Why We Love Berlin: The City That Plays By Its Own Rules

Berlin greenery| © joe_stef/Pixabay
Berlin greenery| © joe_stef/Pixabay
Photo of Sophie Tremblay
4 November 2016

As the saying goes: ‘Berlin is not Germany, Germany is not Berlin.’ This city definitely plays by its own rules, and below are seven times that Berlin has proved just that.

Vegan inclusion

Healthy and ‘clean eating’ lifestyles are popular in this city and require a very special menu and careful eye on the ingredients. Popular bites like the beloved currywurst and worshipped döner kebab are naturally meat-heavy and thus not a popular choice amongst the veggie crowd. Who says the beloved döner can only be enjoyed by meat lovers? Vöner offers vegans and vegetarians another option. Their döners, burgers and currywurstare 100% meat-free and vegan. They pride themselves on being the first of their kind and attract a large and loyal following in their native Friedrichshain.

All-night public transport

Berlin is known for its vibrant nightlife and die-hard party scene, but imagine the chaos that would erupt at 2 a.m. when the techno fans and electronic bunnies are heading out to the techno hubs – your Berghains and Katers – if there was no public transportation. Lucky for you, you don’t have to. In Berlin, the public transportation (i.e. trains and metro) run 24 hours over the weekend, happily transporting eager partygoers and late-night drinkers across the city. While most cities, even big capitals the likes of London and Paris, take post-midnight breaks, Berlin keeps on running, offering a cheaper and often safer means of getting around in the city that truly never goes to sleep.

Ice Cream all-year round

The city gets pretty chilly in the winter, even arctic some will argue, but that doesn’t stop Berliners from flocking to their favorite dessert even in the colder days: ice cream. The best scoop in the city is heavily contested and lines around the corner for the frozen treat, even in winter, are not unheard of. Whether it’s January or July, ice cream shops are open all over the city. Berlin loves its ice cream, and a little outside chill is definitely not going to going to stop that.

Better late than never

It’s a fact, Germans are pretty punctual. For the most part, Germans all over the country take appointments very seriously, ten minutes could mean the difference between a happy boss and unemployment. Expats and tourists alike are warned that arriving on time, even early in many cases, is crucial. That said, Berlin, of course, does things a little differently. Chalk it up to the international cultural influence in the city (i.e. the Italians, Spaniards and French), but Berliners in general are less worried about punctuality and are sometimes even…(gasp!)….late. Keep in mind though, this doesn’t apply to everyone, some ‘old-school’ institutions, like the Bürgeramt (Berlin newcomers shudder at the word) still take time seriously, and tardiness is inexcusable.

You don’t need to speak German

As many tourists and expats know, you don’t have to speak German to get around. Berlin is a veritable melting pot of cultures and languages, and a huge influx of international business and immigration of young minds from all corners of the earth means that, unfortunately, the German language gets a little lost in translation. Although many refuse to let the language go, and rightfully so, others have accepted the change and multi-cultural essence of the city by offering everything, from menus to jobs, exclusively in English.

Casual Friday, everyday

Maybe it’s the fact that Berlin is basically run by startups and therefore the casual Mark Zuckerberg-esque CEO types, but suits are pretty rare in the capital. With the exception of some of the more traditional companies with branches in the city, like Mercedes-Benz and the big banks, companies in Berlin tend to favor a more casual look, especially in comparison with the rest of the country. Normally in Germany, the business world takes a more serious approach to work with proper business attire (i.e. suit and tie) being a ‘must’. Business men and women in Berlin on the other hand, can often be found strolling around Kreuzberg in tattered Chuck Taylors and skinny jeans.

Green city

Most big cities are known for their skyscrapers and concrete construction, but Berlin, as you may have guessed, doesn’t follow the rule but is rather one of the very few exceptions. Sprawling parks and rooftop gardens give this city its unique natural look and feel. As soon as the sun comes out and temperatures rise above the zero mark, hoards of Berliners flock to the greener parts of the city to enjoy picnics, beers, frisbee, or any number of park attractions. Tucked in among the apartment blocks and office buildings are hundreds of parks and gardens ranging from the small to the expansive, like Tempelhofer Feld, where any and all Berliners can relax and enjoy a little fresh air and some flora. Berlin is, in fact, rated among the greenest cities in Europe.

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