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Berlin or Bust

(An article by Julie Kim from a Berlin Travel Review, a city travelreview 2015 work/study project)


„Herzlich willkommen!“

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!



Introduction: My Berlin



(Sample of a Travel Review by Amy Turner, a member on citytravelreview project in Berlin, Summer 2005)

Tourist Tips
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.

#citytravelreview Berlin

Life. Berlin is overflowing with it. Everywhere you turn, the
air crackles with an endless supply of energy. From midnight dancing
to intimate gigs, hidden shops and side-street bars, exquisite palaces
and intricate graffiti, themed cafés and wide expanses of museums—
there is always something happening, something to see, somewhere
to go. Day and night, this city has everything you can possibly imagine
and more.
From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem overwhelming—or by
some small chance, underwhelming. Whatever the case, our team
humbly invites you to take this guide along as you discover the vibrant
streets of Berlin for yourself. Through countless hours of writing,
editing, researching and great amounts of the finest beers and spirits,
we have compiled the highlights of our own Berlin adventures to share
with you.
Essentially, we hope to bring you inside Berlin, not only as a tourist but
as a real Berliner, or “Berlinsider.”

Edinburgh, Edinburgh citytravelreview

Since Edinburgh lies right beside the sea shore, why not try the fresh seafood that is offered at several places around the city? It won’t cost you a fortune! Scotland has a large fishing area around its shores with seafood from the Atlantic west coast as well as the Shetland Isles in the North. It is very popular throughout Scotland; in Edinburgh some of the fine but rather expensive restaurants (e.g. Fishers Bistro and The Shore Bar and Restaurant) can be found on The Shore in Leith. While some places in the city‘s Old Town are as pricey as those at the waterfront (like as the Mussel & Steak Bar on Grassmarket and Creeler’s Restaurant in Hunter Square just off the Royal Mile), all of them have attractive lunch time offers of two courses from a set menu for usually no more than £ 10.

For small budget foodies, however, two places on Rose Street might be the more interesting: On one hand, there is the Mussel Inn, which features a maritime interior with colourful mosaics on the walls. Specializing in all kinds of seafood beyond just fish, it is the perfect place to have a very first meal of mussels, prawns, scallops and oysters. Go with some friends, order different starters (£3-5) or grilled platters (£5-10), and share – not at all slimy! Even better and befitting the restaurant’s name are the ½ kilo pots of mussels for only £5.80, perfectly cooked in different stocks that you can choose personally (for example, roasted pepper, Moroccan, or blue cheese) – delicious until the last drop that you‘ll eventually wipe up with the warm fresh bread that is refilled for free. On the other hand, there is The Seadogs, a quirky but classy place that is my personal favourite because of its fantastic price-to-performance ratio. White walls, partly decorated with ornamental wallpaper and various collections of wood and red plastic furniture, create a chic but cosy atmosphere. The menu includes traditional Scottish seafood dishes, like tomato chowder and high standard fish and chips (with different sorts of fish like plaice or trout to choose from), as well as vegetarian meals like barley paella. During the daytime, everything is around £ 5, but the wider dinner menu are also reasonable- a dish costs rarely more than £ 10. The recipes are down-to-earth but with a twist, a genius combination of main ingredients and lots of fresh herbs (for example, cider-smoked haddock with thyme mussels). While the bread is not free, it is obviously home-baked and very moist and wellworth the extra £ 0.95. Having seafood might be a culinary adventure and gastronomically- virgin soil for you, but it doesn‘t have to be expensive or pure glibber.

So when you‘re in Edinburgh, sharpen your teeth and senses and broaden your horizons on a delicious exploration!
Seafood venues with great value for money (Costs are usually £ 5 – 10):
Seadogs, 43 Rose Street
Mussel Inn, 61 – 65 Rose Street

citytravelreview – Berlin in summer

Berlin can get unbearably hot during the summer months. With no sea breeze, few air conditioned restaurants and stifling conditions on public transport, the best respite from the heat is to head to one of the city’s many lakes. Of all of them, Müggelsee is the largest, and makes for a pleasant day trip. More like a beach-side resort than an inner-city lake, there’s a food shack where you can grab a beer and a bag of chips and a stretch of sand where you can play volleyball or simply sit back relax. But be careful where you choose your spot, as part of the beach is reserved for nudists. The body of water itself is huge (7.4km²) and despite appearances is very clean, undergoing rigorous checks every year by Berlin’s water works. If you have the energy, take a pedalo for a spin (€6/hour) and head down the Kleiner Müggelsee to the floating ice cream hut. How to get there: take the S-Bahn to Friedrichshagen, and then exit the station and make your way to the tram stop in front of the cinema. The No. 60 tram will take you through the forest and straight to Müggelsee.
Text by Lottie Laken

Potsdam: Park Sanssouci
Today’s capital of Brandenberg state, Potsdam remains to Berlin what Versailles is Paris – a two-pronged symbol of monarchy political reform. It was here that the Hohenzollern dynasty first set up royal residence in the 18th century, transforming the former fishing backwater into a garrison town and peppering its rolling landscapes with stately palaces and carefully manicured royal parks. However, there is more to Potsdam’s history than regal pomp and glamour. The city lost its royal status with the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918. Later it was devastated in WWII when an Allied bombing raid on April 14, 1945 left 4,000 people dead. Luckily, Germany’s reunification caused vast
reserves of money to pour in with the initiative to reconstruct some 80 per cent of Potsdam’s historic buildings. Today Park Sanssouci has earned UNESCO’s stamped approval, legitimising it as an excellent place for tourists to stroll san soucci (literally ‘without worries’) and drink in Potsdam’s cultural and architectural delights.
Park Sanssouci, 9694 200/spsg.de
This gracefully landscaped park is the largest and most famous of three royal parks established in Potsdam by Frederick the Great. If you can brave the weekend crowds, take a good few hours to wander along Sanssouci’s 2km tree-lined avenue. Schloss Sanssouci (April-Oct Tues-Sun 9:00-17:00, €8; Nov-March Tues-Sun 9:00-16:00, €12 entry). Frederick’s Baroque-style summer palace was designed by the artist Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff and built with the king’s comfort and ease in mind. Perched atop rows of vineyard terraces and sporting a façade decorated with ornate Bacchic sculptures, it hints at the aesthetic tastes of the culture-loving king. To this end, pop into the Bildergalerie next door to scope works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Caravaggio.
Neues Palais
April-Oct Mon-Thurs, Sat-Sun 9:00-17:00, €6 with tour, €5 without; Nov-March, Mon-Thurs, Sat-Sun 9:00-16:00, €5 entry with tour An opulent riot of rococo-style design and architectural curiosities, the Neues Palais is a grand statement of the power and wealth of the Hohenzollern clan following the Seven Years’ War. A tour of the premises requires pre-booking but is worth every cent. Highlights include masterworks by the painter Adolph Mezel and the ‘Grotto Room’ adorned with 1,500 species of shells, fossils and precious stones.
mid-May to mid-Oct Tues-Sun 10:00-17:00, €3 entry
The striking palace of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, built to closely resemble a Renaissance era Italianate palazzo, features a viewing tower with picturesque views of the Neues Palais. The gallery inside – known as the Raphaselsaal – houses copies of paintings looted by Napoleon during the Seven Years’ War.
Getting There
Take the S-Bahn out of town from one of Berlin’s central train stations (the journey from Berlin Hauptbanhof takes approx. 35mins) using either the direct S1 service or the S7 (and changing at Wannsee). On arrival at Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, you can take buses 695, 606 and X15 to Park Sansoucci.
Text by Alexandra Syzdlowska

Sachenhausen Concentration Camp
Built during the summer of 1936, the camp was designed to be the ‘archetypal’ model in which all camps afterwards were to be based on. It was intended to give an architectural expression to the Nazi world view and symbolize the subjugation of the prisoners to the absolute power of the SS. More than 200,000 people were imprisoned at the camp between 1939 and 1945. Most prisoners were political undesirables at first, but were later joined by those deemed racially and biologically inferior by the Nazi regime. Tens of thousands died at the camp of starvation, maltreatment, forced labour and disease or they were systematically murdered. On the 22nd and 23rd of April 1945 the camp was liberated by Soviet and Polish soldiers. Three months after the end of the war Sachenhausen was turned into a special camp by the Soviets. Using most of the same buildings as the Nazis with the exception of the crematorium and extermination facilities, the Soviets imprisoned minor Nazi functionaries and political undesirables. After 1948, Sachenhausen was the largest camp out of three in the Soviet occupied zone. The camp was closed in March 1950, 60,000 people had been imprisoned with around 12,000 having died there. Today Sachenhausen is a memorial centre to those that lost their lives at the Nazi concentration camp and the Soviet Special camp. Visitors can visit the camp and are guided through the memorial with a map and a personal audio guide, tour companies also go tour guide led visits as well.
Text by Chris Pomfret

Teufelsberg, S75 to Heerstrasse, walk down Teufellseestrasse 15 mins then enter 2nd car park on right and follow road untill arriving at the site S-Bahn Heerstrasse
The abandoned spy station at Teufelsberg is perhaps the most fascinating and original Cold War relic that Berlin has to offer. Literally built upon the rubble of the Second World War, the listening tower offers spectacular views of Berlin including nearby landmarks such as the Olympiastadion and Grunewald Forest to the iconic TV Tower in the centre. The area has a curious history; the original site housed a military-technical college designed by Nazi architect Albert Speer before unsuccessful attempts to blow this up lead to the area being covered by the remnants of Berlin’s buildings post-war and finally used as a listening post for US intelligence to garner information on their Soviet neighbours
during the Cold War. Today however the site is abandoned and scantly populated by squatters and a trickle of eager tourists. A 20 minute S-Bahn journey out of the centre and the uninviting landscape make this a trip which many will not make; the site is accessible only by a challenging trek and then a crudely fashioned hole in the mesh fence. Once inside the abandoned buildings are somewhat hazardous with pitchblack stairwells and no barriers at the summit; the journey is more suited to the thrill-seeking, adrenaline hungry visitor. It is perhaps these raw features which make Teufelsberg so appealing, it is not managed or over-populated and as such it feels real – something not easily achieved in one of Europe’s most visited cities. A fusion of the area’s history, the breathtaking views and the adventurous trek to the summit are what make Teufelsberg an excellent trip; its obstacles are surmountable for most and certainly offer an alternative to the more famous Checkpoint Charlie.
Text by Allan Edgar

citytravelreview – Berlin the young european capital

Berlin is a young European capital, first making an appearance in 1237 as an obscure fishing village. Berlin has certainly spread its net since then, making up for its relative youth by becoming a dynamic and occasionally hedonistic centre point of Europe. From the symbolic chaining of the bear on Berlin’s crest by Friedrich II to the depredations of the Nazi period this city has experienced some of the lowest points in European history. However in the last two decades since the fall of the wall Berlin has experienced a contemporary upswing in the arts, culture and architecture. Districts that once lay behind the Iron Curtain such as Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are thriving areas for students and artists, and the goliath Potsdamer Platz complex has been built extraordinarily quickly considering it was until recently the largest urban wasteland in western Europe.

The thriving street culture and graffiti are some of Berlin’s coolest prospects right now, with graffiti artists and taggers from all over the world coming to make their mark here. The gay, lesbian and transgender scenes are particularly strong here and every year a large Pride festival is held to protest and to show solidarity. Schöneberg is the hub of this scene and numerous bars, clubs and restaurants proudly display their rainbow flags, although most districts in Berlin are equally friendly.

Eating and going out in Berlin is a real treat as it is both cheap and high quality, with clubs charging relatively low entry and bars plying you with high quality beers and cocktails inexpensively. Food comes in a bewildering range, from Turkish doner in the east to simple sushi in Mitte, boiled cabbage in German restaurants and Tapas bars. With so much food choice it can be hard to decide. Fear not as even choosing a cheap restaurant will normally unearth a rough diamond at the least.

Architecture and buildings in Berlin have been weathered, destroyed and rebuilt in this thriving capital. With everything from the Media Spree development and Potsdamer Platz to the palaces at Potsdam and the Reichstag, Berlin has serious potential for those with an eye for sights. Memorials old and new cluster along famous boulevards and avenues, whilst cyclists in their dozens brush past on the Radweg. The story of Berlin is best exemplified in the Mitte district, the centre of division during the Cold War and the hub of historic rallies, speeches and declarations. Museums sprinkled liberally around Berlin present a visitor with a fresh perspective on events – from the Third Reich to the Ramones pretty much most subjects get a look in. With excitement around every corner…

Life in Berlin – citytravelreview

DO watch out for oldschool bikes screaming down the streets at 70km an hour. They do not stop for pedestrians and seem to relish in your fear, so it’s up to you to avoid a collision. DO be prepared when purchasing goods at Lidl or other discount supermarkets. The cashiers move at an unearthly speed and do not appreciate those who dawdle, so have your re-useable bags out and your change ready. DO keep your empty bottles. Most bottles can be returned to the vendor for at least 20 cents, although you may have to protect them from scavengers who will offer to take them off your hands for you. DO try a variety of kebabs, beer, Wurst, absinthe and pastries. Berlin has loads of cheap and good quality food and drink, and every now and then you’ll come across something that will change your life. DO try to speak the language. In Berlin, the majority of people do speak some English but, like most countries, natives will be kinder to you if you at least try a bit of German to start off with. DO NOT J-walk or cross the road at traffic lights when the little fat Ampelmann is red. Brazenly dashing across roads like you would in Paris or London is socially unacceptable in Berlin, especially in front of children, so to avoid getting yelled at in German in the middle of a road, wait for the green. DO NOT put money in the middle of a table when paying at a bar or cafe. They usually prefer if you pay separately too. DO NOT expect to get into the premier clubs in Berlin like Watergate. The queues are long, the clientele exclusive, so bouncers are looking for any reason to deny you entry. If you do decide to give it a go, dress up, try not to scream ‘tourist,’ and know who the DJ is, and you might just get in. DO NOT light up cigarettes in public areas unless other people are smoking. There is an official smoking ban in public areas in Berlin although it is rarely adhered to. But to avoid trouble, follow the locals and ask before smoking indoors. DO NOT fare evade on the train. The ticket inspectors do not have the best sense of humour and pulling the ‘I don’t speak German’ is not going to get you out of a fine as the directions are written in English too. Best to just buy a ticket. DO NOT use hostel internet if possible. Internet cafes are ridiculously cheap here, so it is fiscally sounder to go to your local net cafe and pay 50 cents an hour, rather than 2€ for 20 minutes which is the going rate at most hostels.. Berlin winter group 2009