AppLift’s Insider Guide to Being a True Berliner During FirstScreen

FirstScreen is just one week away and we thought we owe it to our readers as well as to all attendees to say a short word about the city where the conference will take place, and where AppLift was born. From being at the center of much of Europe’s history and turmoil throughout the 20th century, over the last 15 years Berlin has become a vibrant hub for artistic creativity and, most recently, startup innovation.

Although plenty of food and excitement will be provided at the after-show party at House of Weekend, we’ve interviewed four AppLift Berliners, both native and settlers, to explain why they love this city so much and give a few tips as to where to go eat and party if you’re staying for a few more days.

Haven’t yet secured your ticket for the FirstScreen conference on June 15? It’s this way.

Konsti: The Berlin Native

Name: Konstantin Dieterle
Position: Managing Director, AppLift US

Where were you born exactly?
I do not remember the exact time or room 😉 The hospital, though, was Krankenhaus Waldfriede (right next to the Subway Station Krumme Lanke).

How much time have you lived in Berlin?
From birth to 19 years old and then 2 years while working at AppLift Berlin (roughly 21 years all together)

Why do you love Berlin?
DIVERSITY! You can go party for 48h straight in a basement, or go to one of three opera houses. You can walk through some notorious “Kiez” (neighborhood) or go to the numerous lakes and parks the city has to offer. There is literally an unlimited amount of things you can do if you don’t mind searching for them.

What does Berlin have that no other city has? What makes it real? What makes it amazing?
Berlin still has this appeal of a very big city where a lot of people come together, while having the mindset of a small town. This is mainly due to the fact that you have lots of small city centers that have their own vibe and charm. For all its creativity and progress over the last 10-15 years it still remains humble. For the amount of things that you can get in Berlin it is still an extremely affordable and livable city.

What has changed the most in the city over the last 15 years?
Berlin used to be the city in Germany that everyone did not really take seriously. It was called “Arm aber sexy” by our mayor (poor, but sexy), basically being held responsible for costing the rest of germany a lot of money, since it did not produce anything significant.
Seeing the city turn around and attract a lot of innovation and tech companies makes me very proud as it is now one of the main start-up hubs in Europe.
For those that say that Berlin is getting gentrified I would have to contradict and say that many people that came here, also shaped Berlin to become the successful and vibrant city that it is today, without having lost its roots.

What hasn’t changed?
Well overall Berlin did grow up, so I would say that Berlin has changed quite a bit but in a way that I would see someone growing up from teenage/student life to the first few years of work. Lots of ambition without forgetting to have fun along the way. Berlin was always a very ambitious city, but maybe misunderstood/underestimated, which is why I am happy to see that this patience and endurance is paying off now.

If you could do only one thing during a short stay in Berlin, what would it be?
That’s a tough one, but I always try to head over to Krasselt’s Currywurst in Steglitz/Lankwitz or simply drive around the city at night 🙂

Where is the best Berliner food in the city?
I would not say it’s the best food, but for me its a must have every time I am in Berlin (linked to the above question). Krasselt’s Curywurst (the original spot) has been around for ages and still operates out of a small shop. You will always find people that are waiting in line even at 2am in the morning. Go there and order “Currywurst mit Pommes Schranke” (Currywurst with Fries – Ketchup and Mayo). Another one would be Maroush (near Kottbusser Tor) for the best Shawarma in town or Habibi (near Nollendorfplatz) for the best Falafel.

Aiste: The Berlin Chameleon

Name: Aiste Povilaikaite
From: Vilnius, Lithuania
Position: Platform Solutions Marketing Manager
In Berlin since: 2011

Why do you love Berlin?
I love the vibe, the people, the nature and summers here. Berlin is friendly to everyone. I feel that age and statuses do not exist here. One can be a 24-year-old Team Lead in some super cool tech startup or a 40-year-old single clubber with no family plans. No one is going to judge. Time and society pressure does not exist here. Berlin is full of culture, alternative stuff, freedom and a lot of history. During the weekends you can enjoy great food, interesting galleries and always explore.

Do you speak German? Is it necessary to get around?
I do speak German, but I would not say that it is necessary in Berlin. You can surely get around with English. But for me personally it is always nicer to speak the local language. I think this way you can integrate better and do not need to worry when you are calling your Finanzamt. 🙂

You moved to Berlin, but why did you decide to stay there?
I think this city has this perfect balance. You can have an interesting job, pretty good position and after-work life with amazing parties.

If you could do only one thing during a short stay in Berlin, what would it be?
Winter day or rainy summer day: Sammlung Boros: an amazing art collection in a historical bunker. Makes you feel both the artsy and the historical part of Berlin.
Summer day: Nice open air with good music on a Sunday morning, such as the one in Rummelsburg.

Thomas: The Berlin Adoptee

Name: Thomas Sommer
From: Strasbourg, France
Position: Team Lead, Content & Communications
A Berliner since: November 2012

Why do you love Berlin?
The freedom 😃 The city is large in terms of area size, but it is extremely well connected and it usually doesn’t take more than 30 min to get from one side of the city to the other. A lot of restaurants, bars, and small shops are open late at night (some don’t even close). Then, it might sound like a cliché, but Berlin remains relatively cheap compared to other European capitals. All in all this means that, although there are tons of things to do, you generally don’t need to plan activities outside of the office long in advance, providing an unrivaled feeling of freedom.

What does Berlin have that no other city has? What makes it real? What makes it amazing?
Due to its fragmented history, Berlin does not really have a center, but rather several smaller areas, which each have their own character and flare. There is also a very low population density, so you never feel oppressed by the crowds. Another great thing with Berlin is that, although it is the capital of Germany (with the tidiness and functional organization you’d expect), it still has a crazy aspect to it and you often come across some quite…random situations.

Is German necessary to get around?
Although speaking German is not necessary to work at AppLift or at other international startups, I think that, after some time, everyone living in Berlin should at least get some basics in order not to get cut off from a big part of the cultural vibrancy of the capital. For example, it’s important to be able to read local newspapers to understand what’s going on. Not to mention the administration…

If you could do only one thing during a short stay a Berlin, what would it be?
I would go on a bar-crawl on Weserstrasse in Neukölln.

Where is the best food and beer in Berlin?
Go to Max und Moritz on Oranienstrasse. Get a Schweinshaxe with Spätzle and wash it down with a pint of Kreuzberger Molle.

Jean: The Berlin Hipster


Name: Jean Marien
From: Lille, France
Position: Marketing Manager
A Berliner since: July 2015

Where were you born exactly?
I was born in in Bogota, Colombia. However I moved to France when I was a six-month old baby, and I’ve been living in France since then, until I moved to Berlin last Summer.

Why do you love Berlin?
I love the fact that everything is very accessible in Berlin: restaurants and shops are open late, the public transports are very well organized, they are safe and dedicated bike lanes. I also love the simplicity of the Berliners. They know how to enjoy the hot summer sun with barbecues in the park, escapades to the lakes, adventures to abandoned sites, or open airs.

Finally, Berlin is a bit like this world-famous fast-food chain: “Come as you are”. You don’t have to be an electro worshipper, an underground art lover or a Wagner music expert to enjoy, be fulfilled and have fun in Berlin. They are thousand options to blossom and to enjoy life here, and no one will judge for the way you choose to do it!

What does Berlin have that no other city has? What makes it real? What makes it amazing?
Berlin has an amazing night life. Berliners know how to play good music in good unique locations: into the woods, in an old factory, in a park…etc. Also Berliners know how to cook delicious street food. Wherever you go in Berlin, whatever you try, you won’t be disappointed. I think I had the best kebab of my life in this city.

What amazed and surprised you most about Berlin when you arrived here?
When I arrived in Berlin I was amazed by the Tempelhof airport. Leaving such a wide open space to the citizens is representative of so many things to me: the trust of the government in the population who is very respectful of the rules and clean, and who know how to enjoy it. Leaving an airport so that people can enjoy the free space for their hobbies (skateboarding, kitesurfing, biking, running, barbecues…etc.) is an operation that wouldn’t have worked as well in every european capital. And I’m still amazed by this.

Do you speak German? Is it necessary to get around?
I don’t speak German except a few words for jokes. It’s honestly not necessary to speak German to live in Berlin. However, I would recommend to try to learn at least just as a mark of respect for the Germans.

You moved to Berlin, but why did you decide to stay there?
After 6 months of very good experiences, I wanted to learn more and to experience even more the Berliner life by being really immersed into the city. I had still so many things to see and discover! In fact, Berlin is full of magic places and wonderful happenings that make life very fun.

If you could do only one thing during a short stay a Berlin, what would it be?
If the weather is nice, i would go spend a few hours to Holzmarkt. This a good place to relax outside, have a cold beer by the Spree, eat an ice-cream or a pizza, get a haircut, or take photos in a “Fotautomat”. This place is open to everyone! And it is wonderful how Berliners make places like this vibrant and exciting!

Where is the best Berliner food in the city?
I would recommend to take a walk on Kastanienallee close to Rosenthaler Platz. They are many good restaurants and diverse types of delicious food. Have dinner with a lot of Asian dumplings at Yumcha Heroes, or brunch at Napoljonska.