Berlin is a lot of cities rolled into one: West and East, the bourgeoisie and the blue collar, the hipsters and the refugees (90,000 so far) all living side-by-side-by-side. Somehow it all works. Also, Berlin is cheap. Really, really cheap.
One could argue that Berlin isn’t really all that German. It’s an outlier in the Bundesrepublik. Only 70% of Berlin’s population is German. The city boasts 25 non-indigenous communities: Turkish, Polish, Vietnamese, Iranian, Israeli, Russian, American…it goes on. With that diversity comes dynamic culture, eclectic food, and an exciting art scene that sets Berlin apart from any typical associations with classic German culture. But, don’t worry, they still have beer gardens! The water is clean. The city is green. Over 500,000 people commute to work and school every day via bicycle.
Further visual evidence of the city’s general excellence:
Berlin is a city of parks, boasting 2,500 parks and gardens. That’s a lot. Berlin most recently converted its third airport, Tempelhof, into a massive open park. Its runways are now jogging, skating, wind-surfing lanes. Its lawns are filled with barbecues in the summer. One corner has baseball diamonds, another has dog runs, yet another has a massive public garden. In the summer, they host a music festival.
If you get lost finding Tempelhof, don’t worry — you’ll probably just stumble into one of the other 2,499 parks. There are palaces with amazing gardens! There are forests with wild boar and fox! There are working farms! There’s outdoor Karaoke! It’s the best way to enjoy Berlin. Grab a crate of beer, a disposable BBQ, some food to grill on said BBQ, and head outside.
Beer is about as German as you can get. Berlin already imports an impressive amount of German, Czech and Polish beers into the city. So the choices are damn near endless in corner shops and grocery stores. Probably one of the greatest traditions in Berlin is the Späti, or corner shop. They’re usually open 24/7 (a real rarity for Germany). They sell beer just above cost. So a .5l bottle will set you back no more than €1.50/$1.70 for top shelf beer! You can buy your beer and snacks then just head across the street to a park to enjoy said beer and snacks.
Although the craft scene came late to Berlin, it’s exploded with tasty beers of every variety being brewed across the city. Since about 2008, over 30 microbrews have popped up. Funnily enough, the American population is a large force behind this movement.
And, lastly, there are the beer gardens. Once spring rolls around, the gardens start to open all over the city. There are over 30 to choose from. Whether you’re in the middle of the city, hiking in the park outside the city, or just exploring a neighborhood, you’re bound to bump into a lush and convivial beer garden in Berlin. They all serve food and beer, and often have a play park for the kids to amuse themselves with while mommy and daddy get their tipple on.
Berlin’s population is 30% immigrant. That means one thing: Great food from all over the world. It would be easy to just fill the rest of this post with Instagram shots of Berlin’s food (it’s temping!). Mexican, check. Israeli, check. Thai, check. Taiwanese soup kitchens, check. Vietnamese markets, check. Seafood bars, check.