The price of spending a penny
It's very hard to find free public conveniences in Berlin, there are plenty of WCs around but most charge €0.50, some even €1 to use in train stations.
Unique Suggestions: Keep some small change with you just in case you need to go. Of course you could go into a bar / cafe to use theirs but some people aren't comfortable walking into a place just to use their WCs.
Fun Alternatives: I found some free toilets in the middle of the Tiergarten, at the roundabout at the Berlin Victory Column there are ornate entrances to the underpasses and at the one Strasse des 17 Juni, opposite the one with the cafe, there are some round the side.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Get your Photo taken at Checkpoint Charlie
I do not remember how much you had to pay for a photo with the Russian and American soldier at the booth at Checkpoint Charlie. Sure, I photographed them from the footpath when they were not looking at me and could not complain that I did not pay.
It seemed too strange to me to pose with those actors who were as real as the checkpoint booth which is a replica. I doubt that they would even speak the languages of the soldiers they are representing. It is just a big moneymaking machine.
Update October 2012 - More of this kind...
Who would have thought that these uniformed guys would multiply and become a nuisance? On my recent visit they ran around in front of Brandenburger Tor and posed with tourists like rockstars, holding the US American and German flags, and not even trying to stand as stiff as the original soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie. A man in bear outfit also tried to find customers to be photographed with. Up and down the promenade Unter den Linden pedalled drinking and screaming tourists on the new kind of hospitality bikes. It felt like a cheap amusement park which locals are starting to avoid. Me too.
Unique Suggestions: Photograph them as long as you want and do not pay. As long as they stand around on a public place on a public road they cannot force you to pay for taking a photo of the street, and if they stand in the middle of your photo it is not your mistake.
Fun Alternatives: You could rather ask them to hide behind the booth, so they do not disturb the composition of your photo LOLRelated to:
- Historical Travel
The Stamp Man of Checkpoint Charlie
He is of the same kind of rip-off as the wannabe soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie. And nobody would care if he was not there.
In the ten minutes we spent in this area and checked the souvenirs in the surrounding shops nobody bothered to get his passport or whatever stamped by this stamp man in his American uniform, sitting behind a desk wrapped in the American flag.
Who would want a stamp that states that you were entering or leaving the American sector in 2007 or 2008, and even pay for it?
Unique Suggestions: You just do not need this!Related to:
- Historical Travel
The Hole In The Wall
In April 2006 the phone company O2 rather controversially got planning permission to build a 17,000 seat sports and events arena to be called "O2 World". The location is on the undeveloped land between the Ostbahnhof railway station and the River Spree but also happened to be in front of what is the largest open-air art gallery in the World - The East Side Gallery.
The East Side Gallery (see tip and travelogues) is a collection of murals painted by an International coalition of artists on a 1.2 km stretch of the east side of the Berlin wall soon after it was opened up in 1989. O2, as part of their planning proposal, wanted to effectively cut a chunk out of this continuous artwork to allow river access to their arena. The Mayor of Berlin was swayed by the promise of major investment and so gave permission to have a section of the gallery moved 40 metres so that the wall is now in two pieces.
O2, of course, aren't doing anything for nothing - the O2 World is a commercial venture expected not only to make a profit in its own right but also to raise the company's status amongst its target market.
Fun Alternatives: Boycott it I say!!!!Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
The Rough Guide had Cafe Sybille listed as one of the top places to go while in Berlin, I'm not quite sure why. I stopped in while on my way to explore Friedrichshain, and I felt as if I was in a suburban starbucks. It seemd very weird, almost as if they were closed, and the menu wasn't that great so I had a tea and found a much more happening place to eat lunch in Friedrichshain. I must say, the staff was friendly, but that didn't make up for the altogether strange vibe. A whole half of the place didn't even have the lights turned on and I think I was the only customer inside.
Unique Suggestions: Use the restroom and keep on walking down Karl Marx Alle.
Fun Alternatives: Walk a few more blocks and turn off to the interesting and hip side streets of Friedrichshain. There you will find great cafes, restaurants, bars and shops.
What can I say - you have to go to see one of Berlin's most famous spots.... but it is probably the most touristy place in Berlin where you could lighten your wallet easily.
The shops here charge practically double.
Unique Suggestions: Go, see & do but if you feel the need to purchase - wait until you get to a souvineer shop elsewhere.... especially bits of the Berlin Wall... although I should stress now, having done this, I then discovered that the actual / specific Checkpoint Charlie suvineers such as iron on patches are unique to these few shops - I couldn't find those elsewhere.
Fun Alternatives: Other than Charlie Checkpoint suvineers, all others can be bought cheaper in shops away from the checkpoint.
WATCH OUT FOR THE ´box game with a soccer ball
Someone else has already mentioned it, but there are turkish or some eastern european men working the system here. They are close to or near the cathedral, the TV Tower or Unter den Linden. You will see men with 3 little boxes playing a game where they have a little soccer ball and you watch him move it, You know where it goes, because he oddly shows it at some points. WEll he got me. I was sure SURE SURE it was under the one box, I held out 50 euros, and then he brought another 50 to win, so i would have won 100 euros if i was right, so i gave another 50, (basically to lose 100 in total) Then he opened the box, and it all of a sudden wasnt there. I Have no idea how they do it, but we know they have usuallz 3 or 4 people playing the game, and they are all acting like they are winning money and losing money. Even one person who was 'playing' pulled me aside when i was mad that I lost my 100, and said, don't play, then continued to go play and pretend it was a good game. I was so mad that he took me for that much. I even at one point pretty much grabbed my 100 euros out of his hand and tried to run, but he grabbed me(i didnt try that hard) I was soo upset... How can someone be so cruel? I can understand playing this game if it wasnt crooked, but there is something they do, to make us loose. If i can help anyone, I hope this helps. I felt like standing outside by his set up, telling tourists not to play, and tell him i would leave once he gave me my money back. I was so upset. I then walked by another game and asked the guy if i could work for him too, like all his other actors. Talk about making a trip go bad!!! I hope Karma Catches him!!!
Unique Suggestions: TELL THE pOLice or warn other tourists!!!! Please!!
Brandenburger Gate err Construction Site
Berlin is in the process of adding an U-Bahn station by Brandenburgertor off of Unter den Linden. When finished it will be very convenient, but for the moment it makes a visit to the gate rather unplesant and loud. That didn't stop the tourists, and the view from the backside is relatively clean, but until 2008 I would skip this one.
Unique Suggestions: Look from Tiergarten Side
Fun Alternatives: Backside
Ladies and Gentlemen! Gnaedige Damen und Herren! This could be you! You too can stand outside an old building for half the day and enter a reconstruction of an old building that I don't think is even used for anything anymore. I'm not sure what the people are standing in line to see, but this is supposed to be Berlin's number one tourist attraction. It sure draws the crowds.
Unique Suggestions: I just snapped a couple pics of the outside of the building. Nothing is worth that line.
Fun Alternatives: You really aren't far from Unter den Linden and Tiergarten, there is plenty to eat and see and drink and do. You mihgt also want to see the glass wall etched with articles of the German Grundgesetz (Constitution)Related to:
- Historical Travel
"Find the Lady"
Cheaters are out to find victims for their „Find the Lady“ game in the streets, especially in the eastern center of Berlin. The easy winnings are tempting. But there is no chance of winning. You can only lose!
Unique Suggestions: Keep your cellphone at hand - should you run into one of these traps, usually near the cathedral, the TV Tower or Unter den Linden, call the police immediately. Take a photo of those gamblers and cheaters who are organized groups, mostly from former ex Jugoslavia or other East block countries,
Fun Alternatives: DO NOT PARTCIPATE - though it is tempting. But the winners you will see are ALL BELONGING TO THE CRIME GANGRelated to:
- Theme Park Trips
- Historical Travel
World Clock at Alexanderplatz
The world clock at Alexanderplatz is an unique site to see, but there really isn't anything else to do in the area. I went there, saw the clock, took a picture and left. Somewhat of a waste of time since my time was extremely limited. At least it didn't cost any money since I had a Eurail pass.
Story of Berlin
I'm not really fair when I describe this exhibition as a tourist trap. For someone, who is of a certain age - like I am - and who has always been interested in history and politics - like I have been - this exhibtion is very interesting. Had I been on my own when I went there, I wouldn't have hesitated to describe it as a must-see place of Berlin. But my youngest daughter was with me and so I realized how little explanation there was. Not everyone has the time to do a guided tour and without it, most of the items are hard to understand.Considering this, it's too expensive.
Unique Suggestions: Maybe it is better with a guided tour, I don't know. When we went there wasn't a tour available. You should have a certain knowledge of German history ,otherwise it's a waste of time and money .Related to:
- Historical Travel
View from the Fernsehturm 2
Sure, it's a decent view, no doubt about it. And it is the highest vantagepoint you can get from any building in Berlin.
But the prices are steep, you cannot see the tower itself in your panoramic view and the Reichstag offers you a good view for free.
Fun Alternatives: Reichstag in Berlin has a free view.
The Fernsehturm in West-Berlin has a cheaper view. Though the tower is much lower and is not central at all.
The Reichtag offers a free tour around the building which also goes to the top and gives a great view of the city of Berlin. The wait is over two hours long on a nice day. A better way to see the city is walk or rent a bike or by tram.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to the actuall Reichtag is and awsome thing to see but not worth 2 hour wait.
Fun Alternatives: have a picnic, play soccer in front of the reichtag on the lawnRelated to:
- School Holidays
- Study Abroad
A must, off course, to see Checkpoint Charlie. The trap is all the souvernir sellers who want to sell you "real uniforms", "real" parts of the wall, "real" stamps in your passports and so on. We bought a couple of things anyway, it is a part of the whole experience ;-)Related to:
- Historical Travel
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