I traveled to Berlin recently for a weekend to go to the IFA 2016. This is a Consumer Electronics Show equivalent to the CES in Las Vegas that shows the new tech trends that will be available to the consumers in the upcoming months. A friend of mine from France told me about it couple months ago, and as we are both tech junkies, that was the occasion to travel there together. I have already been once to Berlin, but that was during the Autumn, this time was the opportunity to enjoy Berlin during Summer and that was a totally different experience. If you are planning a trip to Berlin, here is my quick travel guide.
The city of Berlin in 9 times bigger than Paris with an area of 892 square kilometers.
The Berliner Fernsehturm (Television tower) is the tallest building in Germany standing tall at 368 metres.
The "longest beer garden in the world" record was hold at the International Berlin Beer Festival. It was 2.2 km long and involved 2,000 beers, 300 breweries and 86 countries.
There is an abandoned airport in Berlin called Tempelhof or Tempelhofer Freiheit. Located just in the middle of the city, it is one of Europe´s most iconic pre-World War II airports that has been abandoned for couple years. It's been turned over the public, in 2010, and since then has become Berlin's biggest park, bigger than Central Park in New York!
Couple words in German
Where to stay
The first time I went to Berlin, I stayed in the East part of the city. This time, I stayed in the West side. Both experiences were great. Although, the first time I went there, I was surprised to see how different both sides look like. The Eastern part is more industrial and still marked by the soviet architecture and wide avenues. However, that's what gives it its charm today. I love how people managed to reconvert those old abandoned buildings into trendy bars, restaurants, cafes where most Berliners go hangout.
Things to do
If you like History like I do there are many places where to go to learn more about the history of the country. Otherwise, you can just go sight-seeing, Berlin has many great landmarks and hidden gems to discover on the go. Here is a list of what I recommend.
Great spot for restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas and also to visit the sony centre. Also, if you got some spare time go try out the fastest lift in Europe at the Panoramapunkt. It will cost you 6,50€ per adult to get to the top but the view is worth it.
Anne Frank museum
The story of Anne Franck is very heart-rending. She is one of the most discussed jewish victims from the Holocaust as she wrote down her experience during the war in her diary, that was found by her father, the only survivor of the family when he returned to their house in Amsterdam after the war.
The Berlin wall
Just walking around this area gave me chills. You can see on the ground the marks showing where the wall stood and where people attempted to escape, but with no success and were shot on sight. It is sad to imagine that this existed not so long ago and still exist in some parts of the world.
One of the most famous landmarks in Berlin.
The Holocaust memorial
A memorial to the victims of the holocaust
Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West and one of the most famous inner-city border crossing. Soviet and American tanks faced each other at this location during the Berlin crisis in 1961.
Check the street art
An aquarium in the lobby of a hotel
Go check out the cylindric giant aquarium in the lobby of the Radisson blue hotel. This is pretty impressive.
The Fernsehturm tower
How to get around
The best way to get around is by using the public transports. You can get a day pass within the zone A and B for about 7€ per day, or a single ticket within the zone A and B for 2,70€. I recommend taking the day pass as it allows you to use any type of transports.
Or by foot when browsing some local areas. One advice, when crossing the streets in Berlin. Make sure that the lights are green or you might get in trouble. I was surprised to see people respecting the traffic light for pedestrians even if there were no cars coming our way.
This is Ampelmann or traffic light man, the symbol shown on pedestrian signals. It is one of the few features of communist East Germany to have survived the end of the Iron Curtain.
What to eat
Introduced and popularized by the Turkish worker in Germany, the Döner kebab has become one of the most famous street food in the country. You can NOT go to Germany and not try one. It is mandatory, and so tasty!
This is a German fast food dish consisting of pork sausage, fries and curry ketchup
Also, if you are looking to have some brunch, these two addresses are some great spots I highly recommend:
For dinner try out Prater Garten which is the oldest Beer Garden in Berlin, established since 1837. But make sure to book in advance as it is a very popular place, it gets full very quickly.
Alexander Platz is a great spot for shopping. There, you will find all the main shops, shopping centre, cafes and restaurants. This is also a great spot for people watching while enjoying a cuppa. Aside from being a meeting spot, this huge square also welcomes many street artists that catch the attention of the locals and tourists for a couple minutes at a time. Be aware of the pick pockets though as it is a big public area.
Berlin is such a unique place. Going there during summer time made me discover another aspect of this city and made it up from my last experience. I really had a great time, spending most of my time outdoor browsing the streets, hanging out in parks and tasting some great beers among locals. Berlin got that good vibe that makes you feel comfortable from the moment you arrive. My German might still be rusty but most of the people speak English which was handy. This is a great city to visit whether for a weekend or a week, or even more. This city is so huge, there will always be something new to discover.