Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back at home!

Home sweet home! There's no better place than home! Yes, I'm back and happy to have returned home safe and sound! It's true my family and I had a great time out there in the capital of Germany but if I am to be honest, the city was not the best place I have been to... In fact I am happy to be saying this as I had had my idealized picture of Germany for a long long time. Now, I know exactly what Berlin really is like. I guess it wouldn't be very polite to talk about my feelings here so let me just say, what I have already said in one of my comments to posts, that Berlin, IMHO, is just a fraction of what, say, London, Brussels or Paris could offer...

Of course, the city itself makes a good impression. I loved the fact there was no traffic! Can you imagine Warsaw having all roads passable? When I was going to the airport down Al. Krakowska... I spent 30 minutes to cover the distance of only 4 km. Isn't it a disaster?


Anyway, we were staying in Potsdamer Inn, which was a nice place to be as the hotel was very well located and we had very easy access to the city center by the Berlin underground system.


Our nearest metro station was Bulowstrasse :)
I have to say that I really liked the underground system. It is clear and well organized although I really prefer the London Tube. The metro in Berlin is a bit boring and colorless when you come to think of the Tube.

The buses in Berlin are also a very good means of communication although I preferred the metro. Both the trains and the buses run according to their schedules so you can really rely on their punctuality. There are just yellow trains everywhere, the stations are not so attractive, the lines don't have nice names and you always have to look for those dry U2, U7, S46 etc. signs.

Speaking of the metro, what I also liked were the blue 'U' signs indicating the station's location clearly and some of them had nice ornamental entrances like Stadmitte... I was also a bit surprised that there was so little street entertainment in Berlin's central areas. It was just dull... For instance, the place near the Branderburg Gate, which is one of the most famous landmarks was almost lifeless with just tourists wandering around with dissatisfaction painted on their faces... We could see just one guy selling some funny device for shampoo balloon making and two other guys pretending soldiers...


No music, no clapping, no street entertainment... You just arrive at the place and ask yourself the question: Is this all? Besides... almost nobody wanted to take pictures with the soldiers... The atmosphere was a bit disappointing... Anyhow, we were able to enjoy ourselves in Berlin's restaurants and cafes :) as well as in some of the city's museums and churches, especially on the Museum Island... We also enjoyed one of the boat trips on the Spree river although the audio played during the trip was absolutely factual and blunt and it was a challenge to listen to all the numbers, dates and the like...

I remember my trip on the Thames. it was very vivid and full of legends and stories. It was a pleasure to learn about the history of the river's banks :)

Ok, ok... I may sound a bit of a grumbler, but I want to say that I really enjoyed my stay. What I'm trying to do here is to analyze and compare what I have experienced visiting all other cities in my life. I hope it's kind of natural to study your trips and you can't really avoid making comparisons, can you?

I am absolutely aware of the fact that each and every city has its pluses and minuses, including London :) In spite of this, I just feel I need to leave some feedback on my stay in the German's capital :) still trying to keep the right balance between the good and the bad sides of the city :)

Alright, just to end this longish post on a positive note :) let me say a few things about two other things I really liked about Berlin. First, I want to mention the best place, IMHO, in Berlin which is called Checkpoint Charlie. This is a great place which marks one of the best known crossing points between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Being at that point made me feel really sorry for all the people, who like me had to live under the Russian regime without any prospects of growth, freedom, development, etc. I visited the nearby museum and got to know of all the dramatic stories of people trying to illegally cross the paralyzing border. The place is really worth recommending, especially to East-European visitors to Berlin.

Last but not least I liked street name signs. I guess it's impossible to get lost in Berlin. The system is very clear, the names are visible and you always know where you are. This is something that really makes your walking tours a pleasure.

And finally rickshas... I felt like in Łódź! They seem to be as popular as the metro, the bikes or the buses there! Rickshas are a great alternative when you don't feel like walking too much and still want to have a breath of the city :)
Just to recap... the visit was really interesting. I finally found out what it is like to be in Berlin :)

My question to you:
Leave your opinions on Berlin, share your own experiences.


2 comments:

  1. Yeah, German, let's say, "style" is very simple, clear and, can I say definite? But at the same time for me Berlin is kinda cold. I don't know how to describe it... harsh? When I was in Bavaria (yes, again about Bavaria:) those places where also clear, clean, organized... but warm, nice. I really wanted to stay there forever :) Anyway, I'm not an expert in German geography so let's wait for opinions of people who know Germany better :)

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    1. Yep, the style is really harsh... I do believe other areas of Germany are much nicer :) Now, I've thought that it would be lovely to pay a visit to my family near Koln :) This is on the other side of the country and hopefully everything looks better there ;)

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