Staycation: Schöneberg

Schöneberg is a blank spot on the map for me, so Fousieh took me out on an autumn walk through one of her favorite districts of Berlin. The weather was grumpy and the mood was eerie, just like Schöneberg kinda is.
10 Nov ’15 by Sara Street Life

It was a bleak, uniformly hungover afternoon, at least 4 degrees colder than now and with even less sun to be seen. The unseasonably shitty rain-weather wasn’t particularly inviting for a walk through Schöneberg, but Fousieh and I couldn’t be deterred from our mission. Fousieh loves Schöneberg and secretly – well, not so secretly anymore – wants to move there at some point. I wanted to see why and made a map of the different Kiezes and areas I wanted to visit.

First things first: I did NOT make the whole map. And I did feel like a tourist during the walk, much more than while we were in Charlottenburg for the last episode of the Staycation series. Schöneberg is intense, and there are certainly many historical angles from which to look at this special part of Berlin. But I’ve bored you with text before, so here’s just the photo-story with “relevant” captions.

In this weather – with storms brewing – we felt like taking the M29 from Kreuzberg to the head of Schöneberg, right at Potsdamer Straße, where the Neue Nationalgalerie is.

I mentioned it was grey and low but autumn is peaking with crazy colors, so that was bliss.

After having suffered a bad rep for many years, Potsdamer Straße is becoming the new high street for galleries and fashion labels.

“Fine Urban Living” in one of the ugliest and loudest areas of the city – turning shit to gold, gentrification-style?

I could definitely look up what used to be behind these doors, but I find it much more intriguing to guess. I am hoping there’s a secret club that I don’t know anything about (yet).

The Wintergarten is a varieté. The first time I came to Berlin was in 2004 with my mother, who took me there. It was weirdly entertaining, to be honest.

As I said, Potsdamer Straße is becoming the new High Street. I guess the crude mix of cheap rent and grimy neighborhoods attracted the galleries in the first place; but also it’s still close to Mitte AND Kreuzberg, so there are many factors which come into play with this transformation.

Of course we ventured into courtyards, too.

… which are also not free of construction works. It’s crazy, everything is being rebuilt in Berlin right now. Made pretty for the coming investors.

MOVE FAST AND GET SHIT DONE. A courtyard gallery of sorts.

In the middle of the street, the galleries seem to end and the little exotic shops start. This Middle Eastern store was my favorite.

The almost symbolic LSD “erotic and sex store” stands for a Potsdamer Straße (and Schöneberg in general) that used to be. If you turn right on Kurfürstenstraße here, you will still see prostitutes lining up the streets, day and night. This has been a “Strich” since the 60s.

Kurfürstenstraße is also home to the “flagship” of the legendary Einstein cafés of Berlin.

We decided to take a little break inside. I didn’t think it was very spectacular and the service was meh and we paid like 10 bucks for coffee and espresso, so yeah, whatever.

We moved on to Nollendorfplatz. This is where the actual Schöneberg begins. It’s “gay” Schöneberg. Very male gay Schöneberg. If you’ve ever been to the legendary Motzfest, a gay neighborhood festival, you’ll have seen it.

But even on any given Saturday, the retail stores are full with fetish gear and fashion. We were super intrigued.

Fou was particularly delighted *lol* Just joking, in fact we were both planning our next “Halloween costumes”.

Everything’s pretty dedicated to the rainbow. We loved that.

But it’s definitely not the prettiest neighborhood. It wasn’t as lively as the Canal in Kreuzberg or anywhere in Mitte. Many, many ‘normal’ looking all-male couples (as opposed to young and super fashionable) crossed our paths though, and that’s something that we don’t see all the time.

Kinda sums it up.

Kinda sums it up, pt. II.

“hetero-friendly” lol that picture on this bars front is just brilliant

Okay, so there were SO MANY BARS like this. I don’t know if they had darkrooms in the back or if they were regular bars, but I promised myself I’d wear my fake moustache and then go back by night one day.

GEAR, our favorite store, invites you in a friendly and stylish sneaker-outfit fashion retail demeanor, but with every room further into the shop, the products become more intimidating.

But the guys in the shop were super cute and sweet and explained every detail in use and fabric to us. We were initially scared that as women, we’d be thrown out.

Another speakeasy.

And gentrification defense on the roll, even here. I thought Schöneberg was already done with that. But maybe it isn’t.

Told you – the gay theme is really played well in all of the adjoining streets of Motz. The whole Kiez around Winterfeldplatz, really.

On our way to my darling Korean IXTHYS

The walls are full with bible verses, handwritten, and the joint is run by two older Korean women. It’s almost a legend now in Berlin, because the Bibimbap is extraordinary……….

Steam from my hot Bibimbap that just wouldn’t cool down. Burnt my tongue to ashes.

And there it is, my precious.

For whatever reason, none of my pictures turned out sharp and I only realized this halfway through post. Well. Fuck.

After IXTHYS, we went on to Pallasstraße. There’s one brutalist building that you will have noticed if ever passing by: it is built on top of a former shelter bunker. This is one of the entrances.

There’s a construction fence surrounding the bunker, so we couldn’t get close. Grr.

The brutal housing I was referring to was also once used for some sort of sattelite dish exhibition. I couldn’t get a good angle, though.

I did appreciate all those beautiful colors, though. At least something to distract from the unicolored sky. It made us feel like time stood still. No change in light and temperature really does that.


Our aim was to take a better picture of the bunker, so we had to go around Pallasstraße and find a way to the back of the building. It wasn’t so easy. But eventually we just went through the Kleistpark. I’d never been there in my life before.

Finally, the bunker and building that was built on top of it.

We had to take the pictures from the playground and adjoining sports court. So theres that. And of course my pictures sucked.

Beautifou <3

I am going to be so sad when all the leaves turn brown and are covered by snow.

Kleistpark and a wall that I want to use as canvas.

Leftovers of a construction buff

A crazy modern building that turned out to be a Kindergarten.

And then my batteries died and it turned dark and we were cold and we didn’t know where to go and we didn’t want to spend anymore time in Schöneberg. I don’t know about Fousieh, but I wasn’t keen. I mean I loved gayberg, but it was so male dominated (visually and also mentally) that I felt uncomfortable. Of course, we only saw little parts of Schöneberg, so there’s more to discover soon. But right there and then, unlike Charlottenburg, I was just happy to leave with some impressions of what Berlin-West can look like on any given grey Saturday.

Where should we go next?

Two comments

  1. M O A B I T – where berlin still looks like how berlin suppose to look like…oder so ähnlich.

  2. Potsdam.