What I love most about Berlin

  • Streets are built with pedestrians and bicyclists in mind.
  • Pedestrians stop for lights at crosswalks, even if there is no traffic in sight. (Note: increasingly less true in Berlin).
  • The bread is amazing and almost free. (The kinds of breads you might be inclined to avoid in the US—full wheat breads, dark breads—are in fact the best.)
  • I love euros; they are fun to stack and count.
  • Döner kebaps: cheap, delicious, everywhere. (Though best not to inquire about the source of the meat log they shave it from.)
  • New Year’s.
  • The next morning, city employees are out first thing, cleaning it all up, dressed in bright orange jumpsuits.
  • There are parks and playgrounds everywhere and they are all beautiful.
  • They build child play structures that would take the breath away from American personal injury lawyers.
  • Christmas markets.
  • In the winter, at any sign of sunshine, people spill out onto the streets, dressed head to toe for warmth, sunning their faces.
  • Despite much malignment, the German language is beautiful.
  • Kindergeld! (strangely, paid out also to temporary residents)
  • Schools are laid out so kids can walk to them. The school day is out around 1:45 in the afternoon (this can be extended till 6 for working parents).
  • School vacations are spread out throughout the year.
  • You can get most anywhere via public transportation.
  • The windows are all six feet tall, and can either swing open or tilt from the top.
  • Mosquitos are few, move slowly, and congregate in visible places.
  • Strangers will correct your behavior.
  • There are an uncountable number of bike rental services.
  • The ceilings are all 12 feet high.
  • Working spaces even in open offices are large enough for three American people.
  • You are never far from a cheap ice cream cone (€1.50 max).
  • Everything is closed on Sunday.
  • Emergency vehicles turn off their sirens except when at intersections or otherwise necessary.

What I don’t love

  • There are no drinking fountains anywhere.
  • The Mexican food is best avoided.
  • The bureaucratic vocabulary is large, disjoint from that of everyday life, and mostly noncompositional.
  • The streets are covered in dog excrement.
  • There are prominent ads for adult shops even in the nice parts of town.
  • Alexanderplatz—where you find the TV tower that is a symbol of Berlin—is kind of a dump.
  • They are quite fastidious about schooling. There are reports about families trying to cut out a day early for vacation being stopped by police at the train station!
  • Glühwein is overrated and overpriced (except at the Alt-Rixdorf Christmas Market in Neukölln).
  • The painted line separating lanes on the road is the same color (white) as the outer line. It makes it harder to distinguish them.

With apologies to my undergraduate advisor.


©2018 Matt Post