|Picture of American soldier |
at Checkpoint Charlie
|Picture of Soviet soldier|
at Checkpoint Charlie
Many articles in magazines like QG and National Geographic Traveller describe Berlin as one of the coolest cities in the world. Low rents coupled with a very cosmopolitan population and the ever present contrast between the East and the West of the city means that there is something for everyone in Berlin.
These are of course the generic reasons for liking Berlin. Of course I like the contrast between East and West and how it still affects life in this huge metropolis – in what other city can you club in an old, defunct factory, walk past a car dealership that displays a Bugatti Veyron and get verbally abused by prostitutes on your way to the hotel?
This is nice but then again a cup of tea is nice. What I like about the city is its quirkiness, it seems like Berlin is trying to be different in all facets all of the time. The most pertinent example is the robot men that originated in Berlin. These so-called Ampelmannchen were used in the old East Berlin but after the 1990 reunification the whole city adopted these funky red and green East Berliners as their own and they are also used throughout he whole Germany nowaday - especially in Saxony-Anhalt. If you are into curios it is the Berlin version of the vuvuzela.
Other examples include the Berlin skyline that is dominated by an old East Bloc television tower. After the wall was broken down this tower broadcast political propaganda – they told the East Berliners that the people that were flowing out of East Berlin were only tourist who wanted to see what the West looked like. Some people like the tower, I don`t like it at all it looks like it might explode and cover the city in yellow puss.
Aesthetics aside the city folks are also constantly striving to differentiate themselves. Seeing a person with a tattooed face is not out of the ordinary. I saw this one guy who sported a beard, a floral dress and a pair of Dr Martin`s and the person who caught the most eyes was me since I was laughing like a maniac. One guy who has achieved a certain level of notoriety is the doorman at Berghain (one of the most famous clubs in the world I`m told).
All in all Berlin has something for everyone. If you are a history buff the marks left by the struggle against the Axis and Allies are still there the same goes for the Cold War. If you like art and design your heart will be content. If you are up for a good time Berlin is “poor but sexy.” I could go one but all that I`m saying is if you ever have the chance give the place a try - you`ll like it.