The Classic Rock Lifestyle: Berlin

I intended to write blogs about my travels earlier, but never got around to writing them, but here is my first attempt.

What is the “classic rock lifestyle”? Everyone has different opinions on what it is. For me, it’s looking at classic rock related places, reading about the classic rock history in the city I’m visiting, eating some vegan food, and going to concerts. Most of my travels involve going to vintage shops and record stores, but on this trip I tried to resist temptation because I am getting married soon and I need to save money for the wedding and honeymoon.

Here’s a recap of my trip to Berlin and in this recap I will show you why you should consider visiting Berlin.

Berlin’s Classic Rock and Counterculture History:

Bands that are from Berlin include Tangerine Dream, Nina Hagen, and Ash Ra Tempel. Kadavar, a band founded in 2010 in Berlin, make Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath inspired music.

As for English musicians, David Bowie called Berlin home in the 70s, recording the three albums known as The Berlin Trilogy: LowHeroes, and Lodger. He was inspired by krautrock and electronic music. He and Iggy Pop lived in a flat together. Heroes and Lust for Life were recorded at Hansa Studio by the Wall.

In 1990, Roger Waters played a concert to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, playing the classic 1979 album The Wall, of course. Other musicians who played in that famous live concert performance were Scorpions, Cyndi Lauper, Thomas Dolby, Sinéad O’Connor, The Band, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison.

In Counterculture, in 1967 in West Berlin, Kommune 1 was created. It countered the traditional ideas of the nuclear family. Famous people associated with Kommune 1 are Uschi Obermaier and Rainer Langhans. Jimi Hendrix also visited the commune. Kommune 1 inspired John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Berlin: A vegan paradise?

In Ireland, there isn’t really much for vegan food, and sometimes there’s nothing for even vegetarians. At school, I have to pack a lunch. Many people associate German cuisine with meat, but is it really the case? Not so much in a big city with a diverse population. Here’s an article that calls Berlin a leader in Europe as far as vegan food. For breakfast, I decided to bring some granola bars and pitta bread with peanut butter so I could save money.

As soon as I got to Berlin, I didn’t have to try to find vegan food, but I Googled beforehand and had a few places in mind to try out. My fiancé (who is not vegetarian) and I went to Yellow Sunshine Burger for our first meal of the trip. I got a vegan “fish” burger and he got a halloumi burger.  We also ordered chips and vegan currywurst and he got a slice of cake. Cash only and very affordable!

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The next day, we got pizza at World of Pizza. The place we went wasn’t a vegetarian restaurant, but it had something for everyone. My fiancé got a chicken curry pizza and I got a vegan pizza with a lot of vegetables and a vegan cheese substitute. For dessert we went to Kontor Eismanufaktur/The Vegan Choice, where yes, it’s all vegan! I got chocolate orange and caramel popcorn flavoured ice cream. My fiance got basil flavoured ice cream. He said it had an interesting taste, but it grew on him. It was so good, we went back the next day for round two!

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Monday was the day of the Temples concert and we went to a Vietnamese restaurant, Huong Sen, that was 100% vegetarian and mostly vegan for lunch. This was a restaurant that we walked by on the way to Kontor and it caught my eye so we decided to go there. For an appetiser we got spring rolls. I ordered the mango curry and he ordered pho. It’s amazing how you can run into some great food while exploring the city! Round two of Kontor and I ordered the same flavours and my fiance decided to go with the caramel popcorn flavour.

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While at the concert my fiancé went to the concessions stand and got Chilli con seitan. Most of the time at concerts, vegan food is hard to come across and sometimes it isn’t very good or substantial – usually chips or something. It was delicious and a very nice surprise!

Tuesday was the last day we were in Berlin and for the last meal there, I was really craving California-Mexican food because that is not easy to come across in Ireland. It’s pretty much impossible to find – closest I could find was Boojum Burritos but that’s a two hour bus ride away and it’s more like Chipotle, which isn’t a bad thing – I like Chipotle. I can’t even find some of the ingredients to make my own food. Black beans? Can’t find it. Tofu? It’s either very expensive or I can’t find it. Plantains? No idea where to find it. Nopales? Forget about it, or I will have to go overseas. I remember reading a guidebook that recommended Dolores for travellers on a budget. I got a vegan burrito bowl and my fiancé got a chicken quesadilla. We both enjoyed our food.

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I can safely say that yes, Berlin is great for vegans!

Concerts and music:

My fiancé and I went to some record stores and looked at some flea markets, but saw that the prices were very high, but I saw Tame Impala’s Currents on vinyl and he got it for me as a gift.

I saw Temples with Creatures as the opening act at Festsaal Kreuzberg. I first got into Temples a few years ago when Sun Structures came out, but was never able to see them live because they often would play at 21+ venues, but I did get my copy of Sun Structures signed the day before my 20th birthday. When I saw they were doing a European tour, I was excited. We got to the venue early and were in the front row and got some great pictures!

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Creatures are a band I’ve never heard of and they don’t list much information like a bio on their Facebook page. The band have an interesting cowboy/70s aesthetic and their music is psychedelic and garage rock influenced. I don’t think they’ve released an album yet, but when it comes out I am looking forward to listening to it.

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Temples played mostly songs from Volcano and I was happy about it. While the roadies were setting up, I saw all the effects pedals and two organs being set up. I knew that this was going to be quite true to the album, and it was! The concert opened with the beautiful “All Join In.” I was excited as soon as I heard the drum intro for that song. Some highlights from that concert were “Colours to Life” (one of my favourite songs on Sun Structures – I could play this on repeat),  “Roman God Like Man” (very energetic and dreamlike – an interesting combination), the lead single from Volcano – “Certainty” (my fiancé was singing this for days), “Open Air”, and “Shelter Song” (the song that first got me into Temples).

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I got a setlist afterwards and a tour t-shirt. Definitely would love to see Temples live again.

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Thoughts:

I absolutely love Berlin! I had a great time here the first time I visited, back in 2014. When I left I felt like I wanted to stay longer. If you’re planning a Eurotrip and you love classic rock and counterculture, do include Berlin on your list of places to visit!

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