As I approach the last week of my 10-week European trip, and my fifth eurotrip overall, I think it is worth writing a few things now that I likely have discovered my favourite city ever: Berlin.
I don't think any city will even come close. My travels are far from over, but given what I know about myself, Berlin is just about the perfect city if I were going to call a city home. I was going to stay for only a week, ended up staying for almost three. Huge disclaimer: Throughout I am talking about Berlin in the summer.
First and foremost, the nightlife is impeccable. I know Berlin and Electronic Music go hand in hand, and surely that's what Berlin does best, but I went to plenty of other places that cater to a variety of different tastes and didn't see a single place I did not like. Kreuzberg was my favourite neighbourhood for going out from the small surface I scratched.
Clubbing in Berlin was so outstanding that I am afraid it might have ruined almost anywhere else for me, certainly North America. Clubbing as a guy in North America is a weird ritual. The number one reason most guys get turned away in NA is because they don't have enough girls with them. After that hurdle, paying a multiple of the girls' cover or getting bottle service is almost surely expected.
Not in Berlin. Not even close.
From the famous large clubs, I went to Sisyphos, Watergate, Tresor, ://aboutblank, and Anomalie for some of the legendary parties that start Friday night and continue without closing to Monday morning. Sisyphos with its mini outdoor festival vibes was my favourite. The bouncers occasionally ask you vibe-check questions like "Do you know who is playing today?", or "Why are you coming here to party?" which at times feels like you're passing a school quiz to get in, but given the amazing crowds inside I think the Berliners have gotten it right! I met plenty of people in Berlin in front of me who when asked "How many are you?" answered "One". Incredible. To be able to go out just for the love of the music and not worry about all the other bullshit you grow accustomed to in NA with bottle service and being treated as a walking ATM. What a treat to the ears!
Despite going out for two weeks straight I do not have anything to show you how it was. All the places I went to specifically prohibit taking videos/photos inside and cover your cameras with stickers upon entrance. In KitKatClub, they take your phone away entirely. Just a bunch of people from all walks of life, mostly dressed in plain black attire, enjoying some stellar music in good company and nowhere but in the moment.
I have been told that Berlin is fairly different from the rest of Germany and I haven't spent enough time in other parts of the country to debate that to any depth. It is quite a bit cheaper especially for a major city in Western Europe, and oddly enough one of the few countries I can recall where the GDP per capita is lower in the capital than elsewhere in the country. However, here is what I can confidently say about Berlin itself. The city is diverse, multicultural, safe, and gives out some of the most accepting vibes in any place I have been. I think people in Berlin go out of their way to be non-judgemental and understanding of others. I got to Berlin the day of Pride celebration walking around in Tiergarten, and it was an amazing first day to kickstart my love affair with the city. I spent the majority of my time in Mitte and Kreuzberg, and I am sure the other boroughs offer plenty as much.
Worth noting that this summer all of Germany's public transit system cost only 9 euros a month. Read that again. The entire country's transit system, including inter-city trains, cost a flat 9 euro to use per month for June, July, and August. The economist in me loves the arteries of public transit in a well-designed city, and Berlin has some of the best. One weekend I got the Museum Pass and went to just about twenty museums. A touch out of the way, but my favourite was German Museum of Technology. I would also rave about how great the food scene was, but in reality I ate doners for more than I'd like to admit, because I love them and they were everywhere!
Lastly, I would say that local knowledge significantly enhances your experience in Berlin. It is not just where to go, but what is expected from you especially going out at night. Huge shoutout to Jan and Farzana for some god-tier tips, to Maya for being my euro bff, and everyone I met at EastSeven with that incredible garden courtyard.
I love Berlin and will be back for sure. Prost!