Berlin travel is about strategic movement through a complex place. Berlin is hard to pin down or sum up, though its grittiness, attitude and hip self-confidence draw an increasing likeness tabbed “The New York of Europe.” Certainly, Berlin revels in life but also gains depth from volatile history. Few other cities have risen so mightily, only to drop to such tragic lows. This has taught Berlin to live in the moment—an attitude first developed during the political uncertainties and economic hardships of the 1920s and 1930s that spawned the city’s famous devil-may-care nightlife. The Nazis changed all that; then World War II all but leveled the city, which then barely had time to recover before its Cold War division by the Berlin Wall. Remarkably, Berlin became a front-line witness to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, before again becoming the capital of Europe’s most powerful economy. All this volatility has taught Berliners to embrace and even revel in change and has inspired countless...See More artists over the last century. The city’s unorthodoxy continues to draw them and other unconventional souls in numbers, making the city’s air crackle with culture and creativity. This extends to building reggae beach bars and volleyball courts on the banks of the River Spree in what was once the “death-strip” of the Berlin Wall; go-carting around the city; and partying all-night in the ruined power plants and defunct offices of an old Eastern Bloc regime. Nevertheless, the city is finally beginning to finish rebuilding after half a century of war and division. Cranes no longer crowd the sky. Part of this healing process means coming to terms with the past by building memorials and museums to aid reflection on recent world history. Examining these and other city scars do not make for a light-hearted Berlin vacation. Berlin travel becomes an important and often engrossing process, and after all this gravitas you’ve got a mad, 24-hour city full of energetic non-conformity mixed with the pulse of authenticity.See Less
3 Explore Oranienburger Strasse in the Mitte district of Berlin, including the Ampelmann Shop in the Hackesche Höfe, then past the Neue Synagoge (synagogue) to Tacheles and the art galleries along August Str.