10 Things you might Wonder about when Visiting Berlin for the First Time
1. Back to the 90s
Walking around in Berlin feels like traveling back to the 90s. People dress up in vintage clothes, floor-length leather coats, Nike Air sneakers and three-striped Adidas training suits.
High buildings with ancient doorways and courtyards are reminiscent of past times. Rooms have high ceilings, parquet floor, sometimes there is no heater, just a coal-burning stove.
Gumball machines, video stores, telephone booths, 1 euro shops, classic game stores, techno parties, demonstrations of environmental activists, hippies playing guitar in parks, ravers carrying a ghetto blaster on their shoulders, flea markets selling nostalgic items.
This is Berlin. An accumulation of cult remnants.
If you want to revive the 90s, come to Berlin!
2. Nobody speaks German
No matter where you are, foreign languages are thrown together from all sides. German however is very rare to hear.
Berlin is an expat city and home to international students. Those who come, most often stay, bringing their own languages and cultures. English is the main mean of communication, although the Ur-Berliner (original Berliners) prefer speaking German to show Berlin is still their city.
3. Spätis are transformed into bars
A Späti is a late-night kiosk, selling all kind of cold drinks, snacks, cigarettes, phone cards and practical items. One street has at least 3 Spätis, mostly owned by Turkish people.
To grab a beer in a Späti is a must when in Berlin. It’s cheap (Sternburger for €0.70) and quick. Even Späti crawls are coming up, replacing pub crawls.
4. Stickers and loads of advertisement on traffic light poles
Yoga-classes, language courses, events, job offers, funny stickers, political flyers.
It’s hard to find an innocent traffic light pole in Berlin.
5. Hipsters are born in Berlin
Berlin is the cradle of hipsters, the latest plague.
What is a hipster?
Someone who lives or moved to Berlin, preferably studies or works in a start-up, uses words you never heard of, has long hair with a knot, beard or a moustache, wears granny cardigans, broken pants that are rolled up so you can see his brightly colored dotted socks, big framed glasses and shows his belonging in the society through a tribal tattoo.
Hipsters sit in over-priced cafés, drink soya-latte coffee, eat vegan cakes, always have their laptops with them and spread rumors to work on some new big thing that will surely go viral soon.
If you meet a person that matches these criteria, keep a distance.
6. Döner Kebabs are flooding the streets
The number of Döner restaurants makes it easy to find a good Döner for a decent price. You can walk around and compare the prices.
A Döner makes your Berlin trip complete, but don’t wait in line like at Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap as it could also make you look like a tourist.
7. Streetart everywhere
It’s impossible to pass a street in Berlin that is completely untouched and clean.
Berlin is a city full of streetart. It inspired many artists and still does. Big names like 1Up, ROA, or even Banksy left their footprints on Berlin walls.
8. People are walking with beer bottles around
Don’t wonder if you see groups of people carrying beer bottles in their hands, taking sips once in a while. Drinking in public contributes to the easy-going Berlin atmosphere, also leaving their empty bottles on the street.
9. Bars look like granny’s living room
A modern furnished bar is not what Berliners prefer to have a drink at. The more old-fashioned, vintage and retro it is, the better.
Sitting on orange sofas with flower-power prints, drinking organic lemonade out of designer bottles and talking about the latest insider news is what make hipsters happy.
10. Nobody has a normal job
Meeting someone who has an average office job is indeed not so easy in Berlin.
Basically there are 3 types of Berliners.
There are those who still study, sometimes their second or even third studies, those who do an internship and those who work in a young company. Everyone else who doesn’t match one of the 3 categories, is considered boring and unprivileged by hipsters.