Over the last couple of years my photography friends and I are going on weekend trips to Berlin. It all started with the Festival of Lights we wanted to visit in October ’13. Even though it rained cats and dogs, we got hooked and needed to see more of this amazing and versatile city.
Traveling to and in Berlin
There are several ways to travel to Berlin, most people will get there by plane. As we travel from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, with a distance of 600km ‘immer gerade aus’ on the famous fast Deutsche Autobahn, it is best for us to go by car. With a group it is equally or less expensive than flying or going by train. It is also faster, because there is no check-in-time and travel-time to and from the airport. On top of that you can take an unlimited amount of gear with you (Although some of us challenged that fact this time around 😉 ).
When in Berlin it is best to travel by U-Bahn, it is very fast. Your car comes in handy if you want to visit the outskirts of Berlin for some amazing urbex spots (worth another blog). We always stay in the Generator Hostel Prenzlauer Berg, because it has free parking and a subway-station next door. A Bahn ticket only costs €6.90 a day and there are several deals for tourists for 1-5 days that combines discount to musea and attractions, they even provide discount for group traveling. When traveling the underground you can find amazing spots to photograph on your way!
There are some must-see spots that you can’t miss on your trip to Berlin even though they are the touristic kind. We tend to go a to one or two every visit. Thus far we went to Brandenburger Tor, East side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie. Just like on The Wall at East side Gallery, you can find street-art all around Berlin. There is something to see around every corner.
Places to go
For me the best way to capture a city is to just walk around town with a couple of spots in mind and leave the rest to serendipity. On our tour we first went to Krematorium Berlin, a wonderful architectural site (that is only open on weekdays and costs €2 to enter, tripods not allowed). The park and old cemetery around it is lovely in autumn.
In summertime the old Airport Tempelhof is the place to be with all kinds of festivals and activities. But even off-season there is a lot to see. In the weekends Berliners go here for a run, a walk, to kite or play around with drones and airplanes. There are coffee and foodstands on the plot.
I am always looking for the creative hotspots in a city, right now Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is such a place. In and around Markthalle Neun is perfect to do some street photography and have a drink and some street-food while you are there.
After a day full of photography, it is great to sit down for dinner in or around the art nouveau architecture of Hackesche Höfe (Mitte) and visit the Lumas photography gallery. I haven’t been in the buildings yet, but word goes that the architecture is very pretty and that there is a lovely spiral staircase in Rosenhöfe. Most off al it is just a nice atmosphere in this area.
When you have time on a Sunday morning the many antique markets are a great place to photograph and to score some vintage photo-gear.
Even in another city you can orchestrate some of your shoots. My photography friends asked our friend, a model of Urban Photo Collective, to come with us to Berlin. On Sunday we had a shoot with a rented Trabant in front of the landmarks Brandenburger Tor and Siegerssäule. It is a lot fun to do a model shoot in crowded area’s. Within moments out of nowhere we had a group of photographers around us to shoot with us.
Want to go…
Every visit makes me to want to see more and there are some spots on my wishlist. Next time around I really like to visit the Museum für Fotografie. Hope this blog has a lot of inspiration for your next visit and if you have any tips for other photographers, leave them in the comments!