Guest post by Euan McTear from Oh-Berlin
There are some who leave Berlin with the impression of a dull and grey industrial city, with little to offer those who don’t love museums. Those people just didn’t do Berlin properly!
There is always plenty to see and do in Berlin that you won’t ever read about in a guidebook. From coffee shops in Kreuzberg to music in Mitte, you must be walking blindfolded if you leave the city bored.
One popular way to spend an afternoon – that doesn’t appear in every guide book – is shopping in Berlin ’s Friedrichshain area in the east of the city. Locals will, of course, view this as nothing unusual or out of the ordinary – in fact browsing the little boutiques that line the area’s streets might even be seen as a cliché by some Berliners.
But for the not-so locals – or the locals who haven’t quite caught up on the bargains on offer in the district – this guide to shopping in Friedrichshain should provide a useful starting point.
Boxhagener Platz Flea Market
You can always find a good flea market in Berlin on a Sunday morning and Arkonaplatz and Mauerpark are two of the most popular. No discredit to those markets in the Mitte area, but Friedrichshain’s Boxhagner Platz market has as much – if not more – to offer.
Boxi, as it is known locally, has no shortage of antiques, jewellery and artwork on sale. As all market-goers will know, “antiques” at a flea market can be very hit or miss. You could be looking at €3000 18th century vase, or you could come home with somebody’s grandma’s china set worth as little as the 50 cents you paid for it.
The artwork, though, is why this market really deserves a visit. The market is frequented by lots of young arty students – yes, let’s call them hipsters – but some of these art students can be found selling some spectacular artwork for the price of their evening meal, so you can almost always find a bargain.
You’ll find several cafés around the square as well where you can spend the time watching people negotiating and bargaining with the vendors. And on a Sunday morning there are bound to be some buskers playing relaxing tunes nearby, completing the charm of this little square.
Visit Boxhagener Platz soon, though, as it is already beginning to get quite touristy. And a Starbucks in the middle of the square would take all the charm away.
Second-hand Fashion Boutiques
The Friedrichshain area is also known for its numerous little independent boutiques and independent stores. Here are just a few of the best, but no one can ever create a perfect list as it is nearly impossible to visit them all!
Trash Schick: The Friedrichshain area had a reputation in the past as a squatter’s area. That is no longer the case, but the punk and rebellious spirit seems to live on, particularly here. This is east Berlin, of course, and the whole store has a bit of an anti-establishment and anti-capitalism feel to it. You’ll find a whole range of independent and alternative clothing; some of which you’ll hate and some of which you’ll love. When your friends ask you where you got it, you can tell them that there’s no point trying to find another copy.
Wühlischstrasse 31, Friedrichshain
Grace: This store has more of a focus on handbags and accessories, but I know many women who will have no problem with that. This little boutique has endless vintage handbags from the 20th century, all in surprisingly good condition and at surprisingly low prices. With retro jewellery here as well, you can always find something that you love!
Boxhagenerstrasse 113, bei Episoda, Friedrichshain
Humana: Humana is a charity store and there is a whole range around Berlin . The one found in Friedrichshain, however, is like the mothership. About the size of a department store, there is something for all ages, even if you have to filter through some horrible yellow housecoat or fuchsia coloured jeans to find it. And, of course, you’ll be giving to a good cause!
Frankfurter Tor 3, Friedrichshain