Ger­many’s Ber­lin is a prag­matic yet cos­mopoli­tan place with top global cui­sine

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - WITH DENYS KRASNIKOV [email protected]

BER­LIN — A city of hip­sters, Ber­lin only looks chaotic — be­hind the scenes, it runs like a clock.

Ger­many has the world’s fourth-largest econ­omy, so one might ex­pect its cap­i­tal, Ber­lin, with 3.6 mil­lion peo­ple, to be an ul­tra­mod­ern me­trop­o­lis. But it’s not.

As the city comes into view from the train win­dow, one sees a run-down, in­dus­trial land­scape of an­gu­lar build­ings that doesn’t seem to dif­fer dras­ti­cally in ap­pear­ance from the ones of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro. But there is much more graf­fiti on build­ing walls — both awe­some and aw­ful — and stick­ers cov­er­ing even road signs.

The city cen­ter is sim­i­lar: broad streets and an­gu­lar build­ings, as well as the oc­ca­sional old mu­seum and church. But while Ber­lin is not a feast for the ar­chi­tec­tural eye, the city has other ad­van­tages to of­fer, in­clud­ing well or­ga­nized in­fra­struc­ture, a lively nightlife and cos­mopoli­tan cui­sine.

Food

Oddly, find­ing a place with the gen­uine Ger­man cui­sine in Ber­lin is not easy. In­stead, the city is packed with In­dian, Viet­namese, Mex­i­can, and Turk­ish places, all of which are of much bet­ter qual­ity than the ones in Kyiv.

So Ber­lin is a per­fect place to sam­ple an un­fa­mil­iar cui­sine. Most of the ubiq­ui­tous for­eign cafes and restau­rants are run by for­eign­ers, which gives one con­fi­dence that the cui­sine is authen­tic. And the gen­er­ous por­tions are sold at rea­son­able prices.

For in­stance, a large Mex­i­can bur­rito with gua­camole and rice on the side costs about 9 eu­ros. A huge bowl of Viet­namese Pho Bo, with a shot of rice vodka, costs 10 eu­ros. An In­dian chicken curry with rice and a glass of beer costs roughly 13 eu­ros.

Al­most ev­ery­where on streets, there are Turk­ish stores sell­ing authen­tic baklava (lay­ered pas­try with honey and crushed nuts) for some 1.5 eu­ros a por­tion — a de­li­cious and in­ex­pen­sive treat. There are also small kiosks sell­ing döner ke­babs and falafels for 3–5 eu­ros — per­fect

for a late-night snack.

Drink­ing al­co­hol on the street is per­mit­ted in Ger­many, and peo­ple are al­lowed to smoke in restau­rants and con­cert halls, so look for non-smok­ing rooms if you don’t smoke, and vice versa.

Ger­many has sev­eral tra­di­tional foods worth bring­ing home. One of them is Stollen, a fruit bread of nuts, spices, and dried or candied fruit. A large loaf costs 4 eu­ros in su­per­mar­ket chains like Lidl or Rewe. How­ever, in a nod to the coun­try’s Protes­tant past, stores often don’t work on Sun­days.

Mu­se­ums and gal­leries

Ber­lin’s gal­leries and mu­se­ums are con­ve­niently lo­cated in a sin­gle area called Mu­seum Is­land, which is it­self a UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site.

The eas­i­est way to get there is to take a sub­ur­ban-line train to S Hack­escher Markt sta­tion. Then look for the green dome of the im­mense Ber­lin Cathe­dral. It is lo­cated across a small pedes­trian bridge on the Mu­seum Is­land and can be a good land­mark for nav­i­gat­ing around the other mu­se­ums.

The ad­mis­sion fee for gal­leries and mu­se­ums is about 10 eu­ros; and 7 eu­ros for the Ber­lin Cathe­dral. If you hap­pen to be a jour­nal­ist, show a press pass and en­try is free of charge.

Sight­see­ing

The city’s two must-sees are the Bran­den­burg Gate and the Re­ich­stag build­ing.

Take a sub­ur­ban-line train and get off at the Bran­den­burger Tor sta­tion, which is lo­cated just next to the fa­mous gate.

Af­ter tak­ing a selfie, move on to the Re­ich­stag build­ing, which is just five min­utes away through the State Park. The Re­ich­stag build­ing, in­clud­ing its panoramic glass dome, is open to vis­i­tors and free of charge, but one has to book a visit a cou­ple of days in ad­vance via the Re­ich­stag’s web­site. Tours are in­cluded, but ones in English are only avail­able on Tues­days.

Trans­port

Even in rush hour Europe’s sec­ond most pop­u­lous city af­ter Lon­don is much less busy than Kyiv. Buses, un­der­ground and sub­ur­ban-line trains are al­most al­ways on time and half empty in this 3.7 mil­lion peo­ple city.

No­body checks tick­ets in Ber­lin when one gets on pub­lic trans­port. There are no ticket punches in buses and no turn­stiles in the metro or the sub­ur­ban-line sta­tions. But that doesn't mean that tick­ets aren't nec­es­sary.

There are con­trollers who check tick­ets from time to time. If caught with no valid ticket, fare-dodgers will be fined 60 eu­ros.

Ber­lin sells sin­gle tick­ets for all the means of trans­port in ma­chines in­stalled at ev­ery sta­tion. One-day tick­ets cost 7.7 eu­ros and are valid across all three of Ber­lin’s trans­port zones, in­clud­ing zone C, where the two largest air­ports are lo­cated.

There are also one-week tick­ets that cost 30 eu­ros, and one-way tick­ets for 3.5 eu­ros.

If you stay in Ber­lin for more than five days, save money by buy­ing a one-week ticket at a sta­tion near the air­port for zones A and B; and then buy an ex­ten­sion ticket for 1.6 eu­ros to travel out of zone C.

It takes about 80 min­utes and one change of train to get from the Schöne­feld Air­port, where pop­u­lar low cost air­lines like easy­Jet and Ryanair are based, to the western side of Ber­lin.

Taxis, in­clud­ing Uber cars, from the Schöne­feld Air­port to western part of Ber­lin will cost 45–55 eu­ros, but take half the time of the train ride. Taxis for early morn­ing de­par­tures should be booked in ad­vance. One con­ve­nient taxi ser­vice is called Sun­trans­fers, but a taxi ride with this firm has to be booked a day in ad­vance and no later than 9 p.m., as they stop tak­ing or­ders when the work­ing day ends in Ger­many.

How to get to Ber­lin: take a round trip from Kyiv to Ber­lin by air­line Ryanair for 55 eu­ros.

Where to stay: rent an en­tire apart­ment through Airbnb for 60 eu­ros a night.

Tourists in 2015 take a selfie in front of a still-ex­ist­ing stretch of the Ber­lin Wall. The mu­ral paint­ing "My God, Help Me to Sur­vive This Deadly Love" by Rus­sian pain­ter Dmitri Vrubel de­picts the kiss be­tween Soviet leader Leonid Brezh­nev (L) and East Ger­man leader Erich Ho­necker. The Ber­lin Wall fell in 1989, lead­ing to Ger­many's re­uni­fi­ca­tion in 1990 and the col­lapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. (AFP)

A view of Ber­lin Cathe­dral on Mu­seum Is­land, a UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site that hosts the big­gest Ber­lin's mu­se­ums and art gal­leries, in­clud­ing the Alte Na­tion­al­ga­lerie, Perg­a­mon­mu­seum, and Altes Mu­seum. (AFP)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ukraine

© PressReader. All rights reserved.