Murray Orr



-3°, coffee coffee coffee

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Winter city breaks are the one. A well-earned slice of respite sandwiched between Christmas and a summer holiday, and where better to venture than Germany’s capital city - Berlin. Like moths to a flame we were drawn to the neighbourhood of Berlin’s creative community, Kreuzberg. Our apartment was located on the top floor of a five story building. There was no lift. Another lesson learned although the views more than made up for the sweaty climb that preceded it. A dreich urban metropolis, waiting to be explored.

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First stop, coffee. We’d heard good things about Bonanza and decided to visit their roastery, conveniently just around the corner from our apartment, as our first coffee location of the trip. It didn’t disappoint. Set in a red-bricked factory building surrounded by the biggest monsteras we’d ever seen, we sat and sipped some sweet sweet caffeinated beverages. Another short walk led us to the famous Voo Store, a great curation of lit garms if that’s what you’re into. However if, like me, you are pursuing a lifestyle out with your means then there is an equally great outlet store just across the road. But less about my dwindling bank balance and more about what went down.

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Heading East we found ourselves at Urban Spree, taking time to peruse the variety of street art on display in the yard before the place opened. This multi disciplinary art space houses monthly exhibitions dedicated to urban culture with a great selection of zines and other self published work of a similar ilk in the bookshop. Entry is free and definitely worth a visit if you’re already in the area by the East Side Gallery - our next stop of the day. For those that don’t know, the East Side Gallery is a 1316 metre long stretch of the Berlin Wall dedicated to a visual commentary of the political changes that took place in 1989/90. We walked the length of the gallery and back again, attempting to decipher some of the incredible work on display. If you’re organised enough I imagine getting a guided tour here would be a really valuable experience.

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Another day another coffee, this time at The Visit roastery in Kreuzberg. Noticing a theme yet? Wherever possible I try and visit the roastery, as opposed to just the café, with these tending to be much larger and more impressive. It’s also always interesting to see a bit of a behind the scenes of the whole process with the roasting area normally on display as it was here. We did a lot of wandering in Kreuzberg, mooching about from coffee shop to lunch spot to whatever else - this was mostly down to the weather. For the duration of our trip the temperature sat pretty much bang on -3° with icy winds making it feel much colder.

A few further recs for Kreuzberg:

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After spending the first portion of our trip in West Berlin we ventured into the centre, Mitte. We decided that moving our base to a hotel in the area would be a smart option, with the goal of our final two days being to cover off all of our city centre activities. After more caffeine at Five Elephant, we skipped over to the Reichstag. Worth noting that you need to book a slot prior to visiting. The historical significance of this building is pretty mad as is the dome on top with spectacular 360° views of the city.

Final day, final coffee. Some may say we saved the best to last, or most famous anyway. It felt really strange to be inside The Barn roastery having become accustomed to seeing that little hand-drawn logo all over the place. Really nice place and nice staff, although they did think I was called Mog - something lost in translation I’m sure but I’ll take it. Funnily enough, Mogg and Melzer was our lunch choice that day. Located in a former Jewish girl’s school, designed by alexander beers in 1927, these were some of the best sandwiches we had tasted. Testament to the vision of it’s creators Paul Mogg and Oskar Melzer, bringing a slice of New York deli culture to Berlin.

Further Mitte recommendations:

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Despite the cold, Berlin served as the perfect reset after all of the hectic-ness that comes with the festive period and getting back into the swing of things in January. We made a conscious effort not to pack too much into our itinerary and instead took time to go a bit off-piste and just take things as we felt at any given moment. A refreshing change to how I particularly have chosen to travel in the past. As a result Berlin, for us, will always represent a place of calm and inspiration, somewhere to go when all you need is a heavy blast of culture and cool hangouts.