5 Bears, Beers and Bikes A Young Persons Guide to Berlin 6
The official capital of cool (or should
that be unofficial?), Berlin is where
global hipsters and history addicts rub
shoulders. Whatever your taste, interests
or financial budget, this quirky, vibrant
and effervescent city blends the old and
the new, luring you in and never letting
Each of the city’s distinct neighbour-
hoods has its own charm and character.
Mitte is the tourist hot-spot with visitors
flocking to Museum Island, the Branden-
burg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie,
the mecca for every Cold War thriller
aficionado. And if you have a penchant
for the finer things in life, visit Charlot-
tenburg Palace, Berlin’s majestic Prus-
sian palace just within city limits. The
young and the restless congregate in
Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and
Prenzlauer Berg, where effortlessly hip
bars and clubs seem to be open 24
hours a day.
From late night to the wee hours, you’re
sure to find parties you won’t remember
but will never forget.
Berlin is a powerful magnet for fashion,
art and music and it is not hard to see
why. This is a city almost overflowing
with creativity. From guerilla fashion
shows hosted in the U-Bahn stations to
the pop-up nightclubs in the famous
Pergamon Museum or East Side Gallery,
Berlin is the ultimate manifestation of
Loathe to forgetting its past but keen on
looking towards the future, Berlin strikes
a balance between self-reflection and
optimism for a brighter tomorrow. This
is a place where the skyline changes
more often than the unpredictable
weather. Today, the city has evolved
into a lightning-paced metropolis where
you won’t ever get bored or run out of
things to see, do and drink.
Introduction The extensive public transport network
makes getting around both simple
and for the most part stress free. With
so much to see and do, accidentally
getting off at the wrong U-Bahn stop is
even a blessing in disguise as you might
stumble across the city’s hidden gems.
It is hardly a surprise then, when speak-
ing about the constantly changing
nature of Germany’s capital, former
French culture minister Jack Lang once
said: “Paris is always Paris and Berlin is
In our comprehensive guide of Berlin
– Bears, Beers and Bikes – we’ve given
you the low down of the city’s icons,
museums, and historical must-sees.
We’ve shopped till we dropped so you
wouldn’t burn a hole through your
wallet. We’ve gone ahead and had pre-
drinks at all the hip bars so you would
know how to party like a Berliner. And
we’ve even ventured beyond the city
limits to sunbathe in the beautiful lakes
and forests – mostly for ourselves, but
you will benefit from our reports, too!
Either way, this is how we see Berlin, in
the eyes of a young and curious student,
so we can only hope you too will see the
absolute brilliance of Berlin!
City Travel Review Team, July 2011
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A Young Persons Guide to Berlin 8
These were controlled by the USSR,
Britain, the USA and France. Tensions
quickly emerged between the Western
Allies and the Soviets regarding the
management of the German economy.
These disagreements came to a head in
June 1948, when the Allies introduced a
new currency – the Deutschmark.
Viewing this as a breach of the Pots-
dam Agreement, which stipulated that
Germany be treated as one economic
zone, the Soviets responded by adopt-
ing the Ostmark. Separation between
the two states became official in 1949.
The Western Zones formed the Federal
Republic of Germany (FRG) with Bonn as
its capital, and the East became the Ger-
man Democratic Republic (GDR), whose
capital was East Berlin.
The West flourished under the leader-
ship of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer,
with the progressive economic policies
of Ludwig Erhard paving the way for the
Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle)
of the 1950s and 60s. Meanwhile, the
East was crippled by oppressive Com-
munist rule. The economy was stagnant
and the people lived under constant
surveillance by the Ministry for State Se-
curity (Staatsicherheitspolizei or Stasi).
The low quality of life drove many East
Berliners to seek refuge in the West.
To halt the exodus, the East erected the
infamous Berlin Wall.
A period of left-wing rebellion and
protest erupted in 1968, led mainly by
university students and the Rote Armee
Faktion (Red Army Faction). Although
things had settled down by 1970, some
lasting changes were achieved: universi-
ties were modernised, the student body
was politicised and the Green Party was
By the 1980s, change was in the air, but
what came next surprised the world.
The Wende (the fall of communism)
was gradual, eventually climaxing in the
collapse of the Berlin Wall on 9th No-
vember 1989. Berlin became a separate
city-state; however, economic reform
took place in the mid-1990s which led
to the signing of the Unification Treaty.
In 1991, it was decided that Berlin would
once again become the capital and
home to the German government.
A stroll in Berlin feels like a walk through
history. Its tumultuous past and varied
cultural tapestry has made Berlin the
buzzing capital you are visiting today.
(S.Gleeson and J.Rendall)
Founded in the 13th century, Berlin is
rich in history. Not without its problems,
this city has experienced many historical
movements that have not only formed
Berlin but the rest of the world.
Berlin grew from the nearby cities
of Berlin and Cölln, which expanded
rapidly throughout the Middle Ages. In
1709 King Friedrich I declared the unifi-
cation of the five towns of Berlin, Cölln,
Friedrichswerder, Dorotheenstadt, and
Friedrichstadt to form the capital and
royal residence of Berlin.
From 1740, Berlin developed into a cen-
tre of the Enlightenment, establishing it-
self at the forefront of European culture,
a reputation it still enjoys today. Under
the rule of Friedrich the Great, some of
Berlin’s most well-known monuments
were constructed. These include St Hed-
wig’s Cathedral, Prinz-Heinrich-Palais
(now Humboldt University) and The
Opera Palace. In 1861, the city expanded
further with the incorporation of the
suburbs Wedding, Gesundbrunnen,
Moabit, Chalottenburg, Schöneberg and
Rixdorf. In 1871 Berlin was named as
capital of the German Reich, becoming
the empire’s political, economic, and
The 20th century saw the outbreak of
the First World War, and Germany’s
defeat meant the city found it increas-
ingly difficult to feed its people, leading
to massive strikes. Kaiser Wilhelm II was
eventually ousted, leading to the found-
ing of the Weimar Republic in 1918. This
period promised to bring new freedoms
and liberties, but was plagued by politi-
cal and economic instability.
Unfortunately, this era of uncertainty
paved the way for Hitler and the Nazi
Party. The German people had had
enough of poverty and squalor and
craved stability. Hitler rose through the
ranks of politics at an incredible pace.
Appointed Chancellor in 1933, he fused
the offices of President and Chancellor,
gaining absolute power and becoming
Führer of the Third Reich. Home to the
Headquarters of the Nazi Party, Berlin
was the focal point of Allied attacks on
Germany, which resulted in much of the
city being destroyed. The wide-spread
reconstruction shaped the landscape of
the city we recognise today.
After the War, Berlin, along with the rest
of Germany, was divided into four
Berlin: A Brief History
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11 Bears, Beers and Bikes A Young Person’s Guide to Berlin 12A Young Person’s Guide to Berlin 12
Berlin is a very big city, but luckily for tourists there is an excellent and extensive
public transport network under the BVG Company. This extends throughout the
whole city, and also out to many prime spots outside city limits.
Berlin’s transport is divided into three sections, A, B and C, and ticket prices can vary
depending on which section you are travelling to. On the BVG website, you will find
a journey planner, which can be used in English.
The public transport system offers four means of travelling: U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Tram
Getting around in Berlin
This underground train system (much like the
London Underground, the Paris Métro and the New
York Subway), operates mostly underground, with a
few routes which run over ground too. The service
runs frequently and you’re sure to reach your desti-
nation quickly as the trains are fast and efficient. On
Friday and Saturday nights there is a service running
along all lines except the U4 and U55. This service
runs from 12:30am - 5:30am Fri/Sat and Sat/Sun and
until 7am prior to public holidays.
The tram system only operates in East Berlin as the trams
in the west were privatised and turned into the metro
bus that you see today. Its lines cover most of the ar-
eas in the east which the S and U-Bahn don’t reach.
It also links destinations where the closest train
or underground station is not within comfortable
In the unlikely event that you ever want to leave Berlin, there are two airports which
are close-by, Tegel, which is in North-West Berlin and Shönefeld, which is south-
east. Both are easily accessible by S and U-bahn and then a connecting bus service
– which are well signposted. There is also a train service which runs from Ostkreuz
train station, the S9, to Flughafen Berlin-Shönefeld.
Tegel is within zone B, so if you’ve bought a season ticket for zones AB then it’ll be
included. However, Shönefeld is within zone C, so you will need to buy an addi-
In 2012, there will be a new airport opening: the Berlin Brandenburg Airport. This
will mean that Tegel will most likely close, with all air traffic being directed to the
new merger of Shönefeld. Once open, there will be more airport connections made
from the airport, making it easier for travellers to get to the centre.
Similar to the U-Bahn, however this system operates mostly
over ground, with a few lines around Potsdamer Platz
going underground. This is like a regular short distance
rail way system. The S-bahn travels quickly between
stations, so even if on the map your destination looks
far away, you’ll arrive reasonably fast. On Friday and
Saturday nights there is a service running along all
lines except the S45 and S85. This service runs from
12:30am - 5:30am Fri/Sat and Sat/Sun and until 7am
prior to public holidays.
The bus network runs everywhere, including places the
Trams, S and U-bahn don’t reach. It is the most extensive
network in the city. The bus service runs to the airports,
including the X9 to Tegel, departing from stations including Kurt-Schumacher-Platz
(U6), Jakob-Kaiser-Platz and Jungfernheide (U7), and the X7 to Shönefeld, which
departs from Rudow (U7).
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