My first time in Berlin [001]

GT's deputy editor Joe Heaney visits one of Europe's most exciting cities.

I like to think of myself as a pretty cosmopolitan kinda gay – well travelled and all that. However, my globe trotting had one great omission: Berlin. Strange really, as I fell head over heels in love with its mythical past as a teenager. It's the place Lou Reed named an album after and Broadway writers Masteroff, Ebb and Kander based a musical on (that's Cabaret by the way). A dodgy New Romantic outfit pinched the city's name for their band, and it clearly made an impression on David Bowie's, because he ended up moving there during the late ‘70s (upon which he discovered the West Berlin drag scene and penned the avant-pop opae Low, Heroes and Lodger – wowzers!).

Millions of tourists flock to the city hoping to experience a bit of these musical pasts; and witness for themselves the place that saw some of the worst Nazi theatrics and the subsequent Cold War divide between East and West. But, as I found out, Berlin is no museum piece. Representing the best in 21st century globalisation, artists and musicians take advantage of the city’s liberal atmosphere and cheap cost of living. This rich tapestry is reflected like scars on the city’s landscape, which veers between grand 19th century Imperial, mid 20th century brutalism, and contemporary re-inventions in glass and steel. I loved it.

Over the next couple couple of posts you can witness my first time in Berlin. And laugh at how bad I am on camera. (For the record, I got hardly any sleep – I don't normally have such large shopping bags under my eyes, honest...)

GT travelled to Berlin with Lufthansa and stayed at the Arcotel Hotel (Oranienburger Straße 52, 49 30 2787 53800). For more information visit and

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