When I made traveling a goal on my 2019 to-do list, I never imagined I’d visit three new countries in six months. Just 30 days after returning from Cuba, I got a random call from AllieBe with the proposal for another adventure. Within an hour we chose Berlin as our destination, booked our flights and added “Brown Beauties in Berlin” to the calendar for fall.
We made it a point to visit most of the popular monuments and tourist spots in the city: Charlottenburg Palace, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral, Berlin Wall, Reichstag and the Holocaust memorial. Each site was special in it’s own way. We used public transportation to navigate to each of our destinations and I highly recommend you do the same. Visually, Berlin has a lot of character which made the commute to each of these destinations just as enjoyable as the sites for me.
The first week of November turned out to be the perfect time to travel. We wore coats to keep warm, but the temperature was completely bearable and the rain stopped entirely by noon each day so it never conflicted with our plans. In addition, we didn’t deal with large crowds, long wait times or photo bombs due to swarms of tourists.
I didn’t have a single bad meal in Berlin; on the other hand I didn’t have a single cocktail that I liked. I recommend going the wine or beer route if you plan to drink. I’m far from a foodie, but definitely appreciate a good meal. The food in Berlin was SO GOOD. We ate at Schnitzels*, Benedict, Al Colosseo, Seoulkitchen*, Commonground* and even found a Currywurst stand with vegan dogs so I could sample the popular meal. We found most of these gems by simply plugging in “nearby restaurants/coffee shops/etc” in google maps.
*Highly recommend restaraunt
I hate sharing generalized views of an entire population based off a few days as a traveller; I’m sure the people of Berlin are special in a lot of ways just like any other place I’ve been to. However, I feel it’s important to share honest thoughts about my experience…
I’m used to a few glances here and there but have never experienced them like I did in Berlin. Whether we were eating in a restaurant or walking the streets, we could not escape the constant stares from people. Thankfully, we didn’t have any crazy or rude encounters. (I’ve read that some other black women have not been as fortunate.) wouldn’t describe the locals as warm or inviting like other places I traveled, but everyone pretty much minded their own business and went about their day outside of the stares. Any really friendly people we managed to engage with were travelers just like us. I’ve heard the city is a bit more lively during night-life hours, so that’s something to keep in mind!
Confession – I’ve never rode public transportation before…..and what a way to experience it! If I’m being honest, hopping from bus to tram after navigating the streets using my trusty google map was one of my favorite parts of this trip. If you plan to travel in Berlin, it’s worth taking the time learning how to get around. By paying just under $8 for a day pass, you can ride on any form of public transportation (bus or underground/overground tram). The S-Bahn was my personal favorite!
- Bring your walking shoes. Even though a significant amount of our day was spent navigating the city on public transportation, we easily hit 12,000+ steps everyday.
- Some places took Visa cards, but definitely not all. Be prepared to carry cash (Euros) if you want to avoid the inconvenience of finding a restaurant or venue that can accept your payment. There are ATM’s throughout the city, but there’s an additional charge for the conversion.
- Download Google Translate (offline in German). Though most people we encountered spoke multiple languages, it’s always good to know the simple phrases (i.e. hello, excuse me, thank you)
- Talk to your mobile provider about international rates beforehand! Though Berlin wasn’t included in the international plan for AT&T, the customer service rep got it added for me. I was able to have the equivalent of my standard plan at a rate of $10 per day. I mostly like to be unplugged when I travel, but it was helpful to have quick and easy access to google, maps, etc throughout the day.
- Watch out for the bike lanes! They weren’t labeled, but pay attention to the ground. The bike lane usually had a different look to make it stand out. The locals will be pissed if you get in their way, ring their bike bells viciously and keep pushing forward. 😅
- Pack a camera! Berlin is an incredibly photogenic city. You will not regret taking up extra luggage space with your camera/charger/etc.