This week marks my first birthday in Berlin. Last year, we moved here just a few days after my 28th birthday – so I got to celebrate it in Holland with my friends and family over there. This year I won’t organize anything (or will I? I’m still not sure). Not because there’s no reason to celebrate, on the contrary really. But let’s face it: this past year in Berlin has been one big party, with on-going festivities. I’m celebrating every day I’m living in Berlin and sometimes it feels like the party just never stops. Time for some highlights + tips to experience this atmosphere for yourself.
There’s King’s Day in Holland, but it doesn’t feel the same. The street parties in Berlin are less organized (or so it seems) and, at least to me, more fun. May in Kreuzberg is the best example: on the 1st there was Labour Day, which means a big open-air party in Kreuzberg. There’s live music in every street and the beer and mojitos are perfectly affordable. Sounds good? Let’s do it all again two weeks later at the Karneval der Kulturen, when there’s even more live music, more great street food and more cocktails and beer.
May 1st in Kreuzberg. Image courtesy of Daphne Damiaans
We’ve all seen the photos of champagne showers and racing cars in front of a Mediterranean backdrop. The Monaco Grand Prix turns the principality into a huge pit lane. Tickets sell out years in advance and cost a fortune – a first-row seat will set you back €5,500. That’s a lot of money for the ear-splitting roar of engines, a few seconds of racing and the less-than-pleasant waft of high-octane fuel.
Preview video for the E-Prix 2016 in Berlin. Image courtesy of Racingblog
A while ago I wrote about all the wild animals in the city of Berlin . Foxes, rabbits, boars: Berlin has quite an impressive wildlife. But I forgot to mention one of Berlin’s most important inhabitants: the bear. Even though you don’t have to be afraid of bumping into a grizzly bear on Karl-Marx-Allee, it is impossible to take a trip to Germany’s capital without spotting a bear or two. Let me introduce you to Berlin’s best bears and tell you a little more about Berlin’s love for these furry animals.
Left: The bear in 1926. Image courtesy of Otto Hupp
Right: The bear right now. Image courtesy of bild.de
So first of all: why bears? Why not foxes or rabbits, animals that actually live in Berlin? The easy explanation: because there’s a bear in Berlin’s coat of arms. But this raises the question once more: why a bear? The truth is that nobody knows. The more research is done, the more confusion arises. It could be that the Berliners chose a bear to honour Albrecht I, nicknamed ‘the Bear’, who according to legend fortified Berlin in the 12th century. It could also be because Berlin pretty much sounds like Bearlin.
Whatever the reason: Berlin is the city of bears now. But where to spot the best bears?
Life in socialist East Germany, and in East Berlin in particular, holds an ongoing fascination for a lot of people. While many of the events and anecdotes we know about today are quite disturbing, there are also plenty of clichés and cultural oddities that are simply flabbergasting. Here are 15 facts about life in the German Democratic Republic that will probably come as a surprise to you. Did you know that…