(An article by Julie Kim from a Berlin Travel Review, a city travelreview 2015 work/study project)
Welcome to Berlin, a city with the dichotomy of fascinating history and innovative creativity! One may not quite know what to expect from this German capital; it’s not as romanticized as Paris, nor is it popularized like New York. However, it is full of developments and potential. Germany as a whole has undoubtedly become a strong European country and Berlin has been rapidly building itself as a metropoli- tan city, fit for such a nation.
What differentiates Berlin from the others? First and foremost, history. Germany has unanimously been considered as an important part of modern European history, though rather dishonorably, and the people’s effort in maintaining historical awareness shows through the numerous memorials and monuments: to never re- peat the mistakes and to promote peace, both domestically and internationally.
Does this mean that they constantly live with heavy hearts? Absolutely not. Though Germans could be considered more serious in nature than other Europe-ans, they also know how to relish life, especially in Berlin. The copious amount of pubs, cafés, clubs, and live music venues echo the spunky spirit of Berliners. Berlin is home to countless contemporary artists and avant-garde art and as the residence for the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin is also a hot spot for music, both classical and modern. There are a plethora of creativity going on everywhere, from street art and performances to galleries and symphony halls; there is a multitude of diverse cultural possibilities.
As we have discovered and were enchanted by Berlin, we hope this guide will help you do the same. From an abundance of attractive spots, we’ve worked to introduce the best; and also advise against the less good. Become immersed in Berlin with us, and gute Reise!
(Sample of a Travel Review created by a group of students on a citytravelreview work/study project to Edinburgh in March 2014)
What comes to your mind when you think about the Scottish life- style? Are bagpipes popping into your head, or whisky, golf, kilts and haggis? That is right! These are a few very important aspects of Scottish life, but Scotland has more to offer. Discover the interesting story about the unicorn, why a Scotsman has to get some IRN BRU after an evening with too much alcohol or what a fried Mars bar is. Go out and learn to dance at the ceilidh, so you can act like you are from Scotland. We’ve found the most important things you have to know and try when discovering Scottish lifestyle.
(Sample of a Travel Review by Amy Turner, a member on citytravelreview project in Berlin, Summer 2005)
DO look out for bikes! The bike lanes in the city are rarely differentiated from pedestrian areas.
DO try out your German. Don’t be shy to test out your lan- guage skills. You don’t want to come across as rude!
DO Recycle. Recycling is super big in Berlin and you can even face fines if you refuse to cooperate. Another tip – If you take your used and empty plastic bottles back to the supermarket you will receive €0.25 in exchange for each one.
DO plan your journeys in advance. This is essential, especially during the night-time hours, since if you look like a confused and lost tourist, you may become vulnerable to thieves.
One of the great things about Berlin is that many of the sights and exhibitions are free to visit such as the Reichstag, the East Side Gallery and the Holocaust Memorial. A City that is certainly value for money.
If you fancy venturing to explore the nightlife, it is worth mentioning that most of clubs only get lively post 1am. Great for the night-owls, not so great for those who really like their sleep. Something else to remember if you do intend to head out, is that drinking on the streets and on public transport is strictly not allowed. Respect locals and wait until you are in a
bar or beer garden.
(Scottish Language. An article by Lucas Ostendorf, a project member on citytravelreview work/study programme in Edinburgh, summer 2015)
Although Scotland belongs to anglophone Great Britain and Edinburgh‘s residents might easily understand your English it does not mean that you are able to understand them. It is not only that the locals speak very fast. Their dialect differs significantly from what is normally known as English. In Edinburgh people speak a mixture between Scots and Scottish English.
The term Scots describes a Germanic language variety spoken in the Scottish Lowlands. Many words are identical to contemporary Scandinavian words. This phenomenon goes back to the Viking influence on this area in the 10th century.
The famous Scottish poet Robert Burns, well known for his Auld Lang Syne, has written a lot of his works in Scots dialect. He became celebrated in Edinburgh in the year 1784.
There are many discussions whether Scots can be considered as an own language as it is still popular and commonly spoken. Many citizens of Edinburgh use it in their everyday life. Even important world literature is often translated into Scots. Travellers be aware: you should listen carefully to what the locals say. And if you do not understand very much, do not bother: a smile on a face sometimes tells more than a thousand words.
(Introduction to a Travel Review by project members on citytravelreview work/study programme in Berlin – Summer 2015)
Doubtless, tales of this ever-adapting, exuberant city that is Germany’s capital have already reached you. Dating back to the 13th century, Berlin is now one of the most populous urban areas in Europe, and there is little question why: with a relatively low cost of living for an urban area; a regular, reliable transport system them covers the city and its suburbs; and a history that could never be fully covered in a school syllabus, it is arguably one of Europe’s most tourist – and migrant – friendly cities.
The most beautiful thing about Berlin is that it appeals to so many tastes. His- tory buff? Try taking in the 175 museums and countless memorials scattered throughout the city. Twenty-something on a party holiday with friends? Take a bar crawl through the wild and alluring streets of Kreuzberg,Friedrichshain, and Neukölln, then spend entire weekends in some of the most famous clubs in Europe. Art enthusiast? Make your way round the hundreds of unique, independent galleries, or simply take a walk around the city to see artwork on every other wall. No matter your interests, Berlin will match them.
An article written for CityTravelReview: Edinburgh project, September 2014
The Elephant House is the café where Harry Potter was born. Not literally of course, but the remarkable author Joanne K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel in the back room. This café is charming and cosy. While sitting inside and enjoying a hot beverage you have a beautiful view to the Castle and old Greyfriars Graveyard, where Rowling borrowed some names for her magical characters. The atmosphere is mainly “Potterish”. Portraits of J.K. Rowling decorate the interior and every inch of the bathroom walls is covered by notes of Hogwarts fans. Many people come here with their notebooks or bring laptops, hoping for some creativity to take hold of them. The cafe on George IV Bridge is always busy, if you go there after 5 pm you usually have to wait to be seated. However, the staff is very friendly and polite. Sandwiches and snacks aren’t that cheap, but with an aromatic coffee for £1.85 you can’t go wrong. The Elephant House is an inspiring place for all authors to be. If you need more inspiration for a character’s name take a page out of J.K’s book and use the graveyard right across the road (you might even meet Tom Riddle there).
An article by a project member on a CityTravelReview programme in Edinburgh, Sept 2014
A traditional Ceilidh is the ultimate in Scottish joie de vivre. Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is a traditional Scottish gathering, where people dance to Gaelic folk music. The Ceilidh Club in Edinburgh offers weekly events in the Summerhall and in Assembly Roxy every third Friday.
The impressive former church and one of Edinburgh’s finest live music venues creates an exciting night. A fantastic live band combines booming modern rock sounds with traditional Celtic violin melodies. They invite up to 170 people to join in the traditional but wild dances. Locals in kilts and woollen socks as well as newbies enjoy the jolly atmosphere on the dance floor.
At the beginning of each dance, a band member instructs the dancers of the correct moves. After, the band plays for roughly 10 minutes so everyone can enjoy the dance, either in groups or in pairs. Wear flat and comfortable shoes and prepare to sweat a lot. Don’t worry if you don’t get the choreography, locals do not mind giving you a helping hand. If dancing isn’t for you it is still fun to come and watch. However, Ceilidh has a strange way of making everyone come out of their shells to join the evening. It is a beautiful Scottish tradition.