After three uneventful flights totaling almost 18 hours, I arrived safely in Berlin. I’m settling into a small but comfortable apartment in Neukölln District, my home for the next three months. So far, its typical autumn weather with mostly crisp, clear days. It’s great to be in a new environment, and I’m staying awhile with plenty of time to explore.
Jet lag is insidious, and west to east flights are more challenging since you’re moving ahead in time. Despite little sleep, I’m full of energy and pleasantly fuddled but not tired… What I’ve explored so far is a total delight – interesting architecture, beautiful parks, many languages spoken, and fascinating faces of a lively, diverse community.
“Neukölln is a trendy hub of contrasts and home to one of the highest percentages of immigrants in Berlin with families from over 160 countries.”
Neukölln has a mellow, hip vibe and is centrally located near abundant activities – Bergmannstraße, indie alternative cafés and clubs, cabarets and theaters, museums, art galleries, casinos, and performing arts venues. The variety of nearby food options is amazing – everything from vegan, vegetarian, Asian, Indian, Thai, Tibetan, and Turkish takeout to quality restaurants, French bakeries, wine bars, and bier halls. Superfood and organic eating have taken off here in a big way with Whole Food like markets everywhere.
Transportation and Communication
I got a German SIM card and am checking out public transportation. U-Bahn stations are nearby. There are also S-Bahn stations, suburban commuter trains, trams, buses, and ferries. I’ll rent a bicycle and plan to sign up for walking tours to get orientated and gain an overview of the city. Bicycles are popular with dedicated lanes throughout the city. Drivers are fast and furious, so I’ll think about renting a car – maybe later when the area is more familiar…
Most Berliners speak English but newspapers, food labels, signage, etc. are in German only. I’ll try to learn some German :o).
Berlin Festivals, Markets, Side Trips
Neukölln’s Sunday Flea Market features work by upcoming artists and designers. There’s a large Turkish population and the Market on Maybachufer “offers everything from fresh produce to fabric to Middle Eastern snacks and African street food”. I had a delicious spicy falafel yesterday and baklava cravings are easily satisfied.
“Neukölln is one of the most diverse places to shop in Berlin with specialty stores selling products from India, the Middle East, and Africa.”
There are infinite experiences waiting in Berlin, but also time for side trips like Potsdam’s palaces and castles – especially stunning with a dramatic autumn backdrop. I’m looking forward to the Berlin Festival of Lights from October 5th to 14th – excited to be here! Mehr später…