“I sped along through rain and fog to Berlin for two whole days and nights, and when I arrived after a sleepless journey, yellow, tired and broken, I noticed suddenly and at the very first glance that Berlin was incredibly like St Petersburg.”

— Fjodor Dostoevsky, 1862

 

Alright, Dostoevsky. I’m gonna let you finish, but first, let’s talk about why you’re wrong. Because I just spent two days “speeding” (if you really had been speeding, it would not have taken two days. It’s really not that far) through rain and fog along the very same route you took, and all I’ve noticed is that Berlin is incredible.

 

10. Drinking water from the tap. Also, not having to militantly shut your mouth during a shower.

9. Delicious coffee

8. Breakfast this morning: jawbreaker rolls, croissants, strong coffee, bread, cheese, vegetables, Nutella, jam, butter. Take that, kasha.

7. The metro is so quiet. So. Quiet.

7a. The U-Bahn does not require a 10-minute descent by escalator. Sometimes it is only a 10-step descent.
7b. No bottlenecking to get into the U-Bahn.
7c. The U-Bahn goes everywhere. You do not have to walk 30 minutes to your destination after leaving the public transport.

6. Our room is three times the size of our “apartment” in Cherepovets and includes his and hers desks, two couches, two tables, a hammock, a tree, and a church whose bells chime on the hour down the street.

5. Signs in Turkish. Signs in Arabic. People speaking Turkish and Arabic.

4. Döner Kebab/any spicy(ish) food

3. Coke costs the same as every other soft drink, rather than twice as much.

Corollary to #3. This actually means every soft drink other than Coke costs twice as much as in Russia. But shh.

2. Sidewalks are relatively even, even when cobbled. You can look up instead of down.

1. German is everywhere.

 

But the people aren’t as friendly, we’ve had an impossible time finding a street map, people care if you jaywalk, bikers are scary, transport is expensive, there is no German equivalent of a cabbage pie, pretzels are less common and more expensive than stereotypes suggest, and you get less sunlight each day in Berlin by several hours.

 

In conclusion, Dostoevsky may have been to Berlin, but he clearly wasn’t paying attention.

 

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