My Favourite City: Berlin

Filed under: BERLIN, MY FAVOURITE CITY

Monday, November 19, 2012 | 11:10 AM

 

 

 

 

Our next stop in our My Favorite City series is the majestic and wondrous city of Berlin, an international centre of fashion, culture, art, and music, and one of the world's hippest destinations!

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(image courtesy of Ryan O'Rourke)

 

 

Author: Ryan O’Rourke

Canadian freelancer, teacher and world traveler Ryan O’Rourke is the contributing editor of Treksplorer, a site for independent travellers featuring travel articles, travel guides, travel information and trip itineraries. When not traversing the globe or voraciously scribbling down his thoughts, Ryan enjoys sitting lazily by the lake with a book or acoustic guitar in hand and drooling over delicious Asian food. You can connect with Ryan (and follow him) on Twitter @Treksplorer and get all the latest updates by liking Treksplorer on Facebook.

 

My Favourite City: Berlin


Buzzing with ideas, the streets of Berlin, the modern capital of Germany, possess an ineffable magnetism that has drawn in from time immemorial countless writers, philosophers, scientists, artists and travelers. Despite the not-so distant events here that forever changed the tides of time, Berlin thrives not by clinging to the façade of its past but in the here and now. It’s a truly living city, full of quirks, unforgettable characters and unexpected moments. With all it’s been through and its resurgence from dust to glory in a mere generation, indeed, if the twentieth century could name a capital it would be Berlin.

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(image courtesy of Ryan O'Rourke)

 

 

Berlin Must-Do's for Travelers

Berlin is massive and chock full of great places; don’t expect to see it all in day or two. If you have limited time, here are a few must-sees and must-dos:

Berlin Walking Tour: Walking tours in any city can be fantastic but Berlin seems to lend itself especially well to the activity. Starting at Pariser Platz, walking tours with a well-experienced guide can jam in hundreds of years of Berlin’s history seamlessly weaved with the sites in front of your eyes. Expect to see some of Berlin’s most iconic sites come to life: Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the Reichtag, the former site of Hitler’s bunker, Checkpoint Charlie and, of course, the Berlin Wall.

Cruise on the Spree River: In addition to a walking tour, an evening cruise on the Spree River will give you a completely different perspective of the city. Relax as your boat floats by some of Berlin’s finest offerings including the Oberbaumbrücke, Charlottenburg Castle, Museum Island, Berliner Dom, Friedrichstraße and through the historic Nikolaivertel neighbourhood.

DDR Museum: Who knew that a museum could be so fun? The DDR Museum screams nostalgia and is a must-see for anyone longing for a glimpse behind the Iron Curtain. Highly interactive, the exhibits of the DDR Museum are fun for all ages. As the museum is funded only with admission fees, visiting helps to maintain the site and keep this fascinating museum from going by the wayside.

City Panorama: A showcase of city planning done right, Berlin begs to be seen from above. For the best bird’s eye view of Berlin head up the unmistakably Sovietesque TV Tower at Alexanderplatz. The tower itself is one of the defining features of Berlin’s skyline, seemingly visible at nearly every step. The lightning-quick elevator to the observation deck is a trip in itself, blasting up over 200 metres in just 40 seconds. Travelers on a tighter budget may wish to skip the TV Tower and head to the Berliner Dom where they can, for a much lower admission, climb to the outside viewing deck for some excellent shots of Berlin Mitte.

Nikolaiviertel

(image courtesy of ieee-icnp.org)

 

Berlin’s Hidden Gem

Berliners may scoff at suggesting this sight as a “hidden” gem but being outside of the usual tourist areas, it’s not hard for visitors on a tight schedule to miss this incredible site. The East Side Gallery, not far from Warschauer Straße U-Bahn station on Mühlenstraße, is an eclectic open-air collection on the eastside of the Berlin Wall of over 100 paintings from artists all over the world. Capturing the prevailing optimism of a brighter future following Germany’s reunification, the paintings are in various states of disrepair due to both erosion and vandalism. Although restoration work is underway, the future of the East Side Gallery remains hanging in the balance; in other words, now is the time to see it.

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(image courtesy of theclotheswhisperer.co.uk)

 

Where To Eat

Choices for eating in Berlin seem almost endless with a wide assortment of international and local restaurants to choose from. While there is no shortage of restaurants in Mitte, where most tourists stay, better value options exist elsewhere in the city just a short U-Bahn ride away.

To experience a different side of Berlin, head to Oderberger Straße in the gritty Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood. The varied assortment of restaurants here caters to nearly every craving at a lower price tag than in Mitte. My personal favourite in Berlin is Asin (11 Oderberger Straße), one of only two Singaporean restaurants in the city. Serving large portions at a reasonable price and with outstanding service to boot, Asin provides excellent value for discerning fans of Southeast Asian food. I would highly recommend trying one of Asin’s starters soups, which are rich in texture and flavour and easily rate among the best Southeast Asian fare this side of Bangkok.

singapore-asin
(image courtesy of popspoken.com)

 

More Berlin Tips for Travellers

Take your time and enjoy yourself! Do not zip through Berlin; you’ll regret it later. It’s truly one of the world’s most fascinating cities and deserves your time to allow it to reveal its charms fully.

Get a transport pass. The public transportation in Berlin is stellar; why not use it? Passes are reasonably priced and can allow you to see different parts of the city not within a short walking distance.

Don’t restrict your stay to Mitte. Mitte is great but Berlin has a lot to offer. To fully appreciate Berlin’s diversity, get on the U- or S-Bahn and check out some of the city’s other neighbourhoods such as Prenzlauer Berg, Charlottenburg, Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain.

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(image courtesy of Ryan O'Rourke)

 

Do you have a recommendation or a travel tale about Berlin? Questions about traveling to Berlin? Please join our discussion below!

And don't forget, you can explore the best travel resources in Berlin at MetroMarks- everything from maps to accomodations, restaurants and travel guides, and even a great social media section, where you can interact with other travelers!

Want to be featured on My Favourite City? We're looking for bloggers, travel writers, city promoters and seasoned travelers who want to give urban explorers a personal tour of their favourite city. Email us at info@metromarks or adam@metromarks.com for more details!

 

 

 

Tags

transit, Singaporean Food, Asin Restaurant, hidden gems, restaurants, Oderberger Strasse, Berlin Mitte, Pariser Platz, Alexanderplatz, walking tours, River Spree Cruises, East Side Gallery, DDR Museum, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Treksplorer.com, Ryan O' Rourke, vacation, destinations, my favorite city, tips, tourism, travel, Germany, Berlin, U-Bahn

The Conversation

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Low-cost Motels Costs PHUKET wrote: 3:07pm June 2, 2013

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