EXCLUSIVE | Three Gay Days: Berlin Part Two
By Joe Okonkwo | AN OUTTRAVELER.COM EXCLUSIVE
Day One: Catch the Buzz
No matter where you are in Berlin, you're only a few steps from a neighborhood pastry shop. There's probably one in the city's graveyard so departing souls can have one last strudel and some eye-popping espresso before meeting St. Peter. You'll need plenty of caffeine to handle the fast-paced excitement of Berlin. So slap on your sensible flats, grab a little something at that pastry shop and hit the pavement -- this is a huge city and you've got a lot of ground to cover.
Berlin's excellent U-bahn system is a fast and efficient way to see this immense metropolis (stations are marked by a big "U"). For your three days here, buy a 72-hour WelcomeCard pass for only EUR 21; not only will you get unlimited public transit rides, you'll get significant discounts at museums, theaters and other attractions.
Start at the Brandenburg Gate, proud symbol of the city's rich history found at the eastern edge of the Tiergarten. Another must-see in the area is the stunning Reichstag, the glass-domed home of Germany's parliament. Stroll east on the lovely Unter den Linden Boulevard, chock-full of buildings left over from the Prussian Empire, as well as modern embassies. Stop and contemplate the sights and sample another sweet treat. Nowhere in Berlin serves better apple strudel than Cafe Einstein (Unter den Linden 42; +49-30-204-3632). Apfelstrudel a la Einstein comes smothered in delicious warm vanilla sauce. Savory options are plentiful, as they also serve breakfast till after noon. Intense students, high fashion femmes and artistic gay clusters spill over tables in this stately and stylish old style coffeehouse. Humboldt University (named after the gay geographer) is along the expansive avenue, as are the Palace of the Republic and the German Historical Museum (Unter den Linden 2; +49-30-203-040).
All that casual strolling makes one famished, so head for Mitte's Monsieur Vuong (46 Alte Schonhauser Strasse; +49-30-3087-2643; EUR 8-12), which attracts hipsters for its excellent and affordable Vietnamese dishes and buzzing, energetic atmosphere in the Mitte district.
On and around Schonhauser Allee, the main drag through Prenzlauer Berg, you'll find plenty of shops and other attractions of interest to gays and lesbians. Another popular shopping area is Wilmersdorfer Strasse in the Charlottenburg district.
Conveniently close to Kreuzberg's nightlife is intriguing -- or perhaps perplexing -- dinner option Abendmahl (Muskauer Strasse 9, Kreuzberg; +49-30-612-5170; EUR 10-18 ), which translates as "Last Supper." Providing imaginative vegetarian and fish concoctions in a kitschy religious atmosphere, the menu is laden with madly monikered meals such as the vegetarian Kissing Like a Wild Dog (saitan) and News From the Moon (trick chicken and shiitake in mango chili). Desserts include a Transvestite Dessert and a chocolate and rum fruit ashtray. One of either the most amusing, or most insane, restaurants in the city.
Tonight is your first night in Berlin, so you might as well stay out as late as possible (not a problem in Berlin, where nightlife typically starts late). Kreuzberg's Oranienstrasse is one of the city's main gay drags. Pop your head into Roses (87 Oranienstrasse; +49-30-615-6570) and your eyes will pull the rest of your body inside. The fake fur-lined walls and ceiling and the kitsch interior of this Kreuzberg institution attract a mixed male/female crowd of chatty, friendly folks most nights of the week. Just a few doors down, SO36 (190 Oranienstrasse; +49-30-6140-1306) is a lively, funky, super-fun dance club that is popular on the weekends, and is famous for its gay Turkish dance nights, where straights, gays and drag queens alike belly dance the night away to Arab rhythms.