Cafés in Berlin

What you want is what you get. And if you're not sure you can always sit looking down on the Ku'damm from the rotunda of Cafe Kranzler. The newly-enovated Kranzler was famous amongst the "golden" set in the Berlin of the 1930s, and the place to see and be seen. Or at an outside table at Café Adler, across from Checkpoint Charlie. And watch the world go by.

But Berlin has a phenomenal range of cafes, bars and clubs. The knack is to pick the right district.

Charlottenburg is the place to rub shoulders with the well-heeled young professionals of West Berlin, with a smattering of actors thrown in for good measure. The pavement cafes around Bleibtreustraße and Schlüterstraße are bubbling with life, with business deals, networking and plain courtship rituals.

If you want to follow in the tracks of David Bowie and Lou Reed, then hang out along Hauptstraße in Schöneberg. Here style is everything so there's plenty to admire or be amused by. Kreuzberg was the legendary focus of the alternative scene, and now provides every possible variant of drinking experience in bars with names like Wirtschaftswunder (the Economic Miracle), Milchbar (milkbar) or Haifisch Bar (the Shark).

The Gay scene centres on Winterfeldtplatz in the west, location of a wonderful outdoor market on Saturday and Wednesday mornings, and Greifenhagener Straße in the east, with its cocktail bars and Caipirinhas. Most bars are pretty welcoming irrespective of sexual orientation.

Café KollwitzplatzThe young and free congregate on Kollwitzplatz and Helmholtzplatz in the east in Prenzlauer Berg, where the bars feature walls painted with extravagant murals or marbling, and are furnished with chairs and tables sculpted from scrap iron. As this area goes upmarket the more adventurous bars are relocating in Friedrichshain, particularly along Simon-Dach-Straße.

And scattered through the city are some amazing finds - the Cuban bar La Bodeguita with its walls covered with authentic black and white photos of Cuban musicians, Castro and Guevara, Cafe Morena and its blue and white Moroccan tiles, or the gentrified elegance of Cafe Einstein. In whichever bar or cafe you find yourself, expect to be offered roses by street vendors who are continually wandering through, and be sure to check out the free promotional postcards usually displayed on a rack. You can help yourself to as many as you want.

When it comes to paying expect to be asked whether you want to pay together or separately (the question is "Zusammen?" which means "together?"); as far as the tip is concerned, the convention is to round the bill up by a few Pfennige or Marks (eg. € 4.55 becomes € 5.00 and € 13.50 becomes € 15.00) and tell the waiter/ress to keep the tip when you hand them the money, rather than leaving a tip on the table.

You won't be thrown out as many bars operate all round the clock, but you can always move on to take in a club or some cabaret. Best to follow up with a Berlin cafe breakfast, served on a plate as big as the table, any time till six at night .

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