You can write about any city in the world and get a decent number of readers. One of them is Berlin. Many stories have been written, told and shared about Berlin, but in my opinion it can never be enough in this case. If there is one city that tells stories by just walking its streets, visiting its bars and restaurants and even its tourists attractions, it's Berlin. Even more than New York or San Fran, Moscow or Madrid. Cities that all had their fair share of historic moments but still all gather in the shadow, cast by Berlin!
I have the opinion that one always has to be prepared before going on a citytrip. You need to know at least what route you will take on your way to certain sites or hidden gems. There is more fun in exploring the city before actually arriving there then coming home and find out you have missed out on all the hotspots, trendy diners and shops or whatever else triggers you.
In my case, I always go fully prepared. I make sure I have lined up all the sites I need to see, a read about the history of the city or certain districts and make sure I know where to drink and eat. Between these must-do's, I leave it all to coincidence or luck!
The first time I visited Berlin is about 10 years ago. Too late, no doubt, but it just didn't happen earlier. So I did miss out on a lot of interesting developments in the city. Historical wise, but most of all cultural wise. However I did read so much about Berlin that I remember quite vividly coming out of the U-bahn on Alexanderplatz, knowing exactly where I needed to go from there to see my first site north of the square. By reading, I simply created a visual map in my subconscious mind as it were. And that map only got more and more detailed over the years..but enough about my feelings about the city!
The main idea to go on a city trip is to be out, to be somewhere else and to explore. To help you along, I will share some interesting sites and tips for your trip to Europe's historical epicentre, Berlin.
Before closing the door behind you and start your trip, you must visit a couple of sites to get at least a sense of the city.
- Wikipedia: Get some basic info on Friedrich II, Weimar Republic, Battle of Berlin, GDR (DDR), Berlin Wall and some former East-Berlin districts. Why? To understand the streetnames and the reason you find clusters of not only Japanese tourists looking up or down at some streetcorner and taking pictures, what is East and whay is West, war remnants, a brass line on the streets and the Ampelmännchen in traffic lights.
- Berlijnblog.nl: This is a cool blog with more than 6000 likes on FB about the ins and outs of Berlin (for the Dutch speakers among our readers). Marjolein gives you some great and helpfull tips and info about the city and beyond. Here you'll find where to go out, shop and eat. Even what to order in some cases. A definite must-do!
I can only suggest of course, but hire a bike and get lost! That is, by far, the ultimate way to explore a city. Well, except Beijing maybe. And while you're there, take the train to Potsdam and visit Sans Soucci and the makers of the remake of this cultural phenomenon, the Trabi.
What shouldn't you forget besides a camera?
- something to take notes, draw or just make paper hats.
- something to take the notes or make the drawings with.
- a guideline to trendy hotspots and things to see, buy and visit.
- an easy to wear Day Explorer or Courier Bag to carry all the above items and more..
Even though it sounds corny, but I will still recommend it. If it is your first visit to Berlin, try a trip on the hop on-hop off bus, get your bearings and drive past the top-10 of must-see sites of the city. It's then up to you to find the rest.
Enjoy and share