ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A First Impression of Berlin

Updated on May 11, 2011

I got into Berlin at 8am local time after sleeping virtually the entire flight. I was fairly well rested, which was good, because I probably walked a mile trying to figure out where the express bus left the airport. My search was in vain however, and I ended up shelling out for a taxi ride from the airport into the city. I figured out the U-Bahn system pretty quickly, although I was thrown off by the "honor system" that German public transport works on. Everyone is required to have a ticket, but there is no system to collect or swipe tickets (like in London or DC) so it is really up to the integrity of the German population to sustain their transit system. Apparently there are plainclothed transit people on the trains sometimes to check for tickets randomly, but I was told by the hostel workers that this rarely happened.

The hostel I am staying at is called Wombats. It is an enormous hostel that is part of a chain, and it is one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. The rooms are clean and the sheets are free, and my room of six beds has its own bathroom w/ sink and shower. Overall, Wombats is a great hostel, made even better by the attitudes of the employees. They really don't seem to nickle and dime you that much, most things are either free or require a deposit which you can then get back (combination locks, umbrellas, towels, etc.)

I am staying with some extraordinarily interesting people. I really lucked out and got a room full of people who are all around my age, and who are all outgoing and interesting. There is a British guy who used to work as a war coorespondant and custom writer, a guy from Suffolk University (Boston) and his girlfriend, and a striking pair of ladies from Australia and Brazil.

Remnants of the War

Impressions of the City

I took a walking tour today through most of Mitte, the touristy district with the majority of the well known attractions. The guide was knowledgable and the tour was free but some of the sights were pretty uninteresting. The problem with Berlin is that nearly everything of historical or asthetic value was destroyed by allied bombers during the second world war. Something like 70% of the city was reduced to rubble and then rebuilt by communists. Walking through East Berlin one can see dozens of ways in which poured concrete can be used to make a variety of ugly and uninspired buildings.

Of course, there are also pretty amazing parts of Berlin, but it takes a little bit of looking to find them. The appeal of Berlin to me is in its grittiness and its seedier sides. The tourist streets are pretty awful (more on that tomorrow) but the working class neighborhoods are great, and if you walk around the Northeast of the city you will find dozens of great little cafes where you can sit and people watch over a few pints of Berlin pilsner.

The Russian embassy is one of the nicest looking buildings in MItte. It is sorrounded by a fence and several imposing looking guards, guess the Russians aren't taking any chances with those shifty Krauts anymore. Other than the embassy though, there isn't too much that I would go back to Mitte for. It was nice to see the Brandenburg Gate, and the TV tower, and all the WW2 buildings of significance, but it almost wasn't worth fighting through the throngs of tourists to do so. There were probably a half dozen of the worst street performers I have ever seen plying their trade outside the Brandenburg Gate, and as many people hawking their own tours (don't pay for a tour, just do the free one!) There was a Kennedy Museum for some bizarre reason, and a Madame Tousadds (the wax place), and all the food near the tourist sites is double the price and half the portions. Go on the free tour, and then spend the rest of your time in Berlin elsewhere. Unless you REALLY like museums, there is no need to spend more than a day in the city center.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)