Berlin / City Breaks / Europe / Travel

Berlin: Revisiting one of my Favourite Cities

Regeneration is possibly the best word to sum up Berlin.  While every city goes through its changes, growth and transformation Berlin has had its fair share and seen many incarnations.  While its history is well known the city as we know it today is still quite young.  The creative energy is palpable and makes for an exciting city break.

Reichstag Building - Berlin

I was slightly worried that the second time around might be disappointing.  Maybe I had elevated Berlin so much in my mind that I would return and question what all the fuss was about.  No need to worry at all for I went, I saw, and I fell deeper in love with this city.

It is not easy to do light-hearted sightseeing as remnants of an oppressive past dot the city but even with that in mind there is an energy there which does not dwell on the past but looks to the present day.  Street art/graffiti is so rife you would think that it was legal (it isn’t) and the standard of the work is quite high.  An Alternative Berlin tour done on my second day gave a great rundown of who some of the well known artists are mixed in with some quirky tales.

Berlin Wall 1961-1989 - Berlin

The edgy/gritty feel I noticed on my first trip was a little less apparent as lots of the money being pumped into the city has cleaned it up a little.  In the under three years since I was there it is noticeable that corporations are making their mark by bankrolling street art and changing the face of historically significant areas.

Behind the East Side Gallery lies land that was previously known as the death strip which separated West and East Berlin.  It is also where you will currently find YAAM = Youth African Arts Market.  A market that as the name suggests was cultivated by African youth and artists in the city.  Founded in 1994 it soon became a significant place for the African & Caribbean community and it has long been a popular destination for all Berliners.  Soon however it will have to relocate from its current location…to then be swiftly replaced by a hotel.

YAAM Art - BerlinStreet Art in YAAM

It felt nice to revisit a place that was familiar but not yet well known.  With better navigational skills and having seen most of the popular sites I was open to visiting anything my travel mates wanted to see and was able to direct us there relatively easily.

I was however determined this time around to visit the Reichstag, which we did, and it was the highlight of the trip.  I was happy to find out that the Reichstag is 1) Open on a Saturday and 2) Easy to book just one day in advance.  The dome was also opened and not closed like indicated online.  More to come on this later.

The Dome - Reichstag - Berlin

Trying to pinpoint exactly why I love Berlin can be difficult to fully express though.  I like the people, the high value for low-cost, and the vibe but mostly I like that unlike London it is a city with no pretensions or glaringly obvious class divisions.

Also Berlin does not try to be cool or hip, it just can’t help itself most of the time.  I could potentially see myself living there but I don’t know what Id do exactly.  I’m sure I’d need to know German to get a job remotely similar to what I do in London.  So for now I will continue to admire from afar and up close when I get the chance.

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11 thoughts on “Berlin: Revisiting one of my Favourite Cities

  1. I’m a fellow Berlin lover. We were really hoping to get back there this month as we’ve got a good friend living there now but our travel schedule was thrown a bit off due to unforeseen circumstances. My fingers are crossed for the new year.

  2. Oh Melissa, this makes me want to go back to Germany. I fell in love with it in Munich but we didn’t get to go to Berlin. But now I know I definitely need to go. It sounds so wonderful.

  3. This is a fantastic piece of travel writing! Your enthusiasm and love for Berlin is clear, so much so that it has moved right to the top of my must-visit list! I think I’d like to visit the historic side of it the most, the part relating to the wall

  4. I will forever love Berlin! I’ve only been to Berlin once and have raved about the city so much. I too am scared that I may not like it the second time I go, but after reading your post, I am rest-assured that the love for such an amazing city will always remain

    • You won’t be disappointed. I was worried also, that maybe I loved it because I had no expectation of the city before my first time visiting but there is too much going on for that to happen.

  5. Pingback: Memories: The Way it Was in 2013 | Wanderlust

  6. Ah the Dome. I have an appt reserved. The tour of the parliament was booked up. I guess you have to book like 6 months in advance lol. I’m DEFINATELY looking forward to the street art. Again, I enjoyed reading this.

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