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Berlin cheatsheet

Berlin is poor, but sexy.
– Klaus Wowereit 

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AIRPORTS
Berlin has two excellent international airports (the third is being transformed into a park). Tegel has a genius layout (check in and security is right at the gate), though Schönefeld will eventually take over all flights into Berlin.

-Train: From Schönefeld, the Airport Express will get you to the Ku'damm in around 30 minutes.

-Taxi: From Tegel, taxis are easy breezy and cost about 15-20 euros. From Schönefeld, a taxi costs about 30 euros or more.

- Bus: From Tegel, get into central Berlin by Bus 109, 128, X9, TXL. They are cheap, fast, and efficient, with drop-off points near major subway stations. Bus connections to the underground and Zoo Station are located just outside the airport terminal.

From Schönefeld, take the 171 bus to Rudow U-Bahn station and get to the Zoo by U7 (Underground Line 7) or to to S-Bahn (surface rail) where yu can reach the S9 to Alexanderplatz (a main city hub).

GETTING AROUND →
Subway: If you are traveling around Berlin proper, buy an A-B train ticket and validate it on the subway platform. There are plain-clothes ticket checkers who hop onto your car every so often and check to make sure people have their tickets. You can take your chances, but you'll face a fine if they catch you. 

Taxis: They pull up to taxi stands and are fairly easy to hail. Most drivers understand some English, but it's best to write down your final destination on a piece of paper and hand it over. For taxi rides that are 2 km or less, tell the driver you want a "Kurzstrecke" (pronounced "kurtsshtrecka"), which is a special fare of 4 Euros for a short distance.

Cars: Berlin is a busy city, but —thanks to German efficiency — generally easy to tour via car.

Bicycles: This is the cheapest, most fun, and often most efficient way to get around. Bikes can be rented for as little as 5 euros a day (cheaper for longer stays) and will instantly transform you into a local.

ORIENTATION
Berlin is still recovering from the fall of the Wall, and as a result you'll often see double (two main cinemas, two main train stations, two airports, two opera houses, etc). The city is still described in terms of cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) and the underground (U-bahn) and above ground lines (S-bahn) run in concentric circles around the city center.

ATM →
Bankomats can be found in street kiosks all over the city, and they accept pretty much all bank cards.

DINING OUT →
When entering a restaurant, feel free to seat yourself. Free water isn't an automatic at the table (and when you ask for it, it comes bottled with bubbles). Checks are settled at the table (the waiter/waitress usually carries a change purse) and bills are often split individually, even among large groups.

TIPPING →
There's not a huge emphasis on service (waitstaff has a reputation of surliness) in these parts, and Germans don't generally tip more than 10 percent on a bill.

HOLIDAYS →
Berlin is unique in that it doesn't celebrate many of the religious holidays observed in other parts of Germany. But many shops are closed on Sundays, so it's best to think ahead when food shopping or making dinner reservations.

POST OFFICE →
The Deutsche Post deals with letter delivery Monday-Saturday. Post office counters can be found in small stores and airports and will sell stamps, take registered letters, and carry out other postal services. 

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