I've spent the first four weeks of my long three and a half month summer interrailing around Europe with one of my best friends. We managed to visit a hectic 9 countries and 11 cities in what was undoubtedly the most exciting month of my life. Every place was different (in a good way), and i liked almost everywhere we visited. There was one place i fell full-on, head over heels, smack bang in LOVE with, though. Berlin was like no where I have ever been. Forget the lederhosen, frankfurters and redfaced men you might imagine (sorry for the stereotypes, I'd never been to Germany before). Berlin is a city full of crazy street art, quirky shops and a suprising amount of beach bars, given that it's no where near the sea.
Out of everywhere we visited in Berlin, the place I found most fascinating was the Tacheles. Given that we went to an old train depo that had been bombed during the war and has now been turned into a grafitti-filled skate park (amazingly cool), and a bar with a giant-sized frog that might or might not move if you put a euro in it's back (incredibly cool), it's definitely saying something that the Tacheles made such an impression. Situated in the district of Mitte, the old run-down building used to be SS headquarters. However, when the war was lost the place was flooded to get rid of nazi records. Left to decay, the building was eventually squatted, and has now become a centre for art and artists.
When you first enter the Tacheles and walk up the stairs, you're suprised that there could be anything organised in the place at all. The walls are covered in graffiti, and there is a distinct smell of, to put it politely, bodily functions. But on each floor there are artists' studios, covered in interesting prints and projects. The artists are completely happy for people to nosy around as they work, with some even putting up signs explaining their particular current projects.
Round the back of the building there were a collection of insane sculptures, artists' shops, and little bars. I think one of the reasons I loved the place so much was that it seemed to completely sum up the attitude of Berlin, which I loved even more. People really believe in things, and act on them. If they want to spray paint the walls, they spray paint the fricking walls. If they want somewhere to display their creative sides, they find an unused building and turn the whole thing into a crazily crammed, colourful centre of art and innovation.