What is worse, trying to sleep in a night bus or in a room with somebody who snores like a stuttering chainsaw? The question I asked myself after day one. In my opinion it’s the former, even though the willingness to kill someone is stronger in the latter.
So here I am, in my favourite city of Europe: Berlin. The city of tolerance (more so than Amsterdam I would say), of graffiti on every empty brick wall, of a Späti, a night shop with mostly beer, on every street-corner and of homeless people who are a respected part of the city’s public space (however strange that might sound). Walking in Berlin one immediately feels accepted, for instance, people on the street make more eye-contact; a seemingly insignificant fact at first, but it’s a penetrating difference compared to the Netherlands, where people on the street mind their own business. The Netherlands and Germany are often referred to as one and the same, but the big difference, I think, is that the Dutch have a more individual mindset, while Germans think more in collective terms.
“Berlin, the city of diversity, of graffiti as an accepted art form, of a Späti on every street-corner and of homeless people who are a respected part of the city’s public space”
Approaching the moment of departure I was more anxious than I expected. I settled in more firmly than I thought in the first semester on the University after my gap-year. However, the anxiety quickly vanished once I seated myself in the bus. Then, some eleven hours later I arrived in a snowy Berlin, quite a sight I have to say.
Even without the snow Berlin is such a beautiful city. In the Netherlands we have our characteristic, small alleys and canals aligned with cute narrow houses, but Berlin is characterized by wide streets with huge side-walks and super-sized buildings. In my impression almost all buildings in Berlin are at least seven stories high. Yet, while the size of the buildings seems be comparable all over Berlin, there are large discrepancies in atmosphere between the various areas. To put it roughly, in the East the architecture is austere and monumental, while in the West the architecture has a more romantic style, and the city centre is again more modern, but there are many more differences and nuances between the different areas.
One tip for anyone visiting Berlin, visit the Eastern part, Prenzlauer Berg and Lichtenberg, on Sunday morning, the streets will be almost deserted, giving the already austere atmosphere an especially eerie undertone.
“Visit the Eastern part on Sunday morning, the streets will be almost deserted, giving the already austere atmosphere an especially eerie undertone”
With that golden tip I want to end my first blogpost. It was quite a generic blogpost about my first impressions of Berlin, in the future I think I will create multiple types of blogposts.