When one thinks of Berlin, immediately one visualises the Checkpoint Charlie or Brandenburg Gate, or even a plethora of beer gardens. That however is only one small part of Berlin.
Sonnenallee is a suburb of Berlin, around 25 minutes by car from Berlin Tegel airport. In the middle of what looks like a derelict building site is the Estrel Hotel and Conference centre. This is a great looking building and indeed a nice hotel. But why build it here? The area is rundown and during the day dubious looking characters are in conference in the streets drinking and smoking various substances. In all aspects this is a downtown suburb, there are cheap looking bars and the occasional Cafe.
The shops that try to bring colour to the area are the discount supermarkets Netto and Lidl. Other shops sell such a curious admixture of things that it is not easy to fathom exactly their main purpose. Next to the hotel is seemingly a derelict dockyard of some kind and the roads look like they have perpetual roadworks.
In short this is a dubious kind of area and at night alcoholics sit on the streets shouting their rants, that only they can interpret and seemingly asking for money, to go and buy even more cheap alcohol. So a curious contradiction to have a nice hotel in really a very dubious area.
More people seem to smoke here than in some other EU cities such as London with many people line the outside of the bars smoking. Graffiti is all over the place and again a real contradiction. There is some excellent graffiti on the front of buildings and structures and next food to this artistic work is the more vile damaging graffiti with paint strewn over doors and fences.