Berlin Travel Tips

A Good Night (out) in Berlin I:


Most people who come to Berlin, do so to see famous landmarks and cultural attractions, however the city is famous for its busy nightlife. Once you have experienced all Berlin has to offer for the night owl in you, you will be eager to come back for more. Here are some details to get you on your way.

            “Mauerpark” is a great place to start, it can be found in Prenzlauer Berg area. Although it is used much during the day for a nice walk in green spaces, it is a busy place in the evening as well.  Once patrolled by the guards from East Germany, today the park near the Berlin Wall is a place of freedom and fun. This is a wonderful place to meet friends, play frisbee, drink beer, have a barbecue or even dance and sing. The park has a lovely informal atmosphere that beckons the inner child in us all. “Mauerpark” is the perfect place to spend an interesting couple of hours before descending into the party scene.

            “Silberfisch,” located in the Mitte District is open every day. They remain open until early morning, is full of  those who love to party all night long and sleep all day. “Silberfisch” is the place to be for a wonderful atmosphere, friendly staff and famous DJ’s playing great albeit loud music. There is an impressive drink list, among the special drinks to be tried are the Absinthe Sour, Pina Colada, Long Island Iced Tea, Jagermeister and most of all the Weltfrieden cocktail is not be missed.

            “Heinz Minki” beer garden, is situated in the Kreuzberg district. The beer garden is open from 9am to 6pm, it is not open on Sunday’s. It’s a great place to start the party early. Berlin is know for its beer gardens, however this particular one is very cozy and pleasant. You are welcome to stay as long as you wish. The garden is spacious, and serves pizza along with cold beer, what else do you need to start out on the right foot?

            Next in Kreuzberg District is the “Angry Chicken” restaurant it is open every day from midday until 10pm. The food can be rather spicy, a departure from the norm. Anyway the variety and options are really incredible, while some dishes are spicy others are not. The “So Angry Chicken” is extra spicy and the “Furious Chicken” is quite hot, however if you or your partner doesn’t like spicy, there is the “Friendly Chicken” that is a classic crunchy chicken. Whatever you choice, you will have a nice evening out, without spending a fortune.

            “C-Base Spacestation” is another fun night club to visit, it is also located in the Kreuzberg District. If you believe in aliens, or just like space travel this is the place for you. The drinks are affordable and the atmosphere is great. You have to ring a doorbell to get in, and if you’re nice enough you can get a tour of the inside!

            Your appreciation of all of the above venues will be greatly enhanced if you speak German.  If you don’t, there are language schools all over Berlin such as Kapitel Zwei. German-Language-School Berlin who will be happy to help you.

German and English: Closer than you think


            An American comedian, upon observing the advertizing signs in Berlin in the 1920’s, once claimed that: “German actually IS English… they just don’t spell it right!”

            That comedian was more correct than probably even he knew: Basic English owes more to German than to any other language.  In fact, one of the Germanic Languages, Frisian (pronounced “FREEZE-ee-an,” one of the Dutch groups of tongues), is SO close to English that the following sentence:

            “ ‘Good butter and good cheese,’ is good English… and good Frise!”

            Is perfectly correct.  Even the rhyme is the same… in both languages.

            Even English—the greatest word-thief of any tongue—still claims more than 25% of its words from a Germanic origin.  But even more significantly than that impressive number, consider this: if we look at the slightly-less-than-7,500 most frequently used English words (7,476 exactly, for the accuracy-obsessed), the number of Germanically-originating words rises to 36%.  Not bad.  If we drop to the two thousand most frequently-used words in English, the number of words coming from German rises to 39%.  If we consider only the single thousand most-frequently-used English words, the number of German ones jumps all the way to fifty-seven percent.  Not bad at all… especially considering the fact that only eight hundred words can convey practically any concept in English (see the Simple English Wikipedia for examples).

            And what if we limit ourselves to only the one hundred most-used words in English?  How many of those do you think come from German?  Let’s ask the question the other way ‘round: how many of the one hundred commonest words in English do not come from German?


            …and even that figure is arguable, since one of those three words is “in,” which does come from Latin… but also from older German.  Since we do not know by which route “in” entered English, it’s perfectly possible that ninety-eight out of the most often used words in English are actually German.

            But even more important than mere frequency of use is the emotional impact of “German-English” as opposed to more rarefied Latin and Greek-based versions.  As Heinlein observed, the “gutty” Germanic words convey emotion much more effectively in English than the “intestinal” Latin jawbreakers.

            Winston Churchill—arguably one of the greatest English orators of the 20th Century—used (with delicious irony) almost exclusively Germanic words in most of his speeches.  Let’s look at one of his most famous:

            We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we        shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island,         whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds,           we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,

            There is exactly one word in the excerpt above which is inarguably non-Germanic: “surrender.” (it is another delicious irony that English couldn’t steal a German word for “surrender” because German didn’t have a common word for the concept… but French did).

            The only reason German is sometimes difficult for English speakers to learn is that German structure is more like Latin than it is like English… but as we have seen, the vocabulary will be no trouble at all.  German is the language of Science, of Philosophy, and should be studied by every thinking person.

            …and even more than that, America came within a fingernail fragment of speaking German today instead of English.  During the founding period of the United States, the matter came to a vote: Would English.. or German be the official language of the United States from that day forward?

            English won… by ONE vote!

            So that’s how close all you Americans came to saying “gesundheit” whenever anyone sneezes.

            …oh, wait a minute, you already say that.  Well, it’s how close you came to saying…

            “Auf Wiedersehen!”