Germany’s capital will strike you at first as an ugly, dirty concrete jungle. The streets are broad, the buildings mismatched, there is no delightful old centre that you find in all of Germany’s other cities, and it takes too long for the overnight traveller to get to know the city. Indeed, to really experience Berlin, you need to live there for a while; otherwise, being a tourist there can be a royal pain in the arse.
It is an incredible city, a place that wears many hats and is difficult to categorise: at once multicultural, historical, dynamic, international, provincial, prosperous, poor, urban, and natural. It is also two cities in one, with East Berlin still remarkably different in look and feel to West Berlin. But both parts, east and west, are surprisingly green, and there are many picturesque lakes for summer swimming and forests for hiking and running.
The sights are too numerous to mention: the Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag, the Museumsinsel, remnants of the Berlin Wall, the castles of Potsdam, and the doyen of Western capitalism (now looking exceedingly dated) the Ku’damm. Crawl through the trendy bars of Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, snack on a kebab in Kreuzberg, and wander through the Tiergarten and see all the pock-marked statues with heads and arms blown off.