It goes without saying that most student travelers on a German course in Berlin will be focused, first and foremost, on improving their language skills. But it’s equally important that your time in Berlin shouldn’t be all study, study, study, and a great way of winding down after a hard day in the classroom is with a bit of retail therapy.
In the last few years, Berlin has become a mecca for fashionistas, celebrities and cool-hunters in search of the latest trends in music, culture and, especially, clothing. Indeed, not many cities in the world can compare with its trendy credentials or match the diverse range of Berlin shopping options.
So, really, there’s nothing for it but to put the books down from time to time, get whatever money you’ve got saved up, and hit the shops.
Right at the heart of the city, this isn’t perhaps the obvious choice for Thanh ly quan cafe tai Da Nang a student taking a German course in Berlin. The action is centered around not one but three ultra-swanky boutique malls – Quartier 205, 206 and 207 – in Berlin’s upmarket Mitte neighborhood.
But even if the prices are enough to make your eyes water, there’s some top window-shopping to be had, and an afternoon spent in Mitte is to see Berlin at its rarefied, elegant best.
A stone’s throw away from the chic boutiques of Mitte, the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden is a bit more accessible to the average purse. Spread out over five floors of stores, it’s not the most intimate of Berlin shopping experiences, but for convenience it can’t be beaten, providing as it does everything you could possibly want under one roof.
And Potsdamer Platz – all sleek stores and efficiency – could hardly be more different to the scene you encounter over in Boghagener Platz on a Sunday morning. Berlin flea markets are uniformly excellent, and the one to be found in Boghagener Platz is one of the best.
Rather less slick and professional than the other Berlin flea markets you find at Arkonaplatz and Strasse de 17 juni, Boghagener Platz has a pleasingly democratic ‘car boot sale’ feel. Nevertheless, it’s renowned for the range of wares on offer, and it’s one of the most pleasing days of shopping in Berlin.
Over in the hip, alternative and engagingly grungy East of the city, Bergmannstrasse is the backbone of Kreuzberg. Here, secondhand stores with hours’ worth of good, cheap rummaging, junk shops overflowing with dusty trinkets and a smattering of great record shops are the order of the day.