‘But how do they live?’
IF you’ve ever asked yourself that, Henrik Tidefjärd will show you.
He calls himself your personal adventure guide in Berlin – and before your mind runs away with you about life on the wild side, rest assured, the man will throw together a package that fills your need. Nightlife tours are no problem, nor, for instance, is a walkthrough the city’s cutting edge art scene, but Tidefjärd also goes one step further, putting together tours that actually go into people’s houses, providing an insight into the way people live in what’s set to be the new capital of Europe. Excerpts from an interview
Tell us more about what your company does?
Berlinagenten will arrange an exciting programme for your clients’ stay in Berlin. Our specialisation is: lifestyle tours, culinary experiences and living culture – off the beaten tourist track. We offer tours with avant-garde ideas and funny concepts in order to follow the travel trend: individuality, new experiences and food.
I don’t only do tours – it’s a part of my whole business. I set up activity programmes or incentives for companies who want to do something very special and unique – activities you can’t book somewhere else or arrange on your own without knowing the market very well.
You run a tour that goes into people’s houses? What inspired it?
The question everybody asks when travelling: how much does a flat cost, how do people live, how do they decorate and what is special with these people or why do they live in that kind of building or house? There are many questions about the ‘living culture’ or about how people actually live and so on. When I am travelling (and don’t know anyone on location) I always rent an apartment in order to get an insight into the urban living standard. An apartment says rather more about how the local people live and what kind of standard they have.
Are similar tours available elsewhere in Europe?
So far I don’t know anyone else offering it. Of course there are some arrangements where you can eat at people’s places, but not an urban living tour.
What sort of guide does these tours?
Tours which are not for the big crowd, not mainstream, these have to be more individual with a great deal of personality involved. The guide or the person who deals with guests has to be open-minded, have insider tips, know the market and know how to entertain people naturally. You either have it in your blood or not! Knowledge is important but it isn’t everything – a great personality is more important.
What is your geographical area of operation?
For the time being in Berlin. New European cities are coming up soon, and I hope to follow the trend and go East, not West!
What got you into tours?
I love to show people the real ‘face’ of Berlin, share my experiences and meet people from the whole world. You learn so much yourself during a tour.
You’re Swedish, why are you in Germany?
I used to live on the Riviera, then in London, three years in Barcelona and finally I went to Berlin to improve my German skills. But after a couple of days I was hooked!! After having lived in some of the most exciting metropolises in Europe I am able to judge where you find the best quality of life: and that, for sure, is Berlin! It’s a city full of culture, interesting people, inspiration, history, cool parties and everything quite cheap, really – that makes you happy and life easy.
What’s the best thing about being in the tour business?
That’s a very personal question but for me: always discovering something new things in Berlin to show my guests and then share my experiences and secrets with people. If they are pleased, amazed and happy, I am too!
And the worst?
Big companies tend to have lower morals, especially when it comes to payment.
(Tidefjärd can be reached at berlinagenten.com)
by Keith J Fernandez