The German capital is one those great places on earth, where everything seems to match the travellers’ taste. Whether you’re coming from West or East, searching for culture or nightlife, the thumbs are always up at Checkpoint Charlie, which means Willkommen to Berlin – the bespoke capital.
Due the numerous compliments we heard about this diverse city we headed to Berlin with high expectations. When we got there, we had to keep glancing at the city map, as we thought we would never get used to the names, but finally we settled at Mitte, the most central borough of Berlin, it is here that we started our journey proper.
So many beautiful places like Alexander Platz, Bundestag, Brandenburg Gate, The Fernsehturm and though we found it the pronunciation hard going, it was hard to not be impressed by the staggering architecture and profound symbolism.
Despite Berlin’s multiculturalism, German is of course the widespread language, so it certainly helps to have at least a basic grasp of the language.
We swapped sightseeing for a supermarket run where we stocked up on provisions for the weekend, when we finally got to the till, the cashier she greeted us with a “Hallo”, she then proceeded to talk to us in German even after she realised that we could not understand, and then she said “Bye”. Thankfully this peculiar scenario was for the best part unrelated as many of the locals we stopped, or stopped to talk to us were more than forthcoming with information on thinks like direction, place to eat, place to hang out.
This eerie scenario happened few times and we thought that was the best way for them to cope with more than 10 millions of tourists that visit Berlin every year, or, at least, was an altruistic and polite way to make visitors feel familiar with Deutsch.
Overall I have to be very magnanimous give Berliners the benefit of doubt, especially for those friendly people who took the time to offer their help throughout the day. After 6 hours strolling, we headed to a vibrant night. Charming people, lovely music, friendly chaps serving tasty beers could be a good presage, but after few drinks, the eyelid got heavier and we could only see each other’s head tilting to both side, a clear sign that night was over, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy it …unfortunately
Indeed we did not allow the any episode to stain Berlin’s reputation and through Couch Surfing we searched for a place to meet up funny and energetic Berliners.We found out that at Charchens Balhaus, a dance place during DDR, normally hosts a Salsa parties. Yes, Salsa. Though Germans normally have a rigid inner discipline, cling-filmed with a indulgent shyness, they also seize an opportunity to share their dancing skills, It was therefore easy to catch up someone keen to show us that the salsa sensuality already conquered a place throughout Berlin’s new currents. At the end we met a lady who made clear that life in Berlin is a matter of trust. If one can leave his bike lock to nowhere, one can as well grab a partner I leave the music treat the pair with deference. Viva las noches de Salsa…
The cheapest food in Europe
I haven’t been (yet) to all countries in Europe, but I reckon it’s rather difficult to find cheaper city than Berlin. The city has an enormous range of food due to its multiculturalism, which gives visitors a rare opportunity to experience the world’s popular food with a low price.
Every time we stopped to gas our body up, we saw ourselves in trouble to choose between the enormous varieties available, we could grab a fast Kebab, which faithfully represent the bigger community in Berlin or we would rather stop to eat a huge Vietnamese soup or even challenge our fingers with the Chinese chopstick. The food was almost always gorgeous though the service seemed to be a bit “out of standard” especially if one compares to others cities, but in general the panoply of restaurants very attractive.
Museum’s day and Kate Kollowitz
Berlin has more than 170 museums, 5 of them are located at the famous Museum Island. We passed by the area but sometimes to a troglodyte, who never been to an art centre until the age of 20, spend time in a museum sounds an affront, so instead we opted to enjoy the street market nearby full of fascinating junks and some nice collections.
Afterwards, we headed to the an interesting Topography of Terrors, which is the museum that best maps the mind of Nazis and which shows one the way they laboured upon the weak minds and the way they got rid of the opposition The unique posters that show the way the regime classified the disable people were for me the most chocking.
At the other side of city, there is a place that probably Hitler would hate – Käthe Kollwitz Museum.
She was a brave woman, with an enormous talent. As a sculpture, printmaker, painter she challenged the regime by using her talent to sketch Berlin’s inhabitants suffering. Kate, fearlessly, played an important role speaking eloquently on behalf of those who had no voice, nor strength to cope with the inherent war pains.
Her reputation thrived throughout the years and therefore she became a reference. I spent 2 hours alongside an Italian art student – an Kollwitz admirer- who passionately explained me the meaning of each drawing and painting, and left me with a sense that at the end of the day, even a caveman bows before an extraordinary artist, who undoubtedly carved her name on world’s art history.