Living in Berlin
So I lived and worked in Berlin for over a year. It was more or less bearable. Just. As with a lot of experiences where you just dive into something on a whim without much prior thought, you learn a lot of things once you've flung yourself into said situation. I'll start with a couple of those, and maybe cover some of the less terrible stuff in another post like the party scene.
Berlin is not part of Germany
- I encountered few Germans and even fewer Berliners. When you go out at night, and talk to the average stranger while in a state of inebriation, it's almost a 100% chance that this person will understand your slurred english, and even be able to respond back (my "pickup" #sarcasm techniques may be convered in a later article) . This is because the responder is from god knows where. Berlin is full of people from all over; just not Germany.
- Nothing works. Germany is supposed to be known for efficiency and modernism. Public transport doesn't make any sense and isn't on time (the only time I tookpublic transport to the airport, the shuttle train just stopped on the tracks for forty minutes with no explanation), Berlin doesn't have a proper modern airport (worth a post of it's own) which for a capital city is just embarrasing, government bureaucracy is the worst I've ever had to go through, no one over the age of 40 speaks english (need I remind them who won the war).
- It's by far the cheapest major city in Germany. One of the cheapest capitals in Western Europe which is quite surprising when you consider it's the largest economy in Europe and (I think) ahead of UK and France in GDP per capita. And everyone knows Paris and London costs of living are just ridiculous. In Berlin you can go out every day for lunch. for seven euros you can easily get a sit-down meal at a restaurant with starters and/or desert. Sometimes both. You can also get your own apartment for 600 euros per month. This is all changing fast with gentrification and such at the moment though so if you want to get the Berlin experience before it dies completely you may want to get in now.
- You can smoke weed pretty much anywhere inside or out. Probably in front of the Reichstag no one would care, and the Police are useless there so they wouldn't notice. Berlin is basically a weed free-zone. Just don't smoke it in the main tourist areas. You can also smoke weed and cigarrettes alike in most of the bars. Actually I'm not sure about weed there, I'm not much of a smoker myself. I am sure about cigarettes though since I come back from a night out every time reeking of the stuff.
It's pretty plain
As far as European capital cities go, this is one of the most drab. There's clearly a nicevibration from the inhabitants and remnants of culture left over from the 70s-90s techno revolution which is now in it's death throes; but if that were not there, it would be a souless city in comparison to the other European greats. Euro capitals have amazing histories behind them, sometimes stretching back thousands of years which you can often see reflected in the streets themselves. Berlin unfortunately was basically decimated in the War, and rebuilt in a bit of a hurry, especially on the Eastern side which was run by he Ruskies. The architechture on that side is also horrendous. So much concrete and bland facades stretching on forever. It's not surprising that one of the most famous landmarks is one of those stupid Flying Saucer type towers that exist in seemingly every city in the world anyway in some form. When winter rolls round, man is it depressing. The temperature stays around zero the whole time, and with a constant dark overcast outlook.
That's one word you're going to get sick of here; startups specifically tech ones, but all sorts really. Berlin's economy is populated by a ridiculous amount of them. I don't think it's a terribly profitable business either. Did you know Berlin is the only capital in Europe that is actually a drain on the national economy? If Berlin ceased to exist, the GDP would actually go UP. What it means for the average human in Berlin is precisely dick. It means the company that employs you tells you that since they are a startup, you'll get this shitty sallary and like it. It means that the average startup in Berlin employs 10% of their staff full time, and the rest as interns that they fuck about. Just Google Rocket Internet.