TRAVEL GUIDE TO BERLIN by Bedeir R.
El Bedeir is an Urban Explorer and Music Lover. In 2017, he moved to Berlin to participate in the growing tech scene. 2.5 years later, the tech(no) scene became an added reason for him to stay. Hence, he become a fake DJ. Enjoy his local guide to Berlin below!
Berlin, confirmed by many, is one of the most exciting cities to live in. The city doesn’t know limits. Due to historical reasons, this rebellious, young, and rough city became the most welcoming place for anybody looking for a new home.
At any given time of the day, you will find it hard to recognize if a person just came out of a club or is going to work. The city is special in its art, love for music, liberalism and freedom.
Facts about Berlin
3.7 million inhabitants: Berlin is over 9 times the size of Paris, BUT it only has 1/5 of Paris’ density
1700 bridges & 180km waterways
1.3km the longest open air gallery in the world: East Side gallery
Berlin by neighborhood
Just like any other city, Berlin has several neighborhoods with distinctive characteristics. However, in Berlin, every neighborhood (or as they call it in German, Kiez) could feel like an isolated city, and when you roll from one Kiez to another, you’d sense that everything changed. Unlike New York, where Chinatown has different demographics than SoHo, in Berlin the same people hang out in Mitte and Kreuzberg; they just behave and dress up (or down) differently. Unique!
There are 21 Kiez in Berlin, however, I’d regroup them into 4 categories as we feel them living here.
1. THE ALTERNATIVE (EAST/SOUTH)
Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Neukölln are the 3 major alternative Kiez in Berlin (ranked in ascending order by how alternative they are). The Alternative is young, hip, dressed up fashionably in an unbranded way.
Restaurants and bars look run down but provide amazing food with strong representation of organic and vegan food. Here is a list of places not to miss in The Alternative:
Parties go on from Thursday to Wednesday, non-stop or with few hours break every 3 days. The Alternative is home to the most renowned clubs in Berlin:
Housing used to be cheap but with the ever-increasing number of movers to the city, that is no longer the case. The Alternative attracts mostly expats or local Germans seeking a more international environment. You can barely hear German and if you try to order in German, you’ll most likely get answered in English.
As rent/m2 is relatively low, it not only attracts young talents, but also startups seeking affordable office space. Therefore, most of the startups in the area are either younger than 2 years with limited funding or older than 4-5 years with a large number of employees, for example Zalando.
2. THE STAR KIDS (MIDDLE)
Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte are home to the middle and upper-middle (Mitte-l) class. Retired bankers, consultants and corporate employees (couple of years experience) or previously/currently working in the fashion industry, in their late 20s-early 30s, who sought a lifestyle change and opted-out of the standard career progression in Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg.
The Star Kids are a little older than The Alternative and mostly enjoy a bit of disposable income either inherited or saved from their previous life.
Restaurants could appear in better condition and higher food quality, but the main difference is the price is 20-30% more expensive. The area around Torstrasse is quite lively with multiple options for food and drinks. Additionally, The Star Kids are home to Soho House. Here are some of my favorite restaurants & bars:
The Kiez used to host the best parties in Berlin 20 years ago. Now clubs aren’t the main signature of the Kiez, they mostly run on their historical fame. On Thursday night, you can have the rare occasion to go to a hip-hop night at Kitty Cheng or Bravo Bar. For the past 1.5 years, a group of my friends and I started a new party series to revive the party scene in Mitte called Nachtzeit, with the motto #MakeMitteGreatAgain ♠
Similar to restaurant pricing, rent is 20-30% more expensive than in The Alternative. English is widely spoken in shops, restaurants and bars, but you can feel that The Star Kids have more local Germans compared to east/south Berlin. You will also notice more young families with babies and under-10-year-olds here than in The Alternative Kiez.
Startups in The Star Kids are between 2-4 years old, have raised a few million and have up to 40 employees on average.
3. THE LAWYERS (WEST)
Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and west of Berlin are the upper class of Berlin, alongside the original Berliner (living in Berlin for more than 15 years). The Lawyers Kiez is the closest you know to cities, where you have malls, banks, corporate offices and families. The Lawyers are the Munich of Berlin, where it is accepted (and encouraged) to wear suits and pull out a Gucci belt without being judged. The Lawyers seek a higher quality and fancier lifestyle than The Alternative & Star Kids. There is your highest chance to get a response in German, as well as meet a true-born Berliner, whose parents moved or lived West of the Berlin Wall.
Restaurants look like where your parents would take you for dinner, bathrooms are clean and the service is professional. That obviously comes at a price. However, we all seek that treat at least every now and then. So if you are looking for a cozy, fancy experience, here is a list of restaurants & bars to go to:
The clubs at The Lawyer (you guessed it right), are Lawyer clubs. Here is where you can get Grey Goose bottle services with 10 people lighting up candles:
4. THE FAR (FAR)
Lichtenburg, Stieglitz, Spandau, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, and Reinickendorf are just far. Nobody lives there!
How to get around
Berlin has a strong public transport system, you can simply use Google Maps or Citymapper to check the best routes, or use the BVG (Berlin public system) app to buy tickets. In addition, with all the advanced mobility services, the options to get from one Kiez or around the same Kiez are ever increasing.
There are the usual suspects like Uber, which is relatively cheap. But also the city has its own private transportation infrastructure:
Public transport app: BVG
In the end, wherever you end up in Berlin, my main advice would be to lose any expectations upon arrival and buckle up. This city is a ride!
I'll leave you with a link to my last set: Afrikaburn 🔥- Cobracabana 🐍 circle of life Sunrise 🌅 by El Bedeir. Happy exploring!
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