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Berlin Street Art

Berlin: the good, the bad and the ugly

Berlin Street Art

This is a guest post by the lovely Sofia von Porat from AsWeTravel, a travel blog sharing travel tips, videos, guides and inspiration from around the world – Sofia also runs EuropeTravelr, a blog focused purely on European travel.

Berliners love to describe their city as “poor but sexy”, and personally I have to say I agree. It’s rough and gritty to the point where it’s almost ugly, and yet somehow Berlin still manages to keep a sex appeal with which it seduces everyone who pays the city a visit.

There is a lot to say about Berlin, and few people leave the city without an impression. Here are some of mine…

The good

Berlin Architecture

Berlin Building at night

Berlin is a melting pot of cultures from all over the world, so much so that most people living there describe themselves as Berliners rather than Germans. Being a Berliner has nothing to do with where you’re from, but where your heart is – the famous phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner” is one that stands close to the peoples’ hearts.

Berlin Art centre

Berlin restaurant

Thanks to its great mix of cultures, you can really indulge in all kinds of foods from every corner of the world, whether you fancy Ethiopian, Vietnamese or Turkish – you’re likely to find them all on the same street. While there are some truly great museums and attractions, the real Berlin is in the streets; in murky bars, one of a kind shops and graffiti covered lanes. The best way to capture the city is to simply wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere. Best of all, it’s one of those cities that you can go back to over and over, because new galleries, bars and shops pop up all the time so there will always be new things to see and do when you return!

The bad

Berlin Sign

Berlin Playground

Berlin is a huge city divided in smaller districts, each with its own charm and style – they actually feel more like small cities of their own! But because the city covers such a vast area, unless you really make an effort to go out of your way and explore other areas, chances are you will find yourself only exploring the district you’re staying in. Even locals rarely leave their own neighborhood – after all there is no need to when you have everything you need at your doorstep. But since these different areas of Berlin are so different from each other it’s really worth making that little extra effort to explore them all!

What is good about a place is often also the very same reason why some things are not so great – Berlin is a changing city, and things are happening rather quickly. We got the impression that the locals weren’t the type of people who dwelled in the past, but really wanted to push the city forward and reinvent themselves – while still keeping the city’s identity intact. But growing from being an overlooked place by tourists into one of Europe’s top three most visited cities makes this a bit challenging. In just a decade Prenzlauerberg has gone from being one of the poorest (and cheapest) areas in Berlin to the most expensive and desirable one to live in. However, change is inevitable, and not knowing what Berlin will be like five years from now also adds to the excitement.

The ugly

Berlin Wall

Berlin Street Art

Berlin isn’t known to be a beautiful city, in fact it can be rather ugly – but the rough ugliness is what makes Berlin so charming, and the graffiti covered walls and rundown buildings are part of the urban beauty of the city. You can walk past a beautiful 19th century building with a view over a camping ground where families live in broken down campervans from the 80s – contrasts to the extreme.

It’s kind of strange how a city can be so beautiful and so ugly at the same time, but for me that is one of the very reasons why I love Berlin!

All words and photos by As We Travel 

10 Comments

  • Agneska

    5 April, 2013 at 1:23 am

    I think unfortunately Berlin is over for now, it’ll just take some time to realize. Berlin is overhyped and overcrowded by tourists, Germans avoid many parts of the city where not even the waiter speaks german. Adventurous people should look for Hamburg (much more beautiful) and Leipzig (much more alternative).

    Reply
  • Tiana Kai

    29 March, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    This is a crazy coincidence Graham! I just posted my Berlin experience late last night.

    You are so right, the food is a great refection on the mix of cultures. I had the best sushi and carrot cake ever there! I loved the bar/pub scene a lot and everyone seemed young and friendly.

    My favorite part of Germany is Bavaria though, the mountains, castle, quaint villages and the lake are spectacular!

    p.s. great pix as always!

    Reply
    • Graham

      29 March, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks for your comment Tiana, I’m afraid I can’t take credit for this post it was written (and photos) by Sofia from As We Travel, although we do agree it’s a great post and a great city! 🙂

      Reply

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