certain calmness in life can be. My manor is located between two lakes with plenty of horses and the Alpes in full sight. An appropriate foundation for the endeavoured silence I mentioned before. And, Berlin is the perfect contrast to that. Don’t get me wrong though, you can easily find calm and silence in Berlin at Tempelhof, on private rooftops, in parks and in many galleries if visits are well timed.
In your mind, what makes Berlin so special?
Nowadays, the people in Berlin come from all parts of Europe and from many parts of the world. These people have chosen to live in Berlin over any other place in the world, and have chosen to make the German capital their home. Berlin in my eyes is more of a European city than a specifically German one, a fact that I love, and a great proof of how diversity in a society can create amazing places and even shape a whole city for the better. You’ll find all kinds of languages, all races, all religions, all kind of mindsets, many dreams, creativity and a positive energy and tolerance.
This created a society which took over the city in a way, that you'll rarely explore in other big cities. In many areas people changed the landscape, planted flowers and trees, built benches on urban common land without the permission of the city government, but it feels like it would happen with their tolerance and accept. The people of Berlin seem to make their diverse and tolerant city a better place to live-in - with less boundaries and more freedom and luckily with more and more claims for quality. For any food you feel like, you will most likely find someone who moved to Berlin and now cooks the traditional food from their hometown or homeland for you in their restaurant. Just stroll through Kreuzberg, Mitte, Neukölln, Schöneberg or other areas and you will see and feel what I'm trying to explain.
What are some of your favourite places and things to do?
Potsdamer Strasse in Schöneberg became in a way the best spot for fantastic international galleries, it also has one of the most amazing stores owned by Andreas Murkudis, and a speak easy bar called Victoria Bar, with an outstanding art collection displayed inside. For Galleries, it is honestly a must to check out König Gallery and also Blain Southern with its 29 meter high ceilings, next door to Andreas Murkudis, and, if you can make it, book a tour in advance at the Boros Bunker, called „Sammlung Boros“, a private collector of art, which can be visited in small guided groups, please; go for it! You will also find plenty nice galleries in Linien Strasse (Mitte).
Berlin has become a town for food lovers, so I'll name just a few restaurants, as it would be impossible to name all of the good ones there are, 893Ryotei for its fantastic Japanese interpretations, Panama Restaurant offers an excellent course menu with a spot on wine accompaniment. If you just prefer to walk by the water and pick a restaurant or bar you spot, I’d recommend Paul-Linke-Ufer (great rahmen at Cocolo and the best pizza at Zola). For Coffee I’d recommend 5 Elephant in Kreuzberg and Companion Coffee inside of the amazing Voo Store.
If you like a really good drink combined with great service, I would recommend the Victoria Bar, or if you prefer a busy Berlin bar, crowded with great people and a fantastic owner, then you might like Café and Bar Luzia in Oranienstrasse 34, which is in the heart of Kreuzberg.
A list of my favourite stores would also be endless, so I'll keep it short: Anderas Murkudis, The Store (at Soho House), Do you read me and Kadewe and if you need a place to stay, if I need to name one, it has to be the „Hideout“ in Michelberger Hotel designed by Sigurd Larsen. If I have to name a second place to stay, it is the second „Hideout“ in Michelberger Hotel.
And last but not least, if you want to hide out in Kreuzberg, buy some drinks at a Späti, sit at the canals and eat a "Döner“ or "Köfte“ after a late night party.
We hope his tips will inspire you to visit the city, if you need even more guidance, we’ve got the Monocle guide to Berlin available right here in store. So come in and get your copy and get inspiration for your next visit to Berlin!