A month in Berlin(5 Posts)
(posted in travel but thought I might et more help here!)
We are planning on spending a month in Berlin
Kids would be doing a german language course for some of the time and sports courses and then we will be doing a lot of sightseeing etc
I would like to stay somewhere central with good transport links, safe(!), near a park. We wouldn't have a car.
DH is German but not from Berlin so he's no help!
Any advice from Berliners?
I live in Berlin.
First off, in your position, I'd look at the location of the language and sports courses, and choose somewhere which had good transport connections relative to those.
In general, U-Bahns run more frequently than S-Bahns, so I'd choose somewhere close to one of those.
Basically, Berlin can sometimes be considered "gritty". Lots of tourists come here to drink and go clubbing, and being on public transport late on a Friday or Saturday night, or early on Saturday or Sunday morning can be a bit unpleasant. The U1 subway line at those times can be particularly nasty as people use it to go to clubs like Berghain and Matrix (both near Warschauer Strasse) and leave them utterly drunk and/or high. So you will have people who are comatose or throwing up.
My husband also has to travel on the Ringbahn (part of the S-Bahn) extremely early on Saturday mornings, and said it is unpleasant for the same reasons.
Do note that, in both the Ringbahn or the U1, if you travel later in the day, there is usually no problem at all. What I said does not mean you should avoid all travel on them!
Apart from avoiding the major clubbing areas, the only place I would consider truly unsafe is Marzahn (which you wouldn't be staying in anyway as it's too out of the way).
Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain can have rather too many people drinking or partying late at night, so can get rather loud, and the U-Bahn stations at Kottbusser Tor and Goerlitzer park are renowned for drug dealing. Nollendorfplatz is the center for gay nightlife and has lots of restaurants and clubs, so can get rather loud, but is quieter as soon as you are away from the major streets/squares.
Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf and Mitte are all pretty central and relatively peaceful areas.
Berlin is loaded with parks. Tiergarten in the middle, of course, but lots and lots all over the place otherwise too. Often there are lakes or underground rivers which meant that an area couldn't be built on.
The only one to REALLY avoid is Gorlitzer park because of the drug dealing.
That's great - thank you.
Courses wise I've only just started looking and although I've found a couple, most are residential which I don't want. The intention is for the kids German to improve (it isn't great) and for me to have some lessons too. They are desperate to experience life in Germany and I wanted to go somewhere with a lot of history as DS is a history buff and also far enough away from MIL that we have a degree of independence!!
Or do you think it would be better to go elsewhere? Do you like living in Berlin? Also, when does the school term start - is it September?
Actually, I think living in Berlin is great. Been here over 12 years now, and don't want to leave.
We also lived in another part of Germany earlier on, and I've lived in 6 different countries before coming to Germany and even with all that - minor annoyances aside - this has been the best place to live.
There are so many parks and playgrounds, easy accessibility to lakes and forests, museums of all descriptions, affordable and reliable public transport, and so on.
And of course history issues are all-surrounding (and, for me at least, have presented quite a task in having to provide age appropriate explanations to my son) such as the results of the Wall and the East-West divide, visible reminders in the "Stolpersteine" set into the footpaths marking where Jewish people had lived prior to being sent to concentration camps, bomb scars still visible in many buildings on the Eastern side, and so on.
School starts in the beginning of September.
The summer holidays can vary a lot from state to state so check out
if you do consider other parts of Germany.
That's good to know - ds is really into 20th century history so this would be heaven for him!
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