For the first time ever, I’ve come to Berlin and didn’t even venture into former West Berlin. The energy is in the eastern part of the city…and the best evening and eating scene is in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.
“Der Berg,” as Berliners call it, was largely untouched during World War II, but its buildings — giant Industrial Age workers’ flats — slowly rotted away under the communists. Then, after The Wall fell, it was overrun first by artists and anarchists, and then by laid-back hipsters, energetic young families, and clever entrepreneurs who breathed life back into its classic old apartment blocks, deserted factories, and long-forgotten breweries.
Years of rent control kept things affordable for its bohemian residents. But now landlords are free to charge what the market will bear, and the vibe is changing. This is ground zero for Berlin’s baby boom: Tattooed and pierced young moms and dads, who’ve joined the modern rat race without giving up their alternative flair, push their youngsters in designer strollers past trendy boutiques and restaurants. Most visitors find themselves eating and sleeping in this part of the city…and for good reason.
Here’s a little clip capturing today’s energy in Prenzlauer Berg.