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Colin’s Cultural Countdown

November 15, 2010
For the purpose of this posts, and really any subsequent posts, the word “cultural” is used in the loosest of terms.  These are just a few of the many things I found funky, fun, and unique about the city.  Though the numbers descend, they are in a somewhat ascending order of personal importance, so just know that #1, whatever it is for each city, did little less than rock my world!

10. Cell Phone Reception in the Subway

-I don’t know who these people’s carrier is or how much they’re paying a month for this below ground service, but I want it, and I want it for the bargain low price of whatever my payment is now.

9. The Ampellman

-1 of the 2 sort of unofficial mascots of Berlin, this was the man who when lit up red or green let’s pedestrians in the former East Berlin know if they can or can’t cross the street.  Way cooler than our all too practical “Walk” or “Don’t Walk”, he was everywhere and on everything…he even made having to wait to cross something to smile about.

8. Open Container Laws…or rather the lack thereof

– So you get off work and you’re headed to meet your friends for happy hour but after the day you’ve had you need a drink now! No big deal, just head into the train station and grab a beer from he kiosk to take with you while you travel.

7. Starbucks with actual mugs

– As a long time drinker and former employee of the nasty, overpriced, burned coffee chain, I’ve seen my fair share of fancy ads with those oversized Starbucks branded mugs, but in reality a paper cup with all the charm of the paper mill it came from is as much as I’ve ever had the option of drinking out of.  In Berlin though, not the case. The mugs are real I tell you, real! Judge if you will, but I think it’s awesome!

6. Street Art

– The pictures and movies you’ve seen where graffiti is everywhere aren’t lying.  Street art is everywhere, and in many cases it really is that, art.  It’s saved neighborhoods, added much needed color to the city, and turned many kids from criminals into creative contributors to the community.  Berlin wouldn’t be the same without it.

This is about the size of a garage door, and it's one of my favorites.

5. Leashless dogs

– Considering I’ve had “dog fever” forever now, it’s no wonder this made my top 5.  Everyone in Berlin has a dog and almost none of them are on leashes, but unlike most American children dogs, they were perfectly obedient, trotting just ahead or behind their owner and waiting patiently outside of restaurants and stores while their owner went inside.  Obviously this did nothing to deter me in the “I want a puppy” game.

4. Curryworst & Doner Kebab

Although each is definitely worthy of its own number on this countdown, since there was so much I enjoyed in Berlin and since they’re both food, I decided to group them together for length purposes. Neither are actually German but Berlin, Germany in general, have perfected them and made them famous.  The former looks like a hotdog and the later like a pita, but the tastes of each are far from their American relatives. Both are likely to make you raise an eyebrow as you watch their preparation, but they are cheap (curryworst 1.50, doner 2.50), they are delicious, and they will leave you begging for more!

Curry 36, one of the more famous CurryWorst stands in Berlin

3. Lack of Peanut Butter

-If you know me at all, you know that PB is a good 3/7 of my daily diet.  I eat it like it’s a pint of ice cream and i’m a fat kid having a bad day, so you can imagine the scene when I couldn’t find any in the store.  Just in case you can’t though I will tell you, there were shrieks, there was staring, and there were definitely claims of suicide. The later were abandoned, however, when after much searching and money, a tiny jar of PB was found on an obscure aisle at another store.

2. History

– The history of this city really needs no words.  It’s vast and baffling and really never ceased to amaze me.  Add to that the fact that the people here have not only risen time and again but have created such an open and thriving metropolis…I was hooked from day one.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews

Brandenburg Gate

A remaining piece of the Berlin Wall

1. Kinder Chocolate

– If you know my love for chocolate, you know it’s real and it’s deep…and then I picked up this tiny little 25 cent bar of German chocolate called “Kinder” and my mind was blown.  I’ve since spent countless time in the store stashing up and devouring the many other “Kinder” chocolate products, claiming after each that I could now die happy.

So there you have it, my Top 10 Berlin.  They may not all be huge but the definitely made up Colin’s Berlin.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2010 5:22 pm

    Colin I loved your top ten list. I can almost taste the chocolate! Can’t wait to get the next top ten for Prague

  2. Amy permalink
    November 23, 2010 11:16 pm

    No PB! wah! I would have had the same reaction. 🙂

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