Berlin Tourism: Blah, Blah, Blah

By Cacinda Maloney

Updated August 2015

Berlin Tourism

Berlin, Germany

What a cold, dark place Berlin is. Dull grey is its color. I got a similar feeling in my recent trip to Munich, in fact, not even writing about it, as I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. I don’t like conflict, so this is a hard truth for me to write. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I have to say I am surprised at the number of travelers out there who say they love Berlin. Love and Berlin do not go in the same sentence for me. I have heard there are some beautiful places in the countryside to visit in Germany, and even heard rumor that Rick Steves, travel guru thinks the best castle in Europe is in Germany, so I haven’t given up on Berlin or Germany yet, but Berlin it is not my cup of tea.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany, Berlin Tourism

Berlin Tourism

I am beginning to understand now why I have those feelings as I reread its history. I think of myself as somewhat intuitive and the vibe I was picking up was not pleasant. I’ve had vibes before (like in Belize City), ignored them and things turned out OK. But Berlin is not all hip swing clubs, trendy art scenes, and beer hauses. It has an ugly history and quite frankly it isn’t picturesque.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is blah shades of gray.  Going to Berlin is like going back to the Cold War. Because of the destruction from World War II, 70% of all Berlin was destroyed. With the reunification and rebuilding, its architecture feels like a gray, bleak, monotone 1970’s box with construction around it.  
Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin Tourism

To me, the city thrives in tourism based on the atrocities of its past, which is quite appalling. Most of the tours, souvenir shops, and sight-seeing all revolve around the Cold War.  This city is heavy with history and I can’t really go into the depths of what happened here for fear of doing it injustice.
Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

 It is cold and harsh; therefore creating its people to be the same way.  To me there is no hiding what happened here. It is hard to grasp what the Germans did to the Jews and especially hard for their children to live it as their history. The people I came across were similar to the cold war: stern and unforgiving. Of course, I am talking in generalities. I had everything from a waitress who rolled her eyes at me in regards to what I ordered at a smugly, arrogant restaurant (Borchardt) to unhelpful hotel employees.

I enjoyed this review from TripAdvisor upon my return about Borchardt (and I didn’t write it!): “boring”

3 of 5 starsReviewed February 27, 2013

you’d think it would be good, but, well, the staff are rude and the food is average. you get a hefty bill for a boring meal.

To be fair, I did have a gracious cab driver help me, who barely spoke English and between the two of us, we were able to figure out where I needed to go. I also had a fab time at a bar down the street from the Sofitel, called the Gaffel Hause, where the waitress was friendly. So I get the there are good and bad personalities around, it is just, in general, I don’t like the stanch attitude of the Germans.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Germany, Berlin

Things to do in Berlin Germany

But nonetheless, I did write up 5 things to do in Berlin Germany in no particular order:

The Wall. Checkpoint Charlie. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews Of Europe. The Brandenburg Gate. The TV Tower.

The Wall. There are several places to view the wall, where you will see it intact, with no graffiti, but the place I enjoyed the most was the East Side Gallery. Here you will see hundreds of murals in graffiti style on the walls, they were so interesting that I spent at least an hour in the freezing cold photographing many of them (by no means all). You can read my Reflections of the Berlin wall

Checkpoint Charlie. Almost gimmicky, OK, so it is gimmicky.  But try to understand its importance, then you will give it a little more respect. For a few euros you too can have your photo taken with the representative American soldiers. 

The Brandenburg Gate. The city gates, built by a King of Prussia from 1788-1791 as a symbol of peace, it received quite a bit of damage during WW2 and was refurbished in 2000-2002.  

TV Tower.  In Alexanderplatz, it is a 205 meter tall viewing platform with a 360 degree panoramic view of the city.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  This should be on every itinerary to the German capital to ensure that the horrors of the Nazi past are not forgotten, these places convey the dark side of East Germany in a way that provides a much-needed counterpart to the idiotic spectacle of actors in uniform posing for photographs outside the fake Checkpoint Charlie guard house. 

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Checkpointe Charlie, Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Checkpointe Charlie, Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin Graffiti

Berlin Graffiti

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Checkpointe Charlie, Berlin, Germany

Checkpointe Charlie, Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin.   I do not like Berlin. So ask me how I really feel about Berlin.

But I do like Willie Deville Live from Berlin!

Opinions here are extensively my own. Whether you agree or not, these are my impressions of Berlin Tourism.

Berlin Grafitti Photo Collage

Reflections of the Wall of Berlin

Swinging in a Ballhaus in Berlin 

Tear Down That Wall – Freedom for the Baltics

Germany Tourism

Things to do in Germany

Ahh it looks like a year later, I found the Germany I loved:

Black Forest, Germany’s Traditional Bollenhut Hat

Sounds From the Black Forest, Germany

Hansel and Gretal’s Black Forest Near Breisach, Germany

Guide to Celebrating Carnival in Schramberg, Germany

Carnival– Enchanting Creatures Lurking in the Black Forest

Carnival – Enchanting Creatures Lurking in the Black Forest – Part 2

“Wild on the Water” Carnival Raft Race in Schramberg, Germany

The Best European Christmas Markets on the Rhine River with Viking River Cruises

2017-06-25T11:34:45+00:00

25 Comments

  1. Freya - HolidayNomad April 1, 2013 at 4:35 am

    I can understand your feeling about Berlin but I think the weather always is a big contributor to whether a place is liked or not. I had to luck to have been in Berlin a couple of times and it was always beautiful sunny weather which gave me a totally different impression of the city. I loved having a drink outside, seeing/hearing all the great music festivals and everybody was in a good mood.

    • admin April 1, 2013 at 10:48 am

      I definitely think that weather had something to do with it. It was blistering cold and I am willing to give it a second chance, but I think it is not on my recommended places to visit for a casual traveler. Thanks for reading.

  2. Graham April 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Wait, you didn’t like Munich? I thought it was charming.

    • admin April 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Well, I wasn’t taken aback, like I am when I go to Italy or Spain or certain pueblas in Mexico. I am willing to give it another chance, but…

  3. TJ April 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Hehe, yes Berlin can be really grey and touristy. But the ‘hipster Berlin’ in Mitte, Schoenhauser, Prenzlauer Berg is very cool with coffee shops, cheap eats and the arts.

    Berlin is gritty but wakes up in summer. In winter it’s a cheap version of Moscow without any snow – not everybody’s cup of tea indeed.

    • admin April 8, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      Thanks for understanding, but I am willing to give it another chance! so summer it is and the hipster Berlin will be where I will go…

  4. Londoner Kate April 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    It’s funny how many of us feel that dark vibe from Berlin. I agree that it still has that post-war feel.

    http://www.thelostlondoner.com/lost-in-berlin/

  5. Agneska May 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I have exactly the same feeling about Berlin, and it seems we are not alone. According to a recent survey, Berlin is one of the most controversial cities in Germany, Hamburg, and Munich are the German’s favorite metropolis.

    I really don’t like the “hip” areas of Berlin neither, which are mostly populated by students / long term tourists/foreigners on a sabbatical and have turned to a bourgeois bohême Disneyland. In some places, like Prenzlauer Berg, 90% of the former inhabitants had to leave because of the housing speculation and you are more likely to hear English or French than the Berliner dialect. The last time I was in a Kreuzberg bar even the waiter didn’t speak German (!). This contributes to a very superficial, fake atmosphere in many parts of the city. Meanwhile, tourism-driven real estate speculation makes it difficult for Berliners to rent a place in their own city. You should really give Germany another Chance and try Hamburg, a really relaxed city with open-minded inhabitants. Berlin is much about hype but this won’t last forever.

    • admin May 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks for an insider viewpoint. I do want to give Germany another chance, my only other time spent there is Frankfurt and that is not much to speak of.

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  8. Sab June 1, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I can feel you 😉 Arrived in Berlin a few days ago to rain and 11°C. The weather sucks 10 months out of 12. The majority of people are rude, can’t remember when a waitress was smiling at me the last time in Berlin. The first thing I always notice when I return to Berlin is how gray the city is… I use to live there more than 5 years, however, I lost my vibe for Berlin long time ago…

    • admin June 1, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Yes, it is just NOT my scene.

  9. Berlin is ugly, berlin is beauty June 2, 2014 at 6:03 am

    No offense intended, to you or to them, but you were in an hotel in Mitte, I can believe your stay was gray and lonely and will make your view on Berlin miserable. You have only seen a small version of Frankfurt, a Frankfurt with the 5 things you mentioned!

    • admin June 2, 2014 at 11:05 am

      No offense taken, I know that everyone likes different things, the world would be boring if we all like the same thing! I don’t believe I mentioned where I was staying (…but you were in an hotel in Mitte) regardless, it was a dreary, bleak trip and one I don’t want to find myself on again. As someone mentioned, a “cheap version of Moscow”, just not for me… but go ahead, I don’t mind if you enjoy it!

  10. noel June 5, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Haven’t been to Berlin, but I’m interested in going not for the historical features but primarily for the art, avant-garde art, galleries, amazing museums and the avant scene, underground and uber-hipster, street scenes is more of the modern Berlin that people now recognize the city to be – it works if you’re a night crawler type 🙂

  11. Matt Edwards June 5, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Berlin is not the most beautiful city in Europe but it is the most visually interesting, and the most historically interesting, and therefore my current favourite!

    As for the service, I just think Germans are generally not the most patient nationalities!

    • admin June 5, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      Matt, we can all agree to just disagree. No, Berlin is not the most beautiful city in Europe, but I am glad you like it! The world would be boring is we were all the same!

  12. Justin @ Nomads April 18, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I will respectfully disagree on Berlin. I love the place. Maybe it’s because I have friendly friends there, and maybe because I love the nightlife and progressive culture. Either way, i love rolling into town. I usually try to hit the warmer months, obviously… but I will have to say, I have been to most of Europe, and you will get this cold, shat weather in almost every nice city in winter. Prague, Bucharest, Tallinn, London… doesn’t matter. Don’t base your opinion on that! Get there again in summer!

    • Cacinda Maloney April 18, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Justin, I am willing to give it another chance, but nice weather only! ha ha!

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