A trip to Berlin for many Poles is associated with a traditional long weekend in May, visiting relatives or friends, or pre-Christmas shopping at one of the local Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt). And of course, in the German capital, you can easily switch to English and order a meal in a restaurant, ask for a shoe size or buy a ticket at the station, but knowing a few German phrases never hurt anyone! Berlin slang, or the phrases that you will hear almost exclusively by the Spree, will supplement your German dictionary with expressions that you can always use to impress friends with whom you travel or native residents of the city.
Einsteigen bitte! Zurückbleiben bitte!
Moving around Berlin is not difficult at all. The German capital has excellent public transport, which consists of a rapid urban and suburban railway (S-Bahn, or Stadtschnellbahn) and the metro (U-bahn, or Untergrundbahn), as well as trams (Straßenbahn) and buses. The network of connections is dense and well thought out, so you can easily move from one end of the city to the other, among other things, thanks to the so-called Ring (Ringbahn). It is an oval route of lines S41 and S42 around the center of Berlin, which is nearly 40 kilometers long and allows travelers from the suburbs to quickly reach all districts within its scope. Local politicians mention the need to build another Ring to reduce the increasingly visible differences between the wealthy center and the poorer areas on the outskirts of the city.
These yellow metro carriages appear on postcards and magnets from Berlin. They are so characteristic of this city that during the spring-summer season, tourists from all over the world take out their phones and cameras, among others, in the direction of the Oberbaumbrücke bridge, in order to capture the passing U1 and U3 lines against the backdrop of the Spree and the setting sun. In the city, there are seven other lines in operation. Getting into the car, you hear the command Einsteigen bitte! Zurückbleiben bitte!, to enter and move away from the door. In turn, getting off, you will hear “Bitte beachten Sie die Lücke zwischen Zug und Bahnsteigkante,” a warning not to fall between the carriage and the platform. During the journey, often someone like a street musician will appear asking for eine kleine Spende, that is, a small amount for food and drink.
Traveling around Berlin, you will quickly discover the differences between the districts. Kreuzberg (often you will come across the notation Xberg) is a district full of bars and restaurants, attracting young city dwellers as well as tourists who are fascinated by the local atmosphere. Perhaps the most popular places in Kreuzberg are Kotti, which is short for Kottbusser Tor, and Görli, which refers to Görlitzer Park. During the holiday season, these are meeting points over beer, which can be legally drunk on the streets of the German capital. Ein helles Bier (“a light beer”) and das Pilsner (“pilsner”) are the most popular types that you can buy on every corner. Opening one, don’t forget about the “Prost!” toast, it’s “to your health” for you and your companions.
Returning to the exploration of Berlin, on the border of the Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts, there is the famous club Berghain, the name of which refers to its unique location. Legends circulate about its lengthy lines and strict entry requirements. Indeed, not everyone manages to get inside, which is why there are quite a few (not always serious) tips on the internet on what to do to convince the bouncers next time. Friedrichshain (F’hain) is a district that was located on the GDR side. Today, it’s another popular meeting place among young residents of the city. Around Boxhagener Platz, or Boxi, new restaurants and bars are constantly popping up, as well as clothing stores.
For tourists who prefer somewhat quieter surroundings, a great alternative is Prenzlauer Berg, which is mainly referred to as Prenzlberg or P’berg among the city’s non-resident inhabitants. Once a rundown district of East Berlin, today it is a symbol of the modernization that took place after the demolition of the Berlin Wall, as well as gentrification, which — according to many — is ruining the German capital. It’s there that you’ll discover numerous cafes, restaurants, stores selling local products or charming backstreets such as Leise Park or Kollwitzplatz.
If you want to feel the atmosphere of West Berlin, be sure to take a walk between Schloss Charlottenburg (a baroque palace that was home to many Prussian kings and German emperors) and Sophie Charlotte Platz and its surroundings.
Be sure to check also:
- Tempelhofer Feld — the area of the former airport in the middle of the city has been (so far!) handed over to the people of Berlin, who love to come here for a picnic, a bike ride around the runway or a walk with their dog.
- Strandbad Wannsee — Berlin is a city that offers a lot of relaxation by the water. Rivers, canals and lakes are part of the urban and suburban landscape. Strandbad Wannsee is a large beach surrounded by a forest, which is especially worth visiting in the summer.
- Gärten der Welt — in the middle of the housing estate erected by the communist authorities of East Berlin, there are beautiful gardens where can walk and rest for hours.
It’s good that the Späti is on the corner!
In a word, which has become permanently rooted in Berlin slang is: Kiez. For Berliners, it means the area, as well as the local community, of which they are a part. This is the neighborhood they identify with.
The majority of neighborhoods offer residents quick shopping at a Späti, which is a local convenience store. Right next to the Späti, you’ll definitely find one of the approximately 4,000 kebab-serving spots in the city. In it, you might hear a question about whether you want it Komplett, which means a full set of salads and sauces. Also, you will rarely be able to pay with a card, so it’s worth having cash with you (in bar bezahlen). When you leave the place, you can say either geil or supergeil. Both words mean cool. But don’t be surprised when you hear Alles palleti in response, which means “Everything’s OK.”
Have a nice trip!