Books Can Take You Places: Berlin

Already this year, we’ve taken a trip 8 different cities and our journey around the world is far from over!  This month let’s explore all that Berlin, Germany has to offer.

Known for its cultural institutions and trendsetting old-meets-new atmosphere, Berlin has been a destination for writers and other artists for hundreds of years. The list of creative types with a “Berlin era” in their biography includes writers Franz Kafka and Vladimir Nabokov as well as rock musician David Bowie, who famously described 1970s-era Berlin as “the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.”

BerlinVisitors raised on decades of spy films and John le Carré novels may envision Berlin as a cold, uninviting labyrinth of concrete and razor wire with sinister Stasi operatives and KGB agents lurking around every corner. But even though elements of the city’s Cold War past remain (and can be viewed in places like the East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie), Berlin bears much more in common with other European cities than you might expect.

Upon arrival, my companions and I instantly made a beeline for the nearest café, where we sat drinking beer alongside cobblestone streets and soaking in the simple pleasure of people watching on a warm summer day. Later that afternoon we toured a Baroque palace at Schloss Charlottenburg, discovered the marvels of döner kebab (a popular form of Turkish rotisserie sold by street vendors and small shops all across Western Europe), and staggered a few kilometers back to the hotel after a rowdy night out at a biergarten in the Tiergarten. You may begin to detect a theme here. Continue reading