If Batman were real, we would be the first ones to recommend that he settles down in Berlin. No less than 17 different species of bats – out of the total 24 in Germany – would assure he would feel right at home. With so many bats, it's no surprise that there are so many organizations either trying to profit from or trying to rescue the tiny bloodsuckers. Berlin Artenschutz Team (BAT) fits both descriptions. In the Fledermauskeller, their basement headquarters in Zitadelle Spandau, visitors can view 130 bats, which flap around behind a Plexiglass wall. None of the three species in residence are native to Germany (they come from Africa and Latin America), because the indigenous varieties are protected by German law. But local bats are an important part of the BAT operation; they treat some 150 injured bats per year, often for injuries caused by close encounters with seemingly friendly cats. Another source of danger for the flying rodents: gentrification. For some of the bats, the commie Plattenbau and it's non-existent insulation was the perfect hibernation hideout, and with all the recent tearing down, a lot of habitats have disappeared. Whether the condo carnage affects the heartbeats of the bats is doubtful, but with 500-1000 beats per minute, it easily surpasses that of the most drug-driven Berlin heart. With that kind of intensity, it's no wonder that the 10,000 bats hibernating within the humid air and thick walls of the Zitadelle need their winter sleep. And since the BAT headquarters is open to the public daily from noon to 5pm there is no good reason why you shouldn't go check out the sharp-toothed night flyers yourself.
Fledermauskeller | Haus 4, Zitadelle spandau, U-Bhf Zitadelle, tel 030 3675 0061, Daily 12-17, www.bat-ev.de
Knitting makes you thirsty
Next time you walk past the systM Bar on Torstraße, listen carefully: you might hear the delicate tinkling of knitting needles. A couple of times every month, a small society of knitting devotees gathers here. They talk and laugh, filling and refilling their drinks and working away at their colourful creations as the yarn balls slowly dance across the wooden floor. In spite of the pale blue-grey light, the atmosphere is cosy. Blink twice and you'll swear you're curled up under the glow of grandma's hearth. Maybe it's the yarn. An outpost of Paris-based knitting collective Collectif France Tricot, StrickenBar was imported by French natives Oryanne Dufour and Emmanuelle Esther when the latter moved to Berlin around a year ago. After changing locations a few times (the summer was spent at Jacki Terrasse), the girls settled on Mitte's systM Bar. Knitting is free and if you happen to be a yarn virgin, they will even help you get started. They even provide the wool which is paid for by some mysterious sponsor and the money they make through various knitting projects – like working for designers or Esther's online knitwear shop. And since, as the saying goes, Stricken macht durstig (knitting makes you thirsty), there's the bar to quench your needs whether you'd rather knit over coffee, tea or a dry martini. And contrary to ‘knitting circle' stereotypes, StrickenBar is no estrogen-fest. Real men know how to get domestic.
strickenBar | systM Bar, torstr. 68, Mitte, U-Bhf rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, www.c-f-t.net For dates visit www.facebook.com/strickenbar
Kultursalon Roderich is a huge expanse of a café, Videothek and bookstore in one, that just feels like your perfect cultural retreat for the winter months. Tucked away in a courtyard just off Paul-Linke-Ufer, it opened last October when Martin and Moemet took over the former lamp factory. They ran a video store in Friedrichshain but rising rents had them flee to the less gentrified West, bringing their books and DVDs along. The two-ton concrete counter holds magazines and newspapers (an international section is on the way), and the wooden shelves are stacked with Martin's choice of €1.60 artsy rental films (from Allen to Wenders – most have English subtitles), as well as just-released UK-import videos that haven't finished their journey through the German dubbing machine. In the book corner you'll find German and English lit at bookstore-prices – or simply get comfortable on Roderich's 1950s furniture and read all day for free. Martin, a staunch defender of the old school Milchkaffee in the face of the soy-latte invasion, keeps his menu simple – albeit at gentrified prices (we all have rent to pay!): a few low-fuss beverage options, a small selection of cakes, rolls with cheese or ham (€3) and only one choice for dinner: Moemet's €3.90 vegetarian soup. There are also two daily breakfast options (€5-9, served all day) made from whatever's in the fridge, usually manchego or camembert and olives, as well as the perfunctory bread, butter and marmelade. In the later hours, candles set the mood for one of the weekly events: readings by local authors, performances on the big, black piano in the corner, film screenings or theatre by the Berlin-based
Hexenkessel troupe. Keep an eye on their website to keep up with their programme. Although Roderich's regulars are mostly Yukis™ (young urban kreative internationals) and academics, you can also run into the eccentric Turkish neighbor who sometimes stops in to tell Martin and Moemet stories about how he wants to shoot his son(!)
kULtUrsaLOn rODericH | Glogauer str. 19, kreuzberg, U-Bhf schönleinstr., tel 030 4199 7165, Daily from 10, www.roderich-berlin.de