While I was living in Prague, I decided to take a short train ride to Germany and spend a weekend in Berlin with my friend on Remote Year, Marion, who lives there. I had never been before and always wanted to visit because of all the creativity I see coming from its tumultuous past. I didn’t have an itinerary besides exploring the city through a local’s eyes so I didn’t do most of the traditional touristy activities, but instead got a local’s perspective.
We took the train a lot, which I absolutely loved. The city is huge and spread out, not easily navigated by foot. The set-up reminded me a lot of Los Angeles. Each of Berlin’s neighborhoods are like a city in itself, wrought from the distinctive individuals who have come to call it home: hipsters bustle past historical architecture in the Mitte district, immigrants play punk-rock in Kreuzberg’s trendy bars, and families eat artisanal ice cream in Prenzlauer Berg. It was a living and breathing melting pot and for the first time in a long time, it helped me feel like myself again.
I found graffiti all over the streets, but gorgeous white interiors and minimalist decor. It’s full of contrast like that! There also was a youthful, anything-goes spirit all around the otherwise drab city. I couldn’t believe how much green space and public parks you could find on almost every city block.
Marion took me to many different neighborhoods so I could see her favorite bars, restaurants, and cafes firsthand all while getting a feel for the city. My favorites were Roamer’s, Hokey Pokey, Con Tho, Dóttir, and Daluma.
We also spent an afternoon strolling East Side Gallery, the former divide between East and West Germany.
One of the best days was spent at Berlin, Beats & Boats, a boat ride with a live DJ down the river to the middle of the Müggelsee. It was a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective. Sunday Karaoke at Mauerpark Flea Market is a must!
Berlin surprised me as a city of constant and rapid change, so much so I want to come back again with a larger appetite for food and culture. It is now my second favorite city in Europe, with Paris being a close first.