Berlin Von Hinten
Paris may be sexy and Rome may have its charms, but for the discerning gay traveler, there are few cities as all encompassing as Berlin. The German capital’s tumultuous past and less-than-graceful architecture matter little when it comes to both the scope and variety of gay activities found in the city.
As fabulous as Berlin is, however, the city’s sheer size -- a staggering nine times larger than Paris is! -- means that even repeat visitors can use a little help when it comes to navigation. For that, there’s "Berlin Von Hinten," Bruno Gmunder’s pocket-sized, easy-to-use guidebook that attempts to sum up everything the metropolis has to offer in just 162 pages.
It certainly succeeds -- in two languages (English and German), no less. Though gay and lesbian activities are emphasized throughout -- this may be the only guidebook in the world where a section titled "Sex & Fetish, Party & Nightlife" comes before "Art, Culture, Sightseeing" -- there are also plenty of gender-neutral, even family-friendly options, too.
So if your travel companion hopes to scope out the club scene while you’d rather retreat to your hotel room to be up in time for an early gallery opening the next day, you’ll find suggestions for both interests in the book -- helpfully broken down by district and accompanied by full-color photographs.
In addition to the standard dining, shopping, and lodging listings, there are plenty of personalized and even anecdotal sections that are well worth reading, even if your trip plans are early in the making. "The (Gay) History of Berlin," which follows a short introductory section, is a compact (though thoroughly researched) segment on the city’s "three coming outs" -- the most recent being the re-unification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Other highlights include a rundown of the city’s best-known darkrooms and cruising sections, the top five gayest places in the city (though some, including the industrial "monument" Gasometer, are questionable) and a must-see shopping list by famed drag queen Nina Queer. Given the city’s ample modern architecture, it’s often easy to forget that it’s also an international center for the visual arts, theater, and music -- also amply featured in the book.
As "Berlin Von Hinten" clearly shows, a trip to the German capital can very much be a cabaret, old chum -- but it can also be a sexy circus, a gallery opening, or an exquisite restaurant as well. To aid in that experience, the book also includes 30 handy vouchers that can save up to 260 euros on various restaurants, clubs and theatre. Sally Bowles wishes that she’d had it so good.