What I love most about Berlin
- Streets are built with pedestrians and bicyclists in mind.
- Pedestrians stop for lights at crosswalks, even if there is no traffic in sight. (Note: increasingly less true in Berlin).
- The bread is amazing and almost free. (The kinds of breads you might be inclined to avoid in the US—full wheat breads, dark breads—are in fact the best.)
- I love euros; they are fun to stack and count.
- Döner kebaps: cheap, delicious, everywhere. (Though best not to inquire about the source of the meat log they shave it from.)
- The incredible, city-wide celebration of New Year’s.
- The next morning, city employees are out first thing, cleaning it all up, dressed in bright orange jumpsuits.
- There are parks and playgrounds everywhere and they are all beautiful.
- They build child play structures that would take the breath away from American personal injury lawyers.
- The atmosphere and sensation of Christmas markets.
- In the winter, at any sign of sunshine, people spill out onto the streets, dressed head to toe for warmth, sunning their faces.
- Despite much malignment, the German language is beautiful.
- Kindergeld! Every month, the government deposits about €200 into your bank account per kid. Strangely, this is also paid out to temporary residents.
- Schools are laid out so kids can walk to them. The school day is out around 1:45 in the afternoon (this can be extended till 6 for working parents).
- School vacations are spread out throughout the year, and most of them are two weeks long!
- You can get most anywhere via public transportation.
- The windows are all six feet tall, and in a testament to German ingenuity, they can both swing open and tilt in from the top.
- Mosquitos are few, move slowly, and congregate in visible places.
- Strangers will correct your behavior.
- There are an uncountable number of bike rental services.
- The ceilings are all 12 feet high.
- Working spaces even in open offices are large enough for three American people.
- You are never far from a cheap ice cream cone (€1.50 max).
- Everything is closed on Sunday.
- Emergency vehicles turn off their sirens except when at intersections or otherwise necessary.
What I don’t love
- There is only one drinking fountain in the entire city (at Nah am Wasser in Wildenbruchplatz)
- The Mexican food is best avoided.
- The bureaucratic vocabulary is large, disjoint from that of everyday life, and mostly noncompositional.
- The streets are covered in dog excrement.
- There are prominent ads for adult shops even in the nice parts of town.
- Alexanderplatz—where you find the TV tower that is a symbol of Berlin—is kind of a dump.
- They are quite fastidious about schooling. There are reports about families trying to cut out a day early for vacation being stopped by police at the train station!
- Glühwein is overrated and overpriced (except at the Alt-Rixdorf Christmas Market in Neukölln).
- The painted line separating lanes on the road is the same color (white) as the outer line. It makes it harder to distinguish them.
With apologies to my undergraduate advisor.
©2018 Matt Post