Berlin: Alles Ist Gut!
If you’ve never been to Berlin, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. It’s freaking beautiful. It oozes charm, history, diversity, and modernity. Often in the same hundred yards.
It’s the perfect fusion of the past, present, and future. A forward-thinking creative city that’s actively courting innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world. But it’s also making darn sure it doesn’t forget its past.
You’ll see remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall all across the central part of the city — the Mitte district. Large metal bars that once supported the divisive monument act as pertinent reminders of more troubled times; though nowadays they’re casually flanked by green spaces, upmarket shopping areas, and ice cream parlors.
If you’re lucky enough to go to Berlin with work, plan ahead. There’s stacks to see, do, eat, take in. Try and get a day or two to explore. Seriously, take some leave. You won’t be sorry.
Down To Business
Berlin’s fast establishing itself as a startup city, so there’s lots going of innovation happening everywhere you look. Places like Factory Berlin are leading the way in bringing creative, tech, and business minds together, in a former brewery which once stood directly behind the eastern side of the Berlin Wall.
This Google-backed entrepreneurial hub opened in 2014 and today houses SoundCloud, Udacity, Zendesk, and TechStars (among others), as well as a co-working space, a 3D printing workshop, and a restaurant. The perfect venue for any trendy tech client meeting.
Forget Uber (it’s complicated…) taking a tram (S-Bahn) or underground train (U-Bahn) (or a combination of the two) is a great way to save company cash. You can even buy a travel pass giving you access to Berlin’s entire public transport system for the duration of your stay (you can buy one on arrival at either airport’s tourist information desk).
Berlin’s totally walkable too (see ‘Sightseeing’ below). And pushbikes are popular. The city even has its own public bike sharing scheme, which visitors are more than welcome to take advantage of too. What better way to zip across town between meetings?
German food by definition is quite meat-heavy and dense. But there are several specialties you should try — namely bratwurst (sausage), currywurst (yup, a variation of the former), and, of course, schnitzel (deep fried pork or veal loin in breadcrumbs). And then, of course, there’s the beer…
While there are loads of places you could get a decent version of any of these delicacies, for fun and fast food, check out Charlie’s Beach — an urban oasis, complete with sand, a beach bar, good choice of food trucks (do try the East German Currywurst) right on the spot where tensions between the East and West once ran high — Checkpoint Charlie. It’s very informal so save it for colleague chilling rather than client schmoozing. It even has its own deck chairs; ideal for lounging and sipping some suds in. Feet up.
A little further out, in the city’s trendy Prenzlauer Berg district, you’ll find The Bird; a New York burger and steak joint. Don’t worry, it’s not just a home-from-home; this place has a subversive flavor all of its own. And a fantastic meaty menu that rivals any stateside eatery. A great place to dine with colleagues and clients.
But, if you want something really local and authentic… go for a doner kebab! Thanks to Berlin’s thriving Turkish population, the city’s the perfect place to enjoy a giant pitta filled with crunchy sweet salad and chargrilled lamb. Add garlic sauce. And chili sauce. Enjoy.
If time’s of the essence, here’s one walking tour you should definitely take — preferably on a warm summer evening…
Take the U-Bahn to Brandenburg Gate (stopping to admire its sheer size and imperial exuberance) and saunter slowly through the wide open Unter Den Linden boulevard (literally translates as Under the Linden Trees) bypassing the tourist traps and the open air eateries, all the way to the banks of the picturesque River Spree. Along the way you’ll take in the grounds of historic Humboldt University, the State Opera house, the Lustgarten public grounds, and the Berlin Cathedral — in all their crumbling splendor.
Once you’re across the bridge, keep walking. And you’ll soon find yourself with a more modern perspective of the city. Head for the Berliner Fernsehturm — an iconic space age-style TV tower built in 1969 — before veering towards Alexanderplatz, the main shopping and tourist center.
Got more time? Begin your walk with a quick trip to nearby Tiergarten park or take a brief look at the Reichstag (the seat of Germany’s government). Or end your walk with a dash around some of Alexanderplatz’s numerous retail outlets.