When we first read about the Alternative Berlin twilight tour we were very interested but because of the amount of mystery we were both reluctant and further intrigued but in the end we were both so glad that we decided to take a plunge in to the dark!
The meeting place at the Alexander platz was really easy to find, as was Liam our guide (this was some time ago, so he may not be there any more). Don’t arrive at the meeting place mega early though! When we got there, they had a market on in wooden buildings with some beer tents as well, and it seems like such events happen here periodically… Whilst the market looked gorgeous and there was a lot of good food here! Including some guys with bratwurst grills strapped to their front and a gas canister to their back… Although if you ask me the thought of having sausages cooked underneath their neck sweat drip zone and right next to their crotch isn’t my idea of an ideal snack!
Other than this the shopping in the area is nothing special and certainly nothing you couldn’t find or see anywhere else in Germany but I would certainly pass by to see what is going on. It also has the television tower there which looked impressive but was expensive with a long wait so we didn’t bother with that… Mind you the meeting place for our tour was underneath this landmark.
Liam originally came from Australia but you could tell that he was very passionate about his new adopted home and its people & culture… Best of all it meant that his English was spot on!
We started with a train ride to an abandoned factory on the outskirts of the city where we saw some amazing street art in a spectacular location… It was both creepy and strangely beautiful… Even though we came across a few other people and there are no lights etc, knowing that Liam knows what he is doing and seeing how confident he was the whole tour felt very safe. This was our for foray in to the world of Urban Exploring (Urbex) and whilst it was very exciting I must say we’ve not had much more experience of it since then – As a keen photographer abandoned buildings have a huge draw but I must admit I always worry about the legal side of it, as it can be a gray area with some buildings, especially if you don’t know who owns it.
There was a lot of great art to see around the city and Liam made sure to talk about and point out some of the more interesting or special pieces… As the tour went on we were feeling very slightly disappointed that it looked like the monster kabinett was going to be missed out, especially as we didn’t go before hand thinking that we would go to it on this tour…
However we understand that any tour can always change, especially with this kind of tour, and to be honest Liam made a great call! The monster kabinett will most probably still be there next time we come to Berlin, however he instead took us to a street art exhibition in the Tacheles building which was there for one night only.
This exhibition was brilliant and we really enjoyed it… I think it worked out better than if we had gone to the Monster Kabinett.
Furthermore I feel very privileged that we managed to see this exhibition, as it was designed as a way for the artists which had squatted here over the years to show off what they made during this period. The reason for this is that just a couple of days later it was due to be demolished by the new owners of the building (who actually helped to put together this exhibit) to make way for a new development.
The tour ends at a bar, but this is no ordinary bar. It’s what many describe as a hackers lair, and we were told before going in not to spend too much time looking over people’s shoulders at their laptop screens. What they do in there isn’t necessarily illegal but apparently they can get quite protective over their work. It’s essentially a “geek bar”, and don’t take that as something negative. They’re people I can relate to thanks to my musical tastes, love for computer games & sci-fi shows as well as the internet – hell I run a blog!
It’s got a nice atmosphere if you’re the right person for the bar – it’s certainly not for everyone though as you can see from their website here.
All in all this Alternative Berlin tour was absolutely brilliant and if you check out the Alternative Berlin website you can see they do quite a variety of tours and classes) and Liam did a great job, I would definately recommend it to anyone… it was one of the best things we did in Berlin, and of course between all of the other things which are mentioned above, the routes which we took between these places took advantage of some of Berlins most amazing street art – a part of the tour which is no doubt going to continue to change constantly as the art does!