11 Oct THE BEAT OF BERLIN (ON TWO WHEELS)
We’ve partnered up with global bike-sharing system Donkey Republic, and flight and accommodation search engine Momondo, to explore some of Europe’s most esteemed cities, hoping to prove that anywhere, anything, with anyone, at anytime, is simply a bike ride away…oh, and that there’s no better way to explore a city than on two wheels. Follow along in what we have affectionately called our #TourDeDonkey.
Our third stop: Berlin, Germany
The mission: Create a beat with a local artist (and get musically inspired)
This was not our first trip to Berlin. We visited it on a brief sweep nearly 2.5 years ago, but our mission back then was a simple touristy one. This time, we flew into Berlin Schoenefeld (as you can, from practically anywhere) with a very clear brief – we were going to meet with the sensational music extraordinaire, Andrew Applepie (who is basically the only artist we turn to, for upbeat and sick beats for our vlogs and videos, and who – in our luck – is based in Berlin) to make a new track for Donkey Republic.
Our timing was a little off, as he was on holiday the day we arrived…but luckily was going to be back two days later, which meant we had ample time to hop on our Donkey bikes, and get musically inspired to make this epic new track (did we mention our concept for the track was to actually use our Donkey bikes? Yup – ringing bells and tapping seats as the bass and treble…but more on that later).
Riding around Berlin on two wheels is a rush! Although the roads are extremely wide, and the dedicated bike lanes (in most parts of the city) mean you feel safe, you certainly feel the buzzing energy of this large and busy city, and with so many other cyclists on the road (#funfact in some areas of Berlin, as much as 20% of all trips are done by bike), best you join the peloton when it’s your turn (or you’ll be left in the proverbial dust…which is colorful and loud, thanks to the city’s grungy playfulness, so you’ll actually be ok if you prefer to cycle at a slower pace).
Since Berlin is heavily regarded as a musical city (inspiring Bowie back in the late 70s, and U2 in the 80s and 90s) and boasts 3 opera houses (all offering ticket prices waaaaay lower than its counterpart cosmopolitan cities), we knew we wouldn’t struggle to find our own punk and techno inspiration in this large European city.
But where does one go in Berlin?
Well, when researching this vibrant city, we found out that Berlin doesn’t actually have a city centre…in fact, (according to Berlin-local Karisa from “Flirting with the Globe”) Berlin was never a real city, but rather “a conglomeration of smaller settlements”, and today there are 6 main “areas” or neighbourhoods worth exploring, each one offering something different.
So, since it is our duty to prove that there is no better way to see this we-will-call-it-a-city-for-modern-day-terminology’s-sake city, below is our recommended (inspirational) musical tour of Berlin (assuming time of day does not matter and you want to explore Berlin’s six main locales, cycling from one to the next). We’ve also included recommended “pit stops” in between each musical destination #ForTouristsSake
Friedrichshain (best known for its bars)
We recommend beginning your musical two-wheeled tour of discovery at Friedrichshain’s “Culture Container” – a completely unique concept, offering live recording sessions for musical artists, that you, as a thirsty observer, can watch every day of the week (except for Mondays), fresh draught beer in hand. Franz, the owner, gives musicians the opportunity to go up on stage for a very special recording session, meaning almost anything is possible, and the surrounding (rather eclectic) shipping-containers-turned-bars-and-office-spaces make it easy for you to meander around before, after, and during recording sessions for pizza and beer (and hang by a warm fire if it’s a little chilly outside).
Opening hours: Depends on each show, but mostly starts at around 7pm
Actual location: Holzmarktstraße 25, 10243
Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/Culture.Container/
Your cycle route from Friedrichshain to Neukölln (5.0km cycling)
Culture Container in Friedrichshain to Noize Fabric in Neukölln via the famous East Side Gallery
Neukölln (best known for its food)
Something musical, but a little different, is Noize Fabrik, an audio industry co-working space, studio and events venue (based in an old factory building). Although the co-working space is geared towards the “audio community,” it’s completely open to anyone looking to be surrounded by creative people (our favourite kind), and Noize Fabrik’s wide range of audio offerings for musicians make it the perfect place to go for some sound stimulation, anytime of day.
Opening hours for co-working space & studio: Mon – Fri 9am – 7pm & Sat 11am – 6pm
Opening hours for event area: Mon – Fri 9pm – 7pm & Sat 12pm – 6pm
Actual location: Elsenstrasse 52, 12059
Find out more here: http://noizefabrik.com
Your cycle route from Neukölln to Kreuzberg (3.5km cycling)
Noize Fabrik in Neukölln to SO36 in Kreuzberg via Goerlitzer Park and petting zoo (because you want to pet the animals and enjoy Berlin’s greenery too)
Kreuzberg (best known for its clubs)
Kreuzberg is probably the epitome of punk Berlin offering MANY nighttime (and daytime) activities and sightings. Our recommendation, however, is to go to one of the original spots, named after the postcode of the area. SO36 was established back in the 70s, focused heavily on punk music (although today it is seen more as a “new-wave” music venue), and frequented by legends like Iggy Pop and David Bowie. We were told they also host themed parties, so if you’re in luck, you might just get to attend one.
Opening hours: Everyday 10am – 5am
Actual location: Oranienstraße 190, 10999
Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/Esso36/
Your cycle route from Kreuzberg to Charlottenburg (7.2km cycling)
SO36 in Kreuzberg to Quasimodo in Charlottenburg via the iconic Potsdamer Platz
Charlottenburg (best known for its shops)
Before you begin to think that we’ve ruled out some of the classier music magic, Quasimodo features in our musical cycling trip, as it is one of the oldest jazz clubs in Berlin, hosting jam sessions and jazz concerts Wednesday through Saturday (with free entrance jam sessions every Wednesday). The club is actually in the basement of the building of a former dance hall, so if you were looking for somewhere to tap your shiny toes between all the wheel spinning, you’ve found your spot.
Opening hours: Thurs 9pm – 1am, Fri – Sat 9pm – 2am
Actual location: Kantstraße 12A, 10623
Find out more here: https://quasimodo.de
Your cycle route from Charlottenburg to Mitte (8.0km cycling)
Quasimodo in Charlottenburg to Tarantino’s Bar in Mitte through the giant Tiergarten (Berlin’s largest park)
Mitte (the area with Berlin’s most famous landmarks and museums)
Even though hearing “Quentin Tarantino” will probably make you think of motion pictures, and not music, Tarantino’s Bar (dedicated entirely to the legend himself) is a must-see and must-hear spot, as the bar’s playlist is made up entirely of Tarantino’s movie soundtracks. On weekends, various electronic DJs also play enough beats to keep you going ’til sunrise, so we simply had to add this gem to the list.
Opening hours: Tues – Thurs & Sun 7pm – 2am, Fri – Sat 7pm – 4am
Actual location: Brunnenstraße 163, 10119
Find out more here: http://tarantinos-bar.de
Your cycle route from Mitte to Prenzlauer Berg (5.1km cycling)
Tarantino’s Bar in Mitte to the Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg (with a detour taking you past the Höfbrauhaus for a famous 1 litre Stein)
Prenzlauer Berg (where you’ll find the most hipsters)
So you’ve watched some live recording sessions, you’ve hung out with the audio community, you’ve clubbed, and kept it classy and jazzy, and of course you sang along to the quirky Tarantino soundtracks, and had your fill of local brew. Now it’s time to put all that musicality to some good use, by hanging out (and participating) in the open karaoke at Mauerpark, aka Bearpit Karaoke any Sunday of the year. Since starting out in 2009, the Bearpit Karaoke has gained lots of popularity, and now thousands of people attend each week, sitting in the stone amphitheatre, making this the perfect way to end your music cycling tour of Berlin.
Opening hours: Sundays
Actual location: Gleimstraße 55, 10437
Find out more here: http://bearpitkaraoke.com/
Oh, and before we forget to mention, when Andrew did eventually come home, it was an absolute pleasure to meet him and collaborate on such a cool creative project. Now, Donkey Republic has a new track, and we can say proudly that we joined forces with a creative musical genius to make a track using bicycle sounds. YES!
Watch the vid below to see the making of the song (and to hear the brand new Donkey Republic track).