I expected Berlin to be just another generic European capital city, a Paris or Prague characterised by grand architecture and a few of the usual greatest hit monuments for postcard purposes.
While it has all that, I don’t think such description does the city justice. For the very recent and unique history of the freshly united German capital makes it a strange old thing. Well, not so old really.
For every Reichstag building stands an oddly-shaped, shiny modern edifice. For every Brandenburg Gate a thousand of those blue, bulky overground water-pipes float in the air, for no apparent reason other than pragmatic convenience.
The city feels like it recently played host to a massive party, as if a thousand rebel teens were dropped in after prolonged time behind closed doors, then suddenly granted the license to remake the city in their own image. Indeed, that’s how a hurried historian may legitimately sum up the past few decades. Everything is confused, contradictory and consequently unexpected which is great as an outsider.
There are more cranes than restaurants, which makes it almost impossible to catch a clean picture. It also leaves the impression that the whole place may well look completely different next visit round. Every wall bears an artistic or political message of ranging intellectual and aesthetic merit. Even the green man on the traffic lights is a bit funky.
I don’t know where I’d rank Berlin in terms of other places I’ve visited. But I can say two things: 1) it’s worth the visit and 2) however nice, the pictures don’t do it justice nor capture its fascinating personality. Would highly recommend the trip.
A few things to do in Berlin:
- The Holocaust Memorial
- Check out the museum island
- Olympiastadion tour
- Boat trips
- Check out the street art
- Try local cuisine (basically currywurst and beer)
- And have a meal in a proper German tavern!
- See the Bridge of Spies in Wannsee
- Check out the Berlin wall remains
- Tour the Charlottenburg Palace
- Visit the Topography of Terror museum on Nazi crimes