14 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE MOVING TO BERLIN

Berlin has become, without a doubt, one of the most popular cities for expats to call home. Many come for the cheap living, excellent arts, and wild nightlife, all of which the city offers in spades. Others, naturally, for the schnitzel. What most aren’t ready for, though, are the inevitable obstacles they face upon arriving, a lot of which are universal when moving to any new country, but many of which are so. Damn. German.

I moved to Berlin a few years ago with an excellent network of expat friends to guide me through the transition, but there were still plenty of peculiarities I had to learn along the way. To help the next wave of folks eager to try out the German capital, here is a list of things I wish someone had told me about

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What makes Berlin so attractive for young people?

by Lisa Krueger-Franke
Slider, Travel

Whenever I tell people I am from Germany, I get this one reaction: “Oh really? I went to Berlin once, I loved it!” And ever so often, I meet people, who tell me their dream is to live in Berlin for a while. I have to admit, I am not mad about Berlin (living there I mean, I love visiting it), for me it’s just a bit too hipster and a bit too big but I obviously still wonder what does make Berlin so attractive to people all over the world and also all around Germany? I was thinking about what I like when I come visit and I was also talking to some people who actually moved to Berlin for a while. And here are some of the reasons I figured out.

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EasyJet announces Berlin expansion and more flights

Airline in talks with other carriers to allow booking of more connecting flight.

EasyJet Europe, the sister airline set up to preserve easyJet after Brexit, has accelerated its growth by announcing rapid expansion in Berlin and new long-haul connections at Paris and Amsterdam.

The easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “There’s no doubt that the growth potential is in Europe. The UK will always be a critical market, but we have more to go at in the European mainland.”

EasyJet expects to fly 5.6 million passengers this year from Berlin, making it comfortably the biggest airline in the German capital, ahead of Lufthansa.

Lundgren added: “The German population have paid too much money to go on flights and that’s something we want to change.

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How Berlin Became the World’s Coolest Capital City


The German capital has grown from political pawn to global trendsetter. By Eliot Stein.

In 1987, Berlin was a divided city, cleaved in two by a concrete wall and treated like a political pawn in the Cold War freeze separating Western capitalism from Eastern communism.

While Americans watched as President Reagan stood by the Brandenburg Gate that June and demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” stories of Berlin’s industrial techno temples, bohemian squats, and sweat-driven, all-night raves had already helped to put the city on the map for hedonists everywhere.

Thirty years later, the German capital has leveraged its legendary climate of cultural experimentation, DIY creativity, and free-wheeling spirit born from repression to become one of the most achingly hip places on the planet. Even as it’s catapulted to the center of European power and faced growing gentrification woes, Berlin remains a dynamic cultural trendsetter—a place whose live-and-let-live ethos has lured artists, activists, and visitors since Berliners swarmed the Wall with sledgehammers in 1989. The numbers don’t lie: In 2015, Berlin surpassed Rome to become Europe’s third-most-visited city, behind London and Paris. Last year, it welcomed a record 12.7 million visitors—more than 3.5 times its population, six times the number that visited West Berlin in 1987, and 4.5 times the number that visited the city in 1990 following reunification.

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Germany Is Building a Wall to Protect the Berlin Wall

An effort to limit damage done to the Cold War landmark by tourists.

Souvenier-seeking tourists have done serious damage to the Berlin Wall, leaving Germany with no choice: A wall in front of the wall will be erected in summer 2018, to protect the landmark structure from further vandalism, reports the Art Newspaper.

This isn’t the first time the idea of a protective barrier in front of the Berlin Wall has been raised. In November 2015, authorities of Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, home to the “East Side Gallery” section of the wall, which is covered in murals created in 1990, announced plans to erect a permanent protective fence.

The wall, a designated heritage site, was erected in 1961, dividing citizens of West Berlin from the rest of the city and the surrounding East Germany until November 9, 1989. The wall began coming down in June 1990, but parts of the structure were left intact as a monument.

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Look out, London. Berlin’s startup scene is ready for a Brexit bonanza

Startups that previously looked to London are being wooed by Berlin’s fast-developing scene. But can Germany capitalise on Brexit uncertainty?

At a co-working space on Friedrichstraße, Berlin’s startup economy is getting ready for Brexit. Mindspace’s first location in Germany, opened in April 2016, sits in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte district, flanked by high-end fashion shops and perfumeries. Its walls are adorned with hand-stencilled signs directing people, in English, to the “yummy kitchen” and “awesome offices”. It feels exactly like the startup scene in London – and that’s deliberate. What London stands to lose after Brexit, Berlin hopes to gain.

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“Berlin is starting to be considered as a startup ecosystem, particularly targeting the tech startup scene,” says Nijvenko. The company’s “official language”, she explains, is English. All signs, documents and posts on the community’s private Facebook group are auf Englisch. Its co-working spaces bare an uncanny resemblance to a template Silicon Valley, faux-hipster style – superfluous clocks; plush, well-worn armchairs; Communist-era televisions; and work from local artists adorn almost every remaining inch of space. Around 760 members pay between €250 and €450 per month (£215 and £390) to use the space, with the two additional sites in Berlin upping capacity to more than 2,000 people. Business is booming. “The political incentives right now are targeting the startup ecosystem. Berlin is very affordable, so for startups it’s the best place to be,” says Nijvenko.

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Berlin Workers seeking Home away from Home

Short term employment contracts on the rise as Berlin booms
Millenial contract workers seeking home comforts face reduced options since AirBnB ban

An interesting survey was recently conducted by a travel expenses company showing that alternative options for business travel were becoming increasingly popular and that Berlin was the fifth most popular business travel destination across all cities in the UK, France and Germany.

Given that we are in a day of disruptive innovation, it is no surprise that workers, as much as tourists, want to stay in less conventional accommodation or locations when they travel and use platforms such as AirBnB to find them.

It might be for the home comforts of a bedroom, lounge and kitchen or to get a better sense of the area in which they’re staying. It may simply be to save money. Unfortunately for Berlin, these options have been on the decline since the restrictions brought in last year, making it harder for short term contractors looking for a home away from home.

There is a real possibility that the city of Berlin will become the victim of this change. It’s a burgeoning city with falling unemployment, a rising population, strong educational facilities and significant investment into the city’s infrastructure. The tech companies are arriving and booming, new industries are opening up; as a united city it is still in its infancy, but we mustn’t forget that it is a capital city and to fuel its growth it needs to provide flexible solutions to maintain social mobility and give entrepreneurial companies the opportunity to grow.

This means, as much as anything, providing affordable accommodation for short term workers, often drafted in to fill skills gaps for specific projects or corporate objectives. The recent survey made it clear that whilst hotels were still popular, the demand for alternatives from Millenials in particular, is driving a booming market in alternative business accommodation.

Hotels, as much as they try to evolve, still lack basic home comforts. Hotels will forever sit firmly on the side of tourism and short-term travel, not residence, and many young contract workers want to feel as if they are living in the real Berlin, in a comfortable apartment that has been furnished like home, with their own food in the fridge, neighbours to speak to and local amenities to enjoy. If Berlin doesn’t fill the gap in supply for such accommodation, Berlin’s industries will struggle to bring in the talent they need for the time they need it. Six months of living in a hotel is not what many workers want these days, not to mention the exorbitant cost for the company.

Companies like AirBnB have launched into business travel successfully but Berlin’s restrictions are making it harder for the city’s companies to house short term workers. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many landlords are seemingly unaware of the option available to them to provide short term, furnished accommodation to the city’s workers through alternative means, such as Buy Berlin’s Corporate Furnished Service.

If landlords fully furnish their apartments, they can be rented out to companies seeking fixed, short term rental contracts for their employees. The tenancy agreement is different to your standard tenancy, allowing landlords to have more control over their property and the rental price. It is a highly successful model that benefits all parties involved and is proving particularly popular in city centre districts and those located near to major project hubs, such as the airport.

BuyBerlin

Buy Berlin Investments is an independent property company that provides turnkey services to global investors, both individual and institutional, who wish to purchase real estate in Germany’s capital city, Berlin.

Established over ten years ago, the company recently expanded into Asia with the opening of its Hong Kong office, providing on the ground customer service in English, German and Chinese.

BuyBerlin supports its clients every step of the way – it seeks the very best properties, assists investors through the intricacies of financing, taxation and German legalities, and provides ongoing asset management in the form of property management, rentals, furnishings and eventual resale.

Tel Aviv vs. Berlin: The same hotel – more than double the price

The price difference between hotels belonging to the same chain in the two cities is so high that Israelis could spend a week-long vacation in the German capital – including a flight and a hotel room – and pay much less than for a Tel Aviv hotel alone.

Israelis thinking of travelling to Berlin this summer in order to check the prices of pudding, for example, should know that the trip could easily turn out to be cheaper than a vacation in Tel Aviv. Much cheaper, in fact.

A Yedioth Ahronoth inquiry reveals a significant price gap between a hotel in the Israeli metropolis and a hotel belonging to the exact same chain in the German capital, so that even if you add the price of a flight to Berlin – the vacation abroad will still cost you less. (Continue reading…)

Colossal Nazi holiday camp converted to luxury seaside apartments

With estate agents waxing lyrical about the “smell of the sea, the scent of pines and panoramic views of nature” you could almost be forgiven for forgetting the sinister past of the luxury Baltic seaside apartments at New Prora, which were purpose built for 20,000 members of Adolf Hitler’s Aryan “master race”.

Comprising a single and monstrous five-storey concrete housing block stretching almost three miles along the sand dune and pine-studded coast of the east German island of Rügen, the former Prora holiday camp is one of the longest buildings in Europe. It was designed as the Nazis’ answer to Butlin’s.

Now, 76 years after it was built,  the first full-time tenants are moving in to the so-called “Colossus of Rügen”. After decades of inaction and shame about its Nazi past, the complex is being gradually turned into luxury flats. Fifty-seven have been sold, the lowest priced costing €176,000 for  a small three-room apartment.

The knowledge that the site of his flat was meant to provide “quality time” for the German masses under the Nazi “Strength Through Joy”  recreation programme did not seem to worry its new owner Roland Glöckner.

“It may sound peculiar, but it was love at first sight,” said the 51-year-old Berlin advertising executive after moving in to his 60sq metre flat.

(Read more – http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/colossal-nazi-holiday-camp-converted-to-luxury-seaside-apartments-31226643.html)

The 5 best coffee shops in Berlin

Every city has a personality, but few European cities are as unique and iconic as Berlin.

The German capital is the perfect mix of regal architecture and rough urban streetscapes, beautiful laneways and grungy concrete, vintage shops and cutting-edge modern spaces.

Berlin is wonderfully rich in history and culture, and its coffee scene reflects this richness.

1. Oliv

Cafe Oliv Facebook/Oliv

On a pretty street corner in the fashionable district of Mitte, Oliv has a warm, welcoming feel and some of the best coffee in town.

Their homemade teas are also wondrous: order a mint tea and you’ll receive a sprig of fresh, leafy peppermint in a tall glass. Plus their food is wholesome and simple; think autumnal vegetable salad and crispy hot croissants.

2. Godshot

Godshot coffeeFacebook/Godshot

Berlin’s modern cafe scene is booming and Godshot is one of the main forerunners. The space is sleek, the baristas are experts and the beans are perfect. An ideal spot to recharge one afternoon.

Plus names don’t get any cooler than this; perhaps we should start calling espresso shots “godshots” from now on…………