Archive for Germany

Discovering Neukölln

Yes, yes. Neukölln is is traditionally the worst part of Berlin – run down and full of foreigners. However, in the past few years it’s been growing and becoming more attractive to Berliners. Here are a few of the places I’ve come to love in my time living here.

Balli Döner -Sonnenallee 132, 12059 Berlin AND also at Tempelhofer Damm 146, 12099 Berlin

This fine döner shop costs a bit more than other döner places (Falafel 2.20€, Döner im Brot, 3.00€, Döner Dürüm 3.50€). However, notworthy is that it’s a real turkish restaurant with a wood grill and many delicious entrees. They have various spices, sauces and minced garlic in olive oil on all the tables for you to season your cheap, delicious goodness as you desire. As of yet, its my favorite Berlin döner.

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Mae Charoen Thai-Imbiss – Sonnenallee 134, 12059 Berlin

Don’t be put off by its shabby facade and small interior, this place is one of the best places you can go for thai food in Berlin without spending exuberant amounts of money.  Dishes run from about 3-7 Euro and are very delicious. I can recommend any thing with green curry sauce and the definately the Pad-thai. If you have a larger group or are just looking for a classier place a can recomend “Phuket” over in Kreuzberg (Mehringdamm 67). Mae Charoen is right next to decent gelato shop if you need to cool down those taste-buds.

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City ChickenSonnenallee 59, 12045 Berlin

This place is fast food in its empitomy, however still worth a stop. You can eat huge portions for super cheap. 4 Euro gets you chicken nuggets, salad, fries, hummus and horseradish and and extra 50 cents gets you half-a-#*$%&§#-roasted-chicken instead of the nuggets. The name of the restaurant alone warants a visit.

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Das Ä – Weserstraße 40, 12045 Berlin

Nice little bar for relaxing and enjoying the various evening programs – sometimes puppet shows! Their specialty beer is a Munich/Bavarian beer: Tegernseer – 2.50€ for 0,5 L.

Mama’sHobrechtstr. 61, 12047 Berlin

This pub is also a bit small, but very cozy. It’s a bit like being a pre-WWII living room that hasn’t been renovated, but still comfortable. My favorite point of interest is the czech beer: SVIJANY. Soooo good. I, personally, prefer their Naturtrüb-style, which is 6%. Their wine and booze selection is also quirky and delicious. This place is a good starting place or finishing bar for a pub crawl through Kreuzberg and Freidrichshain.

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Cafe Dritter Raum – Herzbergstr. 14, 12055 Berlin

Well, finding a decent cafe in Neukölln in the past few years might have been impossible. However, a few are starting to sprout around the area to my pleasant surprise – I no longer have to take a train to enjoy a nice coffee shop. Dritter Raum is small, but cozy and affordable. If you’re willing to take a 10-15 min. bus or train ride you can also find numerous awesome and delicious cafes in Kreuzberg.

LouisRichardplatz 5, 12055 Berlin

this place offers Austrian cuisine and has some of the best and LARGEST (weighing in at about 1.2 kilo) schnitzel in town. I can’t count how many recommendations I have had from Berliner regarding the schnitzel here. There rest of the food is supposed to be just ok, but apparently one comes here for the schnitzel.

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Ed & Fred Nut Depot – Sonnenallee 73, 12045

This place is one of the finest establishments that I have found in Berlin. They have roasted nuts, seeds, beans, etc. GALOR. Fresh-roasted coffee? Yes. Wasabi peas? Yes. Cornnuts? Yes. Any other questions? No. Get your sweet untoasted buns over there. May not be much for tourists, but for living in Berlin, it’s a gift from God.

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Well, that’s about all for now. To be continued…

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Crocodilian: Rooms in Berlin = Bad Choice

Moving to a foreign city for a job, vacation, etc., albeit temporary, can be a bit stressful, trying to find accommodation for a month or 12 and don’t want to stay in a hotel the entire time. Berlin offers many solutions in this regard, be you professor, movie director, or even vagabond.

Let me start by telling you where NOT to look. I had an incredibly bad experience with the company “Crocodilian”. Though I haven’t rented through the agency, I have worked there and unless you enjoy throwing away your money to swindlers, I would avoid the agency at all costs. After I left the agency then manager told me I’d be lucky to get remuneration for all the hours I had spent in their crummy office with an ever-present, annoying,  yapping dog. In the end, I only received half of my due pay, taking advantage of this poor foreign worker. Thus, I would strongly caution others from placing their trust in them, especially in matters of finance.

So, what I can recommend are a number of other free or low-cost, reliable alternatives! If you can speak a bit of German then I would recommend the following websites:

http://www.wg-gesucht.de/wg-zimmer-in-Berlin.8.0.0.0.html

http://www.studenten-wg.de/Berlin,wg.html

Here you can cut the middle man and get in touch with the landlord or future roommates directly. They can help you find a place in just about any German city, not just Berlin, and has incredible search parameters. Need your own flat? Want to cut on costs and find a spare room? No problem. Search according to you price range, desired floor space and more.

Now if you’re looking for something a bit easier and completely in English, I can always recommend “Exberliner Flat Rentals“. The agency is reliable, easy to use, and comparatively cheap. Well, that’s my two cents in brief. If you’ve got further questions go a head and get a hold of me.

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Um Ulm Herum

Here is another “catch-up” post.  Last summer I spent a bit of time in Ulm, Germany and decided I could offer a few tips to anyone who has a few hours or days to burn there. There are a couple places I have grown quite fond of.

There’s the Barfüßer is mirco-brewery and restaurant where one can enjoy eats from a traditional German kitchen and some tasty beer.  It can be found pretty much straight across from the Ulmer Munster, which is (or was at one time)  the highest church tower in the world.  If you’re feeling up to it, one can also walk up the tower stairs to the top. Around another corner one can find the Brotkultur (Bread Culture) Museum and thought I haven’t been in there yet (waiting for an adventurous friend to accompany me), I am sure it would exceed any tourists wildest expectations. Perhaps a “I survived…” T-shirt or a over-sized novelty bread hat can be found in the gift shop.

In the evening, I would suggest Hemperium where theres hemp-burgers and other good grub to be had (and surprise good hemp beer). There are multiple stories to this place and there is even a roof terrace to enjoy when the weather is nice. Its a reggae club/restaurant thats a couple minute walk away from the main trainstation (in case you just have an hour to kill in lay over). During the day if you walk a bit farther you will come to a park (near the Ehinger Gate by the Bismarkring and Furttenbachstraße) where there’s a big ol’ chess board and big ol’ pieces, to play your friend or stranger in a giant game of chess.

Ulm also has a great location if you want to do some bike riding out into the country or other cool little towns out around the region. One of my favorite rides is out to Blaubeuren (its only about 20 km). It is incredibly scenic and the the town is very picturesque. While there, you cannot miss the Blautopf.  If you want to get out, but not take on such a trip, you can take the Tram number 1 out to Söflingen where you can take scenic walk along the Blaue river out of town and back and then just take the tram back into town (or walk; its not that far.)

That is all I have on Ulm at the moment. I’ll try and update the post, once I think of more activities.

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Day at the Beach

Warm sun, comfortable lawn chair, cold beer, chill tunes, sand between your toes… believe it or not you can find this in Munich in the summer.

I was recently out and about and came across a cool beach bar out on the Isar river. Down on the south end of Museuminsel on the Corneliusbrücke (Cornelius bridge) the urbannauts project erect a beach bar on the bridge every summer, over-looking the river and the Maximilian church. There are no surfers, like in the English Gardens, but it is a nice escape – day or night.

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I’ll have a Coffee. – Beer? – No, C-O… – B-E…

Ok, its a lot harder to convey a Simpson’s reference into the header than I anticipated. ANYWAYS…

It’s that time of year, the sun is beginning to shine, bird’s are chirping – the bees are trying to have sex with them, is my understanding – and above all hops are in bloom! Now if you’re in Bavaria and don’t like pork and beer, well you best leave as soon as possible.

So I have been doing my best at making my rounds of beer gardens, indulging in as much Maß as I can afford. So here are my top Munich beer gardens at the beginning of my rounds of 2008. We’ll see what the opinion is by the time fall comes.

Hofbräukeller

This beer garden is very close to Max-Weber Platz in east Munich (tram and subway accessible). Like pretty much any other beer garden in Munich, this one is equipped with lots of shade from chestnut trees, good grub and lights in the evening. The beer here is, as you might guess, Hofbräu. This isn’t my favorite, but there is a Sausalitos (Mexican food and bar chain) adjacent sharing the courtyard, so the atmosphere can accommodate different tastes. The food was on par for your average beer garden, not great, not bad, just moderately satisfactory.

Taxisgarten

This beer garden is sort of in north west Munich by the Gern stop along the U1 subway line. The beer here is Spaten. Though beer gardens in general are quite family friendly, this one seemed particularly quaint and friendly for the family atmosphere. When it comes to Spaten beer, I prefer the Weißbier (Franziskaner). This garden is relatively near the biggest mall in Munich (the OEZ) if you have any shopping to take care of. One culinary specialty I would order would be the the pretzel with dipp; the dipp is obazda – a cheese dipp similar to cream cheese with bits of brie in it. They are also famous for their ribs and though good, I didn’t think they were anything amazing.

Augustiner-Keller

This beer garden is very central – near the main train station. Probably my most visited beer garden, Augustiner Keller carries my favorite Munich beer: Augustiner. The currywurst und pommes frites are to die for if you’re there around meal time. They also have a big fish stand there, though I have never tried it. In fact, I try to sit as far away as possible, because everything within 10 meters stinks to high hell of fish. I heard from a tour guide that the property of this garden was where Hitler held public beheadings. Around Oktoberfest time if you find you can’t get into a tent, this beer garden is a great alternative and within walking distance (up to debate by some of my associates).

Biergarten am chinesischen Turm

This beer garden is in the middle of the Englischer Garten if you’re up for going for a walk in one of the biggest and nicest public parks in the world. You can enjoy some beer next to Munich’s famous Chinese tower as a break from napping in the shade, playing soccer/football, throwing the Frisbee, riding bikes, tanning, or any number of things. If its a nice day see if you try and find the surfers who actually surf the river that flows through the gardens. The spot is at the beginning of the park next to Haus der Kunst. As a forewarning, you just may happen to wander through the nudist section of the park along the way.

So, for my visiting American friends, here are some quick travelers tipps for

visiting Munich beer gardens…

DO NOT CALL THE BEER GLASS A BIERSTEIN. It called a Maß (pronounced ma – ss). You can hold it by the handle, but only a the risk of an evil eye and a punch to a kidney. You pick.

PLEASE DO NOT HOLD YOUR MAß BY THE HANDLE. Rather hold it around the actual glass. Don’t worry about the beer getting warm. That is the very last of your worries.

FINDING A PLACE TO SIT is good weather may be difficult, so the chances of you finding your own table can be slim. It is not uncommon to share a table with strangers. Just sit down anywhere you can find. If the people are cool, you may have some new drinking buddies or if they’re jerks ignoring them usually does the trick – unless they’re loud, obnoxious foreigners of course. Also, as long as the table is not clearly marked as belonging to a restaurant then you are free to bring your own food and save some money. Just think of it as a picnic with an endless supply of bier and hundreds of other people with the same idea.

Prost ihr Säcke!

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Spare Ribs and Steak at the Rusticana

I was really blown away by my experience at the Rusticana. Here in the middle of Europe, thousands of miles from Texas, I had the best spare ribs I’ve ever had, done truly in a Texas style, delicious BBQ sauce, crisp salad, baked potato, and world-class beer.  Rusticana has a great cozy atmosphere, though at a price. Just so you know it’ll cost you around 25 Euro\person. Though the price may be a bit steep for someone like me, its definitely worth it, especially if you want to do things right.

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The food at Rusticana wasn’t made by these folks, but it sure tastes like it.

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Connoisseur of Schnitzel?

I don’t know many places like this, but damn… what a business. Tacheles is an underground restaurant and bar specializing in schnitzel, schnitzel and schnitzel. I’m sure its economical for Tacheles to only invest in schnitzel, salad and fries instead of the ingredients for 30 different entrées. It’s definitely a fun place to go, although Roman claims that the restaurant Cheers has better schnitzel. If you’re ever looking for a tasty, affordable meal in Freiburg, stop on in.

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