Ask any young, creative person in the world where they’d like to go, and chances are, they will say ‘Berlin!’. The German capital has been a magnet for artists and musicians ever since the early 1980s, and is attracting young, international creatives and settled German middle-class couples alike. And then there are the well-documented party tourists known as the “Easyjet Set”, on the hunt for crazy parties, every day of the week.
There is so much to tell about this city and its diverse history, and there are so many places to see. Instead of rushing from one corner to the other, we will offer you several very different guides from Berlin, each with their own flavor. And to not get lost on the streets of Neukölln or Prenzlauer Berg, we enlisted the help of some very knowledgable Locals that each bring their own perspective.
Today, we are spending 12hrs in Berlin with Herbert Hofmann.
Herbert is the Creative Director of Voo Store, a favorite of the 12hrs team ever since it opened its doors in 2010. Previously, he worked his fashion PR magic at the Berlin branch of Agency V. And in what seems like another life, he studied Geography in Innsbruck and Stockholm. The Tyrolean lives and works in Kreuzberg, and this is where we are going to spend most of our 12hrs with him.
Formerly known only as a predominantly Turkish neighborhood, Kreuzberg has evolved into something different. Sure, you still find the great Turkish markets and the Döner restaurants, but there is also a refined nightlife scene, great shopping places and new developments on every corner. In spite of gentrification rearing its ugly head over the street corners, Kreuzberg remains one of the most loved and most diverse parts of Berlin. Come along, let’s explore it – and let’s spend 12hrs with Herbert in Berlin!
10am // Kaffebar
Herbert’s 12hrs in Berlin start with breakfast in this nice café. Also known as ‘Kaffeebar jenseits des Kanals’ (Coffee bar beyond the canal), it’s a favorite for people from the neighborhood. The breakfast is great and very affordable, and they serve yummy cakes (and, obviously, coffee) throughout the day. The place is usually packed with people working on their laptops. A Berlin staple, since it feels like half of the city is ‘working on a project’ in some café.
After breakfast, walk over to Maybachufer, a beautiful street right next to a canal off the Spree river.
Kaffeebar // Gräfestr. 8 // Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-7pm // website
11am // Turkish Market
Kreuzberg is famous for its huge Turkish population. Every Tuesday and Friday, at the Turkish Market, you can experience that big aspect of Berlin city life. Along the shore of a canal, vendors are selling vegetables, fruits, and objects for daily use. Walking around all the different stalls is great for people watching.
If it’s neither Tuesday nor Friday, don’t be too sad. Every Saturday, there is a fabric and clothes market (‘Neuköllner Stoff’) nearby, and every other Sunday during summer it’s time for the ‘Nowkoelln Flowmarkt’, a big flea market with lots of food stands and live music.
Either way, stroll down the shore, soak up the atmosphere, and then walk up via Kottbusser Straße all the way to Moritzplatz to continue our tour.
Turkish Market // Maybachufer // Tue & Fri, 11am-6.30pm // website
Neuköllner Stoff //Maybachufer // Sat 11am-5pm // website
Nowkoelln Flowmarkt // Maybachufer, every second Sunday during Summer, check website for dates // website
11.45am // Modulor
Herbert’s boyfriend is architect and furniture designer Sigurd Larsen. It’s no wonder, then, that Herbert is taking us to Modulor. This giant store sells everything one might need when working on a creative project. From pens and paper to wood and plastic tubes in any size, and from mosaic tiles to accessories for binding books down the next aisle, it’s a treasure trove for anyone who ever wanted to build something.
Once again, this is also a great place for people watching. Modulor’s customers are just as varied as its products, ranging from starving artist-types to go-getting entrepreneurs.
Take your time to explore, and then walk just a few meters down the street to our next destination.
Modulor // Prinzenstr. 85 // Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 10am-6pm // website
12PM // Prinzessinnengarten
This area on Prinzenstraße started to bring urban gardening to the attention of Berliners. The group ‘Nomadisch Grün’ (‘Nomadic Green’) turned an urban wasteland that had been empty and full of garbage for over 60 years into a green oasis right in the middle of the city. With the help of neighbors, friends, and activists, they grow organic vegetables and herbs here.
By now, Prinzessinengarten teaches children and city folks about planting and gardening and offers workshops regularly.
You can just enter the garden through the main entrance and have a look around, it’s open to everybody. There’s also a café and the chance to buy the harvest.
Prinzessinnengarten am Moritzplatz //Prinzenstr. 35-38 // website
12.45 // Markthalle IX
Time for lunch! Herbert takes us to Markthalle IX, and for that, we just walk along Oranienstraße to Görlitzer Bahnhof. This old market hall was recently reopened, and is now inhabited by small, local companies that sell their handmade products here.
Every Thursday night, ‘Street Food Thursday’ lets you taste a variety of foods from all over the world. The market itself is open every Friday and Saturday.
But even if you shouldn’t be there on one of these market days, our lunch destination, Kantine Neun, is open daily. The small restaurant and café inside the building serves tasty, organic lunch options at really low prices. A lot of the items on the menu are vegetarian, with vegan options available as well. They work with fresh, local products that are in season, lots of them sold under the Fair Trade label.
Main courses range from 7 Euro for locally produced Tofu with artichokes, potatoes and herb mayonnaise, to 14,50 Euro for a Wiener Schnitzel (made from veal) with aspargus, potatoes and hollandaise sauce.
Markthalle IX // Eisenbahnstr. 42/43, Street Food Thursday Thur 5pm-10pm // Farmer’s Market Fri/Sat 10am-6pm, website
Kantine Neun, inside Markthalle IX // Mon-Thu 12am-4pm, Fri-Sat 12am-6pm // website
2PM // VOO Store
After lunch, a quick walk takes us back to Oranienstraße. Time to go to Voo Store! This concept store is where Herbert works. As creative director, he is responsible for selecting and buying every product that is sold here.
Located in a courtyard a few steps behind the sidewalk, Voo is situated in a former locksmith shop. The store is quite big, with long wooden tables full of beautiful things everywhere. In 2012, Voo Store won Farfetch.com‘s first Superstore award, earning it international recognition.
Ever since our first visit, Voo is one of our favorite shops in Berlin. It’s just as much the very relaxing atmosphere as it is the selection of products. They sell clothes for women and men from a lot of Scandinavian and French labels, among them Carven, Soulland, Acne and Kenzo. There is a small but great selection of sneakers and other shoes, great magazines, beautiful, affordable jewelry and lots of small items you never knew you wanted before you discovered them here.
Take your time, maybe even try on some things, and then, let’s have a coffee.
Voo Store // Oranienstr. 24 // Mon-Sat 11am-8pm // website
2.15PM // Companion Coffee
When the owners of Voo, Yasin and Kaan, came up with the idea for the store, it was very important to them to establish it not only as a place to shop, but also as a place to just hang out and meet friends. Cue Companion Coffee!
In a corner near the entrance, up a few steps, is this great café. Baristas Shawn and Chris serve stellar brews and some sweet treats along with them. Naturally, Herbert drinks his coffee here almost every day. Who can blame him?
Afterwards, walk back to Kotbusser Tor and take the U1 subway train (direction: Uhlandstraße) all the way to Kurfürstenstraße, that’s 8 stops.
Companion Coffee // Oranienstr. 24 (inside Voo Store) // Mon-Sat 11am-7pm // website