Now Reading
Six things I never knew about Berlin

Six things I never knew about Berlin

Having never graced Germany with my presence I wasn’t sure what to expect when I planned a trip to Berlin.

Regular responses from friends who had visited would always remain the same…‘You’re going to love it’- with no further explanation needed.

So with that handy bit of knowledge I dived right in for a long weekend with an open mind and heart.

Below are the six things I discovered about this unique city.

The subway is unofficially free

Ok, now I don’t promote dodging subway fares, but coming from London where ticket barriers and subway staff are everywhere, it was a refreshing change to find no such thing in Berlin. It’s as if the city trusts all their passengers to have a valid ticket and use it responsibly.

I heard from the locals that they do have undercover conductors who inspect tickets at certain times, so I would recommend buying a ticket (single €2.10 $2.84) for peace of mind.

Berlin has Museum Islands

Walking around the central Mitte district of Berlin I came across the Spree river featuring five international museums, known as Museumsinsel – Museum Island.

It was grand to see these unique exteriors surrounded by the river, almost feeling like I was visiting Venice; all I needed was a gondola to pass me by.

Personally my favorite was the Bode museum, but the surrounding buildings are equally as impressive and internationally significant, and they’re great for pictures.

Flea markets are all the rage in Berlin

If you want a good market and discover that vintage gem, Berlin has plenty to stumble upon.

One of the most famous in the city is Mauerpark flea market north of the city. Amongst the endless stalls of clothing and rare finds, the street market food stalls are very authentic for a spot of lunch – they have everything from German sausages to Turkish delights.

With these markets it’s best to go along with an open mind, remembering that ‘one man’s trash is another mans treasure’.

I discovered some beautiful vintage clothes, furniture and jewelry at a fraction of the price had they been on sale in a store. A great day out to pick up a unique piece or two.

Berlin clubs come with the big smoke

To my surprise Berliners still smoke in clubs. I’ve become such a Londoner and find the habit to smoke in-doors very odd. While in Germany I just put it down to being ‘very European’.

Smoking aside, the clubbing scene in Berlin is world famous with their big DJs, extreme club nights and ‘anything goes’ attitude.

My highlights included Watergate with its mixed crowd and trendy location on the river, and Schwuz – a gay club featuring London theme nights.

Everyone mentions Berghain when visiting Berlin, due to their exclusive door policy and un-interest in tourists. I didn’t venture here while visiting but if you do make it pass the front door, it is recommended. Might try and touch up on my German and head back next time.

Apartment living is affordable

While in Berlin and talking to a few locals I discovered why Berliners are so relaxed in life. It’s because their rent is so cheap. Apartments are grand in size, close to all transport links and affordable on a part-time job wage.

As well as living cheaply, renting an apartment during your stay is also common and affordable. I found my apartment thanks to Go With Oh; a trusted host when in Europe. Brilliant service with a great range of impressive apartments, they also provide a helpful PDF travel guide in your mailbox once you make a booking.

I stayed in a spacious and modern apartment in the famous district of Friedrichshain – an area that has something for everyone, with great transport links into the city centre. Plus, the funky art featured in the apartment is available to buy – a nice souvenir to remember your stay.

Every street in Berlin is an artist’s canvas

Being a lover of street art and the freedom of expression, it’s hard to miss the designs while visiting. Every street, building and lamppost seemed to be an artist’s playground to be as creative as they desire.

The Berlin wall is probably the most significant canvas, etched with history and art that just make you stop and think how overpowering this wall must have been when dividing the city in half. The art now offers a welcome distraction to the grey dominant concrete that still remains in parts of Berlin.