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YES! It's Another Berlin Blog

Berlin, the capital of Germany, is a city of rich history, incredible architecture, and unique culture. I was recently there to photograph one of the interiors for my book, and to also visit extended family (which has been in Germany for over six decades and I lived there as a baby). My experience isn't quite the full-on tourist experience because of that, but I took notice when there were things during my trip that could have been made easier had I planned it a little better. (The photoshoot unfolded quickly, so this trip wasn't planned very far in advance). I also took notice of some of the very remarkable moments (big and small), and compiled a list of tips and reflections for planning your trip to Berlin this summer, or any time of year, for that matter:


  1. Use the BVG metro app - The metro system in Berlin is extensive and using the BVG app makes navigating it much easier. The app has real-time information about train schedules, directions, and ticket prices. Download and familiarize yourself with it before you even leave for your trip. You'll thank me later!

    Berlin metro station with Bauhaus exbition advertisement

  2. Plan ahead for your airport transfer - Berlin's metro system doesn't run 24/7, so it's important to plan your transfer from the airport to your hotel ahead of time. Uber is a popular option and is often much cheaper than a taxi. Keep in mind that the price can vary greatly depending on the time of day. I checked the price of an Uber from my neighborhood to the airport on a Saturday evening (the night before my morning flight), and it was approaching £100. I made peace with that, but when I went to book the Uber the next morning (a Sunday morning) it was £51! So depending on your arrival or departure time, be prepared for the range. The public transport to and from the airport is also reliable, but I just wanted to get in a car.


  1. Have cash on hand - Berlin is a city that operates primarily on cash, especially at farmers markets. I lived steps away the Winterfeldplatz Schoeneberg Market and it was a great place to explore local produce, food, fresh flowers, and handmade goods. Make sure to have cash on hand to make purchases. This particular market, and most around Berlin, happens every Wednesday and Saturday (the more popular day), year-round, rain or shine.

    Wochenmarkt Winterfeldplatz farmers market with fresh produce, cheese, flowers, and crafts.

  2. Reusable coffee cups and bags - Berlin is environmentally conscious, and locals bring their own reusable coffee cups and bags to the market and grocery stores. So pack yours. Otherwise, you might get a dirty look if you show up to the same cafe and ask for yet another plastic lid, as I quickly experienced (which is unfortunately the norm in America). This is a great practice to adopt, not only in Berlin but in your everyday life. So if you want to respect Mother Earth and maybe not look like a careless tourist, bring your reusable cup (and shopping totes) to Berlin.

  3. Same goes for plastic cutlery - Another faux pas! When it comes to takeaway food, restaurants and food vendors in Berlin don't offer plastic cutlery or straws. Instead, you'll likely get a bamboo or compressed cardboard set in a recycled paper bag. Again, it would be wise to invest in a reusable set for the long-haul, or pack a plastic set for your trip. (If you're like me, you have an embarrassing overflowing stash at home. This is your chance to put it to good use.)

Cultural Experiences and Observations

  1. Learn some German - Most people in Berlin speak English, but as I said in my Marrakech article, knowing some of the local language can go a long way and make your experience more enjoyable. Plus, it's a fun challenge to try speaking a new language. Also, there are just some aspects that are not in English, like the entire metro system (another reason to download the app, which does have an English option).

  2. Germans are direct -This may come off as rude, but I found it refreshing at times and appreciated the directness. Something that might be interpreted as rude is just the way they are to everybody (hugging isn't necessarily a default way to greet, and they just tell you like it is). On my morning flight home, a group of men were being boisterous and loud on the plane, yelling across to each other (and were also drunk/drinking). A young German lady turned around and asked them very directly to stop yelling over her because she couldn't hear the podcast she was listening to (and did the rest of us a huge favor in doing so). I was waiting for an uproar, but instead there was a lighthearted exchange between the group of men and her. The men quieted down, and the young woman carried on with her podcast in peace.

    With Afro-Deutsche friends at the Intercontinental in Berlin


  3. Being Black in Berlin and Being a Black-American woman in Berlin. I was only there for a week, and one must understand that Blackness is not a monolith. Therefore, not all Black people have the same experience anywhere in the world. In terms of my cultural and ethnic identity, I self-identify as Ugandan and Black-American (both. not either/or). It's not lost on me that there is a tremendous amount of privilege given to American travelers overseas, including Black Americans. Americans can be identified by our clothing, the way we wear our hair, and ultimately, our sing-songy American English. These impressions usually work in our favor. This is very much my feeling when I am traveling throughout Europe. Meanwhile, my African-German friends and family, many of whom moved there during childhood, spoke of very different experiences and treatment, both in Germany and elsewhere during their own travels. In some ways, they mirrored my own travel experiences (people assuming we're prostitutes) and growing up in the States (the micro-agressions at work, school, and everywhere), but in other ways I didn't have to confront them during my brief time as an American tourist.

    I am not well-versed in the nuances of European racism and anti-Blackness in the same way I am with the American variants, but my advice is at the end of the day, you have to know your individual comfort zone and  boundaries. Regardless of what country or what culture your are in, if something off-color or blatant happens, have a plan in place to deal with it in a way that keeps you safe and respected as a human being. I always let people know where I'm going, and I carry a loud whistle with me everywhere (including at home). I've only let the U.S. embassy know that I'm in a particular country one time (you can do this online now), and that was because my guide's American friend insisted. I haven't made that a habit, but it's worth pursuing for some.

In conclusion, Berlin is one of my favorite cities in the world and I can't wait to go back this summer. The city has a rich history, incredible architecture, and a unique culture that makes it a must-visit destination. I hope these tips help make your trip to Berlin an unforgettable experience. Maybe I'll see you there! - Nasozi

Sunny winter day in Berlin, in Schoeneberg

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