Saturday, December 24, 2011

Berlin-Why is it so Great?

Berlin: Destination for Photographers and Cyclists

Taken at the Brandenburg Gates with my digital point and shoot camera.

Three years ago I had the opportunity to visit the city of Berlin on a trip to Germany I made. Being both a photographer and a cyclist I found the best of both worlds colliding inside this city. A reminder of the old and the new, Berlin has architecture hundreds of years old as well as remnants of the soviet era and modern day skyscrapers. It is a landscape photographer's dream as well as a model city for it's cleanliness and transit oriented infrastructure.  When my wife and I traveled Berlin we did not need a car. Instead, we took advantage of the advanced rail system that can take you anywhere in the city. Much like New York, Berliners walk, ride their bicycle, or take the U-Bahn or S-Bahn anywhere they need to go. 

Cyclist on bicycle dedicated lane.

Cyclist riding near "Checkpoint Charlie" in Friedrichstrasse, the border of east and west Berlin.

In Berlin you will find aspects typical of any big city- street performers, food stands, and foreign residents selling you trinkets at every corner. Bargain choices for food include Doner Kabops and Currywursts, as well as the beer. Beer in Germany will run you much cheaper than water; 30 cents for a half liter bottle of beer compared to almost $2.00 for a small bottle of water. The Euro is the currency currently being used in Germany. Make sure you exchange your money to Euros before shopping or dining anywhere in Berlin, as it is considered bad manners to pay in dollars. If you can avoid it, do not use traveler's checks either. There is only one place in the whole city that will take them. It is preffered you use your check card in most places. Talk to your bank about any foreign transaction fees associated with using your check card abroad.

Pretty good for his age, huh? Street performer in

An actor reenacts an east German check point guard.

My trip to Berlin was a great learning experience. I learned a few tips on traveling abroad as well as enjoyed the sites and culture of the Berliners I encountered. Berliners can teach those living in the US on how a transit system is supposed to work, as well as the positive impact it has on its users.  Even though there are cars in Berlin, few people own them and fewer people need them. They have managed a way to do without them. Still, I love to see those little Soviet cars they made. They are awesome!

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