You’re probably not going to Berlin to soak up culture and history, unless it’s the drinking or clubbing culture specifically. There’s no shame in that – Berlin has one of the best nightlife scenes in the world, and until you’ve partied till dawn in one of the mammoth Berlin clubs, you haven’t really partied at all! That said, Berlin is also one of the biggest centres of modern art and music in Europe, as well as a city with a seriously long, fascinating (and complicated) history. If you’ve got a few hours to spare in between the clubs and the activities, or need something to do Sunday morning before your flights, we’ve got a few things you might want to see:
- The Olympic Stadium - a giant of not just German sports, but the whole worlds. It was the site of the 1936 Olympic Games, as well as some of the 1974 world cup, the 2006 World Cup, the 2009 World Athletics Championships, and will be the site of the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final.
- TV Tower - Quickest way to do a bit of Berlin sight-seeing – at the top of this tower you get 360o views of the city.
- East Side Gallery - the longest open air art gallery in the world, it showcases graffiti style paintings done by German artists after the fall of the way.
England vs Germany
You can’t go to Berlin without learning this one very important football fact: Germany does not care at all about our rivalry – repeated reports suggest they’re much more interested in the Dutch. However, if you’re determined to hang on to the most one-sided football rivalry in history, here’s a brief overview:
1899: A two-game tour of Germany is begun by an England squad. We win 13-2 and 10-2.
1935: An international match between the two teams in England brings up worries of the game being won by Germans and used as Nazi propaganda, but a 3-0 English victory and a very polite game from the two teams means fears were unfounded.
1938: Last game played between the teams before the outbreak of the war – and a controversial one, since the England squad was ordered by the Foreign Office to start the game with a Nazi salute.
1966: The first time they’d met in anything other than friendly competition since the war, as well as one of the most hotly contended goals in World Cup History. The famous ‘they think it’s all over... it is now’ line was spoken.
1970: Germany beat England in the quarter finals, and start a winning streak that will last until 2000.
Berlin’s difficult history is evident all around the city – even if you don’t go actively seeking it out, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble across a bit of it on your ventures round the city, with parts of the Berlin Wall still standing. If you do fancy doing a little learning on your stag weekend, have a look at:
- The Berlin Wall – it’s not all that visually impressive (looking a lot like a wall) but it’s well worth checking out the line that divided a continent.
- Checkpoint Charlie – at one point the only crossing between East and West Berlin, it was the scene of stand offs between the opposing armies, escape attempts, and an awful lot of Cold War era spy movies. You might have seen representations of it in Call of Duty: Black Ops and Octopussy.
- The Holocaust Memorial – it’s horrifying, and not the sort of thing you want to think about on a stag do – but it’s also an undeniable part of Berlin’s past. If you want to take a few moments of remembrance to pay your respects, the memorial is both a place of reflection and education.
- Internationale Grüne Woche. Allegedly about the ecosystem and environment and stuff like that, actually about eating.
- Berlinale. A film festival that's much like Cannes, except everything is open to the public.
- Festival. A contemporary music fest.
- Karneval der Kulturen. Inspired by Notting Hill Carnival, and celebrating Berlin's cultural diversity.
- Christopher Street Day Parade. Flamboyant and flashy, it's one of the biggest parades in Berlin
- Fete de la Musique. A music festival that plays everything from heavy metal to Schlager.
- Tanz im August. Modern dance festival of international renown. Whether you want to show off your moonwalk or not, worth visiting for the gorgeous dancers.
- Kreuzberger Festliche Tage. Music. Games. Food. Beer.
- Internationales Berliner Bierfestival. Hundreds of beers from dozens of countries - it's not quite Oktoberfest, but it's not far off.
- Popkomm. Europe's largest music fair.
- JazzFest Berlin. Running since 1964, showcasing top jazz performers from all over the globe.
- Worldtronics. Naturally, techno-mad Berlin would have the largest electronic music festival in the world. Of course.
- Not just Christmas Markets, but German Christmas Markets - the most Christmassy Christmas markets in the world.
- Silvester. New Years Eve, celebrated by throwing fire crackers and rockets all around the city. Loud, dangerous, unforgettable.
Stranger in a strange land
Very Useful German Phrases
|Do you speak English?
||Sprechen Sie Englisch?
|I don't speak German
||Ich spreche kein Deutsch
||Es tut mir lied
|Where's the toilet
||Wo is die Toilette?
|Are you dribbling or do you have rabies?
||Sabberst du oder hast du tollwut?
|This gentleman will pay for everything
||Der Herr übernimmt die Rechnung
|I’ll get the beer
||Ich besorge das Bier
Tipping: About 10%
Emergency numbers: 110 (police) 112 (fire) 310031 (medical)