Travel Guide: Berlin
The European Poker Tour's eighth season is nearing a close, with the second to last stop of the season taking us to the world's music capital of Berlin. This is the third time the EPT has ventured on to German turf and has proven to be one of the largest stops on the schedule with the previous two years drawing in whopping fields of 945 and 773 players respectively.
Without forgetting Berlin's turbulent history, it has now transformed into one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations, mixing rich history with a dynamic atmosphere that has made the city a magnet for young people from all over the world. It is a center for the arts, with countless museums and galleries, a rich theatre scene, and strong reputation for fashion, design and music.
The German capital can be quite an inexpensive destination in comparison to its European sister cities, and with no enforced closing hours, the parties will keep you up all night long. That is, if you bust out early of the EPT Main Event.
If you're looking for that solid night out on the town, keep in mind that the nightclubs are empty before midnight -- they don't come to life until around 2am. So keep your dancing shoes tame until then, and start your night off in one of the hundreds of bars, such as a local favorite for Sunday nights Neue Odessa on Torstraße. Berghain has been voted the best nightclub in the world, so it's probably a place worth ticking off the bucket list if you're into electronic music. Berlin is divided into distinct neighborhoods, each holding their own appeal, such as the chic Kürfurstendamm, historic Mitte, bohemian Kreuzberg and artsy Prenzlauer Berg.
Shopping is a key attraction in Berlin, and avid spenders are spoiled for choice, particularly in places such as Hackesche Märkte, which is great for shopping and dining. Vibrant street markets regularly pop up throughout the city, particularly Straße des 17. Juni , Berlin's largest and best known flea market. Or if you have big money to spend (after an EPT win, perhaps?) then head to the "Champs-Elysees of Berlin", Kurfürstendamm, for some designer shopping and luxury hotels.
Sightseeing is endless in Berlin, and best experienced on foot, or with the aid of the reliable public transport. Using Public Bus 100 (or 200 which runs a very similar route, but also through Potsdamer Platz, located near the EPT host venue) is a great, inexpensive (€2.30) way to tour Berlin in a double-decker, open-aired bus, passing most of the historic sights, all without the exuberant fees of an official tour bus. Some drivers thrive off giving commentary as if they were driving a tour bus, so you could get lucky. From the awe-inspiring Reichstag parliament building, to the 200-year-old Brandenburg Gate, the preserved Berlin Wall-turned 1.3km dedicated street-art gallery, or the futuristic Potsdamer Platz, it would be a crime to not dedicate a full day to explore the sights of this city.
Lastly, my personal recommendation on how to spend a spare chilly evening is with a fantastic bottle of red wine over a candlelight dinner in a cozy little restaurant called Lutter & Wegner, right by the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden shopping mall, making it a great place to people-watch from a table by the window. Bliss!