Old ideas of Berlin conjure up images of the Cold War and the Wall. And although the city has undergone an impressive makeover, it is still the city that has survived some incredibly important moments in history. Berlin is determined to remember this history, and displays and explains the details quite well in a series of museums like the Allied Museum and the Topographie des Terrors, many of which are continually being updated and redone.
Don’t spend too much time pondering the past, however: in the past 2 decades, Berlin has blossomed from its reunified chaos into one of Europe’s most exciting cities. The energy of the city of Berlin is buzzing 24/7, and is waiting to draw you in. Rent a bike to cruise along the Spree river, and you’ll be amazed at how many people are spending time outside in the warmer months. Young and old come out to lounge, picnic, and make merry in the green spots throughout the city. All sorts of events take place outdoors during spring and summer. Outdoor movies, dance and theater performances, and even roller-skating await. Cafes are everywhere, too, as are the little dogs that go everywhere with their owners and (sometimes) sit patiently while hours are whiled away drinking coffee, socializing, and enjoying the pastries and the weather. You could also head to the zoo on a nice day, although be prepared for the long lines that await a sighting of Knut, the celebrity polar bear.
There’s almost too much to see and do here! It’s impossible to try to fit it all in. As a city that’s very tolerant and open, variety and creativity are the best words to describe what’s changing in Berlin. The art and fashion scenes here are unique and constantly ahead of the trends, so pop into some small galleries or boutiques to check out what the latest is. The street art scene is on the rise, too, and is worth checking out.
In its edgy new skin, you’ll find that Berlin can be more affordable than other big European cities. There are tons of super-hip hostels all over town such as the Alcatraz and the Circus, and accompanying cafes and delis where you can grab some grub on the cheap. Public transportation here is fantastic, too, so you can easily get around the whole city by bike and metro without worry.
An incredible range of cuisines also abounds to try here, as immigrants have flocked from all over the world. You can sample just about anything, including a meal in the dark. Don’t worry about getting out of dinner before nightfall, though, because Berlin nightlife starts late and goes very, very late. Just set your alarm clock to noon and head out: from big-time jazz joints to the eardrum-pounding danceclubs, Berlin has got one of the hottest club scenes in Europe.
[photo courtesy of Punxutawneyphil]