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Travel advice Eastern Europe

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Travel advice Eastern Europe

© 2013-2019

BERLIN

I'd been to Berlin two times before. It's one of Europe's most interesting city in terms of history, museums, architecture and nightlife. I had visited in 2001 and 2012. And now, while living in Bulgaria, I'm a bit farther away than when I lived in the Netherlands. However, Berlin was still just a two hour flight away from Sofia. It cost me about 60 Euros two ways. I got a 'Mister BnB' near the Boddinstraße. This application is for gay travelers, and you can stay at a gay dude's or couple's place. It's ideal to see more of the city - just like Air BnB but for the gays. And as is well known, Berlin is an open-minded city where there's a huge scene of basically anything. So that translates into that Berlin truly offers something for everyone, no matter who you are or what interests you have. No matter how unknown or strange, Berlin has something for you in stock.

As I had only Friday evening until Sunday afternoon in Berlin, I wanted to get the most out of my visit. But I had already seen the main sights on my earlier visit, so decided to then just go walk around and enjoy the vibes. I walked through Kreuzberg, past the Cotbuser Tor square, then across the river banks all the way to the 'center'. Because, Berlin doesn't really have one center. It was split up in East and West and thus there are several places you would be able to call the center. Either way, where I was going was the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens) shopping center. It's said to be Berlin's most luxurious one and at first sight you wouldn't really see why, as there are plenty of 'regular' things for sale. But then I passed by the Baccarat Chrystal store and indeed there were chrystal jaguars, lamps, ashtrays all of many thousands of Euros. It certainly is a place where you can spend big bucks.

I had some German delicacies as the Currywurst, a lot of beers, and just enjoyed walking around the city. By the way, due to the large influx of immigrants into Germany, you would be able to find food from anywhere. But especially the Middle Eastern food and the Turkish döners are to die for, and are definitely on the same high level of quality as in for example Turkey itself.

Walking along the Karl Marx Allee, with its brutal socialist architecture, you do get the sense that Berlin was and still is a city with rough edges. And that's exactly what I like it for. It feels real and alive. I find it far more enjoyable than, for example, Amsterdam which has become all polished up with the exeption of the Red Light District. What I found interesting during my previous visits to Berlin as well, is that there's quite a drinking culture. I'm well acquainted with Germany, in fact I spent a lot of time there in my youth, but Berlin is something else. There's people drinking on the platforms, in the trains, on the bus. But it has very cheap beer, which must also play a role. I presume the laws are not too strict as also you can board the U Bahn and S Bahn (undergroud train and suburban train) without any form of ticket control. Neither was I checked once in the days I was there, yet of course I did have tickets. I bought the Berlin AB ticket which gets you anywhere within the city proper, for 7,50EUR a day as of 2019. With Berlin ABC, you can also get to Potsdam, which is a lovely city right nearbly.

I really recommend Berlin - but getting a good feel for the city can be hard. That's why it's a good idea to climb the Berliner Dom, even though it's nearly 300 steps up. Now and then they feature grand concerts in the Dom as well. It's just a majestic building! You could get into the Fernsehturm as well, the TV tower, but I found the tickets way too expensive at 16,5EUR per adult. Students get a 20% discount so that's more attractive.

As I will also be visiting Berlin in September 2019 (I decided to book two trips because of the low fares), I am considering visiting Szczecin (Stettin) in Poland by train. It's quite feasible in about two hours and should definitely be worth to check out!

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