Because you want to visit London but cannot afford it at the moment.
With the risk of sounding like a greenhead, after checking in to my lovely quiet Airbnb and ended up in the crossroad above Alexanderplatz, I was literally stunned by the sheer size of Berlin – yes, for some reason I was not expecting it. But it is true, at a whooping 3.5 million, Berlin has the roads and the traffic for it. Though everything runs smoothly, trams and trains on time, clean roads, the whole nine. A lot of work done in the roads too.
and through the wall life continues…
The German capital has quite some sights to offer to the visitors, and the most interesting ones are free. The Berlin Wall Memorial and the Topography of Terror (from where the above picture is) give a recap of the parts of history everybody wants to know about 20th century Germany – the how’s, the who’s, the when’s.
Naturally, both have a morose atmosphere and packed with mostly Germans who solemnly study and remember the not so distant past. Both these attractions are free to the public and excellently captioned in English, as they do not wish to sugarcoat anything. Simply cudos.
Same goes to the German History Museum, but with a fee. I have stated before that I have a fondness for German museums and I chose this one as I kinda got my fill by now from European Renaissance Art. It did not disappoint in the least, the playful layout resembles a maze but of course there are signs everywhere to show the direction one should walk so it makes sense, spacious, airy, not cluttered. Plus a temporary exhibition of Germany of the colonial times, in which I had an staggering realisation :
Due to interracial relations of German militia and local women, there were colored children born with a German nationality. Around 1908 those relationships were rendered illegal, and a lot of these families were torn apart as the wives had to stay behind. For the children that managed to stay and grow up in Germany, the future had that they ended up in concentration camps during World War II because of the “threat they posed to the perpetuation of the Aryan tribe” (!!!!!) I repeat, the children were German, of German fathers, born in Germany.
Moving along to lighter topics, this is a city that one should explore by bike, as there is nothing like speeding amidst trucks and double decker buses. Safer than it sounds by the way as they all expect that. By bike one can reach all downtown areas in circa 30 min, and after sightseeing get lost in Tiergarten, the magnificent park.
One of the central statues, as per its caption, features bulletholes from the battle of Berlin.
As a footnote, if you’re on a bike, you’ll soon forget what I previously told you about law enforcement in Germany. German cyclists are actually worse than Dutch, they speed all the time, cross every single red light and enjoy annoying the aforementioned double decker bus drivers by using their lane and not stepping aside even when honked at. Amusing, to say the least!
In a nutshell, Berlin is a lively metropolis that really reminds of London and Paris, but more laid back and cheaper. Berliners are welcoming for the most part, and helpful as used to the tourists. They do stare a lot though, which can make one fidgety, and to cap it all I will share the following experience with pleasure :
As I always enjoy an elevated bus ride, I used it twice for the feeling. I had caught a cold, thanks to the bitter wind in Berlin (still not sure what was up with the drafts as they were never-ending) and I was sniffing. I was shaken off my taking a ride listening to music in trance mode by the lady in front of me, who said in as many words : You are sniffing in my ear.
Followed by a death glare.
Okay… Sorry my sickness is such a terrible inconvenience to you, I guess…?
As a parting note, my apologies for not offering an insight of the world famous Berlin nightlife but as it is not my scene, I did not indulge. Same goes to the food, as I stuck to the central areas I did not spot any great authentic places and made do with whatever generic staples were in sight. Oh well. Till next time.
Happy Berlining folks!