“Wir sind 3 Berliner “- at least for the weeks to come. We’ve been offered to stay at a friend’s place in Charlottenburg, a very charming part of the city and is well-suited for sophisticated evening entertainment. Filled with theaters, museums, and fine dining establishments, this west Berlin neighborhood steps out in style. Charlottenburg’s high-end shopping complexes and notable cleanliness distinguish it from many of Berlin’s vintage and street art inclined neighborhoods, although the record shops and wheat-pasted corridors of Moabit are just a neighborhood away. The perfect place to get the Berlin feeling. Friday night (our second day) we celebrated Camilla’s Birthday at a restaurant called 893 Ryōtei
Entering 893 Ryōtei is a bit like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. One minute you’re standing on Kantstraße outside a dodgy-looking, mirrored building covered in graffiti, the next you’re walking into a low-lit Shangri-La, adorned with marble counter tops, plush interiors and a theatrical open kitchen and bar. The ‘893’ part of this restaurant’s name is Japanese gangster slang for a losing hand in cards, and from the outside the whole place (an old Schlecker Grocery Store) looks like the exact part of town your mother warned you never to go near.
Duc Ngo is the man behind this outlaw establishment and his culinary credentials already cast an innovative web across Berlin. His Kuchi and Cocolo joints brought sushi and ramen to Berlin way before the trends had blossomed, and 893 is similarly ahead of the game. The root of the menu here is a twist on ‘Nikkei’ cuisine – the Japanese-Peruvian fusion food which Nobu thrust into the spotlight in the late ’90s. At 893, Ngo has opened up the Peruvian arm of the Nikkei legacy to include other South American influences such as Taquitos and Mexican-style ceviche. The result is a daunting menu which stretches across many kitchens, taking you on a long haul flight from Tokyo to Lima, and back via Mexico City with each new page turn. We had a blast and enjoyed the Japanese-Peruvian fusion kitchen.
On Sunday we’re up for a trip to Wannsee, also known for it’s famous public bathing beach (which accommodates up to 10.000 people). Not this time of the year. We decided to take “7-lakes boat cruise“ which, in 2 hours cruises the smaller lakes and canals south of the Grosse Wannsee.
A real highlight was our excursion to the Teufelsberg on Wednesday (25-Oct.).In the early 20th century the area was covered in bogs and mud, but that all changed when the Nazis came to power. As part of the plans for Germania – Hitler’s vision for a completely renewed Berlin – work began on the construction of a university faculty for military technology, but it was never completed, and destroyed in the war. After the war, trucks brought rubble from the rest of the devastated city to the site near Heerstraße and it soon piled up to become the highest point in West Berlin. The dumping stopped in 1972, trees were planted to make the man-made hill more attractive, and a ski slope was built complete with a ski lift, a ski jump and a toboggan run.
The NSA era before the whistleblowers
The Americans also soon recognised the usefulness of the artificial hill. From the 1950s onwards, antennas and radomes were erected on its two hilltops for espionage and intercepting communications. Huge dishes were built for intercepting, listening to and jamming radio signals from the Eastern Bloc.The field station was used by the American forces until the end of the Cold War in 1989. The four striking radomes are what still gives Teufelsberg its mysterious aura today, because not until 2020 when the archives are opened will the public be able to find out find out what was listened to, and what methods were used.
After the end of the Cold War and the departure of the allied forces, the complex was used for air traffic control until 1999, when the city government sold it. However, all the plans for a new use came to nothing. In 2007, the American film director David Lynch wanted to buy the complex in in order to set up a “Vedic Peace University” with the controversial Maharishi Foundation.
Today, tours are available where you can view the remains of the complex with its five large radar domes. The listening station is now probably the most well-known of Berlin’s formerly secret sites. The ruins of the station and its satellite dishes are covered in graffiti and exude a morbid charm. You can still feel the spirit of the Cold War which once permeated the city. Today the former listening station is used by local graffiti-artists which turned it into a place of living arts.