Earlier this year I spend a month in Berlin.
- It is OK to drink beer in the street.
Not only is it OK to wander the streets with a beer, but the railway stations normally have a bottle shop just to get you through the walk from the station to home.
- People cycle everywhere, without a MAMIL in sight.
One of the things that fascinated me were the cyclists. I saw very few ‘racing’ style bikes, most being more comfortable street bikes, and only once saw a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). People tend to wear their normal clothes as cycling as a normal part of life.
- Every city should embrace street art
Almost everywhere I went in Berlin there are fantastic pieces of art covering what would otherwise be the bland end walls of buildings or other structures.
- When you do have a beer while shopping on a Saturday morning at the markets, it comes from a keg and is served in a glass.
There are no licensing regulations stopping you from serving beer, so the currywurst stall at the markets serves beer in glasses. Plastic cups would never do as they are not environmentally friendly, nor are they an appropriate container for beer.
- Only kids wear helmets
The law states that helmet wearing is only mandatory for children under the age of 13. As a result you rarely see adults wearing bike helmets. Since what they are doing is ‘cycling’ rather than ‘racing’ there are fewer accidents related to speed.
- Environmental awareness
While Australia has a reputation as a beautiful country, there is not the environmental awareness I noticed in Berlin. The apartment had four different rubbish bins, separate for newspapers, bottles, plastic and cardboard, and general rubbish. At the supermarket there are no single use plastic bags, and beer would never be served in plastic cups. there is a focus on alternative transport, public, cycling etc. to remove cars from the roads.
- Currywurst is great takeaway food
I can’t believe currywurst hasn’t taken off in Australia. A pork sausage cut up and then served with a curry sauce – just the thing for Saturday morning hangovers!
- History is under your feet
The history of the last hundred years is a part of everyday life for Berliners. The First World War, the uprising between the wars, the Second World War, the Holocaust, the Berlin Wall and the Cold War have all indelibly marked the city and the people.
- Public transport can be efficient
On our first day we spent a lot of time checking the timetables for our trips. We then realised the local Ubahn station had trains running to the city every 4 minutes or so. For the rest of our stay we just turned up at the relevant train, tram or bus stops, confident there would be something along soon.
- Dogs on trains
And not just on trains – dogs are everywhere and most days I saw them on the train or the tram, but there was also one sleeping in the corner of my favourite cafe each time I went there. If I lived in Berlin I would have a dog, just to take it on the train!
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