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Arrival in Berlin: What city newcomers should pay attention to - A small guide to Berlin life

Berlin is a unique cosmos. Here the clocks are ticking differently, and one could sometimes think that Berlin is not in Germany at all. Those who move to Berlin from a large city like Hamburg will hardly notice these subtle differences. But if you've never lived in a city of millions, you'll have to get used to the new ambient. Permit us to give you some tips on how to get along better in Berlin.

1. Tegel, Schönefeld, a large main railway station or feeders - but no BER airport

Many Berliners have long forgotten or gladly ignore the topic: BER, the prospective large international airport for Berlin and Brandenburg. The fact that the project failed dismally several times, leaves tourists cold. You only need to switch to other traffic routes. Depending on the respective area of the city, various means of transport are recommended. Tegel Airport is located on the upper left of the map, Schönefeld below on the right. The main train station is good if you do not want to go to Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg or Schöneweide. And whoever wants to get in or out of the city by car should pay close attention to the timing. Arriving in Berlin during rush hours is not so much fun.

2. Berlin dialect: “Icke“ and “mir“

Yes, the Berliners speak their dialect and say "icke" and "mir" – roughly “I” and “me”. Maybe you've been lucky enough to have noticed it already at the airport. Many words in this dialect are self-explanatory or at least their meaning can be understood. Newcomers should learn a few basic rules to avoid falling into the trap. For example: Nobody orders “Brötchen” (bread rolls) from the baker; the little white ones are always called "Schrippen" and not “Brötchen”. Nobody orders “Berliners” (doughnuts), but “Pfannkuchen” (pancakes). And beer mix drinks are called either Diesel (with Cola) or a “Radler” (with “Zitronenlimo” / lemon lime). Better order straight away a “Berliner Weiße mit Schuss“ – Berlin wheat beer with a shot of syrup.

3. Berlin etiquette: “Wie du mir, so ick dir“ = Tit for tat, or: suit yourself!

Berlin manners are often described as rude or “very direct”. You can stand at the bakery counter in the morning and catch the first spell. Berliners like to test out the limits of their counterparts and don't shy away from a very direct approach that would be perceived as impolite in other parts of the country. Fortunately, however, the Berliners follow a rule: “What goes around, comes around.” You get out, what you put in. Similarly, they respond to friendliness with: friendliness.

4. Do‘s and Don’ts: Escalators, pavements and traffic lights

Berliners are easily annoyed when newcomers to the city do not yet know the unwritten rules of hectic coexistence in this place. On escalators, one should stand on the right-hand side, as in every big city (apart from London), so that people in a hurry don't waste time and you yourself are not obstructing their way. The latter often happens on pavements as well: tourists and non-Berliners stop suddenly. People are then forced to avoid the jam or they walk straight into it. Berliners have little patience at traffic lights: any motorist who spends five or even two seconds looking at his or her smartphone for too long will immediately be alarmed by a “concert” of honking horns. In other words: keep your eyes open and react as quickly as possible in road traffic in Berlin. Plus: Please watch out for cyclists when turning off and don't park in the second row - otherwise the ringing anger of even bigger road users - the trams - will catch up with you!

5. “Soft“ pavements, noise pollution and street games

Berlin's neighbourhoods can well be explored on foot. However, there are so many "minefields" thanks to the countless four-legged, furry Berliners in parks and on sidewalks that a good glance downwards is advisable. Also problematic for many newcomers is the noise nuisance - especially in trendy quarters such as Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg. From some areas, one should simply stay away when the need for rest is more important than long-established clubs and major cultural events. The last tip is not about noise, but about money: Avoid street players with boxes and hats! You won't guess where the coin is anyway because it is a fake game and the accomplices stand between the spectators to lure new victims.


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