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Berlin, but WHEN?

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Mar 10th, 2015, 04:32 PM
  #1
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Berlin, but WHEN?

I am looking for a moderately priced, centrally located, safe place to rent an apt. in Berlin for our first visit to Germany. 2-4 weeks. (2 neat, clean seniors) We love to be near the "action," attractions, and public transportation , rather than located in a sleepy area. What would be the best month of the year to do this? Any recommendation of a rental realtor we can trust? We only speak English.

THANK YOU SO MUCH
SUZY
mrsgo is offline  
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Mar 10th, 2015, 05:14 PM
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That's not an easy question.
Berlin and its sights are spread out, there is no one center.

To narrow it down: The central districts that cover the majority of the sights and attractions are with the S-Bahn loop with parallels the A100 freeway. So any accomodation with a zip code starting with 10 would be in this area.

The Western parts of Berlin gravitate towards the west central area around the Zoo. Also a major shopping district with KaDeWe department store, for example. But also tons of good restaurants and quirky or posh pubs roughly between Savignyplatz and Kurfürstendamm.

In between is the Potsdamer Platz - for me still more a sight than a place where I would want to live 4 weeks. Still a bit artificial with mostly 5* hotels, office buidlings and embassies. And two malls.

The East still graviates towards Alexanderplatz. While still somewhat post-socialist meets mall in appearance, nicer neighborhoods like Hackescher Markt and Oranienburger Strasse or the Museum Island and Gendarmenmarkt are also within this area. Restaurants, pubs, cafes go all the way from Hackescher Markt to Rosenthaler Platz and along Kastanienallee to Schönhauser Allee.

In addition you have more quirky, ex-alternative, now more gentrified sub-centers like in the district of Kreuzberg, around Görlitzer Bahnhof subway station or along the Bergmannstrasse near Mehringdamm subway. Here you'd have tons of restaurants, eateries and bars. Neigborhoods where your next door take-away will feature vegan Sudanese cuisine. And I don't even make that one up.
Both neighborhoods feature more smaller shops and supermarkets and markets - but no major department stores or malls.

Good months are May-June and September-October. Maybe also Apri. July/August can get a bit hot (but there is no rule). Though August is not a "national holiday month" and nothing shuts down or will appear deserted. Mid November - Mid March are usually either ghastly or moderately ghastly or seriously ghastly.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 05:47 PM
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So much great information! Thank you!
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Mar 10th, 2015, 08:55 PM
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I stay IN Potsdamer Platz whenever I am in Berlin. Artificial? It was, like a lot of OTHER parts of the city a mass of rubble post WWII so yeah, if you feel newer buildings are "artifical" then don't stay there.

I agree the hotels and even any apartments for rent are probably beyond your price range. Have you thought about places near the Zoo station? You want "color" then head over to the gay guys in Nollendorf Platz...artificial it isn't.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 10:12 PM
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Hmm. I'm considering a first visit to Berlin (and Dresden) in July, on the way to Scandinavia. How hot is a "bit hot"? I don't usually travel in July and August but I need to be in the UK at the end of August this year.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 10:56 PM
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A bit hot would be 30C/80F or slightly above for me. But Berlin has a dry continental climate so I find it not unpleasant compared with regions which get a lot of humidity with the heat.

When I said that I find Potsdamer Platz was artificial I meant that has yet not turned into a "local" neighborhood where you'd find a typical mix of residents enjoying a grown infrastructure of cafes and restaurants. It is neither dead at night nor ghastly. But a neighborhood where most residents are either tourists in first class hotels or local or ex-pat business people living in high end furnished condos for a few days a week has a different vibe than other places in town.You can probably care less if you are staying just 2-4 nights, but with 2-4 weeks I would pick a different neighborhood.

The area around Nollendorfplatz (which Dukey mentioned) is indeed a very nice neighborhood to stay in. It does not only feature Berlin's premier gay neighborhood but you can walk South from Nollendorfplatz via Winterfeldplatz along Goltzstrasse for one 1km and have an endless parade of nice, diverse restaurants and eateries with a nice residential area left and right.

Nevertheless, the vibe can change substantially within a block or two in many places where two neighborhoods meet, and only gradually or not at all in other cases. So the exact location of any apartment that makes it on your list needs to be carefully explored. What can help is to use Google Streetview for a virtual stroll around the location of any potential candidate apartment.
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Mar 10th, 2015, 11:26 PM
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Thanks. Arriving from NC that could feel cool! Although I mIght still want AC.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 09:01 AM
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You bet. Already in late May/early June and in the somewhat higher elevations around Asheville I found it much more hot & humid than on a hot July day in Berlin.
When you look for private/ AirBnB apartments, A/C may limit your choices substantially in Berlin. You should at least compare the search results before and after you ticked the box for A/C to see what you miss.

Whether you actually need A/C will depend much more on the building than on the outside temperature.
If your apartment was on the 2nd or 3rd floor of an old townhouse (of which there are still a LOT, typically built between 1890-1910) with ceilings as high as 10-12ft. even temps of more than 80F do not have much of an effect on the inside temperature.
But if you were residing on the top floor of a post-war apartment house from the 1950s or 1960s even 75F outside could turn your bedroom into a sauna.

Aside from AirBnB, the largest site for vacation rentals in Germany or Berlin is fewo-direkt.de, the German subsidiary of homeaway.com
You will find the whole range of available apartments also via the US website.
In addition you will find numerous local sites if you google the keywords "ferienwohnung berlin". Some can be switched to work in English, others not.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 09:36 AM
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<< moderately priced>>

Define that in actual money. Otherwise, it is a claim with no meaning.

Speaking only English won't be an issue - English is the second language of all of Europe except the countries in which it is the first (technically it's not official in the UK).
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