Berlin has treated us quite well. Despite our strict budget, we've been able to afford quite an extensive spread of delicious food, including Vietnamese, Indian, German, and Ethiopian. We've had a fine share of German beers on tap from local bars or bottles from corner stores. We've met a few new acquaintances and spent time with old friends.
|Eating with friends at an Ethiopian restaurant|
|Traditional Vietnamese Pho, a spicy chicken soup|
|One of Berlin's famous street foods- currywurst|
|Some interesting characters strolling towards Berlin's Fashion Week festivities|
Berlin seems to have nothing to hide. Despite the recent ban on smoking indoors, patrons of most bars and pubs feel perfectly comfortable smoking inside. You can walk through certain parks and have multiple offers for, "Looking for a fun time?" or "Weed... cocaine...ecstasy." Certain districts host a long line of women scantily dressed calling out to passers by and oncoming traffic, no doubt shivering in the Berlin winter, but putting themselves out there nonetheless. There is a huge gay scene in the city, even one community is nicknamed the 'gayborhood.' The train system consists of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, one being a web of underground trains, the other an urban system running above ground from the center all the way to the skirting suburbs. Perhaps the most surprising detail of this transportation system is not the smooth, quiet and clean trains and railways, but the fact that the system is run on the honor system. Ticket machines are located at every station and stop, but there are no ticket takers. You buy your ticket from the machine, validate the time and date of purchase on another small machine nearby, then you're permitted to ride for the next two hours. No one checks your ticket or tears off the stub. There are no turnstyles or gates to pass through. Occasionally undercover workers disperse through the cars checking tickets, and if you're caught without one the fine is something like $50. However, this occurrence is quite rare and somehow it's worked for years. Much of the city has been quite shocking, but it's part of what makes you feel comfortable, knowing that just about anything goes. Even more surprising, with all this openness and freedom, the crime rates still rank lower than in the U.S.
|Berlin's main train station|
|The Brandenburg Gate|
|Rotes Rathaus or Red City Hall|
|A flea market in downtown Berlin|
|Someone gets gabby when he drinks|
|Kyle having no trouble settling into the Berlin way of life|