My Perfect Day
Most of us can’t even begin to comprehend the depth of the universe, but for Noam Libeskind, such thoughts are an everyday matter. A cosmology researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Libeskind has expertise that extends beyond dar
Meet a cosmology researcher whose expertise extends beyond black holes, including Berlin history and food.
How would you explain your work to an absolute layman?
Everyone looks up at the night sky and wonders at the sheer scale of the heavens, from the Incas to modern society. In astronomy and cosmology we try to make sense of the fireworks that are going on in the night sky, piece by piece trying to put together the puzzle of how the universe formed galaxies, stars and solar systems like our own.
What area of Berlin do you call home, and what drew you to it?
I live in Charlottenburg. I didn’t have much choice since it’s where I spent much of my childhood. It’s poor when it comes to bars and clubs but rich with cafés and restaurants.
As a long-term Berliner, what changes in the city are the most striking to you?
Certainly the transformation of Kreuzberg and the East. Former no-go areas are now hot destinations. Before the Wall fell, places like Kreuzberg and Neukölln were rough, now they are hip. East Berlin had just emerged from decades of communist rule but now Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg are wealthy, colorful, and even corporate.
What would you do in the city if you had a complete day off?
I would probably start off with a coffee in my neighborhood at one of the cafés on Stuttgarter Platz. The bike infrastructure is great here, so I would probably then bike to Tiergarten, making a stop at Café am Neuen See for a pizza or Kristallweizen beer. After that I would round up the day by going to Kreuzberg and shopping or eating at Markthalle Neun or somewhere in the Wrangelkiez neighborhood.
When you have friends visiting, where do you take them?
Usually I try to give them a taste for the rich history of Berlin, from pre-war iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and the KaDeWe, the painful history of Nazism and the Holocaust (the Jewish Museum or the book burning memorial on Bebelplatz), up through the Cold War and Berlin Wall era. Places like Gendarmenmarkt can be great reminders of how these three epochs can intersect. One can feel German Enlightenment, World War II, the Holocaust, and East German city planning all in one small square. I usually try and take guests somewhere off the beaten track, like the Soviet war memorial in Treptower Park or the former NSA listening post at Teufelsberg.
Could you share a special little spot in the Kiez where you live?
My neighborhood has the best Italian deli, Salumeria da Pino ( Windscheidstr. 20), this side of the Alps. Pino is a great cook and the deli acts as both a store and a kind of restaurant. The polpo salad, tagliolinialtartufo and tiramisu are divine. Their wine selection is also pretty fantastic.
Berlin’s most underrated place?
It has got to be Tegel Airport. It’s small, efficient, and something has to be said for an airport where the checkin, security, immigration and gates are all within 2 minutes of each other.