Italian Girl in Berlin

5 first impressions

Giorgia Pecora was without a plan when she left Italy to move to Berlin a few weeks ago. As part of our ‘Wiki: Expat Stories’ she wrote an article to share her first five impressions of Berlin. They include open-air karaoke performances, an abundance of flea markets, strange cycling habits and an old airport being used as a public space. Find out what living in Berlin can be like and why you will never get bored of this city.

How it all started – moving to Berlin!

I moved to Berlin about a month ago. At first, I did not know what to expect from this city. To be honest, it had not ever been on my agenda to move to Germany. A colorful set of circumstances brought me here, and I am very grateful for them. Since moving to Berlin, I have the same general goals as almost all expats have, such as: to learn a new language, find an interesting job, challenge myself, find new hobbies, friends and to generally change my outlook on life. To commemorate my one month anniversary of being in Berlin, I pinned together five observations that I happened to find interesting since I first entered the ‘good vibes city’ four weeks ago.

#1 Public Transport in Berlin

Trams, subways, buses, local trains… You can easily go anywhere, anytime you want. Berlin’s public transport system is affordable, punctual, very comprehensive and overall I just love it. While you are moving by U-Bahn (subway), you will notice people from many nationalities speaking several languages (most of the times it is actually not German…), and to pass the time you can try to get the attention of the dogs sitting close to their owners. Everyone seems to have his own space in this place. Literally. Another thing, which surprised me as an Italian was the fact that there are no ticket barriers to use the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams or regional trains. You simply just get on the train. They trust you as a citizen. The system works in based on the assumption: ‘If you are a good citizen, you will buy a ticket.’ That’s it. On the other hand, I see a lot of other people getting caught and fined every day. This brings me back to reality… By the way, buy the ticket!

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#2 Green Routine

Berlin, despite its status as a metropolis, offers many green spaces: parks, squares, public gardens and self-sustainable gardens. You can find green spaces to lie down while reading a good book or to have a nice walk through a flea market with workshops and live sessions. Even a former airport (Tempelhof) is now a public park. Yep, a former airport. And it is a lovely spot to visit. One thing that I really appreciate is the endless remaking of urban areas and the measures of environmental improvement. There is no waste of land, grass, or whatever place comes to your mind. Kites fly, kids are learning to drive small bikes, and (veggie) sausages are munched on in the BBQ area.

#3 Bicycle culture

Everybody rides a bicycle, not just glamorous old ladies – but also parents, students, kids, and businessmen on their way to work. You will notice bikes (most of them are used ones) parked everywhere: outside homes, shops, and businesses. Cycling on shared pavements is intuitive and you can quickly adapt. The infrastructure is there, and, there is a decent hierarchy: drivers are respectful of cyclists and pedestrians. Everyone is respectful of cyclists. This is quite strange in comparison to my cultural background and what I am used to. Last morning a policeman even stopped me and asked for my ID for riding my bicycle on the sidewalk. In Italy, this really is not a big deal and the police have much more important issues to deal with. It was unbelievable.

#4 Flea markets in Berlin!

I have always been addicted to Flea Markets. In my city, I used to visit them twice per week, but in Berlin… Oh, God. They are everywhere at all times for everyone. It is a chance to become immersed in a local community, the opportunity to be an archaeologist of the present. Who needs iPhones when you can pick up a phone from 1970? Do you not know where to go on Sundays? Go to a flea market and spend some hours chatting with interesting people and buy some DDR electronic devices or some other odd items. Well, while you will not necessarily need them, you will certainly love them for no particular reason. Also, if you have a boyfriend, at first he might not like them that much… until you bring him with you. Guaranteed!

Berlin’s best Flea Markets

Flea market on ‘Straße des 17.Juni’

What? This flea market is one of the oldest and most famous antique markets in Berlin. Lots of clothes, furniture, etc.
When? It takes place every Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm
Where? It is between Ernst-Reuter-Platz and S-Bahn station ‘Tiergarten’ in Charlottenburg district, Straße des 17. Juni 106, 
10623 Berlin

Flea Market Boxhagener Platz in Berlin

What? Fresh vegetables, fruits. Second hands clothes, bags, paintings, furniture, lots of books and old records!
When? Sunday 10am-8pm
Where?  
Boxhagener Platz 1, 10245 Berlin

Flowmarket @Maybachufer

What? One of the top 2 flea markets. Lots of hand-made clothes, pottery, etc. Along the river, great view.
When? Every 1st and 3rd sunday of the month (April-October) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where? Maybachufer 36, 12047 Berlin

Flea Market @Mauerpark with public Karaoke

The Mauerpark is well known both among tourists and locals. Its flea markets offers everything – clothes, furnitures, bicycles, old records, books… The Mauerpark is also known for its karaoke sessions which start at 3pm! Not to be missed!

When? Sunday: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where? Bernauer Straße 63, 10435 Berlin

#5 Active and Attractive!

Are you bored? Are you looking for new inputs? Would you like to meet new people? Berlin is definitely the answer. Last Sunday I became overwhelmed, I checked my planner and there were too many options (some of them even for free): one workshop about recycled materials, dozens of concerts, open mic events, festivals, markets. Finally, I decided to attend the workshop, the open-air karaoke performance, and a live piano concert. Overall, I spent less than five euros, met many interesting people, and I had real, honest fun! I have not ever had such a feeling of being so actively involved in a community in such a personal way like here in Berlin!

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