It wouldn’t be false to say that most people are drawn to Berlin as the hedonism capital of Europe, a sapiosexual paradise of nonconformity where people go to never grow up.
But Berlin is more than the European Vegas, and while it is surely a neverland to some keta-sniffing clubgoers in mesh and head to toe “Berghain black,” Berlin’s hedonistic activities dance like Bacchantes around a truly profound spiritual center, orbiting the flame of a life well lived. Berlin is also a capital of sincere spiritualism, where yoga studios exist in abundance and yet are stripped to their essence, devoid of “aspirational lifestyle aesthetics” a la the USA.
Spiritualism is evident in the street art—there are quotes by Rumi: “Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there,” (cheesy sure, but it’s nice) one punk-style banner draped over a restaurant awning in Kreuzberg demands “Community Not Commodity” and, another poster plastered all over Berlin says simply: “OHM.”
While people might first be drawn to the nightlife and the general spirit of freedom and nonconformity, I discovered Berlin to be an excellent place to detox and nurture my body, renovate my lifestyle (how American!) and become truly centered. (Not to mention that a life of luxury comes at a low price.)
These are a few of my favorite spots in Berlin for cultivating good health.
Full disclosure: I’ve never been to LA, but this is how I imagine it is at its best. This cafe has free wifi, excellent breakfast and lunch options (quinoa bowls!), juices, decadent vegan desserts and a well-designed wooden structure that makes Daluma a great place to people-watch on pregnancy hill (semi-endearing term for posh neighborhood Prenzlauer Berg, which, despite its family-friendly inclination should not be dismissed, as it is full of great restaurants and cafes). There are bowls of coconut sugar around the cafe, in case you are watching your glycemic index or simply prefer the taste to regular sugar as I do.
You might not know the healing you need before you visit this truly magical yoga oasis in Prenzlauer berg. Ewelina, who seems unconfined to forces such as gravity and negative human emotions, hosts semi-private yoga sessions (6 people per class) which are more like fully immersive sensory experiences complete with aromatherapy, sound therapy, and life-changing reiki. At 20 euros per class, it is like luxury for your soul. Bubanja also offers private reiki sessions and mindfulness treatments aimed at improving our relationship with things such as work, food and body image.
This is one of my favorite spots in Berlin. During my stay in Friedrichshain I would run along the Spree river and end here, sitting on the few wooden steps that descend into the river. Beautiful any time of the day and in any weather, but in the morning it can be completely empty and so peaceful. Put your feet in the water. A good place for a quiet moment in nature, spent with ducks and frogs, and water that sparkles.
BRUNCH AT BETY N CATY
There are no shortage of healthy restaurants in Berlin, but Betty 'n Caty stands out for its variety of gluten free options and pleasant outdoor seating. My favorite brunch item is scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on delightful nutty bread that you wouldn’t know is Gluten Free if they didn’t tell you. They serve juices too, the one with avocado and lemon has a unique texture that is quite nice.
Cross the bridge at Saalestraße from Neukölln into a different world: hidden among industrial warehouses where there is very little foot traffic, Big Bio Discount is a haven where organic products cost a fraction of what they do at normal bio grocery stores. They have a great selection of wine and organic liquors, as well as some fruit and fresh vegetables. But be warned, they accept only cash and Maestro. Bring your own bags.
Vöner has the best vegetarian döner kebab in Berlin if you don't feel like waiting at Mustafa's, and it's served overflowing with fresh vegetables in a cool cafe. The bathroom is scribbled in adoring compliments. You can choose from a variety of sauces; I would recommend the peanut one, but if you're stuck, ask for recommendations. The staff is almost as delightful as the food.
What are your favorite health conscious spots in Berlin??