To celebrate the release of her new novel, The Pilot's Girl, we asked author Catherine Hokin to write us an exclusive piece all about the place in which the book is set - Berlin! Here's what she had to say...
1. It has a whole island dedicated to museums and they aren’t even the best ones! My favourite is the Stasi Museum which is located in the old headquarters of the Ministry for State Security. The Stasi had a network of spies and informers who controlled life in the GDR and the building will be familiar to anyone who is a fan of the Deutschland 83 series. It is crammed full of stories which will make your jaw drop.
2. It has two massive zoos. The Berlin Zoological Garden, which was founded in 1844 and survived massive bombing in World War Two, is the best known one. But the best is the Berlin Tierpark which was built in the 1950s in the old East of the city. It’s the biggest zoo in Europe, it has gorgeous bears and a lemur enclosure you can walk through while they hop round your feet.
3. It has so many food options you won’t know where to turn. And some of the best is Turkish. Head down to Kreuzberg where there is an excellent Turkish market and then take your appetite to Hasir on Oranienstraβe, the bread is amazing.
4. Berlin is famous for its beer but it also does a great cocktail. And once again Kreuzberg is my go to. Schwarze Traube is tiny and you may not get in on the first go but, trust me, persistence pays off.
5. Berlin is also famous for its nightlife and rightly so, it really is a twenty-four hour city. If you can get into Berghain, you will be a legend among your friends. If you can’t (the most likely option), there’s all kinds of other goodies on offer. The Sally Bowles Bar never disappoints and another favourite, if you like noisy, is The Clash bar. The main tip is to avoid Alexanderplatz and its too noisy stag does.
6. The city is full of parks. The best known one is the Tiergarten which is lovely but I’m also very fond of Tempelhofer Feld. It’s a massive open space and it’s also surrounded by history, as it edges the airport built by Albert Speer during the Third Reich which was then used as the American base for beating the 1948 Berlin Blockade. Take a picnic and people-watch.
7. And finally, don’t leave your shopping until the last minute. Berlin’s shops close on a Sunday which make it the perfect city for a leisurely brunch (head to Bergmannkiez or Prenzlauer Berg for the best choice of places) but hopeless for those last minute treats.
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