The 5 Things West-Coasters Won't Miss in Berlin
Known for its stunning views, parks, music, and craft beer, the USA’s West Coast dutifully earns its nickname “The Best Coast.” Parallels between Berlin and the West Coast might seem hard to find at first glance, but, upon further inspection, there are actually many similarities between the West Coast and Die Hauptstadt. So, moving to Berlin, doesn’t mean foregoing everything you love about living on the West Coast. Read on for the 5 things you won’t miss as a West Coaster in Berlin:
The West Coast is famous for its varying and breathtaking landscape. In one day, you can drive from the sea to the mountains and back. While Germany itself has minimal coastal territory, it is still possible to see both the ocean and the the mountains in one day coming from Berlin. Berlin is two hours from the Baltic sea and just over three hours to mountain ranges in the Czech Republic. If you aren’t interested in making the long drive, you can also check out one of Berlin’s many lakes and climb the hills near Teufelsberg, the former spy tower turned must-see attraction in West Berlin.
If you live in a West Coast city, a 1-2 hour drive gets you to mountains that are great for hiking or skiing. Though I haven’t tried to get to any mountains near Berlin yet, the same 1-2 hours by public transit or car will definitely get you to plenty of awesome lakes. During the summer, the amount of daylight is surreal and it feels like the entire city goes to the lakes. Being away from the Pacific Ocean, the next best thing is spending a long summer day on a boat or lakeshore!
— Sarah Varki, Senior Product Manager, Native Apps
Olympic National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Yosemite National Park, Redwood National Park, and Spokane Park all offer beautiful vistas and ample space for hiking, biking, and climbing. Luckily, Germany has many beautiful national parks of its own with hundreds of trails and equally beautiful views. Parks that stand out include the celebrated Black Forest National Park, the Saxon Switzerland National Park, and the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park. Berlin itself is also known for its more than 250 city parks, the most famous being Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport turned public park. Grab a beer and watch the sunset with friends or go for a jog along the miles-long jetway.
Mauer Park has similar vibes to Dolores Park in San Francisco, but it’s even more eccentric. In fact, though there are similarities between Berlin and the West Coast, what I love most about Berlin are the differences. For example, you can find these amazing foodie restaurants and you don’t have to book days in advance to get a table, you can just walk in (on. a. Saturday.) and bam, there’s a table. Berlin just has a special charm that can’t be beat.
— Shantal Rands Poovala, Director of People Operations
While Berlin might not be known for its tacos or burritos, there is another portable, carb-wrapped food that can be seen eaten at all hours of the day and night — the dӧner kebab. Consisting of succulent meat or veggies, falafel, hummus, yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato, and sometimes even french fries, the dӧner is king amongst locals and newcomers alike. Though you can find a dӧner shop on every corner, Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab at Mehringdamm and Schӧneberg’s Rüyam Gemüse Kebab are favored amongst Berliners.
Aside from the celebrated dӧner kebab, Berlin also offers plenty by way of up-scale, fast-casual, vegan, and world cuisines. Whatever cuisine you’re looking for, Berlin has got it; just check out the variety featured in Berlin Food Stories’ Top 50 Eateries in 2018.
When I first moved to Berlin 5 years ago, I was worried I’d miss the diverse food scene in California. To my belly’s fortune, Berlin has just as much, if not more, of an international selection of restaurants to choose from. You can pretty much find anything here, and at a really good quality. Also, if you like beer, it’s both plentiful and ridiculously affordable. Can’t argue with that!
— Jacqueline Chen, Product Design Manager
Known for its craft-beer, San Francisco is filled with establishments offering up this hoppy treat. One beer in San Fran, however, could set you back as much as $9 depending on where you’re drinking and its quality. In Berlin, where beer is cheaper than water, you can get a celebrated German beer for as little as 1€, sometimes less. If traditional beer isn’t your beverage of choice, the craft-beer scene has also been bubbling up in the last several years with breweries like BRLO and Vagabund making particularly strong impressions.
The West coast is also known for its Wine Country, with vineyards stretching across more than 3 million acres. That being said, a roundtrip flight from Seattle to San Francisco would cost you nearly $400, not to mention the cost of renting a car and the gas needed to drive to Napa or Sonoma. And, once you’re there, you’ll only be able to taste California wine.
Germany itself has several wine regions producing a collection of celebrated sweet whites and bold reds. If that isn’t enough, Berlin is just a 1-2 hour flight away from the world’s most prominent wine regions and getting there is much cheaper. Interested in trying a white from Austria? A flight could cost you as little as $70. What about a velvety red? Fly from Berlin to Bordeaux for less than $200 and to Tuscany for under $250.
Before Berlin, I lived in Seattle for six years, which is one of the most progressive parts of the US. Berlin is a very open-minded place and attracts a lot of creative people, which is one of my favorite aspects of the city.
— Amanda Mohlenhoff, UX Copy Lead
Artists and bands like Jimi Hendrix, The Decemberists, the Shins, No Doubt, Metallica, and Nirvana originated in the West Coast and the music scene in Berlin is just as strong. Berlin is home to celebrated DJs Hunee, Peggy Gou, and Objekt, who frequently play at the world’s best (according to the New York Times) and exclusive club, Berghain. When your tax accountant, your local grocer, and many of your colleagues moonlight as DJs, you know the opportunity for seeing live music is ample. But Berlin is not only known for its electronic music; it’s also home to a strong punk scene, a world-class Philharmonie, and many jazz and indie-rock joints.
One thing I really like about Berlin is the diversity of people. The creative and alternative style that people have here is like San Francisco was 20 years ago. It’s a great mix of a social society that is accepting of how you look, what you wear or what your interests are.
— Andrew Stoe, Interim Director of Recruitment
Berlin offers many perks that go far beyond this list. Whether it’s the long days of summer, the cozy Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) that pop up around the holidays featuring stall after stall of winter treats, the countless museums and galleries, the mix of cultures as you walk from neighborhood to neighborhood, or the freedom you feel walking the streets, it’s no wonder why Berlin has become a home away from home for many former West-Coasters and other people from around the world.
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