Berlin offers infinite possibilities for adventure. From its gritty neighbourhoods to its infamous techno clubs to its individualism, there is nothing the German capital doesn’t offer. And the areas around Berlin, particularly Brandenburg, are hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Berlin native Nader Rahy is as adventurous as you can get. A musician by trade—he plays the guitar for Nena (“99 Luftballons”)—Rahy is also a fan of extreme sports, nature and travel. One minute he’s skydiving, the next, he’s performing in front of large crowds around the world, including on cruises. Still, Rahy, who is a staunch vegan, finds time to relax by doing yoga amidst nature.
Join Rahy as he takes us on a day trip from Berlin to Brandenburg, from surfing in Wellenwerk to a treetop path in Beelitz to a gin distillery in Werder.
Lisa Hübener: You were born and raised in Berlin. What makes the city so special?
Nader Rahy: Berlin is culturally very open-minded and progressive. In Berlin…I can walk through the city with all my tattoos and am celebrated for it. You can party here like nowhere else in the world. The whole cityscape, especially in summer, is simply wonderful: lots of street music, art on the streets, cafés full of people.
I’ve been vegan for about a year and a half now and in Berlin, it’s not a problem at all. The vegan [food scene] here is very creatively set up, which is wonderful!
LH: What are some cool spots in Berlin?
NR: The Ramones Museum reminds me a bit of old, cool bars from the past. I don’t have the biggest connection to the band itself, but I think that their music is part of a revolution. In the 1980s, you had to be technically savvy as a musician and bands like the Ramones showed people that you can be successful without being a highly gifted, technical musician.
The museum itself is cosy, with lots of details, instruments, newspaper articles and old leather jackets. Funny place with a small stage where you can play and see artists at normal times.
I started surfing eight years ago. I love it and travel regularly to the Canary Islands or to Indonesia, Southern France or Spain. And now there is Wellenwerk in Berlin, where you can surf on an artificial wave. I haven’t done that often, but it’s great fun!
LH: What do you do when you need some peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of the city?
NR: I love to go out into nature and go hiking, for example to Saxon Switzerland—incredible territory. You would not believe that this is Germany.
LH: Any great natural spots closer to Berlin?
NR: In the middle of the forest [in Beelitz in Brandenburg] there is a walk on stilts, where you can walk through the forest at treetop height. It’s surrounded by the former Beelitz Lung Sanatorium, built in 1902. Tuberculosis patients were treated here until 1994. Looks pretty broken and you would think that the war was to blame for it, but apparently, it was destroyed by people who smashed windows, broke in and so on after it was closed.
LH: Speaking of Brandenburg, why should someone visit the Glina distillery in Werder?
NR: This was the first gin and whisky tasting I’ve ever done and I really have to say, especially after talking to [Nicole, an employee], I’m completely convinced. A very idealistic company, super taste and the colour [of the Magic Blue Gin] turn from blue to purple when mixed with tonic water.
What particularly impressed me was the conviction people have about their own product. I asked them where they see their own gin and whisky within the [liquor] landscape worldwide and they said at the very top. I think that’s the kind of attitude you need when you make a product. And it was actually very tasty!
LH: How has music touched your life and how do you incorporate it while travelling?
NR: Music found me very early, when I was 12 years old and it is one of the things that shaped me. For me, music is always a kind of retreat and a kind of home. Being able to practice music as a hobby from time to time keeps my passion alive.
I often write songs while travelling and then buy a guitar on location, which I sell or give away at the end. I never actually plan to play any concerts, but I always end up having some gigs.
I’ve actually played on some of the most remote islands in the world, the Mentawai Islands near Sumatra. There you get up at 6 o’clock in the morning and people start singing because they have no radio, no television and no electrical appliances. They still sing in the evening!
LH: What was the most extraordinary concert you’ve ever played?
NR: I played naked with a band called Henk Vink, at Eimer, a [club in Berlin] that doesn’t exist anymore. We were a quartet—guitar, bass, drums and I sang. For the first three songs, we thought about wrapping towels around our hips. But then I turned around and the guitarist was naked from the first song on. The energy was accordingly very intense, the music, too, and then, to be honest, we didn’t pay attention to anything else but the music anymore.
LH: Christmas is just around the corner. What are you doing for the holidays?
NR: Well, I am not a fan of cold weather, so I usually escape over Christmas and go surfing somewhere in the South Seas or on the Canary Islands. Also culturally, Christmas is not my thing, because my dad comes from a different culture. But a few years ago I was in Berlin at a Christmas market in Grunewald, which was very fairytale-like.
LH: Are there places in Europe that you have always been drawn to?
NR: I am always curious to find new things. But there are some destinations I always go to, especially the Canary Islands. Lanzarote is my favourite island in the world, especially the northwest—just wonderful waves to surf.
In summer I like to travel to the south of France or to northern Spain, like Mundaka, Zarautz or Biarritz. I also love to be in Freiburg, in the southwest of Germany, because the sun often shines there. You can do a lot of outdoor sports there, like skydiving, wake surfing and canyoning.
LH: What do you bring back from the countries you visit?
NR: From every country, I take a sentiment with me. Of course, there are also memories of special places and moments, but this direct link to an attitude towards life—these are just things you can’t learn while reading a book or watching a movie or television or whatever.
If you want to accompany Rahy on his travels, take a closer look at his Vlog.