There are some cities that are pretty much the same in all areas. Others, that are like many different little towns made into one big city. Berlin however, is a city where there’s always the opposite to things, where there’s white and there’s black in many different aspects.
It doesn’t matter how many times you visit Berlin that you’ll always come across something that will surprise you. That’s the beauty of this city, that there’s always something new that you can take back home with you, and therefore you’ll never think that the trip to Berlin was pointless because it was just like the one before. The German capital is a city of stark contrasts, where there’s black and white and no room for grey. This phenomenon happens in many different fields, so let’s take a look at some:
The most common and obvious difference lies in the appearance of West Berlin and East Berlin. This division, as you all know, comes from the time where Berlin was actually two cities divided by the infamous Berlin Wall. East Berlin was communist, West Berlin was capitalist; East Berlin was in one country, the GDR, and West Berlin was in another, the FRG. It’s almost impossible to believe that there could be such difference in what was effectively the same city years before and this can be seen in the buildings mostly. Take for example Karl-Marx-Allee. This long boulevard ran across East Berlin and it could have perfectly been in Moscow. A wide road with tall buildings on either side with little or no personality at all, all of them of eight floors high and wedding-cake style, also perfect for parades. However, if we move across the city to Kurfürstendamm we can see a lively street with large shopping areas and street cafés and the main go-to street for student and worker protests, all of which would have never been seen in East Berlin.
Food wise, Berlin has something for all tastes. Starting with the most common aspect, Berlin has many street food vendors that sell sausages and currywurst, with standing tables outside where you can quickly eat your cheap but tasty food and move on in less than five minutes. You’ll find one of these places in most streets, a sharp contrast with some of the fine restaurants in the city. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, German cuisine is excellent and the city has many Michelin-star restaurants, such as Reinstoff, Lorenz Adlon or Facil, all of which are in Mitte. Whether it’s fine dining or a thick bratwurst or a döner kebab in Kreuzberg, Berlin has it all.
In terms of history and art, Berlin also has many different options for all tastes. In the Museumsinsel, the Island of the Museums, one can find the most historically valuable pieces of art and architecture in Europe. The beauty of such pieces, such as paintings in the Alte Nationalgalerie or in the Pergamonmuseum is quite simply astounding. However, the city does not forget about its horrible past and this is well documented in museums such as the Mauer (Wall) Museum, the Jewish Museum or the Hohenschönhausen Museum, the old prison of the Stasi, the East Germany secret police, all of which show untold horrors of the city’s dark dark past.
Lastly, you can find areas of peace and quiet and areas of frenetic activity. Berlin’s club scene is the best in Europe and you can club until the early hours of the morning (and beyond) in some of the most famous clubs in the world, such as Berghain, Panorama Bar, Watergate or Tresor to name a few, to the loudest and most mind-blowingly amazing techno. However, you can also go and relax in any of the many parks in Berlin, such as the Tiergarten or Treptower Park, or even go to the Wannsee lake and its forest.