Problem: two guys in need of a short getaway and an urge to take some photos in unknown territory. Answer: Berlin. A city rich in history, art, culture, food, clubs and the capital of a nation with a mighty good football team. I had been itching to explore Berlin for quite some time. I wanted longer than two days (and later discovered I needed longer than two days), but Aaron and I decided to venture to Berlin for a weekend to take it all in, have a drink (or twelve) and enjoy a weekend out of our comfort zone. Glad to say we accomplished all of the above with a stay made even more pleasant by the wonderful Generator Hostels. Despite my usual complaints (about everything possible), and not having enough time to do anywhere near as much as we would have liked, Berlin was amazing. Check out some snaps, read our thoughts, and press play below to enjoy our documentation of 48 hours in Berlin.
Adam: In this latest edition of Through the Lens, we aimed to explore the city through the people, much like I did in Paris. People watching became a habit, and I really enjoyed capturing that. Berlin, on the other hand, offered a different perspective. With not many people about, our eyes were drawn more to the architecture, street art, spaces and perspectives. Something I do in London every day, but a nice change in a city that offered more in some places, and less in other.
Adam: We definitely enjoyed our time exploring the city. Staying in Mitte, we were right in the centre. A place where you’re surrounded by historic landmarks and modern architecture. Berlin really is a mixed bag. Visually, I wouldn’t say Berlin is the most visually appealing (in comparison to the more old-fashioned and prettier cities in Europe) but that all changes when you notice the amazing (and I mean AMAZING) street art you’re surrounded by everywhere you turn. Some of the art takes your breath away, and gives what would be a fairly grey city that bit of character. We wondered around the tourist spots and were sure to venture in to the less-visited spots scattered around us before hitting up the famous Berlin Wall East Side Gallery.
The Berlin Wall was something we had wanted to see for a while. Hearing about its existence (and collapse) growing up, we had to take the opportunity to check it out while in the city. For those that don’t know, the East Side Gallery is essentially an art gallery on the remains of the Berlin Wall in the Kreuzberg area. The pieces are primarily on freedom, after the fall of the Berlin wall. Never have we felt so captivated by the messages of art. While the pieces are visually stunning, you have to look close and open up your mind to hear each one shouting a message of freedom at you. We sometimes stood for minutes staring at certain pieces. Hearing what they were telling us – messages that not only relate to what so many people in Berlin felt while the wall was up (and taken down), but messages that we can still learn so much from even now. If you’re ever in Berlin, take a stroll along this wall and lose yourself for a minute.
Aaron: Berlin was not the trip I expected it to be, with a population far lower than London, we often walked long stretches of what we felt were pretty city central locations and saw not a single person. This made the street photography focus rather difficult, however we tried to turn this into a positive, it meant we real had to hunt for shots which could be a great learning experience. While the trendy Kreuzberg was certainly interesting and full of character, we still felt there wasn’t enough going on, there wasn’t enough energy and atmosphere to really fuel to our creative fire. Unperturbed, we sought the darkness under tunnels and bridges like The Dark Knight’s of photography, toying with each others silhouette in these eerie and lightless urban caverns. They were often also the canvas for some of Berlin’s street art and graffiti that, like ivy leeching off of trees in the jungle, lived off of the walls it adorned and came alive on the surface. Creeping its way along the floors, slithering up the walls and glaring down from seemingly unreachable heights, we rarely walked down a street without being in someway surprised and impressed by a piece of art.
Aaron: This all changed at night however, the wonderfully crazy folk in Berlin don’t open clubs until 1-2am and don’t stop partying until midday. Stepping out of a club to blue skies and a morning breeze is jarring to say the least but nonetheless Berlin has certainly earned its reputable place as one of the top spots in Europe, and the world, for nightlife. The streets buzz and the clubs bang, techno being the resulting sound. We were pointed in the direction of an illegal rave in a park by someone who’s details will remain confidential. Such events apparently make up another large part of Berlin’s party culture but can unexpectedly be shut down by police if they’re tipped off. We avoided what sounded like an exciting but risky night out for newcomers to the city and headed for the clubs instead.
Unfortunately, a couple of days is by no means long enough to experience all that Berlin has to offer. Kreuzberg, the more trendy district of Berlin, is a place that could do with a few days to check out just by itself. And that’s including time to recover from the incredible nightlife that the place has to offer. The city is already jam packed with history, and overflows with modern culture. While I can imagine it would take some getting used to, the city feels like anyone of all ages could settle in pretty well.
Right, so where did we stay you ask? Well, there’s only one place to stay when exploring Berlin: Generator Hostels. Believe us when we tell you, there is nowhere better for value for money. Generator Mitte was superb. As you can expect from a hostel, the place is full up with travelling students/young people, so the crowd was friendly, vibrant and diverse. That all adds to a hostel that is designed with the young, creative crowd in mind. This place has everything Berlin resembles; being trendy, well designed and lively. The welcoming and helpful staff can also be compared to the “well-oiled machine” that we know Germany to be. We loved our stay and fully recommend you to check it out if you’re heading to Berlin, or anywhere else in Europe for that matter. They’re scattered all around for rates that are cheap as chips.
While we didn’t get long enough to take it all in as much as we would have liked, Berlin was brilliant. We were treated well, saw the sights, the art, and managed to experience that Berlin nightlife we always hear about. Big thanks to Generator Hostels for having us. Now let’s see where Through the Lens takes us next…