I just got back from a small vacation in Berlin Germany. It was a short trip mostly for visiting friends and family, but I also managed to do a little bit of sight seeing. The humid June climate and the long hours of daylight reminded me of the east coast, but the people and the cities aura were unique yet unmistakeably north German.
First off transportation: A large majority of people walk, bike or uses public transit to get to their destination. Public transit isn’t the cheapest at 12euro/day for unlimited subway/tram/bus travel, but it is the fastest. Automobile traffic is largely hampered by construction delays and one way streets, so using public transit will more often than not save you time in the city.
Next arts and culture: Berlin’s city center is tightly crowded by museums and art galleries and throughout you’ll find plenty of intellectuals ready to seriously discuss topics ranging from social issues to politics and the environment over coffee or beer.
Students are everywhere and people are generally physically fit (from all that walking and biking I guess) and well dressed. Walking through the city dressed in jeans, a sweater jacket and tennis shoes I felt under-dressed even for the bus. To avoid this in the future, here are some recommendations that might make your next trip to Berlin more enjoyable:
- Pack comfortable, yet stylish clothes that you can layer. Layering/accessorizing is what’s in style in Berlin.
- Shoes. No one wears running or tennis shoes unless they’re running or playing tennis. I was the only one wearing Asics on the subway. Stylish sneakers are in style (pumas mostly) as long as they aren’t those thick soled nike sports type.
- Do some research on what monuments/sites you want to see and get familiar with the subway map. Everything is easily accessible via subway, tram or bus, but it’s easy to get lost and frustrated by all the extra walking if you get lost cuz you don’t have a plan.
- Get yourself a week or day pass for public transit. It’ll save you a few Euros in the long run and make things a lot easier. If you’re really cheap you can ask scalpers standing next to the ticket machines for used day passes after 10am, but make sure they have today’s date stamp, otherwise they’re invalid.
- Rent an e-bike. These are a great way to see the city and don’t require as much leg power or sweat as regular bicycles.
- Checkout TUIfly.com, Ryanair.com, or germanwings.de for round trip flights to other European cities in the 30-40 Euro range. But book in advance, the longer you wait the more money it’ll cost. I flew to Cologne and back for 55 Euro because I booked only 2 weeks in advance, but my friends flew to Vienna for 24 Euros round trip.
- Check with family and friends to see if you can stay with relatives or friends of relatives to save money on accommodations. I stayed with cousins and saved the cost of a hotel.
Here are some pictures of my trip along with descriptions of a few more things I learned: