This bright yellow booklet invites you to become a citizen of Berlin for three days, three weeks, or three months. Carl Goes Berlin is meant to be an un-typical, non-touristy travel guide “for curious and creative people”. It differs from regular tourist guides — instead of listing all the usual attractions, it lets locals or expats reveal their favorite, not so well-known spots in their city.
The booklet is divided into five sections: Contents, Essentials, Work, Live and Getting Away & Getting Lost. In each of the chapters listings are mixed with interviews with people who live and work in Berlin, like techno entrepreneur Dimitri Hegemann, violin maker Thilde van Norel and entrepreneur Aydo Schosswald. Questions like “Where do you find inspiration?”, “Where is the best place for culture in Berlin?” and “Where’s your city hideaway in Berlin when you want to get away from it all?” were asked, and so the answers given offer a very personal view on the city and the reader gets to know places that are probably not listed in any ‘regular’ tourist guide.
The chapter ‘Contents’ starts off with some photographs that show “Berlin’s DNA”, as the authors call it. It also contains how-to instructions depending on if someone visits Berlin for three days, three weeks or three months — places to see, cool places to sleep, inspiring co-working spots, cultural hotspots and of course some of the city’s most trendy bars and clubs. The Essentials chapter provides some general information on how to get to Berlin, a city map, and some basic German vocabulary, as well as an overview of the different city quarters and an event calendar.
The guide becomes interesting with the ‘Work’ and ‘Live’ chapters, that is meant for those who really plan on staying in Berlin for a while, or settle down there completely. It provides information on where to find work, how to hire staff, an overview of networking events and co-working spaces, and also practical information about things like business insurance, opening a bank account and of course where to learn German. The ‘Live’ chapter focuses on living in Berlin and delivers information on food, accommodation and shopping. The Food section portrays a variety of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner spots, but also features food markets, some more posh options, good places for snacks, cafés, and of course drinks. As a last part accommodation options are introduced — not only for short-term stays, but also longer term accommodation.
The ‘Getting Away & Getting Lost’ chapter invites the reader to wander “aimlessly without a plan” because it “sometimes brings unexpected inspiration”. It gives specific tips about where you can get lost in Berlin, like the former Tempelhofer Feld airport, or the urban agriculture hub Prinzessinnengarten. However, telling the “creative people” who read this guide to stroll around without a plan and then giving them tips is quite a paradox. At the same time it totally fits in the “getting lost in a city is cool” trend. At the very end some lined pages are left empty for own notes, so you can keep track of all the cool spots you’ve discovered, no matter if you’ve found them with or without help of Carl.
What sets this guide apart from other travel guides, and what it makes interesting in particular, is that it also focuses on people who want to stay in Berlin for a longer time. In that way it’s a nice guide for the urban nomad generation — people who can work from any place they want because they only need a laptop and a proper Wi-Fi connection. One point of critique is the choice for Berlin as the first guide in the Carl Goes series. Although there’s plenty of interesting tips in the booklet, a lot has been written about creative city Berlin in the past decade. Let’s make a guide about Leipzig or Düsseldorf!