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Berlin has been compared to Paris in the 1920s and New York City in the 1970s; it is modest yet inviting, attracting the young and the restless from all corners of the world. Lifestyle in Berlin is a lesson in bohemian living, and expats moving to the once-divided German capital should be prepared to immerse themselves in the alternative.
Fashion, design, music, art and architecture are many residents' mainstay and their source of enjoyment. These 'modern hedonists' of Berlin, as they are often called, have blurred the lines between work and play, and the result is a constantly changing, uber cosmopolitan and culturally-rich metropolis.
Internationally acclaimed outdoor festivals grace the city during summertime, galleries of every description abound, and the fashion district is bursting at the seams. Berlin is a city to be explored with an open mind, and a bohemian mentality.
Nightlife in Berlin
Berlin's nightlife is second to none; boasting full-throttle sex clubs, dimly-lit cafés and even opportunities to enjoy a night as an opera-goer. Specifically, the districts of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg are saturated and any space is likely to become a venue for young Berlin to dance the night away.
Those who enjoy anything with an intellectual edge will find a fertile nesting ground in Berlin. Art galleries and live music venues are often open till late in the city.
Shopping in Berlin
In a city as innovative as Berlin, lifestyle and fashion go hand in hand, and shopping here is an experience defined by both style and originality. While each area in Berlin has its own commercial hub, the two most well known in West and East Berlin respectively are Ku'damm (Kurfurstendamm) and Mitte.
Ku'damm is a two-mile (4km) stretch of avenue in Charlottenburg where everything from department stores to designer outlets can be found. This area is akin to New York's Fifth Avenue and can seem a bit claustrophobic with both locals and tourists flocking here during peak shopping season. Alternatively, Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse in East Berlin are beginning to rival Ku'damm as the city's premier shopping mile. Once host to a bevy of tacky souvenir shops, these areas have become home to a number of well-known and luxurious fashion houses in recent years.
Mitte, on the other hand, is full of funky finds for those more artistically inclined. In contrast to West Berlin's tradition of mainstream megastores, this East Berlin area boasts an array of second-hand shops and flea markets.
Eating out in Berlin
Expats living in Berlin will find that the food in the German capital is fuss-free and delicious. Much of the local cuisine in Berlin has been influenced by immigrants from neighbouring countries and ingredients such as pork, goose, fish, cabbage, turnips, pickles and potatoes commonly feature in the city's cuisine.
If German fare doesn’t suit one's tastes, there are plenty of international options to be had in cosmopolitan Berlin. The city is home to a whole host of top-quality restaurants featuring cuisine from across the globe, including Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, French, Turkish and Spanish.
Outdoor activities in Berlin
Active expats will find plenty to keep themselves busy in the city. While football (soccer) is probably the most popular sport in the capital, expats can also take part in a number of different outdoor activities such as horse riding or hiking. Cycling is a favourite pastime of Berlin residents and there are many great biking trails which will allow new arrivals to explore the city and its surrounds on two wheels. Those that enjoy a spot of golf will find some great scenic golf courses also located close to the city.
Fresh air is in abundance as there are more than 2,500 parks and green spaces in the German capital. Expats should certainly take the time to visit one of the city's greatest green assets such as Tiergarten or Viktoriapark. These parks offer a great environment for runners, walkers and cyclists, but even those that would prefer to enjoy a good book or have a picnic in the sunshine will enjoy these spaces.
►For more on what to expect of the German lifestyle, see Culture Shock in Germany.
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