Berlin Expat Life: Faye Morley, British Fitness Trainer

Berlin Expat Life: Faye Morley, British Fitness Trainer

Berlin expat life through the eyes of British fitness trainer, Faye

Welcome to a new type of article on Berlin & Around! In starting this blog, I didn’t only want to share my own Berlin impressions, but also those of fellow expats. So, on top of day trips from Berlin and activities in the city, I’ll be publishing short interviews with new Berliners on what it’s like to be an expat in Germany, what’s to love about the city, and what isn’t. I was so excited to get Faye Morley on board for the first post. Faye is a fitness trainer at my favourite spin studio, BECYCLE. Let’s dive into her Berlin expat life!

Berlin & Around: Tell us about yourself 

Faye: I am a fitness trainer from the Essex/Suffolk border, an hour away from London. I specialise in Barre and dance fitness and have been living in Berlin for almost 3 years. I am a Barre instructor at BECYCLE and teach online for multiple fitness platforms.

expat life in berlin
Faye is a British fitness trainer who relocated to Berlin.

Berlin & Around: Why did you move to Berlin? What made you stay?

Faye: I moved to Berlin with my boyfriend (now husband) as I was in need of change. Living and working in London was fantastic but a bit too fast-paced and expensive. I had never lived abroad before and Berlin felt like a very exciting opportunity.

I have stayed because I still love exploring the city. And also wanted to be part of the diverse fitness community here.

Berlin & Around: What do you love about Berlin?

Faye: I love that every neighborhood in Berlin could be an individual city with so many different things to do and places to explore. I enjoy escaping to the lakes and parks outside of town, but my absolute favourite time is when the sun shines and the city really comes to life.

A big thing about Berlin is that you do not need to use public transport, I can either walk, or jump on my bike and move around the city freely, after living in London this is a real change! There are also always lots of cool events popping up around the city. Disco Bite is one of my favourite events: good food, music and sunshine!

expat life in berlin

Berlin & Around: What do you NOT love about Berlin expat life?

Faye: I don’t love the Supermarkets. Firstly due to the lack of peanut butter options! And also not being able to buy marmite and other things I miss from England, like crumpets!

Secondly because of the aggressive fast paced packing you have to be prepared for. (My first week in Berlin I was not prepared for this!)

Oh, I could also definitely do without the Berlin winters, and trips to the Burgeramt.

Berlin & Around: Do you have any Berlin tips for newcomers?

Faye: Take your time exploring the different neighborhoods before you decide where to live. We started out with a “spotahome” which is fully furnished and used this as a transitional apartment before we decided on where to find a long-term rental.

If you can, take a trip abroad in January/February to escape, the city can be very grey in the winter.

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Berlin & Around: What’s your favourite cafe or restaurant?

Faye: Ok, what Berlin lacks in supermarkets, it totally makes up for in cafes and restaurants. I have cheated because it’s impossible to choose just one:

  • Breakfast – ​Two planets​ – for the best toast
  • Coffee – ​​Röststätte
  • Lunch – ​Banh mi ​- For a Vietnamese Tofu baguette. (They also do crunchy pork.)
  • Dinner – ​Feel Seoul Good ​- Vegan Korean
  • Sweet Treat-​ Brammibals​ – Vegan donuts, the best donuts ever!!
expat life in berlin
Dinner at Feel Seoul Good.

Berlin & Around: Where’s your favourite neighbourhood – or even better, favourite street – and why?

Faye: When we first moved to Berlin we lived in Friedrichshain and I have so many fond memories of Revaler Strasse, it was so exciting to be in this new city with so much happening, music, flea markets, endless brunch options and a swimming pool (Haubentaucher)!

I saw one of my favourite British Indie Rock bands in a small venue just a 10 minute walk from our apartment. In England, there would have been 5000 people at the gig, but instead there were about 10 people, and we were the only ones that knew all the songs!

I also love Oderberger Strasse with the pastel buildings in Prenzlauer Berg, it’s probably what made me really fall in love with Berlin and want to live here long term.

expat life in berlin

Berlin & Around: Do you have a funny story about Berlin expat life?

Faye: There have definitely been lots of general translation issues and I really need to improve upon my German. The funniest story was probably when I thought I had hired a removal company to move apartments, but instead a small man with a very small van turned up, my husband was not impressed!

Berlin & Around: How can people get in touch with you?

Faye: Check out @movewithmorley​ for live workouts, online coaching and daily motivation!

Share Your Own Berlin Story

I’m always on the lookout for funny, inspirational, every day stories from other new Berliners! If you’d like to share your own take on Berlin expat life, fill out this form!

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Black-Owned Businesses in Berlin

Black-Owned Businesses in Berlin
This post contains affiliate links to products or offers I know you’ll love. These help me earn some coffee money and keep the blog going, at no charge to you.

Discover Black-Owned Businesses in Berlin, Curated by the Berlin & Around Community

As everyone knows, we are living in difficult times. If you are looking to support the Black community in Berlin, one of the best ways to do so is to support their businesses. Before writing this post, I reached out to my lovely followers and the wider expat community, and asked them about their favourite Black-owned businesses in Berlin.

I’ve uncovered many amazing new restaurants and shops I can’t wait to visit, and I hope this inspires you, too! So without further ado, here is (the start to) a list of black-owned businesses in Berlin.

Cafes and Restaurants

AtayaCaffe. A happening vegan brunch spot in Prenzlauer Berg, serving Afro-Italian cuisine that is 100% organic. Two Berlin expats run the eatery and share the flavours of their respective countries – Italy and Senegal – in a truly international atmosphere. The amazingly colourful dishes will make your mouth water just by looking at them!

RosaCaleta. This restaurant, proposing a fusion of Jamaican and European flavours, is in Kreuzberg, right next to Markthalle 9. Catering services, as well as a chef for rent, are available for private and corporate events.

Tembo African Restaurant and Bar. This Swahili restaurant and bar/lounge is set at the edge of Lietzensee in Charlottenburg. You can taste eastern African cuisine on the ground floor, then make your way upstairs for the party. Tembo hosts monthly events showcasing African music, culture, and food.

Ya-Man. Jamaican restaurant in Moabit, which offers a wide range of healthy, fruity Caribbean options alongside classics like Jerk chicken. On top of a lovely cafe with outdoor seating, this restaurant also does catering.

Photo credit: AtayaCaffe

Barber shops and hair salons

Benny Barbers. An American-style Barber shop in Charlottenburg, owned by the son of a GI who grew up between the US and Germany. Owner Benny and his team not only provide barber services for men, but also sell various specialty products, including an in-house collection.

Global Hair Berlin. This Prenzlauer Berg salon also offers hair extension services, selling natural hair up to 75 cm in length. Many products can be purchased in the online shop.

Malaika Hair. Adding to the list of Black-owned businesses in Berlin’s Charlottenburg, this salon specialises in setting natural, professional hair extensions for women of all ethnicities.

Malaika Hair, one of the Black-owned businesses in Berlin
Photo credit: Malaika Hair

Online Shops

Swimmeriffics. An affiliate swimwear online shop. The owner of the shop lives in Germany, but free shipping is available worldwide. Take a look at the Swimmeriffics Instagram account for some summery inspiration.

Horticure. A very cool Berlin-based startup which virtually connects plant lovers with horticulturists, helping newbies become experienced plant parents. The business also sells and (contactlessly) delivers themed plant kits across Berlin’s zones A and B. It has never been easier to have an urban jungle at home!

Photo credit: Horticure

Add to the list of Black-owned businesses in Berlin!

This is by no means a complete repertoire of black-owned businesses in Berlin. For a more comprehensive look at Black organisations, businesses and sole traders in the city, you can check out Black Brown Berlin’s map.

This list will hopefully grow with time. If you have any other suggestions, let me know in the comments!

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The Most Instagrammable Places in Berlin Off the Beaten Path

The Most Instagrammable Places in Berlin Off the Beaten Path

This post on the most Instagrammable places in Berlin may contain affiliate links to tours and activities I know you’ll love. These help me earn a small commission, at no charge to you.

Where are the most instagrammable places in Berlin?

Whether you are visiting the city or a photo-obsessed local, you may be wondering where to find the most instagrammable places in Berlin. And, if you are anything like me, you may want to go beyond just snapping shots of the Brandenburg Gate. So this post will cover the top lesser known scenic spots in Berlin, split into 3 categories: historical spots, icons from an alternative viewpoint, and the most Instagrammable neighbourhoods in Berlin. Don’t miss my latest favourite, #8 Bergmannkiez.

Without further ado, here are my favourite Berlin photography suggestions:

      1. Schloss Biesdorf, Berlin’s Pink Palace
      2. Fortresses and Cobblestones in Köpenick
      3. Half-Timbered Houses in Spandau
      4. Secret Berlin Tours
      5. Monbijoubrücke: Best TV Tower and Spree Panorama
      6. Insel der Jugend, the Island of Youths
      7. Friedenau’s Posh Facades
      8. Karlshorst’s Garden Network
      9. Bergmannkiez: the Paris of Berlin

Berlin’s Most Insta-Worthy Historical Spots

Schloss Biesdorf, Berlin’s Pink Palace

When I discovered that Berlin had a pink palace named Schloss Biesdorf, I knew that I had to visit. But life got in the way for a while, and I moved to Switzerland and back, and did not get the chance until recently. Because I am a huge fan of photography and everything girly, I fell for this neoclassical beauty right away. The palace was built by a duke in 1868, purchased by the Siemens family shortly thereafter, bombed during WWII and restored post-communism to its former glory. In terms of access, the Palace is conveniently located a couple hundred metres from S-Biesdorf.

Old Town Köpenick

If you read my post on the top things to do in Berlin this summer, you will already be familiar with Köpenick. This is without a doubt one of the most Instagrammable places in Berlin that only locals know about. Köpenick escaped WWII bombings. As a result, the old town looks much like it did back in the 1600s, with cobblestone streets, castles, turrets and a few half-timber houses. Set where the Dahme River meets the Spree, Altstadt Köpenick is criss-crossed with canals, adding to the picturesque scenery.

If you’d rather see Köpenick from the water and learn some local history along the way, you can take a leisurely cruise.

Old Town Spandau

If you are based in West Berlin, you can get a similar experience in Spandau’s Old Town. And if you want to see more half-timbered houses (I did!), Altstadt Spandau is the place to go. Much more compact than Köpenick, you can visit this old town in a couple hours. The U-bahn takes you straight to your destination (stop: Altstadt-Spandau).

Secret Berlin Tours

If you’re more of a tour person, you can choose to go off the beaten path with a guide, opting for private or group tours. I personally am a huge fan of Get Your Guide, with over 400 tour options in Berlin for visitors, but also for locals.

Lesser Known Spots to Snap Away at Berlin’s Icons

Monbijoubrücke

Monbijoubrücke is the most touristy this blog is going to get, promise! This bridge provides the perfect opportunity to get a shot of the TV tower, the Spree River, and the Bode Museum in one go. Depending of course, on your angle. Therefore, when I am showing Berlin off to visitors, this spot just off the beaten track is always on the list.

Most instagrammable place in Berlin-Mitte

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Insel der Jugend

Insel der Jugend or Island of Youth is a tiny island in the Spree that served as a club house and summer camp during the communist era. One of the boys who went to this camp loved the location so much he swore he would open a cafe in the island’s half-timbered towers when he grew up. And he did – he still is the owner today. You can quickly reach Insel der Jugend from the city centre by train, hopping off at S-Treptower Park.

 

The Most Instagrammable Neighbourhoods in Berlin

Friedenau

Many locals refer to Friedenau as Berlin’s best kept secret. Although this neighbourhood is only a 10-minute S-bahn ride from Potsdamer Platz, it is surrounded by greenery and filled with cute brunch places and shops. Another area not destroyed during the war, Friedenau still boasts stately facades, housing art galleries, specialty stores and private residences. The upmarket neighbourhood is definitely worth a wander.

Karlshorst’s Garden Network

Karlshorst offers a beautiful network of small gardens (in German: Kleingartenanlage). These go on for miles, connected by narrow dirt paths with fairytale names such as ‘Alley of the 7 Dwarves’. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, this is the perfect place to walk or jog and completely leave the city behind. The gardens surround an old airport, adding to the feeling of intrigue as you get lost for hours. The best way to access the gardens is to get off the S-Bahn at Karlshorst Station and make your way towards Waldowallee.

 

Bergmannkiez: my absolute top recommendation

Last but most certainly not least, Bergmannkiez is an Instagrammer’s dream. I just visited this beautiful area a few days ago and will definitely be back. When people think of Kreuzberg, they usually don’t associate the bustling, sometimes gritty suburb with immaculate streets and grand balconies, reminiscent of Paris or Vienna. However, this is exactly what you get in Bergmannkiez.

Which of the most Instagrammable places in Berlin will you visit next?

In conclusion, there are many Instagram-worthy places in Berlin. The wonderful thing about this city is that there is always more to discover, and I’m sure I will soon be updating the article. Meanwhile, which of the most Instagrammable spots will you visit next? Let me know in the comments!

Things To Do in Berlin This Summer

Things To Do in Berlin This Summer

There are still plenty of things to do in Berlin this summer, even if everything is different.

Summer in Berlin is the season everybody loves. But this year, things are going to be different, and of course, travel is out of the question. So how can we still enjoy the warmer weather? If you like being outdoors, read on for my top things to do in Berlin this summer.

Treptower Park, one of the many places Berliners can explore this summer.

Get a bike

The first rule of lockdown is to get a bike. The distances in Berlin become much more manageable, and if you don’t have a car, you will feel freer right away, and not be confined to the 2-kilometre radius around your home. I was lucky enough to get a hand-me-down bike from my boyfriend’s mom, and it has changed my entire outlook on Berlin and lockdown. If you have a bike that you love, tell us which one in the comment section!

June update: we are now allowed to go on biking tours! Of course, keeping social distancing in mind. Guided excursions, such as this 3-hour secret bike tour, are a great way to see the city through a local’s eyes, and get some exercise while you’re at it. 

Get lost in a forest

An amazing thing about Berlin is that we are surrounded by forests. It doesn’t matter if you are in the West, where Grunewald beckons, or in the East, where the Wuhlheide Forest offers an extensive network of trails. Either way, these forests give off the impression of being millions of miles from civilization. Wuhlheide is my latest discovery, a haven for joggers, dirt bikers, and walkers – and there are so many paths, both paved and unpaved, that you can wander along for ages without running into anyone.

Another wonderful forest is Plänterwald, housing an abandoned Soviet era amusement park. This stretch of woods connects to Treptower Park, with riverfront paths, a small harbour, and an island featuring half-timbered structures.

Go back to childhood

In a recent chat with a friend, she remarked that all our social activities have become rather innocent lately. This summer in Berlin will be a bit like reverting to childhood, where eating ice cream and playing outside were definite highlights. Of course, in the current context, purchasing ice cream from a small shop has the added benefit of helping a local business.

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Last weekend, I biked over to Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, where I was almost dazzled by all the eateries offering takeaway options (living further out in the suburbs, I forgot what the hustle and bustle of more central areas was like). A friend and I were enticed right away by Delabuu‘s rolled ice cream – an extravagant but well deserved treat, we thought.

One of the top things to do in Berlin this summer? Try new ice cream places.
What can we do in Berlin this summer? Eat rolled ice cream sprinkled with candy, of course!

See the monuments without the crowds

If you’ve been living in Berlin for a long time, you might, as I do, try to avoid the crowded, touristic areas. But now with lockdown restrictions in place and no travel allowed, Berlin’s famous sights are unsurprisingly quiet. Take the East Side Gallery, for example. When I ventured over there one Sunday afternoon, there were no selfie takers and no tour groups anywhere.

I had this strip of the Berlin Wall pretty much to myself, whereas when I brought my parents there a couple of years ago, we could hardly get a shot of one of the murals without someone’s head getting in the way. This was at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. If you love photography or just want those perfect insta shots, now is the time to pay Berlin’s top sights a visit.

Top thing to do in Berlin this summer: take advantage of empty tourist sites.
One of the top things to do in Berlin this summer: visit the usually crowded sights.

Give yourself a weekly discovery mission

Top things to do this summer? Explore new neighbourhoods
View from one of the many waterside parks in Köpenick.

My boyfriend and I moved from West to East Berlin a few months ago. So we have plenty to discover around us. Almost every weekend, we take a look at the map, pinpoint an area we want to visit (we love nature), and head over there by bike. Upon reaching our destination, we crack open a beer or Radler (for me) and relax a bit. Some of my favourite East Berlin destinations include:

  • Biesdorfer Baggersee: a cute swimming lake, mostly visited by local families, with a volleyball court. Though I have not witnessed this, Google tells me it is a great place to watch the sunset.
  • the 3 Karlsdorfer Seen: pretty blue lakes surrounded by sandy beaches, which you have to ride through a picturesque country neighbourhood to reach.
  • Wuhletal Wanderweg: a bike and walking trail meandering along the Wuhle river, flanked by parks, small lakes, pastures and pretty developments, before it rejoins the Spree.
  • Köpenick: the Berlin district where the Dahme River meets the Spree, so there is water everywhere. There are several riverfront parks to choose from, with beautiful views over the Old Town, the castle, or small islands a few hundred meters away. Köpenick deserves its own blog post – to come!
On the shores of Biesdorfer Baggersee.

Take a cruise

See Berlin from the water and be a tourist in your own city! There’s something so relaxing about slowly cruising past the Regierungsviertel or along the Landwehr Kanal. Berlin has so many waterways, and you’re bound to learn something new about the city as you go.

I love the classic, 1-hour city tour, going by the Berlin Cathedral and government district, which I’ve been on twice, with guests and solo. For a longer, more remote excursion, you can take a 3.5-hour cruise to Müggelsee. You’ll pass by Köpenick’s palace and lush parklands, before reaching the largest lake in Berlin. 

In conclusion: there are still plenty of things to do in Berlin this summer

We may be going through a strange time and looking at a summer without open air events, concerts or clubbing. But Berlin is still Berlin, and the city has not lost its unique character. The current situation may help us re-discover our home, one riverside trail or scoop of gelato at a time.

Let me know in the comments: what are your top things to do in Berlin this summer?