I’ve just returned home from a week’s break in Berlin – my first visit to the city since 1990, shortly after the Wall came down and when there were street vendors selling fragments of it (I have a piece somewhere).
I saw many great things, ate some good food and drank some even better beer. Berliners are on the whole very friendly, and the vast majority responded to my poor attempts at German (my GCSE was gained through rote learning and memorising key phrases) in near-flawless English.
However, this isn’t a travel blog so I’ll limit this blog post to a quick contrast.
- At one bar, we were welcomed in by the barman who made friendly conversation while pouring our drinks. We were there to see the blues band playing (this was actually our second choice of entertainment, but the New Indie Bands night at Lido was sold out), When we realised we were in the wrong room, the barman personally took us to the right place. When he saw the doorman was distracted, he stamped our hands and waved us through. A thoroughly nice fellow.
- Whether it is because Germans are particularly fond of going to restaurants on Sundays, or whether the rain drove everyone insides to make it seem busier, but the restaurants in Hackescher Markt were particularly crowded. The restaurant we chose was the wrong one. From being herded to wait by the bar to the long waits between courses, it took 2 hours to get our main meal. The service was pretty poor and the food wasn’t much better – I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt to the staff who looked overworked, but it is the restaurant owner’s fault for not employing enough staff on what was clearly a busy time
The second venue was in a primer location, and was far busier. Yet the experience was far worse. Location is undoubtedly a factor in success, but it pales in significance to customer service and customer experience. Venues survive and thrive via word of mouth – the internet and social media is amplifying its power.
Things can and will change. I’m but one small player in the constant interactions between nodes and networks, but I am nevertheless a player. Therefore…
I recommend going the the Junction Bar in Kreuzberg for some live music and a friendly atmosphere (nearest U-Bahn is Gneisenaustraße).
I recommend avoiding Dante am Hackeschen Markt in Mitte (nearest S-Bahn is Hackescher Markt).
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bump/758310/
Chosen as a more mature alternative to my original choice of image