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I'm headed to Berlin on my first visit there ever. Any recommendations on where to stay, what to see, which guidebook to purchase?

Posted on Feb 18, 2012

2 Answers

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You don't tell us anything about your interests--we could make better suggestions if we kneiw what draws your enthusiam. History? Food? Science? Art? The local scene?Do you want a hostel, bare-bones hotel, or a comfortable space to relax? In a lively part of the city or in a more peaceful area? Try filling in some of the blanks and see what results.

Whatever you do, please do not ride the public transportation system without paying. That is an abuse to the system and to the riders who pay their share--and a poor way to represent your country beyond its borders. Multi-day passes are available and also get you discounts at a variety of museums and attractions in Berlin

Posted Feb 20, 2012

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If you haven't found this site, it might help:

Posted on Feb 20, 2012

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Well said, Margie, about both the “specific interests” and the “fare dodging”.

So Ralph, let me reiterate Margie’s plea...
Please please please do the right thing and pay for public transportation in Berlin (or anywhere else for that matter.) One thing that separates “travelers” from mere “tourists” is that the former recognize we all are ambassadors of our country when we step outside our own boarders.

Weekly passes good on the trams, subways, and buses in Berlin are very reasonably priced at only €27,20 and monthly passes are only €74 (good for zones A & B... all you are likely to need if you are a first-timer)... but it’s not about the money.

Also, Germany is one of the few countries where the public has free access to the tram/subway platforms without going through those inconvenient turnstiles like they have in London, Paris, Hong Kong, etc. But it’s not about the convenience either...

So many disrespectful fare-dodgers are abusing the system in Germany that this free access might go away. Please don’t be part of that: http://www.thelocal.de/opinion/20120203-40511.html

It’s a matter of deciding what kind of people we want to be and what kind of image we want to portray of our country. Be a traveler not a tourist. :-)

Oh... On my first post, I forgot to include this link. I’ll add it to the excellent link Margie provided: http://www.visitberlin.de/en

Gute Reise!

Posted on Feb 21, 2012

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Thanks for posting The Local's link on the fare dodging story. I had missed it. Personally, I would like to see the fine rise to €400 or €600 multiple offenders.

Posted on Feb 22, 2012

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Hey Ralph. There has been lot of great recommendations on Berlin already posted in Afar Connect. Just enter "Berlin" in the search field. When the search results come up, scroll down to the "Q&A" section.

Just yesterday I replied to Berlin question in which I talked about a couple of the museum discount cards available. Other people have posted great suggestions as well.

The best overall guidebook for Berlin (for a "first timer") that I know is "Rick Steve's Germany". He's been producing it for years and updates it every year. While he focuses mostly on "mainstream" destinations, he always throws in few off-the-wall places. The new 2012 version just came out: http://www.amazon.com/Rick-Steves-Germany-2012/dp/1598809881

Gute Reise!

Posted Feb 18, 2012

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Berlin is a very easy place to make friends (at least in the east). Keep your eyes and ears open for cool stuff- it may be easier to be your own guide than you think. Always travel by bike if you are able- you see more and its quite flat. There is something to being on a human scale (on foot) in the socialist realist landscape. Public transit is unreasonably expensive (although in 3 weeks I never got caught riding without a ticket). I spent a lot of time at Haus Schwarzenberg: http://www.haus-schwarzenberg.org/. It consists of 3 joined courtyards, which house a cafe, a bar, a bookstore, an art gallery, an outdoor movie theater, an exhibit of art monsters, and even an anne frank museum. It seems to attract a lot of tourists for street art tours, because many artists have contributed to its walls. It is in Mitte, so its close to the museums and other "important sights." You will inevitably find yourself in Kreuzberg at some point because it is the "cool, young" part. Indeed, there is a lot to do! Do not miss the big Flohmarkt in Mauerpark!
Neukölln was a favorite place of mine, too. My favorite pastime in Berlin was drinking a Club Mate in the park and pretending that I lived there :) Hope this helps. Have fun!

Posted on Feb 20, 2012

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