I first visited Berlin on a whirlwind Euro-tour, part of my first experience of Europe. It was hot, I was hungover but I enjoyed visiting the sites. We went out that night and from memory it was cool but still felt something was missing… I vowed to return. For some reason I still didn’t feel that I had gotten to know the “real Berlin”.
This time around, I actually made sure I took in the free walking tour that starts from the iconic Brandenburg Gate, which is a must-do. I was one of those people who asked a random question amongst strangers just to show I was listening. The remaining 3 days were spent discovering the subculture scene: the bars and nooks of East Berlin. The closest I think one could get to “alternative Berlin” as a tourist.
People now say that Berlin is no longer as cool as it used to be. Maybe I’m not the best to make a judgement since I didn’t end up entering the infamous Berghain club that is one of the establishments that gave the city its reputation. In my defence my friends didn’t feel up to lining up at length at midnight in an attempt to get in and going solo didn’t seem an option. I did pass by the Berghain though in the day and from there wandered along a shrubby dirt path that opened up to a skatepark. The path was lined with squatters shunning ordinary life who were graffitiing in broad daylight… this to me exposed a Berlin that is still home to those refusing to confirm to societal norms. For some reason instead of being unappealing, it just seems to epitomise what it means to live on the fringe of society yet in a cool way..
Here are some other corners of Berlin that made an impression on me for its ‘coolness’ and just its amazing vibe in general.
Do you think Berlin is still cool? What places make it an interesting place to visit or live?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!