Ten things I learnt in Berlin

September 9, 2016 Leave a comment

About a week before our trip started, I had this feeling of missing home. Berlin reminded me of Johannesburg in so many unexplainable ways. Maybe it was the tall city buildings and rush of people everywhere. It was far from the stereotypical idea I had of Germany – I could see myself living in this city quite comfortably.


Things I learnt in Berlin

  1. The public transportation system really works! Never been on a train before and hearing horror stories about overseas subways, I was so nervous. Two train rides later and I felt like a local, being able to read the platform maps and know exactly where I am and where I need be. I would strongly suggest getting a public transport ticket when you’re in Berlin. You can use one ticket on bus, train and tram, plus it’s far cheaper than calling a cab. It’s not like what you see in the movies, all dirty and home to beggars – it was decently clean and such a pleasant experience. For a country that manufactures the world’s most powerful and beautiful cars, they use public transport and walk a lot.

  2. You have to pay to use the public toilets. This was such a strange thing for me, I’ve never needed to pay to pee. Some places charged 50 Euro cent (which was about R8.00); other’s charged up to 2 Euro’s (which was about R32.00). The 50 cent bathrooms were generally a once-off use and then you’d have to pay to use the wash-room again. The more expensive ones, would dispense a ticket as you paid, which could be used throughout the day.

  3. It is completely acceptable to have a midday beer, maybe two and then return to the office. Beer drinkers will never go thirsty, there’s a pub of some sort on just about every corner – exaggeration, yes – but you get the point.

  4. You can find South African wine at the local grocer. I was amazed by this!! To be so far away from home and find a little piece of the Western Cape at the grocer next to my hotel – there are no words to explain my excitement.

  5. It’s really difficult to find ciders and good wine at local watering holes. We ventured around Berlin, stopping at many pubs, bars, cafe’s and restaurants (most of the time to have a quick drink and gain free access to the establishments toilets); but I struggled to find a cider to drink. I’m not a beer drinker and the wine on that side isn’t very good, especially when you’re used to South African wines.

  6. Small portions are filling and big portions are huge! There was no point where I looked at my meal and thought, “hmmm…this is not going to fill me.” On many occasions, I could not finish my meal and when I did – I felt like a heavy ball that needed to be rolled home.

  7. There’s just pork and cabbage everywhere. I love bacon and every now and then I enjoy a good pork banger, but outside of that I don’t really eat pork. Cabbage is a vegetable that I tolerate – I have no special or fond feelings for it. But when in Rome… So we ate a lot of famous and traditional meals on our trip, it’s not just the tourist thing to do – it’s exactly what the locals eat! From Currywurst to Schnitzels and Pork Knuckles, they were all served with sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).

  8. German’s aren’t stick-in-the-mud snobs who look down on everyone, they’re pretty friendly people. One of my favourite moments was sitting at Bandy’s Currywurst near Museum Island and having lunch. A table next to us of three elderly German men, started engaging with us, talking about our origins and their, food and festivities around the area. It’s that we as tourist stuck out like sore thumbs (which we did) it was just their friendly nature.

  9. We didn’t get any special attention in Berlin. It’s true, I expected people to constantly ask us about where we’re from and maybe just eye-ball us a little bit. Berlin sees so many people pass through it, that it’s become a norm for foreigners to be mooching around with maps in a lost and dizzy state. Quite a few locals walk around with maps in hand, actually.

  10. There are more museums than rainy days in Berlin. Apparently, Berlin has 180 museums and about 106 rainy days a year. Outside of the museums and world heritage sites that we visited, my favourite place was the East Side Gallery. This is the longest open-air gallery in the world, painted with 101 images on a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall. The artwork speaks in a language of its own and is definitely something I would visit again.



I scribbled a little message to my person on this Berlin Bear, check out my instagram to see what I wrote and to whom…


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