The second most often asked question by tourists (right after “how do I get into Berghain”) is usually “what souvenir can I bring back home”?
I was going back home to visit my parents, and I tried to think of something I could bring them from Berlin. Honestly? All I could think of was a mixed box of Dunkin’ Donuts (Berlin used to be the only place in Germany where you could get them, so this stuck around as perfect souvenir for the peasants in the rest of the country). I’m not saying they weren’t happy about it. I’m just saying that, after seven years of Dunkin Donuts, it’s time I stepped up my game. So I sat down and thought about exclusively cool Berlin things and products that would be great to bring back home, either for one’s own memory box, or as gifts for people who are deserving. Goodbye, Fernsehturm-Lighters and Currywurst-Paraphernalia!
Five Elephant Roasted Coffee
Five Elephant is a great little coffee place in a far off corner of Reichenberger Straße, located between Görlitzer Park and Landwehrkanal. Almost all of the good coffee places in Berlin order their beans from 5E’s wholesale. I am always over-excited to buy their beans for my own coffee at home. The design is sleek and the roast is definitely special. Oh and, if you happen to be there anyway, do try the Banana bread. It’s the best thing that ever happened.
Geza Schön Perfumes
Geza Schön’s “Molecule 01” haunted me for years in Berlin clubs before I finally knew what it was. Every time a very well dressed gay person passed by, the amazing smell would mesmerize me. Let me tell you: Berlin doesn’t need yet another person to wear it, especially not in dark Techno clubs. But you’ll be a true superstar if you bring this back to someone who can appreciate a good scent. His other perfumes, namely “Kinski” or the Biehl collection, are also worth checking out if you’re looking for more diversity (you can get his most popular editions and works at KaDeWe).
Fresh Sunflower Seeds & Mixed Nuts
Kreuzberg and Neukölln wouldn’t be the same without the random explosions of sunflower seed traces on the ground every couple of meters. That’s Berlin’s Middle-Eastern heritage at work. If you’re looking for an honest #tbt when you’re back in home, you should grab a freshly roasted pack on Oranienstraße and put it in your suitcase.
You don’t have to see a show at Volksbühne to appreciate their lust- and colorful CI. There have even been exhibitions solely dedicated to the posters and merchandise they’ve provided over the years. Walking down the streets of Berlin usually yields a couple of interested looks at the poster plastered walls, and the Volksbühne aesthetics always stand out. If you do happen to pass by the Volksbühne, you can actually grab even more, like those matchstick boxes currently in circulation. (or, if you’re a daredevil, rip off a poster). Read more about the Volksbühne branding and logo here.
The latest issue of 032c
The “Best Magazine in the World” (as of 2007) – 032c – was born & raised in Berlin. Every concept store from here to Charlottenburg sells copies of it. It’s known for it’s red cover and, more importantly, for the in-depth articles on everything Art, Culture, Urbanology, Fashion, Literature and Architecture. Grabbing the latest issue can be combined with a trip to a book store like Do You Read Me?, where other treasures in print might await.
Pictures from the Photo Booths
They are now abundant all around the world, I assume (I’ve seen them in other places in Germany and Europe): the legendary Berlin photo booths. They print black and white picture stripes and used to be the ultimate cool Berlin thing to do. Those pictures with your Berlin friends, hook-ups and random encounters will be your most romantic way to reminisce about the wild nights you had here (I use my strips as bookmarks, and yes, I have bedding that looks like a pool and it’s awesome). Here’s a map on where to find the Photoautomaten.
Pueblo Tobacco & Rollies
Most Berliners like to smoke, and it’s still (or again, nobody really knows) allowed in most bars here. If you want to remember the sweet stink of your night out, you should grab a pack of Pueblo Tobacco, one of the most popular brands to roll (as far as I have empirically witnessed). That’s cause apparently Pueblo is as organic as it gets when it comes to quick cancer, and super cheap compared to other brands (and if you’re not groaning “oh God, that’s so Berlin” right now, then you’re doing it wrong). Most of my friends actually pack their suitcases full of Pueblo when they go on holidays, because smoking anything else just doesn’t cut it.
A Techno Record
If you’ve got musically inclined friends back home, or you want to remember your trip to Berlins nightlife scene, then you should consider buying a Techno record from one of the iconic record labels that are based in Berlin. My favorite is Dystopian, but you can combine your shopping experience easily with a trip to Hardwax or other famous record stores in Berlin.
Merchandise of Berlins local heroes
I love Prisma Pavillon, the ordinary pizza place on Kottbusser Damm, and got their fantastically designed t-shirt right from there! That’s just an idea – almost everybody has something you can grab on the go. You could also get a KaDeWe tote bag, or a wifebeater sold in Neuköllns notorious tattoo studio Aka Aka.