Ich bin ein Berliner

Despite my decidedly German last name, this is the extent of the language I know.  Fortunately for me, there are many other languages being spoke in Berlin these days and everyone seems to be kept on the same page with English.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being based in Europe is awesome. 

Fernsehturm
TV Tower – Berlin

Berlin is an interesting place.  Dubbed one of the cheapest (western) European capitals, it benefits from having an influx of young go-getters tired of paying for $7 coffees in places like Paris and London.

Reichstag
The Reichstag – Germany’s Parliament. The glass dome was added in the 90’s as a reminder that the citizens are above the government and that all inside should be transparent.
Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate

Despite its tumultuous past, it feels young, fresh and very livable.  Probably for those same reasons, it also remains one of the most visited places in all of Europe.

Berlin Wall guard tower
Berlin Wall guard tower

Checkpoint Charlie looks a little different than when I saw it in the early 90’s and has lost a little bit of its impact.  Before, the original gates and razor wire remained and it looked like it did the day the Wall came down.

Checkpoint Charlie

Now it’s a little island on a major thoroughfare sandwiched between a KFC and McDonald’s.

Obviously Berlin was heavily bombed so it doesn’t have the ornate pre-war architecture that a lot of other major European cities have.

What it lacks in that department it makes up for with an edgy, hip scene full of burgeoning artists, technology start-ups, and a whole spectrum of ethnic restaurants.

Ampelmännchen
This guy is a beloved mascot of sorts in Eastern Germany.  He is known as Ampelmännchen and is over 50 years old.  At stoplights, this is the image that appears to instruct pedestrians that it is safe to walk.
Ja!  It is safe to cross.   Source.

It feels like a place whose growth is heavily spurred by immigrants from all over the world.

We were in route to a family reunion a couple of hours outside of town so we didn’t have long to stay.  However, we did get a nice overview of the city by joining up with the ever-famous Fat Tire Bike Tour.

Outside of the largest of Spanish cities, sometimes it can be hard to find good ethnic food when your palette wants a little change of pace.  This is where Berlin was a welcome surprise.

Not only was there just about any type of food available, with a heavy emphasis on Asian, but you could also rely on getting some good, old fashioned German meat and potatoes too.

I highly suggest this meal at the Munich-based Augustiner brewery.

Me?  I can’t get enough pork knuckle.  Paired with the local brews and its hard to beat.

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5 thoughts on “Ich bin ein Berliner”

  1. Very nice overview. We have a week booked in early August. Can’t wait to hit some of these same places! How was the pho that your wife ate? She didn’t seem too impressed? 🙂

    My impression of Berlin (never having visited) is much the same as yours – very metropolitan and evolving yet still affordable (as far as western European capitals go). Can’t wait to develop some first hand impressions and compare/contrast with all the other places we’re visiting in Europe.

    1. The Vietnamese place was Monsieur Vuong. Highly rated on TripAdvisor (top 1%) and a place we very much enjoyed and needed. We hadn’t had good Asian food of any kind for a while. That whole neighborhood (and a big part of Berlin in general) felt like areas of Chicago to me.

      1. Just looked it up and our airbnb is about 7-8 blocks from that restaurant (between Rosenthaler Platz Ubahn station and the Nordbahnhof Sbahn station). Google says a boatload of Asian restaurants surrounding us. 🙂 Won’t go hungry in Berlin!

        We’re kind of picky w/ pho because it’s a house specialty for us (Mrs RoG is from Thailand/Cambodia so SE Asian cooking is in the blood 🙂 ). But looking forward to trying out some good eats!

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