Alice-Azania Jarvis: Inexpensive and easy to negotiate - Berlin is a capital place for tourists

In The Red
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The Independent Online

Berlin: done. Well, almost. I get back tomorrow, and so far, I've yet to run out of money. This, as it turns out, is a city very well suited to the modest traveller. It's not that it can't be expensive. I was charged €11 for a cup of tea the other day. In somewhat typical style, it turned out that I had wandered into the tearoom of the Hotel Adlon without realising. This, incidentally, is where Tony Blair stays when he's in Germany's capital. Also, it was from its windows that Michael Jackson once dangled his baby. Still, the breakfast I had was nice, and half the price of the tea that came with it.

It is just that there are an awful lot of things that can be done for free, such as a New Europe Tour. I decided to do one on the recommendation of a colleague, who said it was the best way to orient yourself. I had my reservations: I'm not the guided-tour sort, and the meeting place – a Starbucks outside the Brandenburg Gate – struck me as more than a little naff. My head was just a tiny bit sore from the previous evening's wine, and our guide (Rob from Norfolk) rather bumptiously introduced himself with a few too many wisecracks and promises of his own ability. Yet, against the odds, it turned out to be quite fantastic.

Rob, it transpired, knew an awful lot about German history, and was well versed in the popular mythology of the city. When it came to the end, we were given the option to pay what we thought the day was worth – or, failing that, what we could afford. I handed over a tenner, though had I given less – or simply walked away without paying – that would have been fine.

Which brings me on to another thing that it's totally possible to do on the cheap here: get around. Rarely have I walked around a capital as much as this – they are simply too sprawling. Oddly, Berlin appears to be the exception to this. It seems perfectly possible to traverse entire neighbourhoods in the space of just a few hours. And when it's not, the buses are quite fantastic. Heading out for dinner on the opposite side of the city from our apartment, I had anticipated a good hour's travelling. Half, though, was enough – and a snip at €2.20.

Museums, too, and galleries frequently charge no entry fee. Berlin, in many ways, is made for a traveller like me: the type that wants to spend all their money on food and drink, and wants to save on everything else.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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