Berlin is more than just another western city. It's old, it's new, it's war-torn, it's kind, it's creative and interesting and traditional and radical all in one. It's one of the few cities that I, personally, still retains a unique soul and a brightness within that braces itself against the bitter German winter.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who has never heard of Berlin in some sort of context, but relatively few people seem to put Berlin at the top of their Must-See lists: It’s not warm, it’s not beachy, and it’s not terribly different from home. Berlin itself has struggled with maintaining an enticing reputation for tourism, business and research, but it's making progress.
So, in the interest of sharing our experiences of living there for 2 weeks, here are some of the things that endeared us to this beautiful place in Europe. Whether it’s the architecture, the history, the food, the language, or the incredibly kind people that live in this bustling city, Berlin really is quite a place to be.
Top 12 Questionably Useful Tips for Berlin:
1. If you like a snappy, crispy currywurst (mit darm), head to Witty’s outside of KaDeWe. If you like fluffy, soft, almost dumpling-like wurst, then Konnopke’s Imbiß is worth the wait.
2. Don’t bother going out before 8:30 PM unless you like peace, quiet, and having the bar or the restaurant to yourself.
3. As in many places in Europe, always have 50 cents in your pocket when you leave your house/hotel. Consider it Urinary Insurance for when you have to use a public restroom.
4. If you’re a beginner or intermediate language student looking to practice your German, Berlin probably isn’t the best place for you. I recommend finding a small town hours outside of any major hub, so small that even after 13 years you can still never find it on a map without Google Search, and going there for the linguistic fire hose.
5. Sundays are perfect for exploring parks in the city. I mean this literally, because the rest of the country is closed.
6. Pay your BVG fare. And don’t forget to validate it. The bahn polizei are subtle about checking tickets but if you get caught it’s not worth the trouble.
7. Cars and bicyclists won’t give you right of way, no matter what rules you're used to at home. Be careful!
8. Tired of waiting at the crosswalk? There’s a button on that yellow box to speed it up, but you have to feel around the undercarriage to find it. Don’t worry, they're (mostly) clean.
9. If you use Apple products, stop by any computer shop and buy an EU plug for your interchangeable power adapter. Useful for most of mainland Europe, and beyond.
10. Portion sizes in Berlin are insane, unless you're used to eating like a rugby player. Doggy bags aren't common, either, so if you're not a big eater get ready to share.
11. The Currywurst Museum is well worth the 11€ and a journey for mind, body and stomach. To counterbalance this, head to the Medizinhistorisches Museum and be put off your food for the rest of the day.
12. If you're American, enjoy the Kinder Überraschung while you can.
Questions? Suggestions? Arguments? Leave a comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts and any little quirks that you've experienced while visiting or living in Berlin:
Snaps & Grabs
Not for the faint-of-scrolling-heart, here are the 12 million snapshots taken over the course of the two weeks. Primarily so that I could remember where we went, what we ate and what we saw for future visits.
Keep scrolling for the full Berlin experience! (e.i. currywurst, spray paint, lonely Jager, romantic lions, angry waffles and happy trash cans)