Bikini Berlin Kudamm Gedächtniskirche

City of Monkeys

GERMANY – Berlin, Ku’damm // Octopussy (1983)

Bond briefly visited West Berlin in the 1980s. Back then, the city was divided, but alive and kicking. Now – all united and being an international party hub – Berlin pulsates even more. Just recently, the “Octopussy” location in West Berlin got a fresh make-over.

Why Bond was here
007 (Roger Moore) needs to sneak into the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), to infiltrate a (nuclear equipped) circus train in Karl-Marx-Stadt. He crosses the border at east-west-divided Berlin – and is briefed by M (Robert Brown) while on a car from Breitscheidplatz along the Kurfürstendamm, locally dubbed Ku’damm.

How you gonna get there
The Breitscheidplatz is situated next to the train station “Zoologischer Garten” – once the thriving heart of old West Berlin. Most characteristic landmark at the square – and shortly visible in Octopussy – is the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, a memorial church marred 1943 in the Second World War. The famous street Ku’damm – one of the major shopping streets next to Tauentzinstraße – leads to Breitscheidplatz.
Best way to access the area is via “Zoologischer Garten” – bus, underground and Berlins famous S-Bahn head to that hub. Other close-by underground stations are Wittenbergplatz (for U1 and U2) or Kurfürstendamm (for U1 and U9). Berlin first time visitors should try the bus line 100 or 200 – a double decker that connects the East and West parts of the city – and therefore has stops at “Zoologischer Garten” as well.

Bikini Berlin

The shiny new concept mall Bikini Berlin in the heart of West Berlin

Don’t miss
Even though the western part of Berlin has lost most of its ancient charm, Berlin works really hard to revive its grandeur. The area was more of a red-light district in the 1980s. Then, with the German reunification, not only whores and drug dealer were dispelled, but also the nightlife came to a halt.
One of the last remains is the KaDeWe, a shopping mall at the end of Tauentzienstraße, which is home for a fine selection of luxury labels such as Tiffany, Chanel and Burberry. KaDeWe stands for “Kaufhaus des Westens” – store of the west. The highlight is hidden on the sixth floor: gourmet food. From all over the world they summed up the best and most delicious. With its live cooking stations and wine decantation the floor is a real cockaigne for food lovers.
On the other end of Tauentzienstraße, right across the Gedächtniskirche, is another – way more fancy – shopping mall. The “Bikini Berlin”, which was actually built in the 1950s, got a make-up in the new century and was re-opened in 2014. The concept mall is – as well as the attached 25hours Hotel – designed for younger people and design geeks. While some stores are made to stay, other are pop-ups with a guarantee for big variety.
A nice place to stay in the area is the mentioned 25hours Hotel. The rooms are designed with either one of two themes: City – overlooking the church – or Jungle – overlooking the zoo behind the hotel. For a sundowner, after a day of shopping and art, stop by the “Monkey Bar” on the last floor of the hotel or go for dinner on the same floor at “neni” – the restaurant serves a great kind of fusion kitchen with impacts from the Arabian, Spanish, Russian, Austrian and German kitchen.
Art lovers shall stop by the Museum of Photographie behind the station “Zoologischer Garten” on Jebensstraße. The exhibitions are always designed by the Kunstbibliothek and the Helmut Newton Foundation. A permanent exhibition with works from Newton himself is placed on the first floor showing some of his famous nudes.
Just 500 meters away on the other side of the station is the actual Berlin Zoo. More than 17.000 animals live in the garden – from lions, giraffes to capibara – and the visitors are entertained by one of the several feeding shows. A bit more for the courageous is the attached Aquarium, which is home for snakes, giant spiders, crocodiles, turtles, a little octopus and of course a big variety of fish from all seas. But sorry, Maud Adams, a blue-ringed octopus is not part of the aquarium.

While we lived in Berlin, our home was deep in the Eastern part of the city. But for one thing we always drove to “the Zoo” as its called in Berlin: the Zoo Palast Berlin. It’s a grand cinema, renovated just recently like the Bikini. The architecture plays with a new modernism and the “Palasts” retro charme. A Highlight: the water and light show before every screening.

© 2015 Huntingbond (1,2,3)