Getting to and around Berlin
1. Getting to Berlin from Prague
From Prague, I headed to Berlin via Flixbus. The journey took 4.5 hours and I alighted at the Berlin Central Bus Station. The vicinity was dodgy. The underpass next to the bus station was dark and deserted. The walls were heavily vandalised, escalators were broken down and the air was reeking with the smell of pee. I shuddered as I hurried past teenagers playing skateboard and a young man taking drugs in the middle of the day. I did not have a good impression of Berlin that day.
You could also explore the option of taking a train from Prague to Berlin but it usually costs a little more and takes approximately the same time to reach. I chose Flixbus as I had some vouchers which I had to redeem from previous cancelled trips.
2. Getting around Berlin
I found Berlin more difficult to navigate than Prague. There are 4 zones (A to D) in Berlin and there are various types of tickets that cover certain zones only. I was a little confused initially. In the end, I bought the bundle of 4 tickets for Zone A and B on the mobile app to enjoy a marginal discount. It took me 2 days of travelling around Berlin to become more savvy and confident.
Even with the directions given by Google Maps, I found myself having to ask around to make sure that I was boarding the right metro/train on the right platform. Thankfully, most people in Berlin could speak English. Like Japan and the UK, the cost of taking public transport in Berlin is quite steep in contrast to Singapore. A single journey ticket cost 3 Euro in September 2022.
Accommodations in Berlin
Zimmervermietung Berlin Mertens (S$ 46 Per Person Per Night, Stayed for 3 days)
As the cost of accommodation in Berlin is quite steep, I chose to stay in a place that is 40 minutes away from most of the major tourist attractions in Berlin. Initially, I regretted booking a place that was so far-flung. I should have stayed in a hostel in the city centre. Nevertheless, once I figured out how to get around Berlin from my accommodation, I think that the location is not as inconvenient as I thought.
I did not like that my room was next to the road and I felt anxious whenever cars drove past. I wanted a private space where I could focus on writing these travel blogs that you are reading right now. If you were to book this accommodation, you have a 50% chance that you will get a room that is road-facing. There are 4 rooms in total and only 1 toilet. It would be inconvenient to share a toilet if all the rooms were fully booked. You may be frustrated that you can’t have immediate access to the washroom when you need it, especially if you have a train or flight to catch.
Personally, I think that for the price I had paid as compared to the average cost of other accommodations in the city centre, the value-to-price ratio of this place is still quite high. I had a fridge in the room which allowed me to prepare some of my meals. I also have a big private space which usually comes at a premium. If I had chosen the non-refundable option when I booked the accommodation, it could have been even cheaper by S$5 per night. I would recommend this place to any solo traveller who is budget conscious, does not mind travelling a little further and paying a small premium for a private room.
Attractions in Berlin
I was looking forward to visiting the Berlin Wall but I found it underwhelming when I was there. I felt that the city is trying to move on from this part of the history (i.e. The Cold War Period) with sprawling apartments built right next to the wall.
Memorial for the murdered Jews (Closed on Monday)
There is a museum hidden beneath this memorial which is closed on Mondays. I had to queue for 30 minutes to enter the museum. I spent 3 hours in the museum learning about the history of the persecution. I admired the Germans for building this memorial and acknowledging the sufferings that Hitler and his regime had inflicted on the people whom he had persecuted. I would highly recommend a visit to this memorial.
Food in Berlin
Unlike Italy and the Czech Republic, most of the food establishments in Berlin only accept cash. Thankfully, I brought 60 euro cash and I still had 30 euro cash left at the end of the trip. One of the reasons I did not really like Berlin was that Chinese food was not as readily available and affordable unlike Italy and the Czech Republic. There were still Chinese restaurants but they were not cheaper than other types of cuisine.
Italian Restaurant (€7/S$10 per meal)
One of the perks of staying away from the city centre is that I could find more affordable restaurants which locals patronise. I only paid 7 Euro/S$10 for a piping hot plate of Pomodoro pasta. This was the best meal I had in Berlin.
Mustafa Doner Kebab (€6/S$8.5 per meal)
Even though this kebab shop had raving reviews on google, I personally did not like the veggie kebab as the food was not hot. I felt disappointed eating at this shop. I thought that the veggie kebab that I had from the German Doner Kebab in the UK was much better.
Curry Wurst (€6/S$8.5 per meal)
This is the iconic dish in Berlin and I had to try it. Even though I did not like it that much as well, I had no regrets trying it as I would have left Berlin wondering how it tasted. I think that the best vegan sausage I had eaten thus far in my life is from Marks and Spencer. This vegan currywurst that I tasted in Berlin certainly pales in comparison. I LOVE chips but there’s nothing special about it if I can get them almost everywhere in the UK. Everything on the plate was deep-fried and the greasiness left my stomach feeling queasy.
Supermarket (€4/S$6 per meal)
Groceries in Germany are more expensive than in Prague and the UK. For instance, the price of canned beans and vegetables is thrice the price in the UK.
The prices of bread are really affordable in Berlin, especially in the supermarkets located in the residential estate. For instance, the price of Pretzels from the REWE store near my accommodation was only 0.35 Euros as compared to 1-2 Euros in the REWE store in Berlin Central Station.
My favourite supermarket in Berlin is REWE as I find that the fruits are of better quality than other supermarkets. I really like the Ja Paprika Chips from Rewe. It tastes similar to the Calbee hot and spicy chips in Singapore. I could not find comparable chips in the UK yet.
I prepared 4 of my meals from the groceries purchased from REWE supermarket. It costs about €4/S$6 per meal.
|Expenditure Category||Per Person||% of Total Cost|
|Budget Airline Air Ticket (Flying from Berlin back to Manchester)||S$ 23||8%|
|Flixbus Ticket from Prague to Berlin (4 to 5 hours journey)||S$ 27||9%|
|BVG Public Transport Tickets||S$ 18||6%|
|Accommodations (for 3 nights)||S$ 138||47%|
|Insurance (3 Days)||S$ 14||5%|
|Miscellaneous (Souveniers)||S$ 24||8%|
Prior to my visit to Berlin, I had some preconceived notions of Germans because a friend had previously shared her harrowing experience working in a German company. In addition, I also met a German lady in a hostel who was a little more aggressive than I was used to. I can’t help feeling a little guarded when I arrived in Berlin.
However, I left Berlin with a transformed perception of Germans. In reality, most of the people whom I met were kind and considerate, some even going out of their way in extending their graciousness. For instance, while I was queuing at a supermarket, an elderly man before me insisted that I should pay first as I was only purchasing an item.
Separately, on another occasion, when a man lit up his cigarette at the bus stop, I stood up from my seat and left the bus stop to check the signboard. The man came chasing after me to come back to the bus stop and gestured that he will stop smoking.
Times and again, the Germans I met kept surprising me with their hospitality and graciousness. This was my experience as a Chinese-looking tourist in Berlin in 2022. Perhaps, you may have a similar experience or one that differs largely from mine. I would love to hear from you too by sharing them in the comments below.
You can find out more about my journey from Prague to Berlin here.