Sunday, October 9, 2016

Traveling: Berlin Redux - Impressions From A Recent Visit

(Drivebycuriosity) - Berlin belongs to the cities you have to visit more than once in your life time.  There is so much going on. I had already visited the metropolis 7 times in 4 decades: my latest visit was in 2014 as I stayed in a hotel at Potsdamer Platz (driveby). Recently my American wife and I came back to learn more about Germany´s capital.

This time we had a hotel on Friedrichstrasse, close to the same named Subway and S-Bahn stations. The vibrant area is in the former East Berlin, the capital of the defunct socialist Germany controlled by Russia, proudly named DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik/GDR: German Democratic Republic). Today this area reminds of New York´s Time Square.

Our new location was very central. We could easily walk to Gendarmen Markt (East), Hallesche Höfe (also East), Brandenburger Tor (former part of the iron curtain), Kreuzberg, Schöneberg (both West) and other interesting areas.

Berlin lacks the skyline you can see in the US and an in Asia. The city sprawls over a vast area and is more comparable to Los Angeles than to New York City. Thanks to history - which had split the metropolis over 4 decades  - the city has 2 hearts and a lot of local centers. German´s re-unification was the occasion and inspiration to create a new and very modern city which is still going on, causing a lot of construction. The face of Berlin also is shaped by lots of immigrants, especially from Turkey. And the place is very green thanks to a lot of parks, lakes, riversides and a large forest right in the center  (Tiergarten).

                                               Modern, Fast & Efficient

But anyway, Berlin is surprisingly walkable thanks to a mass transport system - U-Bahn (Subway), S-Bahn (urban railway) and Straßenbahn (streetcar) - which is very modern, fast & efficient and brought us swiftly to our destinations.

This times we skipped most of the amazing museums & historical places (here an overview of our 2014 visit Berlin) and focused on the ubiquitous art galleries which are spread all over the city. And we tried some of the original pubs of course.

Again we wallowed in Berlin the traditional German breakfast: Brötchen, which are ball shaped breads plus lots of sliced sausages (like Salami), ham and cheese.

My wife and I believe that we have to come back more times.

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