Daily Archives: 27 March 2014

On Tour with Visit Berlin and Taiwanese media and tour operators

Visit Berlin does an amazing job of exporting Berlin as a premier tourism destination all around the world. Berlinagenten partners with Visit Berlin when it comes to showing both journalists and travel industry professionals, the very best that Berlin’s gourmet scene has to offer with our famous Gastro Rallye’s.

Visit Berlin, in association with the Taiwanese office of the DB Bahn were hosting 10 of Taiwan’s top media and tourist industry professionals. The group had been travelling around Germany for a week by train. Now it was a chance to see Berlin! Berlinagenten curated a programme that showcased Berlin’s amazing culinary scene at the city’s finest restaurants.

On board for the tour was Visit Berlin’s Joyce Olivia Bernitt, who organises the programmes for incoming tour operators and Claudia Sult from the Visit Berlin Press Office.

After being picked up by a luxury bus, we started our tour at Volt, where head Chef Matthias Gleiß interprets traditional Berlin dishes and German classics into a gourmet’s delight. Next, it was onto new French hotspot Restaurant Richard for our main course before we had dessert at the trendy Sage restaurant. By the end of the night, eight out of our ten guests had fully embraced the Berlin spirit and were last seen heading into Tresor Night Club, despite having an early morning flight home! Our mission was complete!

Photos: Lollie Barr & Steven Hsu

The Scene meets Eins 44

Something is stirring in deepest, darkest Neukölln. Better known for its kebab houses than an innovative food scene, things are certain to change with the launch of the brand new restaurant Eins 44 Kantine.

Tucked away in an art deco courtyard, you would never know this place existed. Yet after Berlinagenten tested out the menu, it’s guaranteed Berliners will be heading west and hitting the backstreets of Neukölln in the hope of seeking it out. Restaurant manager Jonathan Kartenberg and head chef Sebastian Radtke, were formerly at another one of favourite restaurants, Mani. The cuisine grounds itself in French basics, yet the exciting young team have updated it and then infused it with international flavours to create something brand new.

For a new restaurant, we were impressed by the ambiance that makes this place feel like a familiar cozy neighbourhood eatery, but all the while being highly stylised. The two story building was originally a distillery, so there is a spacious modern, post industrial feel. Its original tiled walls, ceiling and impressive bar, acquired vintage lamps, wooden tables and chairs that date back 30 years combine together to create a very lived-in, cool atmosphere. Being Berlin, naturally smokers are accommodated in the form of smokers’ room, which features a massive wooden table on a turbine engine. 

We were certainly impressed by the food. To get our mouths watering, we started out with a gift from the kitchen, a dainty yet delicious mini Pork Belly Burger. First course, we decided on a delicious light crusted Golden Trout with granny smith apple and radish salad, along with a tender Beef Carpaccio with asparagus, grapefruit and a hint of coriander. For the main course, it was a speciality French pork done two ways, with a delightful cauliflower puree, and we also shared a perfectly grilled piece of prime entrecôte with potatoes and beans. Heaven arrived in the form of a 70% percent chocolate brownie cake with rosemary pineapple, mint and strawberry coulis for dessert.

Now for the very good news, despite the quality and the ambience, Eins 44 is very reasonably priced. A three course meal costs 33 euros, four courses is 42 euros and five courses just 51 euros. Or you can buy individual courses. It is complimented with a fine French and German wine list.

Eins 44 is definitely buzzing on our new Berlin restaurant radar! We honestly can’t wait to return.

Insider … Rolf Scheider

He’s a very familiar face on German television with over 100 television shows, including Dancing with the Stars and Germany’s Top Model, under his belt in the last six years. Rolf Scheider invited Berlinagenten to his beautiful new Mitte penthouse apartment to get the inside scoop on Berlin, the social scene and Heidi Klum!

Welcome Rolf. Wow! Beautiful apartment you have here. How long have you been here?

Just two months! I’m in the middle of getting everything ready, as I’m appearing on the German television programme. You’ve should have seen it before! There were cartons everywhere! I moved to Berlin four years ago after living in Paris for years. I’d always spent a lot of time in Berlin, but now was the right time to move here. I feel very comfortable living in Berlin.

So prior to your TV career, you were a casting agent? 

I still am! I’ve been in the casting business for 35 years. My company has offices around the world - Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, and Milan. We’ve cast for over 4000 campaigns across the world. 

How did you end a celebrity then? 

I’m not a celebrity really, darling!  If it was A to Z, I’m like X! When I was 50-years-old, a friend of mine told me that they were launching Germany’s Top Model and looking for judges. I’d been a model years ago, but hadn’t been in front of the camera for 20 years. She kept pestering me to go to the casting. Instead, I made a video of myself and then the day they received it, I was whisked off to the production office to audition and then I was cast. At the time, I didn’t know I’d even have to speak!

The show was a cultural phenomenon here in Germany. How did it your change your life?

It changed my life completely! It was like living in a bubble for two years. It’s easy to lose touch with reality. I got to travel all over the world from Singapore to Australia to Hawaii to Miami. People are very friendly and come and say hello, which is good for your ego, but naturally it was very strange to be on the U-bahn and suddenly be surrounded by people wanting to take your photo and post it like a trophy to Facebook! However, I just have to remove my glasses and nobody recognises me! It’s easy! On the negative side, my long established clients in Germany would think that I wasn’t in the casting business anymore. They’d seen in Australia on the television the night before and not realise it was shot months before. 

We often see you in the social pages on Berlin’s red carpet events. How do you have the stamina! 

For the first three years, I used to go out all the time. I felt like I had to go to every event, but I’m much more selective now. I get so many invitations that I could go to two events every night. I go out because I really like people. I like seeing my friends and experiencing new things and people. Berlin is a great city to go out in. 

Where do you go to relax?

I don’t relax. I don’t like to relax!  I think of television as my hobby. I was a judge on Austria’s Top Model. It was like getting treated like a star for seven weeks, which is very relaxing!  My normal day isn’t like this, so I really enjoyed it. I was put up in a suite in a beautiful hotel. I even had a chauffeur. My life partner lives in Paris and I find it a really relaxing city. I have my apartment there, so we go to the cinema, French restaurants and we also have a week in Brittany in the summer.

What is your favourite restaurant in Berlin?

I love a little restaurant in my neighbourhood called Der Hahn Ist Tot.  It’s great value at 20 euros for four courses and the people that run it are very friendly. I also frequent Borchardt and Grill Royal.

Where can we catch you having a drink? 

The terrace by the pool at Soho House in the summer or at the Paris Bar, which reminds me of being in Paris!

Sounds lovely, we’ll check it out. Thanks for your time Rolf. Kisses! 

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On the red carpet … Henrik’s world

March saw ITB – The World’s Leading Travel Trade Show in Berlin, which brought 114.000 trade visitors from every corner of the planet to the city. That means a couple of things. Lots of networking and the most amazing parties! The travel industry knows how put on the most spectacular, creative events. Naturally Berlinagenten was hogging the limelight on the red carpet and creating a scene.

Travel & Leisure: The IT List Cocktail event

Everyone wanted to be on the guest list for this party, hosted by Travel and Leisure. It was held at the luxurious high-end boutique hotel Das Stue in Tiergarten, which is listed in the prestigious Design Hotels catalogue. The party was to launch Travel & Leisure’s roundup of the 70 best new hotels in the world! It was red carpet all the way – as hotel owners & managers, marketing/media people, top journalists, creatives, high-end travel agencies, international networkers, glitterati people from the US and partners of Design Hotels drank Das Stue’s superb cocktails and feasted on a buffet created by Catalan superstar chef Paco Pérez, whose restaurant Cinco resides in the hotel.

LGBT’s Party

Berlin is one of the most gay friendly cities in the world, which means it’s a haven for LGBT tourists. We love our gays, as they make this city the creative metropolis that it is today. The city loves gays as well, and the pink Euro is especially welcomed in Berlin. Berlinagenten also offers a fabulous Queer Tour, which plugs you directly into the scene.

Over invited 350 guests were to celebrate the success of the LGBT Travel Pavilion at the ITB. Sponsored by Visit Florida, this year party was held on the roof top of Golden Tulip Hotel, which has a fabulous panoramic view over Berlin! Guests included travel industry professional, travel partners, tour operators, LGBT related companies, and sponsors Tomontour, who offer tips and advice for the Gay & Lesbian scene.

The famous Dj SuperZandy was on the decks playing bouncy house music. There were half naked go-go dancers, muscle men, and hysterical drag queens. One of the drag queen idols was glamorous blonde sex bomb Mataina, who represents the Vienna Gay travel scene. She was offering personalized photo sessions. Naturally Berlinagenten couldn’t resist getting in on the act. After such a riotous night, It came as no surprise to learn that this party was voted TOP ITB Party 2014 by Germany’s industry magazine FVW!

For further pictures check out - www.facebook.com/tomontour

Wyndham Berlin Excelsior

The Wyndham Berlin Excelsior has become the legendary party of ITB because it’s where French champagne flows like the Spree. Last year, we were the last at the party and the champagne never ran out! Owned by an Israeli company, this a no expense spared party. This year, there was a whole room dedicated to Veuve Clicquot and at the Oyster Bar, oysters were consumed as if they were candy. The theme was cabaret and featured the rock’n’roll freak burlesque girls of the TeaserettesBerlinagenten who emptied one bottle of champagne too many, couldn’t resist getting on stage to perform with the girls in front of the entire travel industry! You could never say we shun the limelight!

Big thanks to Shachar Elkanati, food and beverage manager of Grand City Hotels who really knows how to throw a glamorous party!

Andles Hotel

Berlinagenten never misses the red carpet of the biggest ITB party hosted by Andel´s hotel. This year celebration was for a triple package! It was the fitfth anniversary Andel´s Hotel Berlin, the 25th year anniversary of VI Hotels & Resorts, plus its fifth legendary ITB-Party .

And what a party it was! Thousands of guests representing the entire spectrum of ITB. It was definitely an industry event, not overly glamorous but incredibly fun. That could be done to the fact that the staff were walking around with trays full of pure vodka shots. However, luckily there was lots of wonderful food as well. The food stations serving everything from meat and fish to sashimi and dessert. Germany’s favourite cover band JCB - who’ve been around for a decade – made the audience dance their socks off before two sexy women DJ’s spun tunes late into the night. The birthday cake was simply enormous, we probably missed the part when Samantha Fox jumped out of it!

 

Australia & New Zealand party.

It maybe at the other end of the planet but the Australian and New Zealand tourism industry were well represented at ITB. This party showcased the delicious food and wine from both countries. Berlinagenten is receiving an influx of Aussies as clients and therefore, it was the perfect place to  introduce myself over a glass of delicious white wine. Oh, and one of our top guides Lollie Barr is an Aussie. Looks like Berlin is set for an Aussie invasion!

 

On Tour with The Financial Women’s Association, New York.

Berlin loves powerful women. Hence its home to the world’s most powerful woman, Angela Merkel. Berlinagenten welcomed The Financial Women’s Association from New York, the leading professional organization that connects, educates and advances women in business and finance. This year, the FWA held their annual conference in Berlin. Over 60 female leaders (and a couple of men for good measure) in the international financial sector came to Berlin and undertook an absolutely ram-packed itinerary for their congress.

Berlineragenten organised their transport needs, picking them up in luxury from the airport. Delegates also took our Urban Insider Tour to get a full overview of the city and its neighbourhoods. You know Berlinagenten loves to throw the most fabulous conference events. Our brief was to provide classy, yet unique locations that would facilitate the women with a memorable Berlin experience.

We organised a welcome breakfast to open the conference at the legendary Grosz Kaffee Hause breakfast on the Kurfürstendamm, a luncheon at the former Electrical Substation Umspannwerk Ost and a three-course gala closing dinner at Berlin-Moscow. In between tours of Google.de, receptions with Ambassadors and tickets to the Berlin Philharmoniker, the delegates undertook conference sessions.

With this kind of stamina, you could see why these amazing women have achieved the careers they have.

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Global Hot Spots – Dubai and Muscat, Oman

Dubai

If you want the best shopping, restaurants and luxury hotels, automatically you may think of New York, but now it’s time to look to the East. In less than six to seven hours flying time from Europe, you reach a new metropolis, built more or less yesterday but it actually feels like Utopia.

Berlinagenten visited Dubai for the fifth time to see how this new hub between Asia and Europe is developing. At first sight, it’s clear that Dubai is a show-off fairy tale built by a real life Sheik. First impressions last and they are all BIG. Playfully built skyscrapers touch the clouds (they boast the highest in the world – Burj Kalifa), multi dimensional shopping malls spread across the landscape like viruses (fact: the biggest in the world is Dubai Mall) and the insane city developments (the biggest man made island in the world is The Palms) abound at a pace.

With all of this there is one key theme: luxury! Whether it’s shopping, hotels, restaurants, bars or a club, you will be impressed by what you can build with an obscene amount of (washed) money. The police are even driving Lamborghini’s here, in order to catch fast driving rich kids in Porches!

Here are some of Berlinagenten’s top picks from our last cool hunting trip in February:

Top new hotels

New hotspots

 

New Clubs:

Our favourite restaurants

 Dubai´s crazy future plans:

 

Now for a completely different world – Muscat, Oman.

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A short flight away from Dubai is the quiet and relaxed city of Muscat. The old town boasts lots of beautiful traditional architecture. When you drive around the old port, the souk and the square in front of Al Alam Palace, it feels like you’re in the movie ‘A Thousand & One Arabian Nights’.

The contrast of red dark coloured mountains, which surrounds the almost white old town is an impressive setting from the hills, as well as from inside the square. Don’t come here if you expect the same infrastructure as Dubai. There aren’t endless luxurious hotels or huge shopping malls. The new international airport is under construction and many international hotels are on the way. Yet the Sultane doesn’t want to build Disneyland. This is a low-key cultural oriented destination, with the must-see Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Royal Opera House Muscat.

Here are some of Berlinagenten’s top picks.

Hotels:

The Scene – Henrik’s Wedding!

 

Weddings are romantic and glamourous. The same can’t be said for the Berlin district of Wedding, a pretty rough and tumble working class district, next to hip Mitte, trendy Pberg and residential Pankow. It has been constantly hyped in the media, as the next place ripe for gentrification, but it has yet to happen. Well, not on the surface anyway. The Wedding scene is happening but it’s very underground, which is why Wedding is such a cool place to go out.

Over the last few years, Wedding has been on the radar of students, artists and party hungry avangardists. I love talking to taxi drivers to get the gossip on where are the secret new bars, as well as finding out where they’ve been dropping off and picking up cool customers. Lately, the word on the street is they have more business in Wedding than the bourgeois neighbourhood of Pberg.

So, I set off on a mission to find what was really going on Wedding. First stop was the cool eatery Volta on Brunnenstrasse. Stephan Hentschel, the former chef at Cookies Cream, opened up his own restaurant/bar on the border of Bernauerstrasse, which separates Wedding from Mitte. It’s not a secret anymore, every table is occupied by an interesting crowd who love the creative interpretation of Hentschel’s kitchen, who also plays with some German favourites, breathing new life into them. The drinks are super strong too!

Next, I headed to the area between Gesundbrunnen and Wollankstrasse, where a bunch of alternative Kreuzberg look-a-like bars have popped up. First stop, Fos, a cool bar and lounge, full with gadgets and second hand furniture. At first glance at the drinks menu, I thought I’d travelled 15 years back when a wine glass costed approx. 3 euro. The bar’s most eye catching element is its DIY ceiling. If you don´t have money for professional sound isolation,  use egg cartons! The crowd were laidback in comparisson to Neuköll’s hipsters and expat inhabitants.

There I met a friendly, real Berliner from the ‘hood, who invited me to join him at the next bar. After a vodka shot in the bar Studio8, we walked a couple of blocks and reached the Barrikade bar. My new friend told me that is one of the last remaining squat bars in Berlin (although the squat itself doesn’t exist anymore). There wasn’t a single tourist or expat in sight. The crowd was as authentic as its neighbourhood itself: Turks screaming loudly in front of a football match on the TV screens, cheerful alternative types, Cindy von Marzahn look-a-likes, drunken workers still believing it is happy hour, lost house wives from Moabit and anti fascists planning their next coup.

After a longer conversation about GDR with a talkative woman, I said goodbye to my friend and headed north of Bornholmer Brücke, to the rough Soldinerkiez. Totally off the beaten track is Kugelbahn. When somebody opens a bar in the middle of nowhere and the place is packed with hip, sexy, chilled, mixed people of all ages, you know it’s already a success story.

It’s a retro lounge, cool bar, and event space. This is the tipping point of a new scene that is heading north of Berlin, as well as south. After a couple of nasty drinks, flirting with the bar man, it was time for some clubbing. The most famous club in Wedding is Stadtbad Wedding but instead I decided to visit Humboldthain under the station of S-Bahn with the same name. Inside were banging techno music, psychedelic lighting, smoke, loud party freaks and energetic youngsters. In the summer time, they offer after hours clubbing in garden.

Wedding has an emerging new bar/club scene that is so authentic and laid back, it makes you want to return. See you there next weekend.

The Wedding Hotspot Hit List

Here’s some other places to check out in Wedding

Laluz

Lottingers.  

The Castle Pub

Kikisol

Moritzbar

Jatz Bar

Wedding Soul Party

Supermarkt