Authored By Brian

My overall impression of Berlin was that it was very similar to San Francisco: cosmopolitan, very diverse and good food. However, it was quite different in that people obey rules. Every rule. If there isn’t a car in either direction for 500 yards but the crosswalk light doesn’t show the little green man – by God no one will be crossing the street. For as long as two minutes. While everyone stands around looking at each other wistfully longing they were able to cross the street. If only the light were green.

Regardless of that, Berlin has a lot to see. Where the city was divided, specially designed stones or pavement mark where the wall once stood. With the exception of a 1 km stretch of wall that still stands in one part of town along the river, the wall is just a memory now (one that can be bought in 1cm2 squares in most gift shops for a couple euros).

The city has interesting sights and incredible public transportation composed of the underground U-bahn and the suburban S-bahn trains with many surface buses. Well marked, frequent and clean like only the Germans could manage. For about 14 euros we purchased a “City Pass” that gave us 72 hours of access to all transportation and discounts on admission to various museums and attractions. That sounds like a great deal except we never found a place that offered a discount including the Zoo, Neue Galerie, or Bauhaus museum. I’m sure you could find a discount somewhere… like at one of the many Dolly Buster centers scattered about the city.

We visited the Brandenburg gate (which Napoleon once stole the top from and took to France) and Congress buildings on a really beautiful Summer day. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather as we went to the reichstag building. This is where the congress meets but the roof is open to the public for sightseeing. It’s an incredibly old looking building, made of large stone blocks but behind the large stone columns on the West and East facades are ground to ceiling walls of glass that tower at least six stories tall. It’s an amazing combination of old and new that represents the building fairly, located just meters from where the Berlin wall used to be.

Earlier this year at IconMedialab we had a student intern from Berlin named Johannes Stein that I called when I landed in town. The three of us met him and his friend Leon for dinner in a hip and upcoming neighborhood. A side effect of being a cosmopolitan and diverse city is there is less “German” cuisine to be had. An array of Chinese, Italian, Greek, Mexican and the German fast-food favorite of Turkish kebab restaurants line the streets. We settled on Greek for the evening as it takes a bit of effort to find a bratwurst for dinner. I was hoping we would be able to go out for a few beers afterwards but Johannes had a test the following morning and some studying to do so we parted ways and headed back to our hotel via the S-bahn after taking some pictures of the remaining Berlin Wall.

Some early observations:

  • Water is more expensive than coke
  • There are a lot of Asian residents (or at least Asian people speaking German)
  • Liability lawyers would have a field day here with the policy on social Darwinism concerning open construction sites and other potentially dangerous situations for idiots

Comments are closed.