From the Brandenburger to the Berghain, we Skype gay travel bloggers Couple of Men to help navigate Berlin’s high and low culture.
Couple of Men
German-Dutch life partners Karl Krause and Daan Colijn, are the bearded boys behind Couple of Men. Their warm hearted blog chronicles the duo’s love of travel and each other. Between them, they’ve travelled to over 50 countries and across 5 continents. Follow their story on coupleofmen.com, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
As self-described ‘Berlinphiles’, Peter and Rob were all too happy to kiki with Couple of Men about the edgy capital known for both it’s grit and glam. Have a listen, and then check back here for links to all the establishments recommended.
Where to stay in Berlin
Since Berlin boasts an internationally lauded transit system, there is practically no ‘bad’ area to stay. However, being stereotypically opinionated homosexuals, our hosts have a few preferences.
Neukölln – Peter prefers staying in the trendy district surrounding Schillerpromenade. It is well connected and has plenty to offer first-time visitors, not least of which includes Templehof, a former airstrip-turned-green space.
Tiergarten – Karl grew up in this lush central district and still loves returning. It is most notable for its urban park, beloved zoo, trendy cafes and cute boutiques.
Schöneberg – Rob’s favourite district is, at least historically speaking, the gayest in the city – keeping in mind, Berlin’s gay scene stretches across the entire metropolis. In Schöneberg you’ll find ample bars, clubs and restaurants catering to the LGBTQ+ community. It is also home to the annual BDSM event, Folsom Europe – not that that’s something Rob attends, of course. If you’re looking to stay in Schöneberg, he suggests the “hetero friendly” chain, Axel Hotel. Alternatively, a stones throw from the district is The Ritz Carlton and Adlon Kempinski.
What to see and do in Berlin
Peter’s top tip is to use your first or second day in Berlin to scratch the vast majority of sites off your to-do list. Then you can really start living like a local. Luckily, Berlin’s premiere attractions are all a short schlep from each other.
Alexanderplatz – A major public space and transit hub. It is the gateway to many of Berlin’s attractions.
Brandenburger Tor – A symbolic gate that epitomizes German reunification.
Reichstag – Berlin’s iconic parliament building. Visitors can book tickets on the Reichstag’s thoughtful website for free to walk the glass dome for glorious 360° city views. Tip – do NOT forget your passport/ID when you arrive to walk the dome.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe
Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazims
Notable shops in Berlin
KaDeWe – Continental Europe’s largest department store.
Bikini Berlin – A mall adjascent to the zoo. It looks in on the chimpanzee enclosure.
Noteworthy art galleries
Sammlung Boros – Nazi-era bunker repurposed to house one of Europe’s finest contemporary art collections. Be sure to take a guided tour to learn more about the bunker’s history as well as the art it now protects.
East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall) – Not mentioned on the episode, but what was once The Berlin Wall is now the world’s longest open-air gallery. The header photo is one installation at East Side Gallery.
Where to meet locals
Berlin’s nightlife is world famous and it would be impossible to name every LGBTQ+ bar and club. Treat this small list as just a taste the city’s scene.
SchwuZ – What began as a little hub for LGBTQ+ people has become one of the city’s largest clubs. Located in aforementioned Neukölln, the space is so much more than just a club: it’s an art gallery, it hosts LGBT-friendly talks and presentations, live music, and even serves a small food menu.
KitKatClub – One of the city’s infamously sexual queer clubs. Interestingly, Karl and Daan actually met here during Daan’s first visit. Unfortunately, the club which helped define Berlin as an alternative, edgy destination may close down in June 2020 when its lease ends.
Berghain | Panorama Bar – Arguably the hottest electronic club in Europe! To give you an idea how popular this institution is, Time Out recommends avoiding the massive queue by showing up “after 6am”.
Lab.Oratory (Or “Lab” if you’re local) – Located inside an East Berlin power station, the motto for this famed bathhouse is “Anything goes”. Except maybe cologne. Even the most liberal amongst us may catch themselves clutching their pearls in this sexy cesspool.
Der Boiler – According to Peter, this is one of the world’s premiere bath houses.
Möbel Olfe – One of the city’s best small gay bars. In the summer, hang out in the garden until 10pm before being ushered into the tight indoor space.
Fiken 3000 (translation: Fucking 3000) – Another tiny space that gets hopping at 2 or 3am and has a dark basement begging for intimate encounters.
Hassenheid Park is an excellent urban park that has a meadow famous for its queer nudity. Be sure to tiptoe through the woods for a midday romp.
Similarly, in Tiergarten, there’s an area known as Faggot Meadow where you’re welcome to nude sunbathe and partake in a little public play.
What to eat in Berlin
Curry 36 – One of Berlin’s best spots to grab some post-club grub. And conveniently located right in front of aforementoned Der Boiler. Special shoutout to their vegan currywurst!
Markthalle Neun – Visit this public market on either Saturday or Sunday for an exciting brunch menu. Alternatively, Thursday night is an international street food fair that Peter claims “is a must!”
Mauerpark – Bring a blanket to enjoy the green space just outside this fabulous market. While the food market is the draw, the flea and public karaoke are added bonuses.
Südblock – A queer, cheap and cheerful dining hall.
Selig.Berlin – This eclectic, trendy space is perfect for a boozy brunch.
Commonground in the Circus Hotel – One of the city’s best spots to people-watch an afternoon away.
Liquidrom – Daan’s final tip is when you’re done eating, done partying and all toured out, visit this spa and salt water bathhouse. Perfect to recalibrate before your flight home.
Photo credits, top down: unsplash.com, Couple of Men, unsplash.com X 3.
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