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All roads in Berlin seem to lead to the Soho House these days. The recently opened social club and hotel is crawling with expats (or, more precisely, ex-New Yorkers). We ended up there a couple of nights for dinner during our stay and also were able to take the kids swimming in the rooftop pool. Say what you will about some of the club’s members in New York, but the Soho House Berlin is a pretty darn sweet place to hang. The hipster club chain is nearing the end of a top-to-bottom renovation of the striking old department store building (and former Communist Party headquarters) at the corner of Torstrasse and Prenzlauer Allee. Evidently one is not supposed to take any photos poolside, but we didn’t find that out until we’d already snapped a few. As you can tell from the views of the Fernsehturm (the iconic television tower) by Alexanderplatz, it’s not a bad spot for a tourist to drink in the town. Interesting side story: When the architects first saw the leather-lined elevators, they thought they looked too new, so they began scratching them up with a key and encouraged visitors to do the same, as you can see from the photo. After our stay at the Ace Hotel in Portland back in May, we were amused to see yet another boutique hotel with turntables and LPs in the rooms! Our only criticism was that the records at the Soho House were new. Otherwise, we can’t imagine why you’d want to stay anywhere else—at least during the summer months when the pool scene is in full swing. (This is the last Berlin post we’ll be doing. By the time you read this, we’ll be on our flight back to New York.)

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On Sunday we finally found the time to visit two of Berlin’s best-known flea markets. The first was a smaller and better-curated flea market at Arkonaplatz, which is in Mitte or Prenzlauerberg, depending on who you ask. We also walked a few blocks north to the massive market in Mauerpark. This one offered rows upon rows of vendors selling everything from guitars to socks. Right next door in the park, there was a rock band playing in a stone amphitheater. Quite a scene.

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Yesterday was the two-week mark of our stay in Berlin. We haven’t posted any updates because things have been a little hectic: Mrs. B had to go into the hospital for an emergency appendectomy on our third day here and is only now really back on her feet. We’d been planning to work the entire month from the Etsy.com offices but today’s the first day we’ve managed to get away. Here in Berlin, the Dumbo-headquarted online marketplace is located in a cool old brick building on Ritterstrasse in the neighborhood of Kreuzberg along with several other online and arts-related companies. As you can see from the photo, there’s a large inner courtyard with its own cafe populated by the creative types who work in the building. Kind of like Dumbo if the rents in Dumbo were like 80 percent cheaper! We did manage to get away last weekend to the lake country outside Salzburg, which was pretty spectacular. We’ve included a photo on the jump. Looking forward to being back in BK in less than two weeks! (more…)

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Longtime readers might remember us posting from Berlin when we were over here for a wedding a couple of summers ago. Well, we liked it so much, we’ve relocated for a month, house-sitting a friend’s apartment in Prenzlauer Berg. We’re still going to be blogging more or less full time, but if you want to follow along with our daily photos, check out our Tumblr blog.

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When you’re walking around Berlin, you can’t help but notice the clusters of large recycling bins that dot the city. It got us wondering why New York doesn’t do something similar. It would certainly be simpler and, we’d think, more effective than the current confusing curb-side system. Anyone know the reason?

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In the space of about five blocks from our hotel in Mitte, we came across these four developments. (And there were others.) Part of what’s driving the development in Berlin, as we understand of it, is the lack of apartments that can be bought since so many have the equivalent of rent-controlled tenants. Building new apartments is the surest way to create liquid housing stock.
Brownstoner in Berlin: Part 1 [Brownstoner]

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We landed in Berlin this morning at 8 a.m. and, since we couldn’t check into our hotel until noon, went straight to our friends’ apartment in Mitte off Prenzlauer Allee. It’s in a traditional six-story stucco-style building with wide floor planks and beautiful plaster ceiling moldings. The place has six large rooms off a central hallway with ten-foot ceilings for a total of, we’d guess, about 1,200 square feet. The rent? 675 euros. We’d appreciate recommendations for neighborhoods for us to explore over the next couple of days. Ideas? GMAP