Things what surprised me most in Berlin
January 1, 1970
by Katri Vuorvirta
Berlin is the capital city of Germany. And it is also the biggest city in whole Germany, and second biggest city in the European Union (after London).
And like any other capital city or some other big city, it is full of tourists. At least it was in September, and I am sure there is, even more, tourists during summer time.
But even if there is a lot of tourists, tourist can get a feeling, that the city is actually made only for locals. Of course, it is full of sights to see, interesting culture and so on.
However, there is something different, compared to other bigger cities, especially in Europe. And of course, I am going to compare only to the cities I have visited.
Here is some tips / ideas / recommendations / etc. I would like to share. Based on the trip I made with one of my best friends in September 2017.
You need a cash in Berlin
This was maybe the biggest surprise because from my previous experiences from bigger cities (especially in Europe), it has always been possible to pay with a card.
In Berlin, it is necessary to carry also cash with you.
Many places, even supermarkets, big clothing shops and cafes, if you want to buy with a card, your minimum amount should be 10 euros. No matter, if your total amount is just 5 cents under 10 euros, you must take something else if you still want to buy with a card. I did not figure out the reason for this, so someone more clever could maybe tell me ;D
So take a cash with you, or use ATM machine to get some cash. There is usually ATM’s near everything. Oh, and Germany is euro country, so if your country has another currency, take this into account! 🙂 I think it can be even cheaper to change money in your home country, or in somewhere in the Berlin city center than at the airport.
Pocket dictionary is useful in Germany
You do not need to learn every word from the dictionary beforehand, but maybe try to learn some basic phrases. Or at least when you have a dictionary with you, you can show the word from there and then ask if the person you ask anything, might understand it better. So maybe consider taking English-German dictionary, rather than your own language – German one.
I would have been happy in many situations if I could have said something in German.
But we did not have a dictionary with us, and neither of us did not speak German. But my cousin actually warned me beforehand, that not everyone speak English, so I was already aware of that. And now I am trying to tell all people same, to be aware of that issue.
Even if Berlin is a big city with a lot of tourists, locals will not necessarily speak English. Or are too shy to speak it, or just do not want to speak it.
Well, the reason does not matter, because the fact is, that they might not speak English at all.
So if you get lost, and you do not have a dictionary, just be ready to “speak with hands”. And be ready that even if you would ask from security guy in some shop, they will answer in German, and you try to lead the conversation with English.
Friendly customer service is not a thing in Germany
I am from Finland, where friendliness and smile are the most important qualities, especially when working in customer service job.
In Germany, there clearly was not any importance in that.
And this is not from one experience, but more like almost like in all restaurants, cafes, and shops, where we visited, customer servant had the same attitude.
No eye contact, no “hello”, no friendly speaking.
Sunday shopping in Berlin?
Take into account, that all shops are closed on Sunday. Many other countries (at least in Finland) shops might be open at some exact time frame on Sunday. But not in Berlin. All were closed, a whole day. Even many of the restaurants were closed.
So do not leave your shopping to Sunday, because you will not be able to buy anything then.
Except, those real tourist shops. Those might be open, at least some of them.
But all bigger shops are closed.
Easy transportation in the capital city of Germany
Moving around is super easy with public transport.
And if you are in hurry, or you just do not like public transportation, do not worry, taxi is not that expensive.
If you are staying in the hotel, you can ask hotel reception order a taxi for you.
But I recommend using public transportation. Or walk, if you stay near the city center.
Buses, subways, trams, and train (not sure if it was a train) are all super easy to use.
A bus had the station name on the screen, so you will not get that easily lost.
Train and subways have a station map, so that is also kinda easy.
You can buy a transportation ticket beforehand. We bought from the airport and three days pass was around 35 euros. It included discounts in different sights and restaurants. At least we liked it that way, no need to buy ticket always separately.
What about all those sights?
I will tell about sights and places I recommend to visit etc. in some later post 🙂 So do not worry… I will write about the sights later because I think this post would start to look too big and packed with too much information with all sights. We visited many places, free and those where were entrance payment, so I will write about all of them. Or at least try to.
Berlin is actually a very interesting country, with a kinda terrible history. Maybe one of the most famous sights is the Berlin wall. But there are also other not so popular and famous sights, what should be more popular for sure.
To the end, I want to apologize beforehand, if some german person get offended from my text.
All of this is just my experiences and only from four days from one city.
So I am sure there is also different kind of experiences 🙂 So please do not be mad at me, I am just writing from my point of view.
All pics are taken by me. So if you want to use some of those, ask my permission, and give credits 🙂 Thanks.