BERLIN WITH KARVESH PILLAI
NAME: Karvesh Pillai
SOCIALS: @karvesh WHAT YOU DO: Studying marketing while making music + coffee and taking photos on the side! STAR SIGN: Sagittarius LIVING: Melbourne, Australia LOCATION: Berlin, Germany
Although I had my own accommodation sorted, I always like to spend my first 1-2 nights in a new city staying in a hostel. I’ve made so many absolute angels of friends in hostels, and having them around while I familiarise myself with my brand new surroundings provides a certain comfort I’m always so grateful for.
For this trip, I spent a night at PLUS Berlin in Friedrichshain – this century old building that’s been internally transformed while keeping its insanely beautiful neo-gothic façade intact, making for the cutest dorm window views. Everyone there was super lovely – so many meals were cooked together and washed down with (dirt cheap) vino, in the hostel’s sunlit grassy courtyard.
After trawling through dozens of Berlin flatshare groups on Facebook before I left home, I scored myself a room with the loveliest Czech family in Moabit – a quiet suburb a little bit out of the bustle of the city (still very accessible via public transport). I personally loved being able to come home to a super chill space after very hectic days/nights.
I tend to cook as much as I can when I travel, and then splurge on eating out whenever there’s something that really catches my eye and/or nose. Moabit has plenty of cheap markets, with plenty of fresh veggies + Middle Eastern and Asian spices.
I’ve previously found eating vegan in Europe (France and Italy especially) to be super difficult, but Berlin was on the opposite end of the spectrum – I was so spoiled for choice.
Lots of delicious Vietnamese food, and also SO much amazing bread (!!) everywhere – picnics with sundried tomatoes and olives on fresh German bread were hands down some of my highlights this trip.
I get so intensely obsessed with learning about history, and Berlin is so FULL of it. So much has happened in this one city in so relatively short amount of time, and I was so content spending a huge portion of my trip walking with no destination in mind, soaking it all up.
There are these history walking tours that start from Brandenburg Gate, which I found super informative – I took one on my first morning, and they operate on a pay-as-you-feel basis, so your guide has incentive to make the tour as worthwhile as possible.
Highly recommend visiting Teufelsberg – it’s a little bit out of Berlin, but I loved it so much I went twice (the history behind it is insane!). It used to be the location of a Nazi school; after WW2, rubble was collected from a very damaged Berlin and dumped on top of the school to form a man-made hill, and THEN during the Cold War, the US built a spytower on top of the hill to monitor the Soviets. It’s now all abandoned, and filled with crazy cool graffiti and super weird/equally incredible artwork.
RE: going out; Griessmuehle (this is an industrial warehouse venue by a river – so nice to rest the dancing legs and watch the sun come up) was my absolute favourite, followed by Kit Kat (can be gross but so much fun).
The majority of people you meet are so lovely; there were several nights I went out by myself but didn’t feel alone at all. This community is also very much a melting pot of many talented creatives from Berlin and abroad, so highly recommend keeping an ear to the ground for exhibitions/live shows/so much more.
Some other noteworthy spots include The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; Krumme Lake - a beautiful lake just out of Berlin; Tempelhof airport - an abandoned Nazi-era airport that’s now a public recreational space; Museuminsel – or Museum Island; and the Berlin Wall.
Berlin is a never-ending goldmine of insanely cool second-hand finds. HUMANA is a popular op-shop chain, for very good reason. Some of their stores are huge, and I’ve genuinely spent hours at some of them. Definitely make sure you’ve booked enough luggage for the trip home to avoid wearing 3 coats at check-in during the middle of summer (yes I am speaking from experience).
Each Sunday sees tonnes of flea-markets pop up all over the city – so much good food, and so many bargains on clothes/shoes.
Mauerpark’s flea-market is probably the most well-known one, and while I picked up a few decent garments there, I’d recommend checking out RAW Flohmarkt (very close to Warschauer station) and Nowkoelln Flohmarkt – both much cheaper, and way more variety!
Pack a jumper even if visiting during summer! The days are generally hot, but the nights can get fairly chilly.
Quality shoes are also a must – there’s so much to see on foot, so I feel a “proper” visit, by default, entails plenty of walking.
Also make sure you’ve got all black fits if intending to go out – many clubs are less likely to let you in otherwise.