On the surface, much of Berlin seems the same to me as New York City. There are various neighborhoods from trendy and hip, to calm and quiet, and of course the insanely busy tourist areas. (Although nothing I have experienced comes even close to Times Square.) The fashion seems relatively similar, but this is coming from a guy who practically wears the same thing every day, and can’t tell his Prada’s from his Gucci’s if his life depended on it.
I’ve been in Berlin about a month now, and while, in general things seem similar, there are lots of little things you start to notice that hit you as quite unique. Here are a few:
- There seems to be some sort of bicycle epidemic in Berlin, I think they are now multiplying by the minute. There are literally bikes chained to every post, pole and street sign as far as the eye can see. I tend to worry more about getting hit by a speeding bicyclist than a motorist. At least the air is cleaner because of it.
- The dogs are usually walking down the sidewalks unleashed and ahead of their owners. I don’t know why this strikes me as strange or unusual, but it seems as if the local dogs can navigate the streets better than I. As a side note, every day I need to remind myself to always watch where I step.
- There is graffiti EVERYWHERE. There are few concrete surfaces within arms reach aside from the streets themselves that aren’t tagged. I feel so bad for the poor architects of these beautiful creations that are now covered in neon spray paint. Most of it is extremely ugly, but here are a couple prettier examples.
- Maybe it’s just my neighborhood, but the streets are pretty much deserted after 8PM. If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Berlin is the city that knows how to relax at night (or sometimes a siesta in the middle of the day will do). It’s also fairly common to see many people going for a walk in the park on a Saturday morning with a beer in their hand.
- Most of the buildings in the city are a very muted palette of greys and off-whites, but there are splashes of bright color here and there that are beautiful. It’s also surprising to see that the subway stations are usually decorated with brightly colored tiles and designs on the walls.
And if you thought Europeans were so much more sophisticated, here’s proof that people everywhere around the world can be cheesy too.