Home from Home: The Berlin Village Market

Photo by Sasha  Kharchenko

“All is good? Weed? Speed? Something else?” The oft-mumbled mantra of every drug dealer in Berlin is what usually springs to mind when I think of Revaler Straße in Friedrichshain. However, thanks to the good people at Neue Heimat (New Home), the area is undergoing something of a transformation.

I'm not normally one for Sundays, but when I saw a sign for the Berlin Village Market, I decided to go and check it out – partly because it's within stumbling distance of where I live, but mostly because I'm a fan of anything that involves guilt-free (otherwise known as “cultural”) afternoon wine-drinking.

The Market opens at 12pm every Sunday and promises food, music and art all day long. It was closer to 4pm by the time I got there and people were arriving from all directions. I paid the €1 entrance fee, walked in and took in my surroundings. Yep, two graffiti-covered buildings that look like they're about to fall down at any second on the outside, but full of life and music on the inside – welcome to Berlin.

I decided to start with the building on the right as it had a live jazz band playing at the time, and pushed open the door. Oh, the smell of food that hits you when you walk in that door! Probably looking like a bit of a weirdo, I just had to stand there and breathe it all in for a few minutes. Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Polish, German and... the list goes on and on, although the prize for the most  entertainingly-titled food stand goes to Dr. Magic's Kickass Noodle Bar.

Chilled out jazz tunes filled the air as far-too-cool-to-be-real people hung out in every available space, chatting, laughing, eating and drinking. Young, old, foreign, local, human or canine, it seemed like this was definitely the place to be on a chilly Sunday afternoon. I walked around taking pictures of the various stands, caught the band just as they were playing their last tune, and eventually worked my way over to the second building.

Something I'd noticed as I meandered was that I was by far the least hipster person there. I mean, there was 3-year-olds that were more hipster than me. I think I need to buy a hat, or something. Anyway, I digress. I found myself, accidentally, standing in front of a wine bar so it seemed rude not to order something. Wincing a little as I handed over €8 (including a €2 deposit for the glass), I took my wine and looked for a seat. It didn't look like there were any but this is never a problem in Berlin - just put on your best hipster expression and people will always budge up.

Photo by Katha Mau

More upbeat jazzy tunes came from the DJ box in the corner, as the smiliest, drunkest man at the market danced around in time. Before long, he was engaged in a dance-off with one of the hipster 3-year-olds, which, if it isn't part of the official line-up, really should be - at every venue in the world.

Soon, hunger got the better of me and I went back to the first building to order the pork belly burger that had tantalised me earlier. Unfortunately, this was the one let-down of the day. I'm not quite sure what didn't work – too much lemongrass maybe – but the combination of flavours was just odd. The server also tried to charge me for two of them which would have made it the most expensive burger ever. Thankfully, it only set me back €6.50 in the end.

Photo by Katha Mau

So, if you find yourself at a loose end some Sunday afternoon, throw on your skinny jeans, some faux fur and a hat, and head on over to the Berlin Village Market. You might even see me there as I have a feeling this could become a regular Sunday haunt of mine.

By Linda O'Grady
Linda works as an English teacher, writer and editor, and has been living in Berlin since September 2014. She also shares some of her more irreverent thoughts on life as an Irishwoman living in Germany in her blog - Expat Eye on Germany.

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