Your Berlin summer guide

Because I keep getting emails, tweets or comments on here with questions on how to do Berlin like a local (and not like your parents), I compiled some of my favourite places where you’re very likely to find me on weekends. I use Google Maps to “star” places as that makes it easy to rediscover places you love and to see when you’re in the area. Highly recommend that method also when you’re travelling!

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A walk on the East side of things

Let me take you on a lazy Easter Monday stroll through Hoxton, Shoreditch and all the leafy worlds in between. If you start off at Broadway Market, chances are you won’t be able to resist the fresh sourdough bread with salmon, mushroom risotto or organic fairy cake so come with an empty stomach and make the most of the market’s eclectic mix of food and fashion. If you walk right until the end you will get to London Fields, a park that is particularly crowded and fun on a warm day in spring. We saw a dog that was jumping about two metres (!) towards the sky for 30 minutes. Up and down, up and down. Effortlessly. All the passers-by were cracking up and that whole situation made for some pretty special afternoon entertainment, I can tell you.

A stroll among Regent’s Canal (there’s a more detailed post on this coming up soon!) is always a good idea, especially when you’re walking towards the beautiful Geffrye Museum. It was five minutes before closing time when we got there but that was just enough to check out their beautiful gardens. I promise to follow up on the actual exhibitions very soon! Hoxton Gallery is on the legendary Kingsland Road between Old Street Underground station and Hoxton Overground and makes for a bit of culture in the midst of all the trendy cafes and bars (not that I’m complaining…). The current showcase is a mix of cartoons, graphic design, drawings and photographs. It feels a bit like reading a giant book, with each piece of art enriching the story.

There are a couple of great coffee places between Old Street and Angel, like Shoreditch Grind, Timberyard, Look mum no hands! (my personal favourite because of these bikes and cycling accessories) and Goswell Road Coffee which is basically Brick Lane Coffee, but… on Goswell Road. Wowzer! And if you’re on the look for some dinner (y’know, it’s been a while since that cake at Broadway Market…), you’ll find virtually anything in the Angel/Islington area. Ottolenghi is one of the best places to hunt down your #foodporn Instagram snaps (although a bit too packed and pricey for my taste) and Café La Divina do salad in a bowls that are made of bread. How awesome is that. Happy egg hunting and enjoy the rest of your bank holiday!

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The big fat guide to 24 hours in Copenhagen

Here it is… drum roll… your extensive list of cool stuff to do in Copenhagen. The places are in no particular geographical order, so I’d recommend finding them on Google maps and save them if you plan a trip to Scandinavia soon!

The Statens Museum for Kunst, National Gallery of Denmark, is an incredible multi-faceted art gallery. Tacita Dean‘s ‘Print Projects’ were my favourite because the photographs combined a tiny bit of reality with a whole universe of magical fantasy. Admission is free on Sundays, there’s a huge cafe and garden (which looks more like the outdoor space of a palace) and it’ll be easy to spend a whole afternoon checking out the different floors.

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My phone tells stories: When summer came to town

When I click through these little square images, I realise two things. Firstly, the best moments are usually the ones who remain uncaptured because of the inability of a certain phone battery or because we were too busy being happy (or hungry?) to remember taking a photo, and secondly, how on earth is it already mid June!? But hey, according to my diary, summer is supposed to be in full swing, so let’s have a look at what’s been going on in London.

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Netil Market

If for whatever disturbing and hopefully unlikely reason I had only one more event or place to photograph, I’d definitely chose a lively market over a lonely spot in the mountains. It doesn’t get boring, ever, and there are so many new things to discover, even when you’re standing on the same spot for ten minutes. Surroundings (people) change so quickly that what seemed like a dull shot can turn into the opposite in the blink of an eye.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Netil Market, a small market in Hackney that hasn’t lost its local charm yet and gathers young people from all over the city to dwell on great coffee, original food, artsy accessories and fun conversations with strangers. The market happens every Sunday in a little backyard on 23 Westgate St, from 11am to 6pm. It’s moments away from Broadway Market and the London Fields rail station. What are you waiting for!? Check it out and fingers crossed your photos will come out a bit less grey and rainy than mine.

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London: Books and Coffee

I spend more time in cafés than in my own home. That’s not because my life is sad or I don’t know what to do with my time, but because I can’t quite work or even relax as efficiently anywhere else. My personal Google map is filled with yellow stars that will give you a slight idea of how much I love those little worlds of newspapers, the smell of coffee that’s being ground, cakes fresh from the oven and a whole lot of other people who decided their day would need a little creative break.

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The Vintage Emporium, Bacon St, E1 6LF

The Vintage Emporium is the most beautiful café I’ve ever been to. Downstairs is a little vintage boutique, upstairs is a spacious living room with wildly mixed furniture, dried roses and country music. On Monday and Thursday nights, they do live gigs. Admittedly, I’ve had better coffees in the city but nothing can beat that retro and homely environment, I promise!

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E5 Bakehouse, Railway Arches, E8 3PH

I used to work in a bakery which was not exactly the time of my life. However, entering The Bakehouse in Hackney only brings back the most postitive memories: The smell of fresh bread and the energetic buzz of a coming and going crowd, all united by the craving for a change from pre-packed supermarket toast. If you pop in (it’s right next to the London Fields rail station), make sure to have some of their mushroom bread, it is to die for!

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Candid Café, Torrens St, EC1V 1NQ

The Candid Café is near the Angel/Islington tube and part of the Candid Arts Trust which is known for offering brilliant life drawing classes. So it comes as no surprise that this environment is among the most inspiring and productive in London. Laptops, notebooks and headphones are all over the place… Again, their coffee beans aren’t life-changing, but some good ol’ English Breakfast tea and a slice of cake will certainly get those grey cells going!

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Cakehole, Columbia Rd, E2 7QB

Cakehole is the quirkiest and cutest little … hole that I’ve come across in London so far. Being the extension of a vintage china shop, it will make you feel as if taking a very delicious trip to the 50s. It was always crowded when I was there but that’s because it’s on Columbia Rd, meaning it’s packed on Sundays during the Flower Market. One downside is that it’s quite tiny (but cosy!) so it might get hard to extensively work on your essay without having sharing your table with a bunch of chatty, elderly ladies who can’t wait to share their collection of anecdotes from their golden years. Bye bye, productivity!

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The Lily Vanilli Bakery, Ezra St, E2 7RH

This bakery in Hackney, a few metres away from the Cakehole, is life-changing and an absolute legend. Everything is perfect: From their famous hangover veggie-on-homemade-bread dish to beautiful cakes, freshly roasted coffee and their large communal tables, both inside and on the terrace. A must-visit during spring and summer!

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But now… let’s move on to the actual reading. The first one isn’t a book but the most exciting thing e v e r ! Some cool kids from uni and I put this magazine together, Thoughts & Recreation, and it’s now printed and looking all smokin.’ Print shall never die because there’s just nothing like holding your own words in your hands. Thankfully, holding that thing in my hands also means I’ve finished another year of uni and can now work on the pile of books under my bed that’s been growing and growing.

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First up, The Sea Change by the talented Joanna Rossiter. This absolutely compelling debut novel is not my usual read because it involves a lot of history and fiction but I’m so glad I started reading. It’s a page-turner. Here’s a summary of the plot: “Yesterday was Alice’s wedding day. She wakes in the morning to see a wave on the horizon, taller than the height of her guest house on Kanyakumari beach. Her husband is nowhere to be seen. On the other side of the world, unhappily estranged from her daughter, is Alice’s mother, Violet. Forced to leave the idyllic Wiltshire village in which she grew up after it was requisitioned by the army during World War Two, Violet is haunted by the shadow of the man she loved and the wilderness of a home that lies in ruins.”

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And then there’s Quiet. I picked it up while waiting for a train in London Bridge that just. wouldn’t. come but it made waiting so much easier. The introvert topic is not a new read and I might well be the last person on this planet to get my hands on one, but that doesn’t matter since it’s the most fascinating, colourful and clever academic insight I’ve had for ages. The book is about the ‘power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking,’ and although I’m sometimes one of those annoying people that can’t be quiet, I’m somehow an introvert most of the time. Susan Cain gives an authentic and absolutely necessary account on why this world – especially the financial sector – could sometimes do with less words and more substance.

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Barcelona: Books and Coffee

Having spent last week in sunny Barcelona, I’m now slightly overwhelmed (maybe even depressed) when checking out the amount of sunny material while getting on with that rather dull version of life in London. The photos are a bit of a taster of fancy places to hang out in the city that blew my mind on absolutely every level. Admittedly, that wasn’t all too hard thanks to the of the lack of research and expectations from my end. Instead, I let the experimental surfer- and skateboarder-spirit do all the work.

The Mercat de la Boqueria is perfect for a bit of late morning hunting for inspiration. Colourful candies are arranged spectacularly and the way meat or fish is presented can only be described as very off-beat, I’ll spare you the photos. You’ll find the best best best (!) burger at Kiosko at the Marquès de L’Argentera. The place is a mix of a large living room and an American diner. Add a beautiful burger with local Catalan cheese to that picture and you’ll be one happy traveller.

Now we come to the long list of hipsteresque cafés that my friend handed to me. There is Cosmo, which quickly became my favorite, its walls are covered in eccentric and unique art works, tables are decorated with dried flowers and somehow my journal was nearly filled by the end of that visit. So you could say it’s quite an inspiring environment. There’s Babelia, a mixture of a second-hand book store and a tearoom (needless to say I was hooked), Lukumas in the coolest neighbourhood called Gracia with homemade donuts and a bit of Scandinavian-style furniture. No, not Ikea, the good stuff.

And then there are all the ice cream places, the tapas restaurants and the juice bars that are equally great and add to that spring feeling that we seem to miss out on in the rest of Europe…

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