I’ve heard Berlin described as a “Start-up City”. Since the wall came down in 1989 (just over 20 years ago) the city and the people living there have had to start almost from scratch trying to build a city and a culture of their own. The city seems almost empty in places which gives you a great sense of freedom, especially if you get out of the house before 9 am when everyone is still indoors.
I was visiting Berlin during summer and from all accounts I got pretty lucky with the weather. Most days were sunny and warm, even if there was a slight shower in the morning or storm at night. This meant that people were lured to the many parks and markets around the city to enjoy the summer vibe. Most of the parks are more than just green grass and will also have table tennis, basketball, play equipment, bocce areas or any number of other facilities setup for the general public to use and enjoy.
Mauer park on a sunny Sunday afternoon seems to be the place to hang out, especially with a few friends and a few drinks from the markets. There is a small amphitheatre in the park and I was told that on a good day there can be 100s of people there participating in free outdoor public Karaoke. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the Karaoke wasn’t on, but instead we were treated to an interesting display of flexibility and comedy by a performer and her DJ.
Getting around Berlin by bike is super easy. There are a lot of bicycle paths, wide roads, and almost no hills to speak of. In general, bicycles have right of way on the roads and drivers seem to be always on the look out for bicycles when turning or overtaking. As I had my bike, I didn’t need to catch a train, but from what I hear it’s pretty straightforward as well.
While in Berlin I had arranged to do a few days of contract work, so I was in need of somewhere to work from. From what I was told, most cafés are welcoming to people buying a coffee, using the WIFI, and sitting down for a day’s work. Luckily for me, Tim already had an office space that he worked out of that I was able to use which made things much easier. There was one day where I just worked from the lounge at my accommodation which was quite comfortable as well.
My time in Berlin ended up being way too short to get a really good feel for the place - especially seeing as I had so much organising and work to do during my week there. I’ll definitely be back again and next time I’ll hang around for a while.