Supporting your local businesses in COVID-19

11th May 2020 in Food & Drink, Guide, Health & Fitness
Small businesses in your neighbourhood are struggling to survive.

As the lockdown laws slowly are relaxed, the aftershocks are still being felt by independent businesses across Berlin.  To stoke some of the entrepreneurial spirit normally keeping our local kiez buzzing (and our bellies and livers hard at work), we decided to treat our relocation manager Emi to a day of delights using COVID-19 replacement services.

Here’s her diary of the day.

Start your day with a fresh pressed juice from BTTR (8:45am)

As I was still laying in bed sipping on my morning coffee the doorbell rang. My first delivery was here! I was delighted it was fresh juices, shots and “Mylk” from Kreuzberg based store BTTR.

Fresh pressed juices and shots from BTTR

BTTR has become a bit of an obsession of mine during this lockdown. Their cold pressed juices and various Mylk’s are created with a biohacking mentality, drawing as much from the latest science from Californian nutritionists as ancient Eastern medicine.

But could the whole day be just about fitness and health?

Cruelty free haircare products from wallacewallace (9:30am)

Cleansed and alert from juices, I sprang to action like a lightning bolt as the doorbell rang again. I opened the door dazzling the bike courier with a glittering smile that he was obviously unprepared for at this time in the morning.  He responded by solemnly handing me an old rolled up paper Edeka bag.

Cruelty free hair products from wallacewallace

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up the bag to find amazing cruelty free Kevin Murphy hair products. There is only one hairdresser that sells these products and that is wallacewallace.

Seconds later my phone rang and it was a facetime call from the salon’s founder Justin, who declared that he was going to guide me on a home hair treatment journey. After a brief exchange of affirmations on each other’s inner and outer beauty, he guided me on how to treat my hair at home and gave me a few tips and tricks I could do at home.

Justin gives me a tutorial on properly treating my hair.

I am not sure if it was Justin who felt my desperation or if Ina had seen the need for some tender loving care for my hair but this came like a gift from heaven.  Of course I finished up looking like Princess Angel, and proceeded to vogue around my apartment.  The dog looked somewhat concerned.

Stay safe with a locally made facemask from Katies Blue Cat Cafe (11:00)

I was given the task of sourcing a face mask which during this pandemic is not easy as they seem to sell out everywhere. I was already thinking about making one myself, and had seen someone ensemble one from an old bra and figured this may be my last resource.

While I was panicking about the thought of wearing a bra on my face, I popped out to grab a coffee, and there it was, a face mask!

Katies Blue Cat cafe is selling waterproof face masks.

Katies Blue Cat cafe does not only sell delicious cakes and coffee but also cotton face masks. Plus they are running a delivery service for their wonderful cookies and shortbreads. Suddenly this task involved coffee and cookies and became much more appealing.

DIY boozy brunch from Geist im Glass (13:00)

All that looking and feeling good was making me hungry.  Time for another delivery! It was brunch time from Lenaustraße based bar/restaurant Geist im Glass.

Sampler brunch from Geist Im Glas

I got a nice sampler brunch of all their favourites and what seemed to be a bottomless bloody mary.  The preparation really couldn’t have been better.  As the hard work is all done for you and neatly packaged, so that your feast just needs to be heated up and decanted, giving both the satisfaction of eating and false pride of having prepared the meal.

Their bloody mary bladder is generous to say the least.

I took my sweet time scoffing all the samplers and squeezed the final drops from the bottom of the bloody mary bucket.

Oh gosh I’m still drunk and it’s time for Hotpod Yoga (18:20)

As I was still trying to recover from my afternoon bloody mary buzz, my email notification went off and it was time for a yoga class from the lovely ladies from Hotpod. Before the lockdown, I would attend hotpod once or twice a week, as I found it a good way not only to sweat out my weekends sins of over indulging, but the soothing beats in a warm sweaty pod somehow gave me a shot of nostalgia for my raving days. 

Yoga a la Zoom.

The class was conducted over zoom and they sent you a playlist to listen to during the class. I did catch myself a few times moving along to the music more than the class. This may have still been the bloody mary’s in my system, and I definitely did doze off for a while during the savasana.

Yoga is more fun with a friend.

Wine for dinner? (19:45)

I had not even had time to peel myself off my yoga mat until it was time for the next task ! Here I was thinking it must be food but it was the next best thing – Wine. And not just any wine, but some of my favourite wines from Palsta, my favourite little Scandinavian hideout in Schillerkiez. 

Update: Very sadly since writing this article Palsta has decided to close its doors permanently.. Viivi and her team had built a beautiful concept of scandinavian food and some of the best natural wines. Despite being one of the most loved small restaurants in Berlin, it goes to show how serious the struggles faced particularly by bricks and mortar businesses are right now. This again shows the importance of us supporting small local businesses during this crisis in any way possible. 

View this post on Instagram

It has been an amazing journey, not even 2 years and so much sooner than we thought, our doors at Oderstrße 52 are staying permanently closed. Last winter was hard for us and we were really looking forward of a busy summer but unfortunately with these current conditions and an uncertain future of the whole industry , this is the only sustainable choice for Palsta. The amazing people in the industry and the whole community here in Berlin and over borders has shown us such support, warmth and companionship through our journey from beginning until the end, it will stay in my heart forever. To our customers : A restaurant has to earn its existence every day and our customers really made it worthwhile. Many thanks to all of our guests, I think we had the best ones and we had such memorable times with you. But of course the people I’m most grateful for are the people who made Palsta so special: Filip, Hannah, Maja, Charles, Luca, Parwiz, Patricia, Antoine, Linda, Marty, Matt, Markku, Ossi, German, and so many other strong professionals who were with us along the way. I thought I was lucky when I had my dream come true, the chance to open my own restaurant but to find people who make your place even better than you dreamed – not many people get to say that. It has been a pleasure, a privilege and an honour having you in my team. So this is goodbye. Do you remember what Palsta means? It means a piece of land, a city garden, a place where you can grow something. I will now take with me all the things that we grew here, put them in a secret place in my head and take them out when the time is right again. Rakkaudella, Viivi #thankyouandgoodbye #lovealways #palsta #neukölln #Schillerkiez #oderstraße #tempelhof

A post shared by Palsta (@palstawinebar) on

I had to obviously ‘taste’ the wines, it would only have been rude not to. But for this I needed some entertainment. I knew my friends Kenneth Scott & Noah Pred were doing a live stream dj set from home, so there was my entertainment sorted.

Wines from Palsta and living room DJ set live with Kenneth Scott and Noah Pred

There was no shame in dancing around in my yoga pants with a glass of wine, this is what quarantining is really about it in the end.

Hot Yoga at the Hotpod Yoga studio in Neukölln

31st January 2020 in Guide, Health & Fitness

What’s sweaty, inflatable, and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside?  Of course we’re talking about Hotpod Yoga, which you can find in Neukölln on Karl-Marx-Strasse 75.

Hotpod Yoga specialises in hot yoga, taking place in an inflatable pod which is heated to 37 degrees, and filled with therapeutic aromas and sounds to create a unique environment to practice their signature “Hotpod Flow”.

In comparison to other hot yoga studios, the pod is equipped with humidifiers to help you ‘break the sweat’ as well as the pod itself is made from the parachute material which improves airflow.

Classes are for all levels – The signature Hotpod Flow class, is designed for Level 1-2, Dynamic Flow for 2-3 and Nurturing Flow, a more restorative class, is for all Levels.  You can check the level by reading the teacher bios online.

The team have been kind enough to offer Expats In Wonderland 50% off your first class with the voucher code WONDERLAND when booking online.

Offer is valid for a single use for new customers and valid until 1st May 2020.

Instructors Aleks, Hülya, Francesca & Sebastian always teaches in English, while most other instructors teach in both English and German.  Non-German speakers are welcome at any class, and even if the instruction is in German, your teacher will be able to answer any questions in English if needed. Contact the team online to check the language of your class.

Sünne set up the studio in 2015 close to her home in Neukoelln after falling out of love with her daily 1.5 hour commute.  Stumbling into a Hotpod Yoga class in London, she felt like the yoga scene in Berlin was a little behind the times, and so took the opportunity to transplant the concept over here.

The atmosphere created in the pod, combined with the superb standard of instructors at the studio make Hotpod Yoga one of Berlin’s best and most welcoming studios.  With so many options to choose from, the offering here is truly unique so whether you are a seasoned sweater or first timer it’s a good place to experience hot yoga at its best.

If you’re new to the neighbourhood, the team recommend taking a warm up walk or run in the nearby Hasenheide Park or Tempelhofer Feld before your stretch.  For healthy drinks and snacks after, pop into OAK cafe around the corner for a golden milk and delicious vegan/vegetarian food.  A great place to bond with your new yoga friends!

For businesses and groups, the Hotpod Yoga studio can also be rented for private functions.  Get in contact via the website to find out more.

Absurd / Acid Test / Avenue 66 label founder Oliver Bristow & fashion professional Jeff Steiger

13th January 2020 in Interviews

Swapping the glamour of LA for the shabbier charm of Berlin, Oliver Bristow and Jeff Steiger relocated themselves, their business and two dogs Aujus and Winston.

Oliver runs record labels Absurd / Acid Test, and Avenue 66, and has released music from Tin Man, Donato Dozzy, John Frusciante, Joey Anderson and more.

No photo description available.

After moving to Berlin, Jeff landed a German speaking job in the fashion industry after just 6 months of lessons.  With a bit of hard work it can be done! So proud.

We catch up with them a year after their move to see how they are settling in.

You guys had stable jobs in the USA, a house, and various music projects rooted in the local scene. Why move to Berlin?

Oliver: I had been working at Amoeba (the world’s largest independent record store) for almost 20 years, and while I loved my job and the people I worked with, it became very comfortable.  

We were both searching for something new. Between the political climate in the US and the ridiculous amount of time we spent in traffic in LA everyday, we decided to sell our house and make the move.  Sometimes it’s good to make yourself vulnerable and this move has certainly done that.

We just wanted a change, and we’ve always loved Berlin.

How did you find the relocation process? What was the toughest part for you? Finding a flat, getting a visa, finding work?

Thankfully due to Expats In Wonderland we had our flat within 2 weeks of landing in Berlin and visa sorted within a month.  We took 6 months off to take an intensive Deutsch course, before looking for work. I suppose that was the hardest part. I found work quickly after finishing up the course and Oliver is now working in Music Copyright aside from his label work.

Which neighbourhood have you chosen to live in and why? Did you consider other areas?

We were open to a few different areas, but landed in Kreuzberg.  We love it here, the Kiez is much more mellow than in years past and we’re central to everything.

Why did you choose your particular apartment?  What features/factors were most important to you when choosing a place to live?

We chose our place because we fell in love with the exposed brick, the proximity to the parks and the canal, and how close we are to friends, our gym and more.

Oliver & Jeff’s living room with furniture from LA.

What approach have you taken to making your living space your own?

When we first arrived we got some basics for our flat, but not much.

Their ever expanding record collection.

We shipped our furniture along with 2000+ records in a shipping container over from LA, so it was around 6 weeks before everything arrived.

Their shipping container from LA arrives in Berlin!

How did you find the process of relocating your labels over here?

(O) My record labels were already manufactured and distributed here in Germany through Wordandsound in Hamburg, so we already had a network here.  We’d been coming here for many years and doing label nights at places like Berghain/Panorama Bar. Most of the artists on the label are based either in Berlin or Europe, so from that perspective it’s been a real advantage to be closer to everyone.

Do you ever get homesick for your home country?  What things do you miss the most? Are there things you do or places you go when you need a taste of your roots?

I wouldn’t say homesick so much as missing family and friends. That’s the hardest part. That and tacos.  Definitely miss tacos.

What do you think Berlin has to offer that is different to your previous home town?  What are the best things about living in Berlin?

Berlin has such a strong artist community and such freedom.  There’s just something magical about it. I love that fact that I don’t have to own a car anymore and that I can get anywhere I need to via bike within 10 – 20 mins. Summers at the lakes are amazing and our dogs absolutely love all the parks.

How have you integrated into the city? Have you learnt German? Did you make local friends or mostly expats?

We’ve made a lot of new friends.  Some though the music community and others through our German courses. 

Do you have any specific plans for what you would like to accomplish while living here, or just enjoy the lifestyle and spoils of the city?

We’ve just finalized our GmbH for a future project, can’t really say much about that yet, but other than that just soaking up the culture and enjoying everyday life in a new city.

What are you favourite places in and around Berlin to…

…eat

We mostly cook at home, but there’s an Israeli spot ‘Cafe Mugrabi‘ here in Kreuzberg that’s fantastic.  Lon Men’s Noodle House in Charlottenburg (best Tawainese)  And Ammazza Pizza in Kreuzberg is a go to spot for us as well.

…drink

Amazing coffee at Bonanza in Kreuzberg / we love to take out of town friends to Tier Bar for cocktails

…shop

Always fun to check out the flea markets.  Hard Wax, OYE, and Sound Metaphors are close to our place so those we frequent regularly.

View this post on Instagram

Hard Wax is a record shop located in the Kreuzberg borough of Berlin, Germany. It was founded in December 1989 by Mark Ernestus at the ground floor of a Reichenberger Straße’s building. It is specialized in techno music, reggae, dub and dubstep. Hard Wax also serves as a distributor for several Berlin-based record labels linked to the Basic Channel aesthetic. Some members (or former members) of its staff are prominent DJs like DJ Hell, Gernot Bronsert of Modeselektor, Marcel Dettmann, DJ Rok, Gabriele „Mo“ Loschelder or Electric Indigo (Susanne Kirchmayr) who was in charge of sales from 1993 to 1996. The shop sets place a mail order system through its website (which represented 50% of the sales in 2009). In 1996 Hard Wax moved to the third floor of an old factory in Paul-Lincke-Ufer 44a sharing its premises with the Basic Channel record label and the Dubplates and Mastering studio. It’s one of the oldest record stores in electronic music in Berlin. Playing the role of an important hub for the techno community in the world, the shop helped extensively the development of this burgeoning scene in the 90s. Furthermore, as with Tresor club in Berlin, it shares a privileged relationship with the musicians of Detroit techno in the so-called "Berlin-Detroit axis". #techno #electro#technomusic #hardwax #berlin #berlintechno#berghain #germany #music #house #party #detroit#detroittechno #acidmusic #vinyl #afterparty#records #electronic #timewarp #tresor #disco #technoparty #ibiza #acid #dj #djing

A post shared by Hard Wax (@hardwax) on

…explore

Biking in Grunewald, and discovering all the parks and lakes!

What advice would you give to other expats thinking to move to the city?

Biggest advice would be to take some German lessons, not only will you learn the language, but loads of history & culture and meet new people from around the world.

Meet the expats: Interview with photographer Chihiro Otsuka

14th October 2019 in Artists, Interviews, Photography
Chihiro Otsuka – Artist / Photographer / EIW Client

Chihiro (@lia_ottsu) left Japan following her boyfriend but mostly because she felt she would stagnate in Tokyo as an artist. From starting off as a self-taught photographer in Sydney, interpreting her roots in Tokyo, to a new artistic adventure in Berlin, she’s always shooting along the way.

Chihiro relocated to the German capital early 2019, we helped with her visa and are happy to present her as part of our Meet the Expats series.

Continue reading »

Moving to Berlin from the USA to work

27th June 2019 in Guide, Moving To Berlin, Relocation


Are you a US citizen moving to Berlin?

We’ve put together a quick rundown on what you need to know before moving to Berlin from the USA to work.  In this fast-food article you’ll find out what special opportunities and restrictions affect US citizens moving to Germany, starting from your intention to relocate through to securing your working visa.

Continue reading »