Travel Like a Local: Berlin

Emily Lines, BA’10, began learning German in the seventh grade—effectively unlocking her passion for the country and its culture. Years later, she spent a semester abroad in Germany before graduating from IU Bloomington with degrees in international studies and Germanic studies.

Lines eventually returned to the European country for a master’s program through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and never left. She’s called Berlin home since 2011 and says that she’s “near fluent” in the language she took up as a preteen.

Emily Lines, front left, celebrating IU Day 2022 with Josephine Bastian, MM’21, back left, and Grace Douglas, BS’18, back right, at BRLO Biergarten. Photo courtesy of Emily Lines.

Despite being roughly 4,500 miles from Indiana, Lines has befriended several IU alumni in the capital city. The group of alums even gathered at a local brewery to celebrate IU Day 2022.

You’ll find Lines’s Berlin restaurant recommendations and sightseeing tips in the following Q&A.


Food and Drinks

What are some of your favorite restaurants in Berlin?
Emily Lines
:

Curry 36
This fast-food restaurant is where you’ll find a good traditional Berlin currywurst. There are a few locations around the city and it’s cheap. I recommend ordering the original currywurst with fries.

Rausch Chocolate House
This fancier café has delicious cakes and really amazing hot chocolate (my usual go-to). Depending on what you order, I would consider this moderately priced.

Bahadur
This moderately priced Indian restaurant is known for their Tandoori Grill dishes. It’s very popular, so I highly recommend making a reservation.

Azzam Restaurant
This is a great falafel and hummus spot. It’s really affordable and you get a lot of food.

The original Curry 36 location is in Kreuzberg near the Mehringdamm subway stop.

Is there any street food you recommend trying?
EL
: Thaipark is full of different vendors selling delicious Thai food. You can try a wide variety of dishes at reasonable prices—and then enjoy it all in the park.

Which Berlin bars do you recommend?
EL
: I really like going to BRLO. They have a large selection of beers as well as a variety of non-alcoholic drinks. If you’re looking for a nice cocktail bar, I like LIMONADIER Cocktailbar. Order the Kreuzberg Spritz.


Accommodations

Which neighborhood do you recommend visitors stay in?
EL
: Kreuzberg, Schöneberg, or Prenzlauer Berg are good options. If you prefer something more central, I suggest the area around Rosenthaler Platz. I would not stay right next to the major tourist destinations (Alexanderplatz, Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz), and I wouldn’t stay near Warschauer Strasse. The latter can be quite busy and loud, especially late at night.

Is there a hotel you recommend?
EL
: I’m a fan of the Motel One hotels. They’re affordable and have everything you need—breakfast, Wi-Fi, a bar, etc.


Sightseeing and Entertainment

What are a few activities people must do while visiting Berlin?
EL
: The easiest way to see several famous landmarks is to walk from Alexanderplatz down the main street (Unter den Linden) toward the Brandenburg Gate.

I’d also recommend signing up for a free self-guided audio tour of the Reichstag (Parliament building). The tour ends on the rooftop terrace and you get a great view of the city.

The German History Museum is also a must-visit. The museum is located on Museum Island (Museumsinsel), where you’ll also find the Pergamon Museum and the Old National Gallery.

Lines visiting the Reichstag Building. Photo courtesy of Emily Lines.

Navigating the City

What’s the easiest way to get around Berlin?
EL
: The easiest way to get around the city is via public transportation. You can buy tickets for 24-hour periods, and you can use the subway, street cars, trams, and buses.

What are some tourist traps to avoid in the city?
EL
: If you go to Checkpoint Charlie, do not take pictures with anyone dressed up as soldiers. Also, I wouldn’t recommend taking a city bus tour. While they provide more background and history than an average bus ride, you can take Bus 100 to see a lot of the same sights but for the price of a regular bus ticket.


This story is part of our travel series, Travel Like a Local, which features IU alumni living abroad.

Written By
Samantha Stutsman
Samantha Stutsman, BAJ'14, is a Bloomington, Ind., native and a senior content specialist at the IU Alumni Association.