I have recently spent another weekend in the capital. For business reasons, I have become a frequent visitor to Berlin and I usually spend a lot of time right in the middle of where tourists convene and I have already reached the point where I don’t glance up to the major sights anymore.
What I do notice though is the fact that Berlin becomes more American every time I am there. There are hundreds of American companies in Berlin, with hundreds of American employees. At any given time, these are complemented by busloads of American tourists at the tourist hotspots. You won’t have any problems ordering your food in English or asking directions either; Germans usually have a good command of the English language. Needless to say, streets are dotted with Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Burger King, just like in Wichita or Spokane. At the hotel I stayed in last time, they even had one of those fancy waffle makers where you pour dough into an iron heatup gadget in the breakfast room. Don’t get used to it, those aren’t common in Europe.
And this is why I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Americans to go to Berlin if it’s going to be your first trip to Germany. Despite the Reichstag and the rich history, Berlin isn’t exactly representative of Germany. It makes it a little too easy for Americans – if you don’t want to, you don’t have to speak a single word of German, you don’t have to eat any German food, you don’t even have to be with Germans if you prefer it that way. And wouldn’t it be nice if you had a characteristically German story to tell when you get home?
Well, I am half-joking of course. Berlin is a great place, a vibrant city that has something going on any day and one that has a thousand sights and attractions that you really don’t want to miss. No, really, you should go to Berlin. But maybe you’ll want to consider dedicating a day trip to other places as well while you’re in Germany. Schwerin maybe or Magdeburg or Bremen or Saarbrücken. You’ll like it.