Every time I spent a longer period of time abroad, staying in big cities always make me aware of what I appreciate the most about life in Berlin. Granted, it is exciting to roam through the restless streets of Bangkok or indulge in some ice cream while watching the sky go up in flames at sunset hour in LA, but never would I trade in Berlin for any other city in the world. Maybe this feeling can be blamed on the fact that I grew up here, but I believe that if you fell for Berlin once, you will stay incurably in love for the rest of your life. Below I put my feelings into words, summing up what I missed most about Berlin while visiting busy cities on the other side of the world.

The “Berliner Schnauze”

The first week back in Berlin that I got hollered at on the street, I felt right at home again. People in Berlin aren’t principally rude, but a little bit of direct bluntness and slightly annoyed “Berlinern” when being confronted with something or someone irritating is almost common courtesy. You just got to see it as part of the package.

photo: Make way – here I come by CHRIS CANDID / CC

The Späti-Culture

Even though the “Späti” concept wasn’t born in Berlin, it certainly feels very at home here. Spätis tend to pop up on almost every busy street in Berlin, and devotedly take care of us 24/7. They shape our urban landscape and hit the grungy note of Berlin’s steady heartbeat. And let’s be honest, (almost) no one knows our needs on a Saturday night as well as our local Späti owner around the corner.

photo: Franziska Müller-Degenhardt

Nightly Snacking – Even at 4 am

Whether you’re hungry after your workout after a long date or when stumbling out of a club at 5 am right into the Ubahn. There will always be some sort of snack shack that’s still open and ready to save you from certain death of starvation. Berlin’s got your back with a variety of hangover foods at dawn: Fries, fried noodles or the classic döner?

photo: iHeartBerlin

The 24h Club Culture

Where in other parts of the world club doors close at two or latest four in the morning, Berlin’s nightlife has only just entered the dancefloor. Clubs here rather remind you of playgrounds for grown-ups, not only offering a bar and a dancefloor, but curious places to chill, to buy food and even rest. They are not made to be visited briefly for only two hours, but to be fully experienced (possibly the whole weekend).

photo: Brandon Erlinger Ford

Tolerance & Human Diversity

For the LGBTQ-Community to take root in Berlin and create that many interesting hotspots along the cityscape are not least thanks to Berlin’s ever-growing tolerance towards our sexual orientation. Regardless of whether you’re trans-, pan-, or bisexual, Berlin profits strongly from our human variety, which turns the city into an open-minded, vibrant and progressive place to live.

photo: iHeartBerlin

The Public Transport System

Each time I return to Berlin after helplessly stumbling through foreign city jungles, I strongly look forward to my beloved BVG network (and people watching in the U8). Not many cities are as extremely well connected by bus and train as Berlin. Even in Steglitz (which some people I won’t name here, do not count as Berlin anymore) I never have to wait longer than 5 minutes on my beloved X83. In contrast to many cities abroad, where waiting forever, ordering taxis and walking everywhere took a big part of my day away. Thanks, BVG, I love you too.

photoMax Patzig / CC filtered

Our Unique Cityscape

Have you wandered around cities in the US and felt like every place looks the same? As if they are taken from the same model kit. When being abroad I quickly miss the slightly shabby architectural landscape of Berlin. The grey, the old, the mold. It’s crooked city backyards, the old- and social housing sprayed walls and characteristic grimy street corners. I miss its dirty soul, decorated by stucco and balcony plants.

photo: Backyard in Berlin by x1klima / CC

Cultural & Culinary Diversity

Every city in its way at some point becomes a big melting pot of a lot of different cultures. And Berlin simply knows how to make use of it in a way, that is a gift to everyone living here. Meaning that we benefit from so many cultural events and restaurants within one city frame. My Highlight: Enjoying truly authentic cuisine from all over the world! Have you eaten Italian food in Mexico City before? Yeah, don’t…

photo: iHeartBerlin

The “Kiez”

Sunday morning on Manteuffelstraße, on my way to U1: It’s raining miserably, a lonely High heel is lying on the dirty pavement, while the sign on the third floor of the squat house is still announcing their “Rage against the Suchmaschine”, the Dönerplace-owner happily calls out “Guten Morgen!!” to my trusted Späti-owner. While some people might be turned off by the look of this, my heart happily sings: What a Kiez!

photo: Franziska Müller-Degenhardt

The Historical Background

Why cities in America rarely possess charm and all look equally neat and tidy. Because they only slowly came into existence roughly 240 years ago! Berlin was born in 1237 and had three times as much time to develop as a city. Therefore, Berlin does not only impress with its unique appearance but also with its rich history.

photo: Franziska Müller-Degenhardt

The Feeling that I don’t know all its Secrets yet

Even if you grew up here, Berlin never ceased to surprise you with something new every week. It gives me this exciting feeling like I haven’t seen and experienced it all yet and I am extremely thankful for that. An impro theatre about ejaculating penguins, a little dance at the Klappe or visiting Don Xuan – I already look forward to new Berlin adventures coming at me this weekend….

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