Today an interview with Ciarán Fahey, Spotter for our Berlin cityblog!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Better I do it than someone else I suppose! You wouldn’t know what they’d say.
Well, I’m an Irish guy living in Berlin the last three years, although I managed to break that up nicely with plenty of travel in the first two until my money ran out. Then I’d to get some work, unheard of in Berlin – paid work at least – but thankfully I got a job before I had to start selling body parts. Now I write about sports for a news agency, although you can hardly call it work, even if it involves tennis and weird sports like that.
I was actually moving to Madrid before I ended up in Berlin. My plan was to get the ferry to France and drive down, but a friend of mine living in Berlin asked for a lift. He said it was on the way. It’s not. I didn’t mind though – Berlin’s great and I became romantically involved with a local girl. Our son was born a couple of months ago, so I guess I’ll be here for a while yet!
Congratulations! Why is Berlin so special?
You’re never bored in Berlin unless you want to be. I remember when I moved here first, I’d no way of knowing what was going to happen next, from skinny-dippin’ in the river at three in the morning, or impromptu parties in the park. There are always parties in the park. Then the pubs are open all night, and you can always walk into a Späti (corner shop), pick up a beer and drink on the street. They open it for you before you leave the shop!
You can also drink on the trains and the trams. Well, you’re not supposed to but everyone does it. There’s a great sense of freedom in strolling along with a bottle of beer in your hand, watching Berlin’s weird and wonderful go by. That’s my must do – grab a beer and stroll with the people. I’d definitely skip the waxwork museum. Why look at candles in the shape of people when you have the real thing for free outside? With a beer!
How do you like being a Spotter?
It’s cool. It’s like an official title! I was kinda spotting before I was officially designated a spotter though – I’m pretty inquisitive – so it doesn’t really change much apart from taking note of opening times and so on. It’s also a great excuse to go back to my favourite spots in the city!
Which prejudices about Berlin are true / not true?
The city is so varied I’m not sure there are any prejudices. Berliners are meant to be rude and grumpy, but I generally haven’t found that to be the case, except for motorists when I’m on my bike. There are a lot of crazy people here too. Can I say that? I’m not sure if that’s politically correct. I guess I should say “alternative” people – the same people which give life to the city.
Someone once said Berlin was “poor but sexy” and that’s definitely true. Wages are very low here, if non-existent, but locals still know how to have a good time.
What do you know about Berlin what no tourist will know?
The locals are very particular about using those plastic separator things on the conveyor belt in the supermarket so the cashier knows whose shopping is whose. It drives them mad when you don’t use them, even if there’s no one in line behind you, so I never do. I was given out to by a cashier yesterday. Great fun!
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Berlin at this moment?
It changes all the time. Prenzlauer Berg is probably the most popular at the moment – certainly the most expensive – but this is precisely the reason it’s becoming less popular. Berliners are very individual so nobody wants to leave in the most popular neighbourhood, making the less popular neighbourhoods more popular.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
The perfect day would be to wake up late without a hangover, enjoy a Bauernfrühstück (farmer’s breakfast) at Aufsturz, grab a beer and chill out at Mauerpark, or head off to explore some derelict or abandoned buildings.
The history in this place is incredible – all that Stasi stuff fascinates me – so I might check out the prison again.
Then a hearty meal washed down by with a Weißbier at Schwarze Pumpe, before seeing what the rest of the night has to offer. There’s always something!
Is there something else you want to share?
There’s loads more, but the city is calling! It’s a great city with people who have an unhealthy obsession with birthdays for some reason – probably because of the parties – but it’s changing very quickly so there’s not a moment to be lost. Every moment must be enjoyed!
Check out all Ciarán Fahey’s articles and the other interviews with our Spotters.