Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this used to be the intro for this article series: “We are the most mobile generation yet. Many young Europeans travel and even move abroad to study, work, or visit friends and family. To make the transition easier (and save us from falling for tourist traps), each issue E&M asks people about the best tips and tricks for living in their city.”
Well, E&M hopes that we can return to an interconnected Europe as soon as possible. That’s why we’re continuing the series with our beloved Berlin.
Best website/app/crystal ball to use when you are looking for a place to live?
Shirin: Check the newspapers; old-school, but helpful, I’ve found my flat in Kreuzberg there.
Faye: Facebook Groups.
Timo: Quarters.com, that’s a shared living start-up that offers nice and clean apartments, plus a community you can become part of.
Friederike: I think it’s still wg-gesucht.de, but because of the flood of requests flats get, it might be smart to advertise yourself as a person – so the people looking for a housemate can contact you!
Which tourist attraction is actually worth it?
Friederike: Tempelhofer Feld and its communal gardens.
Jessica: Topographie des Terrors – a very well-organized and honest exhibition of the SS headquaters. It’s chilling and creepy but so so relevant.
Faye: The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.
Timo: Nineties Berlin (amazing museum that explains why Berlin is as it is today), Kater Blau, Holzmarkt for shopping, Badeschiff for swimming, Mauerpark for when your parents visit.
Ida: The Bundestag dome in the evening.
Easiest way to save some money like a true Berliner?
Shirin: Go to some Asian supermarkets and get stuff for summer rolls!
Faye: Keep drinking at Spätis even when it gets really cold.
Friederike: As soon as you can manage to sit outside, you have your beer at the Späti. And you better befriend your local Späti-owner, so they will let you use their loo after your hourlong beer bender that cost you less than 5€ because… Berlin.
A Berliner would never be seen…
Jessica: Queuing up for Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab – there are dozens of equally great kebab’s around.
Friederike: Smiling to strangers and paying excessive rents in Prenzlauer Berg.
Faye: Starting conversations in English.
Timo: Berliners go to clubs on Sundays, tourists take their planes back home.
Max: Berliners have no time, tourists are walking around, staring in the air.
Best place to escape to if the city gets a bit much?
Shirin: Get a cabin at a lake in Brandenburg for a weekend!
Jessica: The many stunning lakes around Berlin, from the more crowded places like Slachtensee to bigger ones like Mügelsee and Wannsee. Just grab a bike and in 30 minutes you are basically in the middle of nature.
Faye: There are bus tickets to Leipzig and Dresden for only 1€!
Timo: In Summer, Havelchausee ist the best place for swimming and Prosecco.
I wish people would have told me… about living in Berlin
Shirin: The bad selection in supermarkets!
Faye: I wish they would have warned me about the bureaucracy – I kind of knew about it, but I couldn’t have imagined the scale of this maze
Jessica: That there is so much more about Berlin than just the party scene. You can go clubbing for 36 hours straight, but at the same time, you’ll find many Berliners waking up extremely early to go for a hike, a swim, or a run.
Friederike: Once you’ve moved it will be forever hard to leave. You might never.
Timo: The unfriendliness and rudeness of people on the streets. They have a hard outer shell, but once you actually get to know a person, they are very friendly.
Berlin politics are…
Faye: Inspiringly anti-capitalist but lacking the necessary cohesion, motivation and programme for effective action.
Timo: Slow and very left.
Friederike: Sometimes really cool and innovative to only make a complete farce of themselves an hour later. So, I guess, unpredictable.
How (and where) to flirt like a Berliner?
Shirin: Bumble and open-air raves.
Faye: The darkroom, I hear…
Timo: Handing over your phone number to a girl in the S-Bahn who’s sitting on the other side of you.
Friederike: You don’t flirt, everyone’s way too cool, sorry. If someone does flirt with you it’s usually someone who recently moved and it’s basically an accident.
Jessica: Don’t flirt. Just go dancing and you’ll make so many new friends.
Max: Klunkerkranich (rooftop bar & garden).
Which stereotype about Berliners is actually true?
Shirin: Restlessness, not wearing labels and everyone feeling forced to be super creative…
Friederike: A city full of Peter Pans. I feel like settling down into adulthood just takes an additional 5-10 years if you live in Berlin.
Faye: People actually still have mullets, and sometimes unironically
Timo: That literally every girl is a vegetarian that practices yoga. And hearing “das ist nicht erlaubt” (that’s not allowed).
Ida: Berliner Schnauze [Berlin dialect] (but actual Berliners are hard to find).
Jessica: Berliners are definitely not very welcoming and pretty stiff. I have never encountered more unfriendly waiters than in Berlin. Don’t take it personal, because it’s not.
If Berlin were a person, who would it be?
Shirin: Berlin isn’t just one person, but my Berlin is Margarete Stokowski (contemporary German author & journalist, famous for feminist writings)
Faye: Too multiplicitous to say that. But Bowie was good at multiplicity!
Timo: Greta Thunberg, standing in line for a Bankautomat on her way to a protest.
Max: I don’t know the person, but she’s certainly vegan, does yoga and is a DJ!
Friederike: Bob Dylan. Amazing but HE DOES NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU.