“Write something about surviving Berlin” they said, “make it funny and give those guys abroad a good impression of Berlin culture.” Nice. I haven’t figured that out completely myself yet and I’ve been living in this town since 1999! Berlin is so big and so colorful, that all I can give is some impressions, presenting the whole picture is virtually impossible.
Where to start?
Let’s start with the famous St. Oberholz Cafe, actually it is convenient, as I’m sitting here right now. I don’t know any other Cafe where nearly everyone is sitting behind a screen, chatting, working or doing stuff. It’s a melting pot of digital nomads, hipsters, expats and some clearly disturbed tourists not understanding the scenery. So if you need to get online during your stay, try it here. Wi-Fi is free and the coffee is good.
Talking about work, Berlin is heaven for the digital worker. Wi-Fi in Cafes is getting more common, and co-working spaces are everywhere. Like the famous betahaus in Berlin-Kreuzberg. It’s situated in an old industry building and it’s perfect, if you need a desk and infrastructure for a day.
Where to sleep
Around 20 million people come to visit Berlin every year, that’s actually one quarter of the German population and quite impressive. Therefore, the number of hotels and hostels is growing constantly. But to get the real feeling, you may want to rent a private flat in central Berlin, Airbnb.com or the next-partner 9flats.de is a good choice to get one. And if you decide to stay in a hotel, at least take one with a twist.
You might consider SOHO House in Berlin-Mitte. It’s half hotel, half club and caters especially for the creative community. Its residents are in a building formerly used by the Nazis and then by GDR’s communist party. Fitting, for crazy Berlin. Another cool hotel is located in Berlin-Friedrichshain: The Michelberger! This one is more a project with interesting new room concepts from ‘single’ to ‘football-team’.
Berlin nightlife is famous all around the globe. Clubs like Berghain, Weekend, Cookies or Lido cater to every music genre there is, small clubs like the King Size Bar or Trust round-out the edges. As I’m just linking it, check out Berlin.unlike for more.
If you’re coming to Berlin, come by plane. There is no capital city in the world with an airport this close to downtown. The view both during take-off and landing is awesome. The architecture is 80s at its best, and the public transport connection…is not really there! Don’t wait for the underground, take the bus!
Public transport is good in Berlin, there are buses, the underground, citytrains (S-Bahn) the tram and even some ships bringing you everywhere. They even have some decent smartphone apps. “Fahrinfo” for the iPhone, for example. Don’t rent a car and please don’t rent a bike. The people renting bikes in Berlin are the worst. Unlike Amsterdam Berlin is not really bike friendly, it is an urban warfare area. (OK, I confess, I’m moving around by car and cyclists make me very nervous.)
Yes, we got some really decent designers in Berlin. They are mostly located in Berlin-Mitte.
Once again I recommend Unlike Berlin for finding them.
You’re coming to see this year’s NEXT, which is located at the station near Potsdamer Platz. This clearly means you’re interested in the web. Therefore, you should check out the Berlin Web Week, happening from May 10th -20th. Lots of events and topics and most are free. The website is also a web event calendar for the whole year.
Berlin stays Berlin
I love this city. It defines itself not only by famous buildings, but even more with the breaks in between. There is no way to miss that if you are in town. Watch out for street-art though. Berlin has some spectacular projects and they’re easy to miss if you’re not looking for them.
Sex, drugs & Rock’n'Roll
Yes, we’ve got that too. But it is not as it is in Amsterdam, you’ll have to find that for yourself.