All posts filed under “Berlin

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6 Freaky Things About Berlin Startups

Unless “mystery shopper” and “cat sitter”  really count as grownup jobs, it is fair to admit that I never had a job before moving to Germany. I had a family, though, and that family was led by two proud members of your average Italian working class. They took pride in enduring through their working hours for me and my sister, embraced the suffering of it and its discouraging lack of prospects. As I witnessed my parents’ lives, I grew up preparing psychologically for the depressing start of my career, kind of like a criminal prepares for jail time.

After five years in Berlin and more than one tech company on my resume, I can say that working here has been mildly weird, consistently fun and nothing like I was expecting. These are six things that struck me about German tech startups.

1) Quirky Team Names

One thing I’ve learned from the German startup scene, is that descriptive names are so very passé. If you’re hired as an accountant in a tech company, for example, the chances you’ll end up working in the “finance team” are extremely slim. Your team will instead be referred to with the name of an animal/a famous scientist/a made-up native American tribe.   You will attend serious meetings meant to address the concerning performance of the angora rabbits, to contemplate the possibility of new hires among the raccoons or to find a new leader for the alpacas. My scientific guess is that by the year 2025 all the animal names will be taken and startups will have to start exploring uncharted territories, naming their teams after things like sexually transmitted diseases, stripper nicknames, pokemons and toppings you can find on frozen yogurt.

Read the rest of this post on The Local

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I have a new Berlin project. It is called Mikroskop.

Months ago I was in Switzerland with my boyfriend. We couldn’t afford anything so we mostly walked around the city with our guide book and took naps in our Ibis-budget hotel room.  Right after one of those naps an idea hit me:

– “I feel like Lonely Planet is telling us everything and nothing about this place”

– “What do you mean?”

– “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could experience a city  not only through historical macro-events but also through the microscopic, personal stories of its inhabitants?”

Back in Berlin I kept thinking about it. Unlike any sane person, when I have an idea I can get awfully obsessed and drag the people around me down a spiral of insanity. In this case, the designated victim was my friend Simone, who happens to be a web-designer and seemed like the perfect guy to push into my new project.

Nine months later, Mikroskop was born.

mikroskop homepage

Mikroskop is a website that provides curious Berliners and tourists with a human, intimate connection to Berlin by recording personal stories and organizing them in a map.

It is also a huge challenge, because 1) it involves a kind of storytelling and technical abilities that I’m not mastering (yet) and will have to learn over time 2) it takes my comedic security blanket and sets it on fire, pushing me to find the heart of each story in a whole different way 3) it focuses on and exposes people who are not me, which makes everything scarier and more delicate.

On the other hand, it’s refreshing to have a creative project that pushes me to talk to people instead of being alone with some cookies in front of a laptop, which is what writing in general is about.

This project is my love letter to Berlin and to the tiny magic happening every second of every day in each of its corners. If you’re reading this you might be part of that magic and I would be extremely glad to hear your story. Just hunt me down on social media or write me an email!

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Pictures of Wedding, Berlin

The only times I hear stories about Wedding is when people swear they found dead bodies in it.

Ok, maybe it was only one body and only one story. But still, it’s not like Wedding ranks incredibly high on the list of Berlin’s most loved neighborhoods and that’s a big, fat shame.

Wedding is like a lo-fi cover version of (the idea people have of) Berlin. It’s subtle and hard to hold on to, like that stray cat you once adopted even though it was ugly and traumatized but you ended up loving him anyways.

Here’s some photos:

 

Wedding Berlin Park

Wedding Berlin Park

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German Supermarkets: A User’s Guide

This was written by me and featured originally on Uberlin.co.uk

Four years after claiming independence and moving to Berlin, the supermarket still feels like the most iconic place of my adulthood and one of the most fascinating Berlin places to write about. While other bloggers document colourful night scenes and vivid cultural environments, I find myself in a complicated love triangle with Lidl and Rewe, and am now ready to disclose the dynamics of these relationships. My user guide to Berlin supermarkets will lead you through a correct, satisfying and 100% German grocery shopping experience.

Dairy CaseDairy Case by Roey Ahram, on Flickr

CHAPTER 1: “I’M A PFAND MACHINE READY TO RELOAD”

First: Enter your supermarket of choice.

Second: Head towards the Pfand machine.

Any respectable trip to a German supermarket includes a mandatory stop at the Pfand machine, which is usually located before the actual shopping area. Not stopping there would be like going to IKEA without eating meatballs.

Glance at the 75-year-old lady who just beat you to the line by one fraction of a second. Using her last remaining life force, she’s carrying seven plastic bags full of bottles and is now feeding them into the machine.

Very. Slowly.

Consider leaving the line but then change your mind: it would be a drag to go through the whole shopping process with a bag dripping a mix of Club Mate and beer (probably a real cocktail recipe somewhere in Berlin). Also, you could do with freeing up an extra three square metres in your room before your flatmate calls the crew of Hoarding: Buried Alive.

Years pass. The lady lets you know she’s done by smiling at you and saying something incomprehensible, which is probably German for “I’m a rich bitch now. So long, suckers!” Watch her pink-haired body floating away with what was probably hundreds of Euros and a smile of victory on her face.

It’s your turn now.

You only have five bottles, so this shouldn’t take long. Unfortunately for you, after the first bottle has been sucked in, the machine notifies you that the containers placed on the other side of the wall are full. “You need to press the red button”, says the Pfand-bot.

The red button is the last trace of a Germany that wants you to feel in control. Clearly, its only purpose is to give you a false sense of safety, just like the numbers on Lost. Don’t even mind the button and do the only rational thing: cry out for help.

Don’t lose hope: someone will come.

CHAPTER 2: “WE FOUND CAKE IN A HOPELESS PLACE” Read More

Berlin’s The Wyld or What happens in Vegas should totally stay in Vegas

PREMISE

Sometimes I put myself in situations without being fully informed on what they actually are. Clearly, I haven’t learned anything from the time I went to see Dancer in the Dark and expected it to be a Broadway-style musical about female empowerment.

That lazy shallowness is most certainly the fil rouge of my not very intricate personality and also what led me to accept a ticket to The Wyld, Berlin’s newest shiniest mega high budget show, playing at Friedrichstadt Palast.

Of course the following conversation is also to blame:

– Hey, you wanna come see The Wyld?
– What’s that about?
– Like, The Mummy meets Alien meets Fame.
– ….
– They have trained poodles. One of them is orange.
– OMGYES!

I mean, how do you f*cking resist to poodles?!

FSP_THE_WYLD_poodles_web_d

 THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BEFOREHAND

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The Barbie Dreamhouse Near Death Experience

At first I didn’t want to write about my Barbie® Dreamhouse Experience. I wanted to bury it in me till the day I’d be able to afford professional help.

Then I realized how many unaware followers Barbie has and I can’t stay silent anymore. I need to save them. I need to write about it, even if it means reliving that childhood trauma you pretend was just a bad dream.

Dramatic Pause.
Flashback.

barbie dream house experience

Barbie®’s house was built overnight next to the ugliest shopping mall in Berlin. Just like that. We woke up and there it was, like the castle of a very gay Dracula screaming “I’m in town, bitches!”. I didn’t want to go there, actually, but every time I’d pass by I felt the dark pink side of the force calling me, seducing my soul from afar with its sober yet fascinating elegance. Plus: a giant fountain shaped like a girly shoe. How could I resist?! Read More

Berlin Spreepark: some photos

I know, I haven’t written in a while, but my royal baby experience took everything out of me. Let’s do a flashback post, then.

After years in Berlin, some weeks ago I finally managed to visit Berlin Spreepark, the old DDR amusement park, now inactive. The guided tour is kind of boring (if your german is as ridiculous as mine), so I took some photos.

(Of course for the truly cool pictures there’s always Uberlin)

berlin spreepark - ferris wheel Read More

And Photos

I’ve always been terribly untalented at anything visual (painting, fashion, furnishing: just name anything that has to do with aesthetic) so when my camera broke down, last October, I thought it was the end of my photographic attempts.

But then I won a Diana Mini White through a giveaway hosted on DigitalCosmonaut.com (very cool Berlin blog!) and I started taking pictures again. Here’s the first attempts:

grilltempelhof2 Read More