Berlin-Mitte with Jan

"The best thing about Berlin was that I got to be surrounded by people who pursue their ideas for themselves." ~ Agnes Obel

By In Promenade Days


I was reminiscing about my travels again, and decided to write another post about my Promenade Days Project. During my stay in Berlin, I got around quite a lot. Mainly due to not understanding the public transportation app and getting lost on numerous occasions, but also because I love to get lost, whether I’m in Berlin or any other city.

Of course, when in Berlin, you have to visit Berlin-Mitte, too. With its Museums-Insel, the Regierungsviertel and the Tiergarten Park it’s probably one of the most touristy areas of Berlin, so it’s quite crowded. And, as a normal tourist, you won’t see all of it. So it was a great thing that I had a guide for the evening.


The story of how I got to know Jan is one of these great tales of how things can come to be. It started with me going to photo-walks in Cologne and meeting his sister a couple of times (a fact I didn’t know by then). When I posted about my travel plans and my idea for “Promenade Days“, his sister replied with a “you guys would totally get along, you should meet up”. And so we did! Funny how things can work out.

I met Jan at a small tea-house in a side street. It was great weather, so we decided to go sit outside on the sidewalk terrace sidewalk, where we drank a lovely cup of tea. We talked about how he got to be in Berlin, and about what he was doing. For him, business in Berlin was booming! During our conversation, he had to pick up the phone a couple of times because, hey, business never stops, but he kept it short, and we could continue our conversation soon enough.

Luxury stuff mixed with counter-culture

After a couple of cups of tea, we went for a walk around Berlin-Mitte. Jan showed me several cool spots, and the contrast at some times couldn’t be bigger. Small courtyards between high-rises with luxury shops on one hand, and then, a scruffy, cool bar, and a couple of alleys full of graffiti and counter-culture on the other. Excellent! I wouldn’t have found this stuff myself! That’s why I love what I do so much.

Of course, the scruffy cool bar was visited to drink a cold beer, and conversations continued. After showing me these narrow alleys, this lovely bar, and all these contrasts Jan showed me another part of Berlin, too. We went to the Museums-Insel.


The Museums-Insel is something quite different. Enormous buildings, architecture, from modern to old, what a place. A Walhalla for an architecture lover like myself. I was slightly overwhelmed at times, and haven’t shot as much of that architecture as I’d have loved to, but hey, I can always return, can’t I?

I can’t remember how far we walked, and what we all viewed, it was a lot! One of the things I really love too was the “outside culture” you see in many cities in Germany, and of course, Berlin is no exception!

Outside’s better

Where we, dutchies are mostly in our own backyard, or go to a bar and sit on a terrace when we go wild, Germany works in a whole other way. You can buy beers or other refreshments at a “Späti” just about everywhere. And then, take them to a park. Or a bit of meadow next to the Spree. Or any other place in other cities. People get together, sit outside, enjoy the weather, each other’s company, and of course, the aforementioned refreshments, and generally have a good time. I even saw free dance classes given. I love it! That’s one of the reasons why I love Germany, and especially, Berlin, so much!

..and Jazz, too

After walking around for a couple of hours, shooting some photos, and having a good time, we decided to call it a day and went our separate ways. I went back to my Airbnb, and decided to go out for a drink in a cool bar near me which played a mixture of jazz and African music, and enjoyed my evening as I let the day pass in my mind. I’ll be back in that bar for sure, the mix of music, relaxed atmosphere, and great draft beers was a perfect way to end this day.

Thanks, Jan for having me, and showing me around Berlin-Mitte. I had a blast!

~ B.B.

Written by Bas

Photographer, traveler, lover of black coffee, red wine and gin & tonic. Wearer of black glasses and a black hat, always a camera in hand, and the occasional writer.

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