A walk around our neighbourhood

You show me yours… and I’ll show you mine…

At the beginning of the year when it was snowing and too cold to go outside, I was scouring the internet for fun blog-related projects to try out and I came across The Piripiri Lexicon’s Show Me Around Your Neighbourhood. Bloggers from all over the world put up photos of the area in which they live and introduce it to their readers. I really enjoyed seeing children’s playgrounds in Nagoya, a school in rural Zambia and places to worship in Russia. It’s such an amazing idea – you get to glimpse a life in another country – and today I will show you all “my neighbourhood”.

Berlin is full of open spaces. During the Second World War, 70% of the city was flattened. Although over the years many high-rise buildings have been built, it still feels very open, even when you are in the centre of the city. Also, housing was not normally built over five storeys, as then they could get away without constructing lifts (elevators) into the building. In fact, in the middle of Berlin there is an old airport that they have left to nature and people can walk along the old runways and have barbeques alongside the communal gardens they have created. It’s a wonderful open space.

There are parks and children everywhere. I come from London, another capital city, but unless you go further out of the centre of town, you don’t see many young children. In Berlin I feel like kids are all over the place. You can’t walk past a corner without seeing Schools and Kindergarten with children carrying their Scout school bags on their shoulders. Small parks with climbing frames are found in all small communities and open spaces often look like this:

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Here you can see on the right an area for children to play basketball/ football in a fenced court and in the middle there are many tennis tables. There is so much grass here too! It feels like kids go to bed later here than in the UK and if the sun is shining then you will find groups of children playing in the parks until late, often without any adult supervision, as they all live nearby.

Transport in Berlin is all about the bicycle. I am still astonished that I can get to work almost exclusively on bicycle lanes, mostly on roads that don’t even allow cars. Travel in Berlin is expensive and as it’s such a cheap city to live in, many people choose two wheels in order to save money as well as to help the environment, whilst keeping themselves healthy. However I was surprised to see so few helmet wearing cyclists and barely any lights on the bikes, even in the dark of night. Here you can see that there isn’t even enough space to park all the bikes for the people who live in the building and an example of a bike lane:

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Let me tell you about housing in this city. As I said before, Berlin was bombed heavily during WWII, and once the war was over people flocked to Berlin. There was a chronic shortage of housing and people began to build cheap and quick homes. In the below photo you can see the new housing in the front – it’s very square and rough. Compare this to the building in the back, with it’s intricate balcony detailing, curved walls and high ceilings. This is typical of the old-style of housing here and these apartments are high in demand and almost impossible to rent as people sublet these apartments to their friends and family in order to keep the rent low.

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The old style of housing is warm and quiet. We used to live in the new style of housing and I can tell you it’s cold and you can hear every single thing your neighbours say.

A typical street in our area is here:

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The cobbled streets are surrounded by trees and finding parking is a difficult task. If you look carefully you can see all the houses in the background are new-builds as they are very straight and do not have high ceilings.

Now, let me tell you about the supermarkets. I was surprised at the amount of meat you can buy in Germany (I actually wrote about it here). The supermarkets are never open on a Sunday, so you have to make sure to go out and stock up the fridge on a Saturday. Sadly you won’t be the only one and the queues are huge, with impatient German people shouting at the staff to open more tills immediately. You always bring your own bag, as you have to pay for them at the till and people will tut at you for being so unkind to the environment.

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photo 1Also I have been asked to include a photo of a typical school here. This is a Kindergarten. As you can see, it’s just inside an old house. This seems to be normal, as schools are often small and the houses are huge. People here tend to stay in their local area, so it makes sense to have lots of little local schools nearby, so the kids don’t have far to go to school. If you take a look through the windows, you can always see the children’s artwork covering the walls in bright colours and we often see them going on walks in the local area.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the little walk around our local area. If you have any comments or questions or anything surprised you, let us know in the box below! :)

12 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed your writing and photos on where you are living in Berlin. It was interesting to see the cultural differences such as predominantly cycling rather than driving and the not so different – people moaning at long queues! The area seem a lot cleaner/tidier than dear old Ealing.

    • Yup – it’s a lovely part of town. We used to live on the other side of Berlin and it was so dirty and “hip” with rubbish everywhere and you had to always look down to make sure you didn’t step in dog’s poo… lovely…
      I would say however the moaning at long queues is a major difference here. In England we would “tut” and silently shake our heads. Here in Germany they literally shout at the poor workers and tell them to hurry up or get more staff and open more tills. It’s a bit shocking still now!
      Thanks for the comment Ms Lizard :)

  2. Very cool idea, especially because you can not only explore other cities, but also neighborhoods in your own city. I look forward to doing this soon.

    • Yup – I really enjoyed doing this – I look forward to reading yours together. I hope you don’t need to wait 6 months for your slot :)

  3. Great post! I love the NeighbourhoodsAround the World series.

    My German city has verkaufsoffener Sonntag this Sunday 😉

    • Wow – lucky you – we had one of those last weekend actually so we had to check it out! Such a novelty 😉
      I love the posts as well, they are always so interesting and you get a great insight into a tiny part of someone’s world – fabulous :)

  4. I love this series so far so informative. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to that side of the world but I really love this post about Berlin. It’s so different from the states or anywhere else I’ve ever been and I like the idea of small community schools compared to schools that are so far away from home.

    • You must absolutely come to Berlin – I love this series as well. It’s such a great idea to learn something about a totally different place, without having to leave your sofa 😉

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