On any warm Berlin evening Simon-Dach-Straße buzzes with tens of thousands of people, its diners and drinkers spilling across the pavements of Wühlischstraße and Boxhagener Platz, revelling in the good life, happy to be in one of the trendiest corners of Europe.
Friedrichshain is home to the world’s largest open-air gallery and many of its smallest, most intimate clubs. Along Simon-Dach-Strasse partypeople trip from fondue restaurant to Thai cocktail bars, chatting with strangers, gazing into shops called Cupcakes and Trash-Schick. A visitor’s greatest challenge is deciding what time of day or night to visit; in the morning for a Canadian brunch with Aunt Benny, afternoon kaffee-und-kuchen at Kuchenrausch, evening bar-hopping along Krossener Straße, or very-late-night (i.e. around dawn) clubbing at Berghain? The choice is yours.
Saturday (and Sunday) in Boxhagener Platz
Berlin has as many local markets as neighbourhoods and on weekend mornings locals and visitors alike lick, taste and smell in the open air from Kollwitzplatz to Pestalozzistrasse and Winterfeldtplatz. In Friedrichshain the best known – and most popular – market is on Boxhagener Platz. On Saturdays the focus is on food. Sunday morning brings the antique dealers, vinyl collectors, jewellers and drop-dead-groovy clothing stalls.
To join the party catch the S-Bahn to Warschauer Strasse (or the U1 to Schlesisches Tor if you want to start with a walk over the elaborate Oberbaumbrücke and the Spree). Head north, enjoying the sight of spent-clubbers heading home after a night tripping the light fantastic. Turn right – or eastwards – into Revalerstrasse, glide by the RAW-Tempel, a warehouse-cum-arts-centre and – depending on the time – enjoy the heavy techno beat rising from the Cassiopeia club. Turn right at Simon-Dach-Strasse and drift towards Boxhagener Platz. You don’t need me to suggest a place to stop for your second -- or third -- coffee, the choice is huge, but my favourite spot is Café Szimpla, a Hungarian jewel at Gärtnerstrasse 15 with fine coffee, evening music and the occasional share ‘n’ show artist night.
Enjoy, indulge and -- if you can ever motivate yourself to leave -- wander northwest to Frankfurter Tor (U5) and gawk at the twin Stalinist towers on Karl-Marx-Allee, part of East Germany’s monumental socialist boulevard built after World War Two.