I started 2018, by kick starting our big Europe trip by taking a flight on the first day of the year. The point of start of this journey was none other than the capital of Germany, Berlin.
Over the past few years, I have often read about BERLIN. Of course, most common connect was that to the World War and Hitler (Yes, I had a phase of fascination)
Visuals of how the city was shaping up had a lot to do with films and TV shows shot there- The Blacklist, Don 2. Surprisingly, I had never thought much about visiting and exploring Berlin from a traveler’s perspective.
In fact, Berlin happened to be our start point of the trip… more by chance and less by choice. With a turbulent December 2017, I had little time to prepare or plan an image of the city in my head.
After 2 really long flights, landing in Berlin with an open mind was quite a surprise.
We had 3 days in the German capital. And I was clueless to start with. Also… it was my first trip to Europe in the winters. (PS. I’m still learning to cope with single digit temperatures)
In the next 3 days, there was a lot of walking to be done, public transport to be used, some people to meet and a whole new culture to explore.
So, what did this city have in store for me?
New Year Crap
Since we were just past the new year’s celebrations, we found a lot of broken bottles, trash and a lot of Christmas leftovers to find.
Lesson: Christmas is simply massive in Germany! The more important lesson was, we could be in any part of the world… but we all love celebration. Our celebration often leaves a lot of work for others to do. We basically just produce trash in the name of celebrating! It’s a worldwide problem, with any kind of festival.
We must really check on the concept of celebration again!
When we took a bus from Berlin’s Tegel airport to our hotel Scandic Potsdamer Platz, we went past the rich variation of landscape in the city…
Field of Life
Berlin had a great mix of forest cover, fishing areas in the city. On taking a closer look at the map, you could also spot a number of football fields (1 at every 500m) in the city, which reflected the encouragement towards outdoor activities for kids.
Building the future
When we entered the main city, on ward to the area of our hotel it was Berlin’s architecture that took me by surprise. Considering the low range of variation in architecture across European cities, the last city to wow me was Barcelona. Berlin was no less! It had buildings that looked like works of the future. Each design was right on point, each building picturesque.
U Bahn Wows
One of the most interesting aspect of Berlin was their love for their U Bahnoffs (Train Stations). Every U Bahnoff had a unique and artistic theme. You could travel in trains all day, exploring the design and theme of every station. One of the most notable aspect of these designs was the particularity in symmetry.
Mind blowing stuff to say the least!
Coming to the famed Berlin Wall, or let’s be real the remains of it! We visited the East Side Gallery, which has the biggest remains of the Berlin Wall…
This part of the city was the real Berlin!
No fancy futuristic buildings, old school design, hoards of tourists, local eateries, small shops, no sign of a mall!
WELCOME TO BERLIN
The Berlin where the locals live!
We went around this neighborhood on two occasions:
- To visit the East Side Gallery
- To try out the best Berlin Eats on a Secret Food Tour
The first visit was all about experiencing the side of the city as tourists, walking about and taking pictures.
The second-time round, we explored it with a local guide who gave us a detailed insight into the lives of German locals in Berlin
The brand called COMFORT
You could find people dressed to their comfort, according to the weather. No one cared what brand you wore. Dressing up in brands is uncool in Berlin. Obviously, given the history of capitalism in Germany. People still say no to “the capitalists/ big brands!”
Wear your Skin
When you visit Berlin, what you see is Berlin. The old, the new, the futuristic. A rare specialty of Berlin is the lack of influence this city has from other cultures. Be the Americans or the French, the Germans aren’t chasing to be one of them but have a strong mark of their own.
The history and the impact of spying and it’s after effects have left a deep impact on the Germans. Most Germans in Berlin refuse to be filmed. In fact, many teenagers/ youngsters don’t own a smartphone for the same reasons!
The Art of Rebellion
The most important and my favourite impression of Berlin happens to be the city’s ACT OF REBELLION. Be it the remains of the wall or some left over bunkers from World War II, or establishments that were a symbol of capitalism, young Berliners discard and rebel against all of them… with a simple and beautiful tool called art!
Berlin is filled with graffiti and street art that showcase the mood of the city! For those with a stronger message of rebellion, you’ll find organised gangs taking this responsibility on themselves to make that their message is out there, loud and clear.
No, unlike the popular belief, we did not meet any rude Germans! (winning!)
In fact, smart brands like Coca Cola have taken this trend into account and have made some graffiti ads themselves.
Have seen many to pick one favourite! 🙂
Berlin: The City Of Future
The view from the top of the TV Tower- Berlin Fernsehtrum shows a city of future in the making with innovation, reinvention and vision all across. Either way, Berlin has come a long way in the last 30 years and is a city to watch out for!
Have you been to Berlin? What were your first impressions of the city? Do you plan to visit Berlin? Do you have a picture in your mind already? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to discuss more about this 🙂