14 Things I’ve Learnt From 20 Days In Berlin

Berlin. What an experience this has been already! Before I had arrived here at the beginning of the month, I had read a ridiculous amount of things about the place – from books on its history to fiction that is set here, to blogs and travel guides that detail what is on offer for visitors. It sounded like the kind of place that I could really allow myself to get lost in; a place where I could get inspired, eat great food and just figure stuff out in.

Needless to say that this place hasn’t disappointed. I’ve found the whole experience incredibly inspiring, so much so that when I get home every night I scribble endless notes to make sure I don’t forget a thing. And most of the time it can be the simplest things that set something off in my head, from the way the yellow trams contrast against the grey sky, to the endless characters that I encounter on the streets.

So, here are 14 things I’ve learnt from my 20 days in Berlin…

Berlin street art

I love how colourful the buildings are in my neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg

Fritz Cola is so much better than Coca-Cola 

I don’t drink Coca-Cola anymore, or any fizzy drinks for that matter, however, since I’ve been in Berlin I’ve been known to have a Fritz Cola or two on any given night (I know – I live SO incredibly on the edge it’s unreal. Those of you who are in your 20s and are mocking me right now be warned: it comes to us all!). Developed by a duo in Hamburg, this stuff is ridiculously good and so much better (and more ‘hipster’) than normal Coke.

There’s dog poo everywhere 

This is somewhat surprising to me; I mean, in the UK on the whole, most of us know to clean our dogs’ shit up. Here it’s all over the place. So I have to pay extra attention when walking around in my Toms – canvas shoes and dog crap equals disaster if you catch my drift…

I tried to find out why this is the case but I cannot seem to find a conclusive answer (feel free to let me know…).

Black tights and shorts are still a thing here

I’ve seen many ladies wearing black tights under their shorts while I’ve been in Berlin. I remember doing this one upon a time but thought the trend was long dead. Then again, I’m not the most clued up of people when it comes to fashion trends, so correct me if I’m wrong…

As well as parka coats

Everyone wears a parka here. Or a long black coat.

No one wears heels

This is the best! If you ask me, all heels should be bloody eliminated from the planet. I don’t miss wearing them. In fact, I haven’t worn heels since I left Dubai back in 2014 to travel long term. Heels, be gone – they certainly aren’t anywhere to be seen in this city!

Tram lines in Berlin

Tram lines in Berlin

Most people wear black 

The colour palette of choice of Berlin style is black, black and a little bit more black. Berliners love their black. Black jeans are a must in every Berliner’s wardrobe, it seems (and much to my delight, as I had packed mine!). And most people look really stylish in an understated way – think jeans, sneakers, and clothes that are made to stand the test of time. In fact, cheap buys from H&M are kind of frowned upon, as they’re seen as unethical.

You’ll see candles lit literally everywhere 

I LOVE this about Berlin. Most coffee shops and restaurants, and even some shops have candles lit on all the tables. It makes the spaces feel incredibly cosy; I find myself admiring the candlelight in all these places as I walk past their windows.

The men are all tall and beardy 

Yup, that’s not just an urban legend. German men are tall and, in Berlin, they all have beards. Hipster beards. Make of that what you will.

Zero fucks are given 

Berliners really don’t give a crap. I don’t know how to illustrate this point other than by saying you just ‘sense’ the attitude, from the way people carry themselves, to the clothes that are worn, to the quirkiness that you see everywhere in the city (I saw this the other day. Still not sure what to make of it).

There are flower shops all over the place 

I love this about Berlin. There are so many little independent flower shops around the city, and you come to really appreciate them especially when it’s grey and gloomy outside (which, it has been on the majority of the days since I’ve been here). It’s so lovely to see all these beautiful spring blooms outside on the streets as you walk past the shops.

Next to no editing was done on this! So colourful...

Next to no editing was done on this! So colourful…

There are also endless characters

Yesterday I saw a man who looked like he was in his 70s wearing leather trousers, a leather jacket and a belt that had a buckle in the shape of a skull. The other day I saw a woman who also looked like she was in her 70s wearing her snow white long hair in a bun on the top of her head. She also had a pair of bad-ass black shades on.

These are just two of the many characters I’ve seen around town. And yes, even people in their 70s here are way cooler than I am.

Berliners LOVE to eat

Any time of day you’ll find Berliners munching all over town. I’m serious; people here never seem to stop eating. I wonder whether it’s because a lot of people do less conventional 9-5 careers in Berlin – there are so many freelancers, entrepreneurs, artists etc that perhaps that’s why restaurants seem to be busy at all hours. Who knows.

What I do know is that I love it!

It’s very vegan/vegetarian-friendly 

There are SO many vegan and vegetarian restaurants here, it rivals Ubud for my favourite veggie town on earth (Ubud will always have that edge, though – I mean, a meal with a view of palm trees will always win for me!). Just the other day I had vegan Vietnamese food and it was delicious; I was impressed to see that they even served soya condensed milk with the Vietnamese coffee. Amazing.

And on Saturday I was at The Green Market Berlin, where only vegan and vegetarian food was on sale.

And, in general, it’s just weirdly wonderful

It’s quirky, it’s different, it’s unconventional, it’s weird. And I’ve fallen in love with it.

Yeah I'm not sure what this is either...

Yeah, I’m not sure what this is either…

Have you ever been to Berlin? If so, what did you think of it?

  • Just found your blog, and have too just returned from Berlin. You are so right. There is something about the vibe there, everybody seems to be effortlessly cool whilst effortlessly not giving a crap. I’ve never felt like a fit in more anywhere in the world! I was there under bizarre circumstances, but just those three days opened my eyes to travel and expanding my way of thinking. Going to have a good stalk around your postings 🙂

    • Andrea

      Really happy that you had such a life changing experience – I love those, and more often than not they happen to me when I travel (or when I’m about to – there’s nothing like a one-way ticket to a new place to stir up mayhem in your life!). Loved your post and I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

  • Reading through your blog today has been inspiring. I’m going through a bit of a brain change at the moment. You inspired me to write up my thoughts on berlin 🙂 http://www.burningwindmill.com/berlin-changed-my-world/

  • Health Through Adventure

    Your pictures and story are amazing Andrea. Never knew Berlin was so vegan friendly (must add it to my list now!). One of my friends just wrote a post on German Guides (here: http://www.bavarianclockworks.com/blog/best-germany-travel-guides/) and I sent over your site….definitely helpful IMO. Thanks for the added inspiration today!

    • Andrea

      Thank you – I’m glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful 🙂 And yes, it’s a great place for vegans. I’m not vegan, but I wouldn’t think twice about going vegan in I lived there as it would make it so much easier.