Berlin is famous for its culture, and a huge part of that is the art scene, which includes the music and nightlife. I’m an avid music collector, and it’s part of what attracted me to this city. Every genre and style is represented, funk, disco, hip-hop, techno, house, jazz, folk, you can hear it all, and there’s a good chance there are lots of other people interested in the same kinds of music as you, which is nice.
What’s interesting is that the reason this place is such a cultural hub, is because after the cold war and the Berlin wall fell, nobody wanted to live here. Since there were so many empty places to live and abandoned property, artists, who are notoriously poor, began to move here, often squatting industrial properties and taking advantage of rock bottom rents in creatively inspiring, wide open spaces.
I consider myself to be a bit of an artist – I write, make music, and perform as a DJ. I was attracted to Berlin for these same reasons, and now I’m here, learning to speak German and immersing myself in the wonderful, diverse culture. I’m learning German at Kapitel Zwei, which is an intensive language school right in the center of the city, in Alexanderplatz.
Berlin is cool because it’s huge, and divided in to several very different Burroughs, or Kiez in German. Alexanderplatz, where Kapitel Zwei is, is directly in the center of the city, Mitte. Everything connects through Alexanderplatz, it’s easy to get to from anywhere, all the subways and abovegrounds and buses and trams go here. Mitte is a slightly more expensive part of the city, but it’s safe, clean, and obviously well connected for transit.
The cultural center of Berlin is south of Mitte, in Kreuzberg. This is where the best clubs, the best bars, and the most unique characters are, because it has been the cheapest part of the city. This place is alive 24 hours a day, and the streets are crawling with cool, diverse characters, good fashion, lots of street art and excellent food. People have told me it wasn’t always the safest place to live, but it isn’t dangerous anymore. Some artists who have lived here a long time are a little frustrated because now that it is known globally as the cultural center of Berlin, everyone wants to move here, so rents are rising and it is losing some of its characteristic vibe, it’s becoming gentrified.
The third Kiez in Berlin that I’m pretty familiar with is Prenzlauer Berg. This is where most of the young professionals live, and there are always strollers cruising by you on the streets, as it’s a nice place to raise a family. It’s got good, classy restaurants, and while it’s not quite as hectic as Kreuzberg, it’s still very interesting and fashionable. It’s just north of Alexanderplatz, via the U8, U2, or one of the west Berlin trams.