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Berlin, Germany

Most of the newer places opening in Berlin tend to be of the loungy variety, and many have aquariums.

You can still find all-night techno parties, but an after-work scene has arrived.

Reingold is an elegant bar behind a discreet entrance in the midst of Mitte, the area that once abutted the eastern side of the Berlin Wall. The bar stretches almost the entire length of a narrow room with a large mural. The place is chic but understated.  Even the fish tank is discreet.  Berlin's beautiful people are here after midnight.
Reingold,  11 Novalisstrasse; (49-30) 2838 7676. Free admission.


For dancing, try WMF, a club that began life soon after the
fall of the Berlin Wall in what had been the WMF kitchenware
factory. In new premises, its entrance now has a view of the illuminated dome of the restored Oranienburgerstrasse synagogue.  You will find it down a dimly lit street, along a crumbling graffiti-smattered wall, to emerge into a converted warehouse where crowds dressed mainly in gray and black dance on concrete floors to house and techno music. This club is spare, intense, and raw.
WMF,  23 Ziegelstrasse; (49-30) 2838-8850. Closed Wednesday and Sunday. Admission, $6.80 to $9.

For a cooler  note, try the Greenwich on Gipsstrasse, with the largest aquarium of any bar in town. Leather  padded walls and  animal intensity are in the air as gay and straight couples admire each other over martinis and whiskey sours. Closing time is 6 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. weekends.
Greenwich Bar,  5 Gipsstrasse; (49-177) 280-8806. Free
admission.

As you head home, you may wish to stop in on Newton's, a bar on the Gendarmenmarkt decorated with photographs, and on 90 Grad, an upmarket disco that is as louche as the city it serves.
90 Grad,  37 Dennewitzstrasse; (49-30) 2300-5954. Open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Admission, $6.80 to $9, at 2.2 marks to the dollar.
Newton,  57 Charlottenstrasse; (49-30) 2029 5421. Free admission.

The gallery district of Mitte is the heart  of Berlin's art and fashion scene. If the Ku'damm is Madison Avenue, Mitte is SoHo, circa 1979,  with young artists and designers and those who follow them like heat-seeking missiles. Dozens of small private galleries (mainly showcasing contemporary artists and photographers) line the narrow streets behind the Hackescher Markt — Sophienstrasse, Auguststrasse and Oranienberger Strasse.

As in SoHo, the galleries have attracted the fashionistas, and there are almost as many boutiques as galleries now.

HOTELS

 

Added 11/28-The Proppeler Island Lodge has a number of unique artist designed rooms.  Very short check in and check out times though.


Sorat Art'otel, Joachimstaler Strasse 29, (49-30) 884470, fax (49-30) 88447700, www.sorat-hotels.com/artotel-berlin, the little rooms have twin beds, each with a padded gray-green headboard, TV, phone and sparkling bathroom with a shower. Singles now start at $123; the price includes a sumptuous breakfast buffet served in the downstairs dining room.

At the Hotel Künstlerheim Luise,
Luisenstrasse 19, (49-30) 284480, fax (49-30) 2844 8448, on the Web, www.kuenstlerheim-luise.de, each of the hotel's 30 rooms is an installation, commissioned to a single artist for about $69 a night; the spotless dorm-style bath with shower stalls, sinks and toilets is down the hall. The price includes a cold Continental breakfast of croissants, cereal and coffee. One drawback: the hotel is right next to the S-Bahn (overhead train) line, and some of the rooms can be noisy.


EATS
Mahachai Thai,
Schlüterstrasse 60, (49-30) 313 0879, tucked near the S-Bahn stop Savignyplatz— a serenely decorated Thai restaurant with fresh, authentically spiced dishes. You can get chicken curry, with rice, beer, Thai salad and shrimp chips, for $23.

Oxymoron,
Rosenthaler Strasse 40-41, (49-30) 2839 1886, turns into a disco at 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The early supper menu is a good value.Try a plate of garlic-sauced linguine and a glass of pinot grigio, for $9.25.

Leysieffer's,
Kurfürstendamm 218, (49-30) 885 7480, also on Friedrichstrasse around the corner from Galeries Lafayette, sells exquisite cookies.
The Berlin transit network (www.bfg.de) is very user-friendly. A day pass card is good for all U-Bahn, S-Bahn and bus rides within the city center, and costs $4 a day.

Hamburg, Germany
Current from June 2000. 

St. Pauli is a funky neighborhood on Hamburg's harbor and in the summer, it's one of the Germany's best places to have a good time. Its a scruffy neighborhood where everything is in walking distance and it has one of Europe's seedier red-light districts. And even if you're not in that particular market, it's a hopping place to party on the weekends, especially if you stray from the Reeperbahn (a main drag lined with touristy souvenir stores, nightclubs and the requisite sex shops) onto the neighborhood's side streets or into the adjacent Schanzenviertel, a Williamsburg-esque neighborhood where locals usually start and finish their evenings out. The sun sets long after 10pm from late May to July, and it's usually back up in the very wee hours, when you stumble out of the area's bars, discos or brothels.

One of the area's more offbeat eateries is Kochsalon (Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse 95), a tiny establishment with an ever-changing menu, art exhibits and "food as art" contests. Once you've had your fill (or after 10pm, when most bars open), head to the chic, subterranean Lounge (Gerhardstrasse 16)

Make your way inland along the Davidstrasse. If you're male, you can walk past the barricade barring the blocklong, red-lit Herbertstrasse to women and anyone under 18. Interested guys can partake of the legal high-end services offered by the women-as-window-displays (prices start at about $50), but if you're female, don't crash the gate unless you want to get yelled at or have buckets of pee dumped on you by the sex workers and pimps. 

In Hamburg partying starts late. After midnight, things are just getting going at Amphore (Hafenstrasse 140), a place with harbor views, outdoor tables, expensive drinks, a gorgeous media-hotshot clientele. At the bottom of the staircase nearby is the Golden Pudel Club (Fischmarkt 27), a grungy live-music locale (check for offbeat bands and DJs) that's a favorite with locals, from long-haired kids to respectable burghers. Or you can walk the length of the glitzy Reeperbahn, starting at the Mojo Club (Reeperbahn 1). Mojo is known for its sometimes edgy music (Kruder & Dorfmeister made early headway here), and  jazz. 

The busy, neon-lit street at the western end of the Reeperbahn is the Grosse Freiheit, where the Beatles got their start at a now defunct club; you can catch top rock bands at the Grosse Freiheit 36. Table-dance and strip fans should follow their instincts to any number of establishments.

A few blocks inland from St. Pauli is the Schanzenviertel, where you'll find a plethora of funky places to quaff a great pilsner (try Daniela Bar, Schulterblatt 74, or the unmarked Betty Ford Clinic, at the corner of Schulterblatt and Susannenstrasse); sip cocktails at the sleek, model-filled Bar Rossi (Max-Brauer-Allee 279), whose patrons also have world-class attitude (hey, Mariah Carey shot her last video here).

In the Morning, try a  Bauernfrühstück (a big potato-egg skillet breakfast, about $7) at Erika's Eck (corner of Sternstrasse and Kampstrasse) before finally retiring.

When you awake later in the day take a ferry trip on the Elbe (commuter boats dock every 15 minutes at the Landungsbrücken subway stop near the brewery). Get off at the Teufelsbrück stop 20 minutes away, and walk along the sandy riverbanks until dusk, when locals start lighting bonfires on the beach.

Lodging

If you're on a budget, the youth hostel Auf dem Stintfang (Alfred-Wegener-Weg 5, 011-49-40-31-34-88, jh-stintfang@t-online.de) will set you back only $13­$20, depending on the number of beds in your room. The hilltop hostel overlooks the harbor and is within walking distance of nearly everything in St. Pauli. For those who want a little more luxury (i.e., waterfront views, no strangers), the Hotel Hafen Hamburg (Seewartenstrasse 9, 011-49-40-31-11-36-00) offers double rooms for around $90.

Munich

Clubs-
Atomic Cafe-Neuturmstr. 5 • 80331 München-Bands and DJs-everything from German Indie pop to new wave classics
Backstage-Wilhelm-Hale-Str./Birketweg - 80639 München


Amusement Parks in Germany-
Europa Park-Rust, Germany, not far from Straussburg, France-This Place will change your idea of what an amusement park should be like.  Its a 2 day park definately.  Not far from Frankfurt.
Heidi Park-in Soltau- Home of a great new wooden coaster and Giant Statue of liberty, this place has one of the coolest log flumes around.  One full day minimum.
Holiday Park-Hassloch, Germany.  Small but cute park with a new hypercoaster.  Half day minimum.
Phantasialand-Unfortunately, I didn't make it to this park yet, but I hear it is not to be missed.  Easily accessable by train from Bonn and Koln.
Warner Brothers Movie World-Near Essen, Germany.  Not unlike Universals movie park in Orlando.

The Imhoff-Stollwerck Museum in Cologne has exhibits on the history of chocolate and of the company as well as a working factory floor where visitors can watch the chocolate production process from cocoa beans to wrapped-up bars. The museum is open daily; admission is about $8. Although the exhibits are labeled in both English and German, the museum's Web site, www.schokoladenmuseum.de, is only available in German. Information: (49-221) 931 888-0.

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