After college, my friend and I took a backpacking trip across Europe. We visited many countries but not on that list was Germany. A decision I regret. I mean history, food, and castles, O My! After working on this post, I am hoping to get there soon.
Alexandra Paucescu is from Romania and the wife of a diplomat currently living and quarantining in Berlin, Germany. She also recently became an author with her new book "Just a Diplomatic Spouse." Alexandra was kind enough to let us know a little about the highlights of Berlin and Germany and also opens up about the culture shock she has found coming from a Romanian background.
Berlin is definitely one of the most interesting cities in the world to live in. Due to its unique and also tragic history, it has emerged as a completely original metropole. The fact that it was brutally and almost completely destroyed during World War II, and then has been artificially divided by the Berlin Wall for more than 30 years, has put its mark over the city. Berlin has two Zoos, two Opera houses, two Aquariums, tern communist buildings but also iconic ones, like the famous Brandenburg Gate or Reichstag.
Check out the architecture. The architecture is a mixture of old buildings (most of them completely restored) and bold, modern constructions, all set in the greenest cityscape I have ever seen.
See the cherry blossoms. I also have to tell you about the beautiful Japanese cherry trees, with their gorgeous pink small flowers, in full blossom every spring. The city got them as a present from the Japanese government after the fall of the wall and they were mostly planted on the former border, in the middle of town.
Head to the lakes. The capital and its surrounding state of Brandenburg are called ‘the land of 3,000 lakes’, many of them with fine sandy beaches, a pleasure to go to in summer time.
Play at Tropical Island. Tropical Island, a man-made paradise, is just an hour drive away from Berlin. It is the largest indoor water park in the world, housed in a former airship hangar, home to the biggest indoor rainforest, a beach, swimming pools, water slides, bars and restaurants. You can even fly around in a hot air balloon!
More museums than rainy days. The Museum Island in Berlin is place to some of the most visited world class museums. ‘Pergamon Museum’, hosting the impressive Ishtar Gate of Babylon and my personal favorite, ‘Neues Museum’, Berlin’s museum of ancient Egypt, home to the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti, are just few examples. They say Berlin has more museums than rainy days! If you want to visit any of these museums though, you should prepare yourself for long waiting hours, especially in summer time.
Shop at KaDeWe. For shopping addicts KaDeWE is the second largest department store in Europe (after Harrods in London) and is definitely the place to be ;)
When it comes to eating and drinking, Berlin is Heaven! You can find anything you want here, and at fair prices.
First thing BEER! Germany is home to beer, and not just at the famous Oktoberfest. There is good beer everywhere, they have even specialized supermarkets for drinks only!
Curry wurst mit pommes. Also, when you say Berlin, you think of ‘curry wurst mit pommes’, a trade-mark local food since 1949. It is basically a grilled sausage with ketchup, curry powder and French fries aside, which you can serve at any corner in the city.
Döner kebab. Berlin is also proud to have invented and make the best ‘Döner kebab’ (a Turkish dish originally made by the first Turkish migrants who came to Berlin after the WW II). A warm sandwich with bread, thin slices of meat, cabbage, onion, tomatoes, spices and a special sauce that binds all the ingredients… ‘Mustafa Kebab’ is the name that you will probably find in most tourists’ reviews about it. It is considered to be the best in the city.
Ice cream. When we talk about ice cream and chocolate… we are experts ☺ … so, if you come to Berlin, please stop by ‘Whoop Whoop’ store on Rosenthaler Street for their special and insanely creamy ice cream, made directly in front of you using liquid nitrogen technology.
Chocolate. If you are a chocolate lover, go to Rausch in Gendarmenmarkt for the best chocolate and best chocolate cakes in town.
Every time we moved away from home, we took only half of our possessions with us and then realized it was more than enough. However, I always bring...
lots of pictures of my family, two or three framed paintings done by my talented grandpa, some of our preferred books, and lots of decor stuff. I love decorating my interior, wherever I go. It helps personalize the house and make it feel like home.
There are plenty of books trying to help people moving here to understand the locals. However, after almost 5 years of living in Berlin, I can honestly say it is quite difficult☺.
Learn the language, as much as you can, and be particularly careful when talking to people. They are veeeeeery sensitive when it comes to German language and remember, ALWAYS use the polite form ‘SIE’ when talking to anybody!
Prepare for the climate. Rainy weather, short summers and long, dark winter seasons.
Careful with high heels. Don’t expect to see too many elegantly dressed people on the streets, Berliners have a truly unique sense of styling. And be careful wearing high heels, most sidewalks are paved with cubic stone, the nightmare of any stiletto…
Adjusting to different attitudes. The most difficult part about moving to Berlin was the general attitude of people here. I am from Romania, a Latin country, with friendly and hospitable people. Coming to Berlin, where people are not famous for their warmth, sometimes being even aggressive and rude, was a shock.
Winter nights. The long winter nights (roughly from 3:30 pm to 8:00 am the next morning) are quite depressing and hard to bare.
Germany is a beautiful country, with plenty of gorgeous places to discover, lakes, deep forests, few mountains, islands and also lots of historical sights. We enjoyed our weekend getaways from Berlin a lot. Never a dull moment! Berlin is also very offering. You can find everything, for any taste and preference, you can be anyone and feel free to live any kind of life you wish: hippie, bourgeois, aristocratic… you name it…
More about our life in Germany, you can find in my book, ‘Just a diplomatic spouse’, which is a collection of events that occurred over a period of more than ten years, rules of diplomatic protocol and ranking, advice for other women at the beginning of a similar journey, valuable travel and even shopping tips. It is a diary, a book on diplomatic etiquette, lifestyle and travel blog, ALL IN ONE.
I can't wait to read your book, Alexandra. And I can't wait to visit Germany! Beer, sausage and ice cream are right up my alley. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
In Love & Tacos
Guest Posts From Diplo-families Worldwide
What is life like all over the globe? This area is a window into the lives of diplomats and their families. These interviews serve as mini crash courses in expat living worldwide. 7 salient notes about expat life in a given location. Enjoy!