We went on both the Twilight tour and the free tour – both completely different experiences. Free tour was good, Twilight not.
Free tour - recommended
Callum was a very chatty, knowledgeable and friendly guide and I couldn’t recommend him more. He listened to our comments and selected locations to visit based on weather conditions and our likes. (As it was raining, we didn’t visit YAAM, but that was okay because we’d been the day before in glorious sunshine.)
The street art was good, but surprisingly not on a par with the current London scene. However, I was really pleased that we visited Tacheles, because I’d incorrectly read somewhere that it had already closed. A lot of studios had, but the building is still open and I highly recommend a visit.
At the end of the tour we were also asked if we needed recommendations for food/tours/sights/etc, and the recommendation for falafel from Nil was spot on!
Twilight tour – not recommended
We were escorted around various sights, but I was disappointed that there was minimal explanation of sights, and also minimal friendly chatter with us. I don’t live an especially alternative lifestyle, but was still shocked that the elements of this tour were considered to be ‘alt’, and therefore wouldn’t recommend the tour to people with knowledge/experience of urban exploration, hacking, street art, etc. Our guide seemed more interested in turning the tour into a bar crawl, which wasn't what we wanted.
The Monster Kabinett was incredible, but you can visit that on your own, and I believe that the free tour also sometimes visits. The urban exploration wasn’t exciting; it was just an empty crumbling asbestos risk.
I was also offended that the ‘hacker den’ (c-base) was explained in a patronising fashion with the word ‘nerd’ used a lot. If you’re touring alternative lifestyles, it would be nice to show respect instead of ridicule.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
22 August 2012
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Thankyou for taking the time to review of our tours. I´m glad you enjoyed the free tour and I am sorry the Twilight tour was not to your liking. I do get the feeling, you have perhaps not fully understood the concept of the tour. To be honest your claims that it is not alternative have really surprised me.I can tell you that the Twilight tour is definetely not for everyone but most guests say it is quite extreme actually. I also think your personal attack on the guide is a bit unfair and unwarranted. As the many reviews about this tour have said ,she is the heart and soul of this tour and one of the most genuinely nice people you could ever meet. So I don´t know why you´ve taken such a disliking to her, I´m quite shocked myself actually but I hope I can clarify a few points you have made nonethless.
- The Monster Kabinett is NOT part of the free tour. It might be mentioned on the free tour but the Twilight tour takes you down there into the chambers and the normal fee of 8 euro´s is covered by your Twilight tour tour ticket. I´m sorry but what you have said there is incorrect. It is as you´ve said, a really interesting exhibition and I´m glad you enjoyed it so much.
- This tour is set up to be more of an adventure than a history lesson. We do not want the guides to indulge in slabs of information while we move around the outskirts of the city above ground and underground. The guide gives information where needed and essentially, acts as guide to the places. The places where there is more dialog is generally given by the people in the scenes we visit, such as the Hackers space where they take you through a tour of their "spaceship" (when possible) and at the Monster Kabinett which is moreso a show than a reading. Our other tours are designed to give much more verbal content such as the Free tours, Street art tours etc. It´s just the way we do it on this particular tour. Less is more exciting and the more unexpected the better you might say.
- The abandoned buildings we visit change all the time and are one without a doubt one of the most interesting parts of the tour for most guests. You said the place you visited wasn´t exciting, just an empty crumbling asbestos risk. I can tell you abandoned buildings are by their very nature are old , empty , crumbling fascades. That´s what they are. That´s why they are called abandoned sites. I´m not quite sure what you expected to see in there. From time to time there are graffiti artists or people playing music but for the most part they are empty and falling apart. That´s what makes them fascinating and mysterious for some.The feeling of being alone or exploring a desolate place with a group is what people go to these places for. Like a Blair Witch project type atmosphere. It´s not meant to have a show or laser lights or fireworks. It´s an abandoned building. Maybe after seeing the Monster Kabinett and Tacheles you expected to see more action in there. I can tell you thats not what they are about. It seems to me you have not understood the concept here or perhaps have not done this sort of thing before.
I do think it is a bit wrong for you to suggest the place is „Not Alternative“ enough because you don´t get it or see what the appeal is. I can assure you these sort of places do not appear in Berlin tourist guides so I don´t know what else you think they should be referred to as.
As I said earlier this tour is not for everyone´s tastes. We don´t try to please everyone, we do the tour as we like it. We have many urban explorers, film makers, photographers, thrillseekers , computer techy´s take this tour. I don´t think it is really fair that you suggest it´s not for them. To me it´s a bit like saying, football is boring so football fans shouldn´t go to games. I actually think this is infact the perfect tour for people with these kind of interests, but I accept that you didn´t find the places interesting. Fair enough once again we accept it´s not for everyone or the normal thing to do.
- You have also suggested Isa tried turning the tour into a pubcrawl of sorts. Look this an adults only tour and quite a long one at 4hrs. We do stop for a break in an outdoor bar in the punk/alternative neighborhood of Friedrichshain in the the old abandoned Railway depot. Some guests like to have an alcoholic drink while others have a water or cola or whatever they want. We are not going to tell people what to have. Guests can sit and relax or explore explore a bit themselves. When we venture out of the city, guests sometimes take a beer with them. We don´t stop them as long as they behave. This is Berlin you are allowed to do this. It´s part of our custom and culture actually. Isa certainly doesn´t encourage heavy drinking as she needs to watch out for everyone. I don´t know why you would suggest this about her as she knows very well that the tour can be a little bit riskier than others. I know that most of the bike tours stop at beer gardens halfway through their tours, does this make them Bike pubcrawls ? I think this is pretty strange claim you have made to be honest. It does say clubhouse bars on the advertising which can be anything from a punk squat, motorcycle club bar or street art/graffiti exhibition bar /space depending on how we feel on the night. As I´ve said before this tour is different.
- Finally your last comment is probably the most baffling to me. The Hackers space is a members club. We are very fortuante to have Isa working for us (your guide for the tour) who is infact a MEMBER of this society. In her explanations of the place, you say she referred to the members as NERDS and that this is disrespectful and partonising to those who live an alternative lifestyle such as this. She is infact referring to herself and her fellow members. This is what they all refer to themselves as. They call themselves NERDS and outsiders are referred to as ALIENS. It´s an inhouse joke and as long as I have known them this is what they like to be referred to when you enter THEIR premises. It is not at all ridicule and as a member of the place I think Isa can refer to herself and her friends however she likes without conforming to what society says is proper. It´s their scene and their world we are entering after all.
Gee whiz I am actually really surprised you didn´t get this or see that she is just joking. She is French so maybe her words weren´t as clear as you would have liked, but to say she is disrespectful to a place she is a member of and brings guests too, I´m sorry but this is a really uninformed and quite a mean thing to imply. Isa was pretty disappointed to read this particular comment as we have never had any guests not get this harmless , playful reference.
This part of the tour is supposed to be really light-hearted and fun actually and most people like to wind down and chill out with a drink or refreshment with the members. When you meet the other members there and if you get a tour of their "spaceship" as they call it , you would notice they like to goof around alot. They are computer geniuses but they really don´t take themselves too seriously. Thank God.
I can assure you in a place like that we wouldn´t be welcome if we disrespected them. We are very very good friends with these guys and have sponsored them in the past when they were in quite precarious financial trouble. We quite often have other members come along on our tours. None of them have ever been offended by how we run our tours as they also alot of respect for us. It does kind of explain why we are permitted to bring groups there I hope ?
As I explained earlier some people perhaps don´t get the jist of this tour and yep we accept this and we appreciate them just the same for taking the time to experience a different kind of tour. From what you´ve said I get the feeling you have had a bit of a personal problem with the guide which maybe coloured your judgement of the tour. Yes she is a very different kind of lady but she is most definetely not unfriendly as you can see from the many other great reviews we´ve had on this site about our Twilight tour. You may want to check out her films she makes in her real job about Berlin´s stranger side at the site za-p.com to understand her a bit better. Once again I thankyou for participating on our tour and I hope my comments have clarified some things for you about how this particular tour operates.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC