As we all try to squeeze as much productive time out of our busy city days as possible, there always ends up being that awkward hour... you know, when there isn't enough time to go home between meetings and dinner with friends, or to the office between a dentist appointment and getting the kids from school.
As I have made more and more international girlfriends, I've realized that asking them what they'd do with a spare hour in the city they live in is the best way to have them share their favourite places - the real ones - suggestions of spots given without censoring themselves by what they perceive as the coolest or most interesting.
So, when it came to finding out what to do with a spare hour in Berlin, there really wasn't a better person to ask than Veronika Heilbrunner.
These days, Veronika is one of the worlds most recognizable "street style stars" (believe me I know first-hand having walked behind her tripping over photographers, doing anything to capture her latest look, on my way into many a fashion show.) Yet in essence she hasn't really changed from the girl I met working at Mytheresa.com in Munich many moons ago when we were both at the start of our careers.
Behind all the model cheekbones and Balenciaga hides an endearingly dorky German openness: Veronika is always ready to say "hallo" or to help out with whatever. Even though these days she's exceptionally busy as Co-Founder to Heywoman.com (one of fashion's coolest contemporary online publications) and is a soon to be first time Mom, she still had time for me and my questions about Berlin.
How long have you lived in Berlin? Why did you move there?
We have been living there now for four years. We moved because of my Harper’s Bazaar job. The first years the editorial office was in Berlin. I left HB to start Hey Woman!, and Berlin was the perfect place to do that.
Tell me about Berlin. What is getting around your city like, easy or hard?
What I love most about Berlin is its relaxed easy going pace. Not much happens here business-wise. It really is a place where lots of young creatives move to. You can feel the good happy vibes everywhere. It's not a Place where people "hustle“ like in NYC. More the opposite. It's the place to have fun, and enjoy life.
Traffic can be bad in rush hour. Of course. Especially due to the never-ending construction sites on every corner. But in general, it's so easy. Getting around on bikes in the summer is fun- especially across Tiergarten, the huge park in the middle of the city. I also love cruising on the back of Justin's motorbike. When it gets colder I prefer the train which has all the connections, or one of the many rent-a-car services. Everything is super convenient, and even though the city is huge you can be everywhere within 30 minutes.
What is your favourite street in Berlin?
Kantstrasse! It's in the old west part, very close to where we live. It's not pretty, not cool. But so Berlin. It has the famous 'Paris Bar' (where i love hanging out with my friends), as well as dozens of Döner joints, dodgy places, beautiful houses, 'Never Ending Love Story‘ for the best pancakes, a new healthy place called 'Toki‘, and '893 Ryotei‘ for fantastic Japanese fusion food in a super run-down graffiti building. 'Good friends‘ looks quite basic, but has the best Cantonese duck pancakes in Germany. To answer your question: I guess I'd eat and check out all the antique shops (Suarezstrasse off Kant has the best ones!).
Do you have time to go somewhere else?
If I had a little more time, I'd go to the Park of Schloss Charlottenburg- which is huge and beautiful. I love a good castle, and it's so central (at least from where I live). I love enjoying the summer warmth there, and just reading a book.
Do you walk between places?
Yes I am a Walker. Capital 'W.' Basically everything that is walkable I walk, and I enjoy it all even more when I have enough time on my hands to meander a detour!