The Best of Berlin in August

In August, Exberliner, Berlin’s leading English-language magazine, explores an inner-city park oasis, peruses a new cultural space and stays fit with a hola hoop.

The Best of Berlin in August
Photo: Exberliner

Old world in Neukölln

When the hurly-burly of Karl-Marx-Straße starts to become overwhelming, salvation lies at the foot of Körnerpark’s ivy-clad staircases, where 2.4 acres of serene greenery and the Café im Körnerpark awaits. Bequeathed by owner Franz “Ozymandias” Körner on condition it continued to bear his name, the former gravel pit drops up to seven metres below street level, walling out the blare of Neukölln amidst bird trills and babbling water. Once an archaeological site of note after the excavation of a 5th-century vaulted grave of a horse and rider, the neo-Baroque villa is today all cement balustrades, long manicured lawns and cascading jet fountains, complete with naked Turkish bubs paddling in the fountains beside their cherubic stone twins. Planted in the park’s western corner, the café plays weekend watering hole to Neukölln’s otherwise invisible yuppie presence. They can be seen lazing back with weekend newspapers, beers and watery cappuccinos (€2.30) from the Orangerie’s shaded, gravel terrace. Inside are a gallery and more tables offering rather average fare, but for a bit of old-world refuge away from the multicultural buzz of Karl-Marx-Straße, this place is a true find.

CAFE IM KÖRNERPARK|Schierker Str. 8, Neukölln, U+S-Bhf Neukölln, Tue-Thr 10-20, Fri-Sun 10-22

Temporary culture factory

If you go down behind the elevated Wedding S-Bahn station, you’ll find yourself in the courtyard of an old safe factory. Today you’re more likely to hear noisy guitars, howls and shouts from a theatre ensemble or a rumbling coffee machine. In the beginning of May, Christophe Knoch, who previously worked with Christoph Schlingensief on his Burkina Faso Opera Village, came across the space and immediately fell for it. He hunted down the owner and convinced him to rent out the building. Soon after, Knoch moved in and started the Mica Moca Project Berlin, an experimental multi-platform cultural programme that includes everything from film and fashion to gastronomy and gardening. The project will only be around until late September, when the architect renting the buildings to Knoch will start tearing them down to create his own ‘cultural Zentrum’ project. But until then, Knoch is determined to maximise the opportunities offered by the amazing space, which is why you may come across a ballerina wriggling her way through a cavernous hall or an improvised theatre troupe performing for one night only. And even if you’re not interested in the many different art forms explored under the old roof, the building itself is worth a visit. Tall factory windows, big rusted iron doors and old hooks under massive, vaulted ceilings: what’s not to love?

MICA MOCA PROJECT BERLIN|Lindower Str. 22, Wedding, S+U Bhf Wedding, Evening events Fri-Sun, €5-10 (€1 for members), Membership €5. More info:

The cabinet of Dr. Lovegrove

The ashes of East of Eden are still smouldering, but already a phoenix is rising to take its place among Berlin’s expanding field of English-language bookstores – Dialogue Books. Headed by the indefatigable Sharmaine Lovegrove, it’s actually the store’s second incarnation. Before disappearing into internet exile, Dialogue occupied the back of the T Room, a short-lived English tea house in Mitte. Now Lovegrove’s gone solo: she’ll regularly host readings and other events in the tiny Graefekiez space, though it’s hard to imagine where. A bookshelf occupies one wall, opposite a

small couch. Past these is a massive desk, cluttered with papers. Lovegrove sits there, queen-like, dispensing advice with aplomb to Stammgäste and other devotees (many customers are members of the Dialogue Book Club). “Though we might not have the particular book you’re looking for at the moment,” she explains, “you’re absolutely certain to find something of equal or better quality in our hand-picked selection.” And if you’re absolutely certain you need that book, well, it can be ordered. Indeed, the woman at the helm of Dialogue Books is what makes the place remarkable. Each visit provides the intimate, slightly intimidating feeling you get from a doctor’s visit (Lovegrove likes to call herself a ‘book doctor’). Bare your intimate literary proclivities, and Dr. Lovegrove will apply her generous, diligent expertise. What’s more, the consultation is free, though you’d be remiss to leave without the prescribed book in your hand.

DIALOGUE BOOKS|Schönleinstr. 31, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Schönleinstr., Mon-Sat 11-19

The audacity of hoop

You probably think spinning a hula-hoop around yourwaist is kids’ stuff, right? Well, not anymore. Hooping is gaining traction with grown-up Berliners who love it for its athletic rigour, meditative properties and nostalgic charm. Hoop-dance instructor Rachel Catton and her partner Balazs Ari established Hoopla!Berlin five years ago. Throughout the year they hold weekly (English-language) classes, parties, live shows and workshops. So if you want some new friends, are worried about fitting into that bikini or just want to try out a new (old!) form of recreational fun, then hooping is for you.

HOOPLA! BERLIN|To register for classes: [email protected],

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.