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The capital of Germany has a population of over 3.5 million people. Berlin has become popular as a place of residence for people from all over the world as it is the most inexpensive capital city in Western Europe.
Berlin is famous for its architecture, festivals, contemporary arts, nightlife and a high quality of living.
Berlin’s gay scene is spread out across two main districts: Schöneberg and Prenzlauer Berg.
Most of the gay hotels, bars, cafés and shops are located in the Schöneberg district. There are two smaller gay areas in the less commercial Kreuzberg and the younger Friedrichshain in the east which has developed as another area with gay-friendly venues.
Gay highlights include Folsom Europe, the Berlinale film festival, Easter Meeting for bears and friends, the Gay & Lesbian Street Festival in Schöneberg, Gay Pride, Hustler Ball and many large sex parties.
The scene in Berlin is strong and diverse, and everyone will find something for their taste. Many gay bars and clubs don’t indicate closing hours. In Berlin, if you are up for it, you can party around the clock.
The age of consent in Germany is 14. However, anyone over the age of 21 who exploits or abuses a 14 or 15 year old is committing an offence.
Berlin is served by two airports: Tegel (TXL) and Schönefeld (SXF). Both airports are scheduled to be closed when the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport becomes operational in 2018.
Most scheduled flights use the Tegel airport, just 8 km northwest of the city centre. Although there is no rail or subway links to Tegel there is a frequent bus service. Look out for TXL JetExpressBus for transport towards Alexanderplatz with prices starting from €2.80. Taxis to central areas are around €30.
Schönefeld is the former airport of East Berlin, 18km southeast of the city centre. It’s small and currently working with only one runway. Much of the traffic is to Eastern Europe and the Middle and Far East but budget airlines from the UK and Ireland also use it.
From the airport, you can take the bus or the train. One ticket can be used for the combined journey and costs around €3.30 A taxi to anywhere central will cost around €45 and takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic and destination.
The Berlin transport authority, the BVG, operates bus, U-Bahn (underground) and tram networks. The S-Bahn (overground railway) is run by its own authority, but services are integrated within the same three-zone system.
This service consists of nine lines and covers the major part of the city (over 170 stations). The first trains run shortly after 4am; the last between midnight and 1am, except on Fridays and Saturdays when some lines run all night. The direction of travel is indicated by the name of the last stop on the line.
The S-Bahn rapid transit system includes15 lines that feed into one of three core lines. Especially useful in Eastern Berlin, the S-Bahn covers long distances faster than the U-Bahn and is a more efficient means of getting to outlying areas
Berlin has a dense network of 150 bus routes. The day lines run from 4:30am to about 1am the next morning. Enter at the front of the bus and exit in the middle or at the back. The driver sells only individual tickets, but all tickets from machines on the U- or S-Bahn are valid. Most bus stops have clear timetables and route maps.
There are about twenty tram lines, mainly in the East, though some have been extended into the Western half of the city. Tickets are available from machines on the trams, at the terminals and in U-Bahn stations.
Berlin is also served by the Regionalbahn (regional railway), which once connected East Berlin with Potsdam. It still runs around the city. The ticket prices vary according to the journey.
Traveling at Night
Berlin has a comprehensive night-line network that covers all parts of town via buses and trams running every 30 minutes between 12:30am and 4:30am. Before and after these times, the regular timetable for bus and tram routes applies.
Berlin taxis are numerous, safe and efficient. For short journeys, ask for a Kurzstrecke – up to two km for €5, but only available when you’ve hailed a cab and not from a taxi stand. The meter starts at €3.90, and €2 per km for the first 7 km thereafter. The rate remains the same at night.
There are plenty of taxi stands, especially in central areas. You can call for a taxi 24 hours daily at 261 026. Most firms can transport people with disabilities but require advance notice. Taxis accept all major credit cards.
Exploring Berlin by car is another easy way to get around. There is a wide range of vehicles for rent. Drivers should bear in mind that, in the absence of signals, they must yield to traffic from the right. Trams always have right of way.
Parking is free in Berlin side streets, but spaces are hard to find. On busier streets, you may have to buy a ticket (from €1 per hour) from a nearby machine.
Berlin is wonderful for cycling. The west side is flat, with lots of cycle paths, parks and canals to cruise beside, whereas the east has fewer cycle paths and more cobblestones and tram lines. Cycles can be taken on the U-Bahn (except during rush hour).
Berlin is a large city, with many things to see and do. Most gay travellers stay near the Schöneberg, Prenzlauer Berg or Berlin Mitte.
Pergamon Museum – Berlin’s famous museum that contains several fantastic artefacts, including the huge Altar of Zeus.
Berlin Philharmonic – world-class orchestra featuring some of the best classical music in Germany.
Deutsches Historisches Museum – a great museum that offers a fascinating look at Germany’s grand and turbulent history
Reichstag (Parliament) – historic building with spectacular views from its rooftop dome, made with sleek glass and steel, designed by famous British architect, Sir Norman Foster – open to the public 8am-noon
The Holocaust Memorial – a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold.
Neues Museum – large museum beautiful neoclassical building, contains 9,000 interesting and unusual objects spread across three major historical collections.
Memorial Of The Berlin Wall – the last piece of the Berlin Wall. This memorial site of the German division is located in the middle of the city on Bernauer Strasse, it extends along 1.4 km of the former border strip.
Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate ) – famous monument which has long been a defining symbol of Berlin.
Potsdam – famous neighbouring city and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg region; magnificent historic sites and gardens, located on the River Havel 24 km southwest of Berlin’s city centre.
The Memorial, designed by artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, is a moving tribute to the “forgotten” gay victims of Nazism. The cuboid, that is made of concrete, has a small window, through which visitors can watch a film of two men kissing.
Erection of the Memorial was approved by the Bundestag in 2003. Dedication took place on the 27th May 2008 dedication. The event was attended by Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit, President of the Budestag Wolfgang Thierse, German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann, Volker Beck and Renate Künast.
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