By Katrin Ziegler
Many young people in Germany actually think you should live in Berlin at least once in your life. I agree. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll like it. Don’t get me wrong. Many people actually do like it. It’s big, it’s comparably cheap, it’s individual, it’s artsy. Ya’ll already know that Berlin and I have a difficult relationship. However, other people I met had their struggle with this city as well. I never understood why people made a big deal about Berlin. It’s dirty, it’s big, it’s hectic and definitely not pretty.
But it’s also colorful, it’s buzzing, interesting and tolerant – you might just need an instruction on how to like it. So here you go.
Location is king.
There are parts of the city you just don’t want to live in (seriously). Some of them because they’re ugly, some of them because they’re really far out (is this really still Berlin?), some of them because they are way too touristy. Where you live will shape your Berlin experience and where you want to live depends on what you want. There are areas with lots of nice neighborhood bars and cafes, farmers markets and beautiful houses – or neighborhoods with a lot of bars, clubs and tourists looking for the ultimate Berlin experience (Berghain anyone?). Naturally, areas become over-hyped and then other areas are the new cool areas – Berlin is a city of hypes. So you might want to stay on top of the recent developments.
So far I have lived in Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg – where I am currently located. Some people say both areas are over-hyped. Friedrichshain has a lot of tourists and bars while Prenzlauer Berg is full of organic hipster patents. I kinda like both though. You should ask yourself what you want to experience while you’re here and pick the location accordingly. Looking for a chill party-heavy student life? Kreuzberg or Neukölln might be a good choice. You want to be ahead of the trend and don’t mind some sketchy corners? Have a look at Moabit. You like organic coffee and brunch is your religion? Prenzlauer Berg is where you want to be (come and meet me for coffee).
Take your time to explore.
The city is huge and spread out and every area has a different personality and so many things to offer. Thus, it might be very overwhelming when you first move here and finding spots that you like aren’t that easy. That is why you might want to take your time exploring the different areas of the city. Maybe start with your neighborhood and scout out some places that you like and where you can chill if you don’t feel like riding the subway for 45 minutes. Then just make your way through each district and take your time exploring the various museums, cafes, shops and markets Berlin has to offer.
Participate in festivals and events.
Yeah, Mauerpark might be too touristy, May 1st might be too left and alternative and Fete de la Musique is super crowded. However, a lot of the charm from the city comes from it’s many different festivals – many of them with an interesting history! And you should definitely find out for yourself what you like regardless of what other people might say. When I first moved here I made the mistake of not going to many of those things because it was too far, too crowded or the weather was just too bad (that happens a lot here so better get over it quickly). So just get your ass off the couch and find out for yourself.
I actually came to love Mauerpark a lot, despite what other people said. Yes it’s touristy and I might not be in the mood for it every Sunday. However, I love the Sunday karaoke shows and the spontaneous jam sessions with different artists. No matter if there are a lot of other people around – they all are there to enjoy the same things.
There is so much to see. It’ll also be quite a hustle to explore everything the city has to offer, as it is spread out and a lot of great places are actually very hidden. That’s why you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by just walking around. Maybe you want to ride the train to a certain district or area and then take your time exploring the neighborhood. Berlin is very walkable – it’s safe, there aren’t many pain-in-the-ass hills you have to climb and it’s generally very green. So get some comfy shoes and walk this bitch 🙂
Mind the seasons.
Well one thing you will want to keep in mind are the seasons. It might be totally awesome to roam the city in spring and scout different cafes, parks and markets – not so much during the cold and windy winter season. Many events and festivals only happen during the warmer months as well (Mauerpark karaoke for example).
You can say a lot of things about Berlin. Not all of them are positive. One thing you can for sure say though is that Berlin is unique. It’s a unique city with such a unique and mind-blowing history. Thus you can do lots of interesting stuff you won’t be able to do in other cities. So go and do them.