The Hackeschen Höfe

11 11 2007

The Hackeschen Höfe is a complex of eight courtyards, which was built around the turn of the 19th century, and consisted then of a mixture of offices, workshops, factories and residential apartments. The place was renovated in the 1990s.

Hackeschen Höfe map

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KaDeWe, a Temple of Abundance

7 11 2007

This famous and humongous department store, Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe in short), is a major attraction, almost a legend, especially its sixth floor, the food department, which is a temple for the “abundance society” of late capitalism in the Western world.

Variety of Coffee and Tea Sweets to go with the coffee…

Fancy some soup? Or maybe a piece of meat?

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Shopping in Berlin: Ku'damm

5 11 2007

Ku’damm is the nickname given to the Kurfürstendamm, the long boulevard sometimes considered as Berlin’s “Champs-Elysées” or “5th Avenue”. The boulevard stretches for 3.5 km, from the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, through the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf borough to Halensee.

The boulevard takes its name from the former Electors (Kurfüsten) of the Roman Empire. During the separation of the city to East and West, it became the main commercial street in West Berlin.

A street fire show near ruined church, The long night of Shopping

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Ampelmann, the East German traffic light man

18 10 2007

My personal favorite Ostalgie item, as I mentioned before, is the Ampelmann, the man in the traffic lights of East Germany (“Ampel” is “traffic-light” in German).


My first encounter with the Ampelmann was actually in a traffic-light. I immediately liked that cute darling. And then I found out about his oh so naïve and sweet history, but also about its outrageous commercialization. I mean, I really wanted an Ampelmann bag, but not at these prices. So I settled for a woolen hat and shirt, and a little green man for my key chain. I also got a small book elaborating on the history of the man, the brand and the various products.

Ampelmann bags Ampelmann ice cubes

The Ampelmann was created by the traffic psychologist (what a weird profession, I’d say) Karl Peglau, in 1961. The rationale was to combat the danger of road accidents by using appealing symbols, since “road users react more quickly to appealing symbols” (well, maybe. I don’t believe it would have worked here). Read the rest of this entry »

Ostalgie in Berlin

16 10 2007

The official Berlin tourism site offers a program for East Berlin nostalgia tours, which you can find here. They claim that “The recent history in Berlin has many aspects and different ways of handling. On one hand there is the difficult historical discussion, on the other hand is the (n)ostalgic mood… Our tour shows both sides”.

Another option is taking the “Trabi-safari” tour, which costs between 25 to 35 euros, depending on the number of participants. Information about the “Trabi-safari” can be found in their website.

A Trabant.

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SATURN: Gadgets & Consumer Electronics

30 09 2007

Berlin, as previously stated on this blog, is very cheap compared to most other European cities. So the Saturn stores can make a good example of how low prices can actually be in Berlin.

The Euro’s high exchange rate makes some of Saturn prices expansive compared with the US prices. But if you’re from another region of the world – like me – there’s a good chance you’d be surprised.

Saturn Berlin

Saturn is a chain of about 100 stores all around Germany, which sells all sorts of consumer electronics, computer hardware, gadgets, cellular phones and equipment, etc – if it’s powered by electricity, they simply bound to have it, usually in a very reasonable price. Read the rest of this entry »

Potsdamer Platz: culture, shopping and food

20 09 2007

Besides being an architectural gem, Potsdamer Platz is also known for its very lively scene of cultural attractions, fancy hotels, gourmet and other good restaurants, and shopping opportunities.


I already raved about the Sony Store, but there is also the Arkaden, our favorite mall in the city of Berlin. It is stacked with food joints of all kinds – Chinese, Sushi, Wurst, Pizza, Australian food, fish, bagels and even Macdonald’s. You can also find there many known brands of clothing, such as Zara, H&M, Mango, Benetton, Bonita and many others. I especially liked the Design Forum store (very good for original gifts).

Arkaden Mall.

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Berlin must-sees: Unter Den Linden

16 08 2007

Unter den Linden Boulevard stretches from Brandenburg Gate to Schlossbrücke (palace bridge), at the heart of Berlin’s Mitte quarter. It exists since 1573, but rose to importance under Friedrich the Great. The linden trees (lime) were cut down by Hitler’s order (he had very different plans for that place). The buildings were pretty much destroyed in WW2. Some were reconstructed, others built anew. The trees were of course planted again.

Unter den Linden.

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Berlin grocery shopping

2 08 2007

This will probably convince you that I’m a total geek with no life, but one of the things I like most about Berlin is the fabulous experience it offers to the tiny grocery shopper – that’s me.
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