The Bigger Picture

ctr-curso-reisejournalismus-2016-auslandspraktikumNo matter how big a team you put together, even if you have a plethora of words or an unlimited amount of time; if you’re posed with the challenge of reviewing a city it’s a fairly mammoth task. How on earth do you summarise its entire geographic, historic and cultural information all into, in this particular case, one e-Book? Quite simply, the answer is you cannot. Therefore, we set out with a slightly different intention. We want to provide you with ‘The Bigger Picture’. Rather than just listing the magnitude of events and activities available, our goal has been to convince you as to what makes Berlin so uniquely special to visit. Thus, we’ve hunted down and presented the perfect blend of attractions and places to visit that replicates our experience of this incredibly diverse city.

It’s near impossible to even begin describing Berlin without mentioning its history. Although long-spanning, the amount that has occurred here in just the past century alone is vast and incomparable to nearly any other place in the world. Modern-day Berlin is surrounded by its past, largely because in most instances, it occurred not so long ago. In our Brief History section, we’ve provided a timeline of historical events and information which will help you gain a full and comprehensive understanding of our recommended sites, allowing you to appreciate their relevance and purpose in the city’s current culture. For those of you whose time in Berlin is fairly limited, we’ve created a Survival Guide which includes an item named: ‘24 hours in Berlin’. Spanning from 09:00 until 09:00 the hypothetical following day, we’ve crammed in as much as humanly possible so that even if you’re short on time, you’ll see a large proportion of what the city has to offer and already be desperate to return for more.
We’ve also included some essential information to make your time here run as smoothly as possible; we want you to be focused on absorbing the palpably thriving atmosphere rather than on the comparably smaller details. For instance, there are some key German phrases, details on Berlin’s Accessibility provisions and longer features on Public Transport and Accommodation, so that it’s far easier for you to decide where you want to stay and the best way to navigate to all our must-see locations! Once our feature has helped you get to grips with the city’s transport network, look out for station and route details on each of our reviews.

This is then followed by a little context. We state the district in which all these attractions fall, but in relation to Berlin as a whole, what does that actually mean? We want you to start to get the feel of what a particular event or landmark will be, just from noting the area in which it’s located. Henceforth, there are brief profiles of all the city’s key districts, with some background information about their beginnings and development, as well as a general sense of their atmosphere and culture.

Okay so by this point, we think you’re ready to start exploring. As much as possible, we’ve attempted to strike a balance between the past and the present; the historic and the cultural, the mainstream and the alternative. Our intention, again, is to provide you with a guide that truly reflects the Berlin you will be visiting. It’s not necessary to stick to the beaten track and simply see the Brandenburg Gate, the Berliner Dom and Museum Island. At the same time, you shouldn’t reject these entirely and remain solely within Berlin’s underground scene, hunting graffiti and chasing shadows in Kreuzberg by night. Although seemingly opposing sides and ideals of the city, they in fact coexist and help each other thrive: the past highlights the liberalism of the present and the modern culture has only developed because of the historic events that fuelled drastic change. Instead of merely scraping the surface, we think we’ve provided enough variety for you to sink your teeth right into the centre of Berlin, which is a molten mix of sight-seeing, clubbing and everything and anything in-between.

In addition, there’s also a section on some potential trips to undertake that are only a short distance away and, in regards to painting ‘The Bigger Picture’, we really feel they add to the landscape of Berlin and its role in the sociocultural development of Germany as a whole.

Then finally, you’ll briefly get to meet us! Who we are, a little about our lives and our ‘Most Berlin Moment’: the located fragment of time when we felt we had finally become one with the city. Essentially, our aspiration was to provide you with the true image of Berlin. One that’s not fragmented or divided (as it once was) but as a whole, albeit slightly stitched together and disjointed, picture. It is not a realist piece. It is utterly surreal and unconventional. It marries together styles, morals, cultures and ideologies that should not co-exist and function competently. And yet they do and it really does work. Oh so well.

Berlin is a living piece of experimental art. Its aim and purpose is often confused and misunderstood but what it’s trying to do, and what we hope to assist you to see, is that it is trying to paint an all together much bigger picture.

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Everything and nothing, up and down, sunny and rainy, traditional and modern, eerie and romantic

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Where to start? There is no dot, no ending, no fixed definition of Scotland’s capital. There should be ellipsis points creating association spaces to be able to recognize the city’s unique diversity.
As a city of paradoxes, one won’t be surprised that Edinburgh was the birth place of Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The notorious author called it: “Half a capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence; it has long trances of the one and flashes of the other; […] it is half alive and half a monumental marble.”
The same conflicting nature seems to reflect almost every aspect of urban life, be it the historical, the cultural or the atmospheric ones. Its moderate size does not restrict its cosmopolitan flair. A rough and strong appearance meets elegant and romantic elements that hold bittersweet memories of bygone days. Just like the tradition meets the spirit of the time, both are unified by the open-hearted, welcoming people of Edinburgh.

There are ellipsis points creating association spaces which show the city’s endlessness. With this in mind our guidebook is not supposed to describe Edinburgh as a fixed, absolute and inflexible construct. This booklet shall rather be an assistance supporting you to find your own definition of Edinburgh. Make your personal experiences within the city’s walls.  And if our collaborative work helps you doing so, the super-individual goal of the CTR program will be accomplished.
Edinburgh has never been fully explored. And it never will be.

EDINBURGH – City of contrasts
Team Spring 2016

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My Berlin

ctr-cover-my-berlin1As a city with such historical significance, Berliners don’t shy away from the past. Memorials and monuments commemorating different facets of German history dot the Berlin landscape, providing a place to remember and reflect.
Sights

History and art fans beware: you will have your work cut out for you in Berlin. With over 150 museums and approximately 300 galleries (that we know of), you will struggle to fit everything in a holiday timetable. From open-air contemporary art galleries to historical museums, there is truly something for every taste.
Museums & Art Galleries

Berlin has a very urban feel when walking among the streets that are full of character. Whether it is looking at monuments, going to markets, or having a bite to eat, there are various possibilitiesto explore.
Streets & Tours

From street food and beach bars, to third wave coffee shops and vegan eateries Berlin offers a vast assortment of bars, restaurants and cafes that will leave travellers satisfied. Throughout the city, streets are littered with outdoor tables and delicious aromas that will lure you in. As a cultural hotspot, Berlin’s food and drink balances quality with affordability.
Eating & Drinking

Throughout Berlin there are areas of calm where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Whether it’s a peaceful lake in the suburbs or a park right in the middle of the city, there are endless places to choose from. In addition to this, you can find many activities to do whilst exploring outside in this fascinating city.
Outdoors

Whether you want to enjoy a day out or spend the night on the town, Berlin has something for you. From outdoor Karaoke, to jazz nights, to some of the most famous clubs in Europe, you’ll be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t interest you. Go out there and have fun, we sure did.
Entertainment

Team CTR Berlin
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Up Close: Edinburgh Farmers Market

cover-edinburgh-up-closeEdinburgh Farmers’ market, located at Castle Terrace, offers fresh food from local farmers. As one out of ten best British markets it is worth a visit – not only because of the tasty samples at every of the thirty stalls, but especially because of its high quality organic food.
The smell of handmade sausages and bacon will make you feel hungry right at the beginning. Additionally you have several types of cheese, fresh ish, lobster and dairy products, such as cheese- cake -cream. You can also buy Scottish tablet for 2£, tartes illed with haggis, or fresh made bread from a German bakery. Also hot drinks and soups are available as well as healthy smoothies, or sweets from “the Chocolate Tree” and self-made pastries. You can always have a break, sit down and enjoy the stunning view on Edinburgh castle or inform yourself about the local farmers at the information stall. If the weather is good you may be lucky to savour some musicians too. Opening at 9am, Farmers market is a great opportunity to have an unforgettable, fresh, organic and especially local breakfast, surrounded by habitants shopping. As a tip: Saturdays you will also ind about twenty stalls at Grassmarket until 5pm.
A Traveller’s Guidebook through the Lanes of Old Reekie

Team CTR Edinburgh
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Off the Beaten

cover Berlin City Guide Off The Beaten StrasseBerlin is home to some of the most profound and insightful museums and galleries in the world. Ranging in exhibits from ancient Egyptian artifacts to the tragic history of persecuted Jews to the surreal paintings of Dali, this city is a cultural hub. No matter your interests you are sure to find an exhibition that will challenge your opinions and expand your mind.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Berlin’s history stretches back 775 eventful years, with various generations and dynasties leaving behind their mark in the form of landmarks and monuments. On either side of the Unter den Linden, the central boulevard of Berlin, lays a multitude of historic and awe-inspiring sights. A short walk around Mitte, the central district of Berlin, will take you past a litany of striking landmarks, from the Prussian era grandness of the Berliner Dom to the Cold War era remains of the Berlin wall, to the modern majesty of the TV tower. Truly, Berlin is truly a godsend for tourists looking for great sights, both famous and obscure.
SIGHTS

Berlin: the big grey city. A landscape entirely covered in drab high rises and industrial-looking buildings; or at least that’s what most tourists might think when coming here. With its best known aspects being its post-war ruins and eclectic art culture, travellers may not expect much in terms of outdoor getaways. But the city is abundant in large open parks, like Mauerpark, Tiergarten and the nearby Sanssouci Park just to name a few. Berlin proves to have something to offer everyone’s varying interests. With bikes on hire on nearly every corner, bathing lakes just a tram ride away and a visibly strong focus on fitness, this concrete jungle actually turns out to be a surprisingly green space.
OUTSIDE

What’s in a name? When it comes to Berlin, a lot. From Karl Marx Allee to the Kurfürstendamm, this city’s streets and tours provide a window into the past. So set out to a tourist hotspot or wander off the beaten strasse and immerse yourself in a city rich in history.
STREETS & TOURS

Known as the city that is “poor but sexy”, this German capital has high-design low-cost youth hostels all over the city. Travellers on a budget have the chance to rest their head comfortably and there is a plethora of options ranging from the ever popular chain Generator Hostels to the cozy boutique Wallyard Concept Hostel. All located within distance of major tourist attractions and close to public transportation links, visitors can take their pick to which neighbourhood they would like to eat, sleep and play in, giving them a glimpse into life as a Berliner.
ACCOMMODATION

Home to the famous Currywurst there is an impressive variety of local street food available all over Berlin. From cafés specialising in pretzels or patisseries to German food markets serving the popular kebabs, you will be spoilt for choice in this city bursting with flavours. Try out the craft beer gardens or sip on a cup of Berlin’s quality coffee, you will definitely find something to tickle your taste buds.
FOOD & DRINK

Berlin is known for its eccentric nightlife and clubbing scene. Most clubs play Techno music but you don’t have to look hard to find venues that specialise in Rock, Hip Hop and Jazz. Many clubbing spaces occupy previously abandoned warehouses, power and heating plants. These industrial settings generally create an intense and sweaty environment. Door policies vary from club to club and your best bet is to go out in small groups and dress casually.
NIGHTLIFE

Bursting with the best places for art and music events,performance venues, sports stadiums and festivals, all reviewed by us cool folk at CTR, you are bound to find some form of entertainment to your required taste. With a heap of music gigs, sporting events and art shows to choose from, Berlin is definitely the place for a dose of good ‘ole’ culture.
ENTERTAINMENT

Visitors to Berlin may not be expecting much outside its well-known history and vibrantly unorthodox party scene, but once here it would be hard to leave without adding a few new numbers to your wardrobe. Whether it’s a way to kill time after your walking tour, or an unexpected pop-up market which has caught your eye, you’ll quickly learn Berlin plays host to an exciting shopping scene. So get your wallet ready and prepare yourself to shop ‘til you drop at some of these awesome destinations.
SHOPPING

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No Wall Left: 100/200

ctr-cover-no-wall-leftThese public bus routes traverse the city offering a fairly comprehensive tour for a cheaper price than a tourist bus. Bus 200 departs from outside the main entrance of Zoologischer Garten station. In the opposite direction it leaves from Michelangelostraße in the Prenzlauer Berg area, taking around 40 minutes to complete the route. You will cruise past Berlin Philharmonie and Potsdamer Platz, before heading along the historic boulevard Unter den Linden, which is full of cultural attractions like the State Opera House, the Neue Wache memorial, Deutsches Historiches Museum and Museum Island. You will have the opportunity to admire Lustgarten, The Dom and the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz before the bus reaches its terminus.

Alternatively choose Bus 100, the first bus service to connect East and West Berlin after the city’s unification. It travels between Zoologischer Garten station and Alexanderplatz. Like the 200 it travels down Unter den Linden: get off at this stop if you wish to view the popular Brandenburg Gate, and from there it is only a short walk to the Reichstag. You will then be taken down the central road through Tiergarten where you can behold the glorious Siegessäule (Victory Column) before going south onto Kurfürstenstraße.

Bus 100 is the better option if you want a shorter journey time of around 30 minutes (without getting off) and if you want to see more of the famous sights in the city, although it is generally busier than the 200. Both offer a cheap hop-on hop-off alternative to the standard tour bus for the price of a standard day ticket. If you are young at heart, then the best seat is naturally at the very front of the top deck, where you can ‘drive’ the bus on your own personal tour of Berlin.

Team CTR Berlin
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Be in Berlin: The Ampelmann

ctr-cover-be-in-berlinWalking through Berlin, the traffic light symbols dress in their Sunday best to kindly tell you when to stop and go.

Created by traffic psychologist Karl Peglau in 1961, the iconic Ampelmann silhouettes were inspired by a photo of the general secretary of the Socialist Unity Party Erich Honecker in a straw hat, and were soon stationed at every street crossing in East Berlin. Since the fall of the wall, the Ampelmann has become cult item and a positive symbol of the identity of the East Berlin citizens, and can now be seen splashed on merchandise at the many Ampelmann stores dotted around the city.

Walking into the store, it’s hard not to smile at the brightly coloured towels, key chains and t-shirts; the endearing stop-and-go symbols are plastered over every inch of the walls, floor and ceiling. Peruse through the racks of Ampelmann towels, rubber ducks and hilarious postcards, seeing why the Ampelmann is loved by so many.

After you’ve taken the obligatory photo inside the larger-than-life Ampelmann statue, sit back in the café and enjoy a coffee as you watch traffic lights from around the globe blink their green and red counterparts. After you’ve spent the remainder of your Euros on Ampel-merchandise, tip your hat to the ol’ crossing friend as you leave the store and wait for the green ampelmann to greet you at the side of the road.

Team CTR Berlin
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