This is my favorite part of the year: I get to wear extra-layers of clothes without anybody judging me for being a pansy. Uniform grey skies, uniform grey grounds, muffled footsteps and the lack of traffic are the perfect set up for an extensive Spaziergang through the fresh snow.
Last year, I took a walk through Kreuzberg. This year, I headed through Neukölln in order to enjoy this extraordinary feeling that only snow can provide for the city.
Notes of Neukölln: Snow Edition
What really caught my attention the most on this (famously German) Sonntagsspaziergang was the amount of messages Neuköllners like to leave in the snow.
Judging by the content of these ‘mysterious urban notes’, dicks seem to be the most popular signs of communication. In this article, you will see the crème de la crème of what I found.
Landwehrkanal & ESTREL Hotel
While taking those walks, I always remember how big Berlin is. According to that movement app on my phone, we walked 12 kilometers. Starting at the Landwehrkanal (where the Bouleplatz Kreuzberg is), walking on the Treptow side to S-Bahnhof Sonnenallee.
We also made a quick tour of the largest hotel in
Berlin – pardon, the largest hotel in the whole of Germany – the Estrel Hotel. It’s quite impressive and reminds me more of a congress center rather than a hotel, but from what we saw on the inside, I can’t possibly imagine why a hotel of this size should ever be located in Neukölln.
Don’t get me wrong: I am thoroughly impressed. I watched a Spiegel TV documentary about Estrel on Christmas. They have their own musicals and theater plays in the hotel (Stars in Concert, according to Wikipedia, was visited by more than 5 million guests up til 2015). I am continuously fascinated by this type of tourism. It’s very, very foreign to me.
That being said, Estrel Hotel is also a business hotel for – you guessed it – various congresses. So I suppose it’s a good alternative to the (geographic) West of Berlin if your guests fly into Schönefeld.
Apparently, Estrel is not even a finished project yet – by 2021, a hotel tower will be inaugurated on the other side of the river.
This is not Hawaii
I’m rarely in this part of Neukölln. Most of you probably know it from trips to the Grießmühle Club or because you take the S-Bahn regularly from here. But I’ve only ever known the side that leads back to Kreuzberg, and I rarely cross over Sonnenallee. I am quite intrigued by the old Rixdorf quarters of Neukölln.
Since we’d already been walking for a while, we starting looking out for a place to enjoy a hot tea. From Sonnenallee, it seemed likely we would end up at Geschwister Nothaft.
It’s a cozy little café with a college vibe, and probably one of the last places in Neukölln that still feels like a ramshackle of mix and match furniture and non-design.
Hallmann & Klee
But we continued down the road instead and found another place – and quite the opposite of non-design: Hallmann & Klee, a café / restaurant owned by two female chefs who have brought a very unexpected concept to this part of Neukölln. I was already completely smitten by the all-female, all-friendly staff.
I always thought that the fancy, conceptual dining streak had stopped at the height of Industry Standard on Sonnenallee. Nope! Hallmann & Klee extended the foodie’s Neukölln to Rixdorf (cue the “hipsters, gentrification!” pitchforks – but y’all secretly want a piece of that goddamn amazing cake too).
It’s playing exactly by the contemporary “casual urban mid-budget dining” aesthetic playbook, for which we have yet to coin a more handy term: wooden tables, decor succulents, open kitchen, concrete counter (If they had Avocado on Toast, I’d totally go with the Airspace category). After reading the reviews of others, I absolutely have to return to Hallmann & Klee for their evening menu. We only tried the cakes. Although “cake” is the wrong word; I mean to say gorgeous pastries.
Well, it turns out one of the owners is a pastry chef, so it makes sense.
Hallmann & Klee is may be one of those place that would drown among the competition of Mitte, but absolutely stands out in this part of Neukölln.
That being said, I still don’t understand why it’s so hard to have filter coffee. Not the rocket science type of filter coffee which has to be ceremonially poured while performing a religious dance. Standard filter coffee. Is that so much to ask for?
Dick drawings and Tempelhof
Our initial plan was to visit the ice rink on Tempelhof, but when we arrived, we were already too late: it closes on Sunday at 5pm! We were a little bit disappointed, as this had been a fundamental part of our Sunday Spaziergang plan. On second thought, we considered it good luck: after all, it was still cold.
We continued our march through the beauty that is Tempelhof, all in white. On our way, I kept collecting these little snow signatures and signs of urban communication (aka dick drawings).
We also found an angry snow man before we capitulated and finally headed home. In light of all the dick drawings, the Pimmelmann graffiti was another phallic sign on my way.
What is this weird, anonymous and obviously culturally inherited performative obsession with the communication of dicks? What is God trying to tell us?
Our Spaziergang experience of those snow notes all culminated in one final drawing. I guess it is what it is: dicks & cars go hand in hand.