Berlin, Germany: long distances but lots going on by Jessica Lee

 My expectations for Berlin were high. In Lund, Sweden, I met a girl from Berlin who loved her city. Everyone I spoke to raved about this city. At the airport, I met a Brit who had recently moved to Berlin.

Perhaps my expectations were too high.

From the moment I stepped off the plane, there was a bubbling excitement in me. Berlin was the first city I had chosen to see for myself. Iceland was a layover from Canada, which I extended for two days to look around, Copenhagen was on the way to see my friend Myra in Sweden, and Lund was where she lived.

Berlin seems to have a lot to offer, but I don’t think this city is for me because of its immense size. Walking to and from my hostel to Alexanderplatz took almost an hour, even though the train stops are right beside each other. I know this seems like a minor complaint, but distance really affects how enjoyable a city is.

I once ate at a restaurant where the size of the place was so large, we asked the waitress to get us a fork and she said the kitchen was too far away (literally a minute walk away). I understand her pain and it was unfortunate that she chose to work at a restaurant where the physical distance is so big, but it's still her job to fetch utensils. I think she would have been much happier at a small cafe, and this is how I feel about Berlin. I would have been happier if everything was close together. 

Even on the metro the next day, I seemed to spend an eternity just on the trains, though they do provide a gorgeous view of the city.

And while Alexanderplatz was impressive, the distances to and from each attraction were too large to comfortably enjoy while walking. Berlin’s walk score is like Detroit, but with fancier buildings.

I really liked Hackescher Market, which is an edgier shopping district (compared to the department store vibe of Galleria) filled with design-oriented brand names like All Saints or Muji.

I wandered further south one night and came across the university. The gorgeous architecture of the older buildings was nice. And I loved that there were Christmas Markets all over the place.

Friedrichshain also seemed like a great place to spend a day. Other than that, I don't really think there's much for me in Berlin.

I still think the city for me is Sydney, where there is culture, art, surf, sail, shopping and good food. If only Sydney weren't so far away from the rest of the world...