Sometimes I feel a little douchey about moving to Berlin. Because everybody is doing it, and the locals kinda hate that prices are increasing all over the place, and well, it’s become bit of a cliché.
But then I think about how I’m temporarily living in one of the world’s most historically important and incredible cities and my street has COBBLESTONES because my neighbourhood was one of the few areas that was untouched in the war, and I’m like screw the haters. This is cool.
I’ve only been here a week. Well, less than a week, because today I fly to Ireland for 10 days of the Fleadh Cheoil festival in Sligo (my second home). But here’s what’s happened so far.
1. It actually isn’t super easy to get around with English.
Everything I’ve read about Berlin generally said that English is spoken all over the place and it’s not necessary to learn German. I have two issues with this because: 1) This is simply not true in the slightest, especially if you live in certain neighbourhoods like Prenzlauer Berg, and 2) WHY WOULDN’T YOU TRY TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE?
This is obviously my biggest obstacle so far. Not only is it disrespectful to not at least reach some level of conversational German if you’re living in Berlin, but your life will be a million times easier. Cheryl Howard has been my go-to resource for expat info in Berlin, and her number one tip for people is to learn German.
2. The public transit is INSANE.
I mean insanely good. But keep in mind that I’ve grown up in a town of 1200 people, and the city I’ve lived in for the past 10 years is also small. And usually when I travel I avoid huge cities, so I’m not particularly used to transit. I haven’t taken a bus in St. John’s in 5 years. SO naturally I’d get lost as HELL on the metro system. There are four primary ways to get around the city: the underground, the subway, the trams, and the buses.
On my first day exploring the city’s main highlights I got completely lost on the train for two hours. TWO BLOODY HOURS. I had it much easier coming back but like…yeah I’m an idiot. I can’t express how proud of myself I was today when I figured out the route to the airport on the first shot.
3. The nightlife is off the wall, and dressing down is the thing.
I spent Friday night out exploring the club scene with some fellow bloggers. We started at a dinghy bar where we met a German girl who told us all about clubbing.
“That’s not really my scene,” I said pompously. “I like smaller pubs and bars.”
But she went on to explain that clubs aren’t typical of what you’d find in other cities. Dressing up is a NO. Wearing high heels is practically taboo. There are plenty of places with epic haus music. There are massive clubs with different DJs playing throughout. The overall goal is to invite everyone in and have them feel comfortable, not judged, free. There’s even a club that puts a cap on your cell phone camera so you can’t take photos.
I ended up at a club that was exactly as described. It was fun but it was already past my bedtime when we arrived – something like 4 AM – and those clubs do NOT slow down ever. I’ll have to be better rested next time.
4. This really is one of the world’s most important cities.
I did a free walking tour with Sandeman’s (HIGHLY recommended) and learned more about the Berlin wall, Brandenberg Gate, the place where Hitler committed suicide, etc. When you try to understand the history of a place, most material is overwhelming and dull. It’s hard to get through. But our guide really cleared up a lot of questions I had about Berlin, and did an excellent and entertaining job doing so.
I’ve also been told to do the Alternative Berlin tour by a few people, so that will be my next one.
I do believe I’m going to love it here. If you know Berlin well and have suggestions for me, please have at ‘er!