Summer Staycation: Berlin
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With a winding canals, cobbled streets full of vast warehouses and a tightly knit community of artists capable of doing cocaine no matter what time of day it is, Berlin and Hackney Wick share plenty. Both are also fighting urban development (the Wick seems to have pretty much lost that fight), but that's a story for another day. This day is about a staycation, doing things in the manner of the cool cats of Kreuzberg.
1. Kicking things off at a communal hub
Brunch, our man in Berlin tells us, has reached Germany - and where better to have some of that than at this socially-orientated creative hub. Formally a run-down abandoned building, this is an example of development done right: a community space that hosts gigs, talks, drinks, exhibitions, yoga and everything in between. Enjoy the full breakfast on the canal-side terrace before heading to the art gallery; the shows here always involve local, emergent artists and are brimming with relevancy.
2. Canalside roaming
You've had a look at some art - how very Berlin of you - now it's time for a roam along the Wick's answer to Landwehr canal. Stroll north up the River Lea until you reach Millfields Park and keep those eyes open because the gritty urban composition of this area is pretty compelling: industrial emptiness punctuated with renovated Victorian warehouses, charming canal boats and sporadic green space. And those bohemian canalboat dwellers really don't mind you having a look inside - why do you think they parked so close to the edge?
3. Refuelling with a bratwurst
Wow urbex-ing is tiring huh? Time for refuelling and we've got just the place in mind: the German Deli Warehouse, home to pretty much every conceivable product that fills the shelves of (good) supermarkets in Berlin. Yes, we're talking the iconic beverage Club Mate. We're also talking bratwurst sausages that they'll be cooking up on the outdoor barbecue if the weather is alright. Around £4 will get you one with all the trimmings and we really recommend it.
Also, look out for the recognisable street art stylings of Stick and Thierry Noir whilst in these parts.
4. Beers by the water
That beer sure has wetted the appetite for more beer. Or something else, we wouldn't want to be overbeering. Crate Brewery is Hackney Wick's original brewery and remains its best - housed in a formed print factory it's another repurposed industrial space decked out in reclaimed materials sourced by local artists. You can even chill in the boats that are moored up during summer. All in all, it's a lively spot to let the evening unfurl whilst soaking it in. All of it. Soak it all in.
5. Finishing things at Berghain/Mick's Garage
Sure, comparing Mick's Garage to Berghain is going to spark a bit of controversy - has anyone ever done it before? But this place regularly hosts housey-techno shakedowns that start during the day and don't stop till the early hours. We've felt our fibres jolted to the core courtesy of the speakers here.
The plus side is that it shouldn't require an immaculate act of deception to pass the bouncers; the down side is that you can't get up to some of the stuff that passes in the darker corners of Berghain. Also the food (courtesy of Berber & Q) is unbelievably good here.
If it's not popping off here, check the Yard next door which has also been known to fire up on the weekends.