I just arrived in Berlin. The weather is cloudy and a bit drizzly. The flight was easy and comfortable. I always enjoy flying with Air France. AF has good food and wine, and the service is always excellent. A big plus: it smells great inside the airplane. There is that distinctive AF perfume smell.
Now that I have unpacked, I've headed to my favorite espresso bar in Berlin: IL BARISTA! Located in Friedrichshain at Gabriel-Max Str. 18, Il Barista is the kind of unpretentious cafe that use to populate San Francisco and Berkeley before Starbucks and the proliferation of chain coffee houses. Il Barista has distinctive decor, and plays world music with an emphasis toward french, Spanish, and techno tunes. The customers range from students, housewives with small children, urban professionals and workmen. What's the biggest surprise? The owner is friendly!! A rarity these days, especially in cold and impersonal Berlin. Now that I think about it, friendliness is rare in the USA too.
There is free Wi-Fi (WLAN in Germany). You can relax, engage in conversation, or surf the Internet. You would think that Il Barista would be full of tourists but it's just locals. The tourists walk by and head to the more glamorous places up the street. It's their loss.
I guarantee, you won't leave Il Barista without a smile on your face and a glimpse of another side to Berlin.