You live in a four star hotel for three weeks with loads of friends and everything’s taken care of. You stay one day in a hastily booked hostel and it all comes apart. After a disastrous morning of practicality gone wrong, I finally get out into a decidedly miserable afternoon. From Alexanderplatz, tramming it to the northern reaches of Prenzlauer Berg, my roaming in search of some cool café was cut short by something I realised I hadn’t seen in years – a continued session of rain, strong and hard for a long time. As far as I can tell, there’s no drought in this country.
Stumbling across the Kulturebreweri, site of my gig here with Sophie Solomon in May 05, I picked up a nice little booklet which told me in English all about the neighbourhood, and so my afternoon was taken with revolving between the two squares of the area. The first I came across, Kolliwitzplatz, was billed as the more affluent, with an incredible market down one side. Wending my way through picture perfect period apartment buildings, I found the other, Helmholtzplatz, billed as the less affluent, to be more to my liking. This particular area, once on the borders of the city (a nearby park held Berlin’s first water tower), had a varied history as housing to the wave of immigration from the countryside during the Industrial Revolution. Narrowly escaping total demolition during the GDR, the area was now the hippest café scene in town, populated largely by the young and their families. Pulling up in one particular darkened cushioned place, my hunt for the best coffee remained unfulfilled.