Berlin - The Final Hours / by Anthony Brooks

 As is the way of nature, I must be moving on. Though a year sounds like a long time to travel, I have A LOT of destinations still to be visited and so, I have to leave Berlin for the great unknown. It's super intimidating and I've almost grown accustomed to this city in the week-ish time that I've been here. Maybe a bit too accustomed, if I'm being honest. Anyways, on to Münster! But before I do, a quick run-down of Berlin.

Before I go any further. Berliners are weird and the vast majority of places won't accept debit/credit cards. Cash only! This includes some train/subway ticket terminals. It's weird, but hey, it's their prerogative. 

Food. There are literally restaurants EVERYWHERE. If you see one Kebab restaurant here, there are 4 more within the next few blocks. The same for Asian cuisine, burger joints, Italian, or whatever else tickles your fancy. If you're in Kreuzberg or Neükolln, prices are a bit higher than other areas. That being said, you can still find a really good meal (both in portion and quality) pretty much anywhere in the city for 5-10€. It's extremely affordable. The fresh goods in the grocery stores are also fairly inexpensive, but seem to be rather lackluster in flavor. I've tried all of the fruit that I could get my hands on and always ended with some flavor to be desired. Oh, and if you're in Berlin, try the bakeries! They're ah-mazing :) Oh, and if you're in Neükolln, google Klunkerkranich. It's a hidden bar with an amazing view of the area and a really good vibe. They have live music most nights and it's really just a great place to chill in good company. Food options are limited though, so just go there for drinks and entertainment/relaxation/view. On the note of drinks (sorry for all of these after-thoughts), if you're planning on drinking with friends, just go grab some brews from corner stores for cheap. You can drink in public in Berlin, so that's the best bang for your buck. You're welcome.

Housing. As with the food, and just about everything else in this city, you can find cheap AND nice accommodations as long as you try to book ahead of time. If you wait until the last minute, you'll be able to find something cheap, though no guarantees it'll be very nice. The place that I liked the most was Singer109 Hostel. The prices varied per night with the least amount being 9€ for a night and the most being 18€. If you get breakfast there for 5€, you can make some sandwiches and have food and fruit that will last you through lunch and possibly dinner. So if you're cheap, that's always a good option too! The only complaint that I have is that there's no A/C, but that seems to be a common problem in this city and for the price, you can't really gripe too much. If you're looking for a flat by yourself, your best bet is through AirBnB.com. You'll be able to find an apartment for 20-40€ per night in a good location (again book ahead of time). 

Transportation. You have a few options. You can a) walk, b) ride trains/subways, c) use the citybikes, or d) taxis. Your cheapest is obviously walking because the only downside is blisters if you do a lot of walking AND the need to carry a water bottle. Otherwise you'll become dehydrated and die. Okay, probably not that extensive as you're in a city, but people here like sparkling water and so if you ask for a refill in restaurants that's what you get. Anywho, trains/subways. Super cheap, especially if you're planning on riding a lot during the day and the tracks between both go pretty much everywhere. You can get a full day ticket for 7.99€ and ride endlessly throughout the day. Otherwise, a single ride was 2.70€. If you're feeling like living dangerously, you could always just skip the ticket and hop on/off the subway. However, you run the risk of being on the train when their plain-clothes ticket checkers are doing rounds and getting caught. I haven't had that issue yet, but I've also paid for tickets. Soooo yeah. Lastly, citybikes and taxis. I haven't ridden the bikes here, but I assume they're just like the ones in Indianapolis and NYC? And by that I mean they're a bit pricy for just riding a bike, but if you want to get places quickly they're a great option. Lastly, taxis. They're overpriced, but granted traffic doesn't suck (and in this city, it seems to move rather fluidly) you'll get places super fast. The taxi drivers are assholes and drive as such. You will be paying a premium price for such speed though. So those are your options. 

Sights. Between architecture, artwork, museums, modern malls, great restaurants, canals, and the eclectic fashion sense of the Berliners, you have endless things to see. If you're a history buff, there are museums EVERYWHERE. If you're into art, you don't have to go far in any direction. Between art galleries, museums, and the seemingly endless walls of graffiti, art is everywhere. Berlin breathes the color spectrum and creativity oozes from the cobblestones streets. It's really something else! If you're looking for shopping, there are quite a few malls as well as TONS of smaller shops for whatever you could think of. Oh, and tons of souvenir shops. Don't go to those though as they're a waste of money. 

Downsides. Berliners LOVE to smoke. There are vending machines for cigarettes everywhere so anyone can smoke and it seems that anyone does. It doesn't matter where you are, the smell of tobacco smoke is lingering in the air. It's really a shame and cut many of my visits short as I just couldn't stand it any longer. On a similar note, many Berliners don't seem to care about the cleanliness of their city. Trash is strewn throughout parks that would otherwise be beautiful until cleaning crews make their way in that direction to reverse destruction. It does seem to eventually get cleaned up as I would go somewhere one day and it was in bad shape, and then the next day it was lush, green, and clean. Just a head's up. Last downside: construction. I realize that in order to have a well maintained city, you have to do maintenance. However, they're doing maintenance on what seems to be every main architectural attraction RIGHT NOW. It's a real bummer as I love the old buildings and would have loved to see them in their full glory. That's it though. 

I was only here for a week, so I didn't get to experience Berlin to even a portion of what you would need to in order to do a real full review, but this is what I've noticed in my time here. Anddddd, some drawings from my day out and about are below. 

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