Photo: Maria Golovianko/Shutterstock

10 Signs It's Your First Time in Berlin

by Marcela Faé Oct 19, 2015

1. You’re trying to pay for everything with a credit card.

Yeah, Berlin isn’t really the place for plastic money. We prefer the old-fashioned paper kind. So nur bargeld, please.

2. You’re expecting beautiful architecture similar to what you’ve seen in Paris or Vienna.

But then you remember that Berlin was destroyed. Destroyed over and over again, and then divided, and then reunited and all this history is “hidden” from you. It’s not easy to immediately appreciate Berlin, you have to do your homework to fully enjoy it.

Pay attention to the bullet holes all over the historical buildings. Notice how there are several new buildings in a city with over 700 years of history. (That’s because of war, guys! War.) See all the parks we have? Those were actually extensively bombed areas. Berlin usually built parks over them because houses were too expensive. Berlin’s motto is ‘poor but pretty.’

3. You’re pleasantly surprised by the nightlife.

Yeah, it’s legendary. People dress up in fetish costumes, the loud sounds of the nightclubs, the different people from all over the world, the vibe…
I’ve lived here for four years and no one’s ever asked me to go to Berghain. It doesn’t matter if you’re a metalhead, punk rocker, techno lover, or just want to have a good time with your friends in a bar. Berlin is big enough for all of us.

5. You’re afraid of the large words yet you’re still trying to pronounce them out loud.

I confess, they are very scary at first. But after a while, you’ll see that enormous German words are just regular words without spaces between them.

6. You’re still looking for maß bier, mustard and all the other ‘typical’ German foods.

But then you notice that Berlin is Berlin and Bavaria is Bavaria and those two don’t have a lot in common. Prepare to eat your wurst with ketchup and curry and to have Turkish food more easily available than German food. And here, the beer is 500ml because 1L beer makes no sense — it will get flat, warm(er) and it’s just not practical to carry a heavy glass through an entire night.

7. You’re shocked by the price of beer and water.

Get used to it: you can buy a good beer for less than 80 cents but a bottle of water will set you back 1.60€. Consider it a sign.

8. You think all of your money has disappeared. But it’s actually just in coins now.

You could easily have 30€ in coins just clanging around in your bag.

9. You’re afraid someone’s going to force you to speak German.

But they won’t. Because everybody speaks English. If a Berliner tells you they don’t speak English very well, they’ll most likely be way more articulate than most US or UK-born citizens.

10. You assume most people will be wearing dirndls and lederhosen and will be counting down the days until the next Oktoberfest.

Again: Bavaria is not Berlin. And even in Bavaria, they don’t do that.

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