Germany’s got a reputation throughout the world of being technologically advanced. They manufacture high-quality, low emissions vehicles. Their houses have lights and window treatments you can control with an iPad app. Thyssen-Krupp, Siemens, and Bayer almost single-handedly keep the world running on a stainless-steel highway into the 21st Century. Yet spend a week in Berlin, and you’re liable to think you’ve gone back in time.
The innovations for which this country is worldwide esteemed seem overshadowed by certain relics of the past decades that many other countries- and even the rest of Germany- have pretty well phased out, while certain other things are obviously lacking from the expectations of a millennial jet-setter.
It’s a funny yet endearing quality this city has, but it seriously feels like the 90’s here. Those of us who pine for the graffiti’d surf clothes and George Clooney of that mega-decade (and don’t lie, I know you do) feel strangely at home here. If you haven’t already noticed it for yourself, boot up the ol’ Win95 desktop, print this blog post out, and carry it into the streets to see for yourself the five reasons why it’s still the 90’s in Berlin.
#1 Travel Agencies-
Nobody’s used a travel agent since Mary Kate and Ashley went on all those European adventures. Sites like Orbit and Kayak, mixed with the billion or so travel blogs out there (one of which I keep) allow even the most novice computer users to roam the globe in search of their own fun times. In Berlin, however, people seem to appreciate the heart-to-heart involved in handing your trust over to a stranger and asking “Where do you think I would like to go on my vacation?”
It’s not just the fact that these Reiseburos exist, but that there’s so many of them! Almost every major street in the city has a Tui on it. Surely there can’t be that many people taking vacations here! Then again the winter is so harsh I don’t blame people for leaving in droves for cruises and sunny climes.
#2 Video Rental Stores-
In the US, Netflix snuffed out the corner video store practically overnight. When given the option between hopelessly searching through a huge selection of mediocre films in their pajamas at home or in public, people will overwhelmingly choose to stay home. Except in Berlin. I guess people like going outside here. I guess they like talking to a friendly man with a nametag who can suggest thirty seven Jet Li movies but doesn’t know who Keira Knightley is. In
America now, if you want to watch Jumanji on DVD you have check get it out of a giant red box beside the grocery store, or root around your parents’ house for the VHS.
#3 Restaurant buzzers-
This is actually kind of a weird one because I can’t think of any reason why having enormous plastic disks tell you your table’s ready is better than the hostess calling your name. I guess it’s just technology for technology’s sake. But hey, people love carrying around heavy things that could go off at any moment. As much fun as these little pucks are, though, you won’t find them in Berlin. It gives the waiters just one more reason to shout at you.
Wireless internet might be the easiest thing in the world to equip in a café or bar. It costs no extra money, it takes up no extra space, and if you would just set it up once, you can forget about it for the rest of your life. Customers love free WiFi, but in Berlin, they shall go wanting. If you want to write emails or check how many people viewed that Aaron Carter fansite you built you’re gonna have to do it at home. Managers would rather we read magazines printed on paper, or play a board game, or- imagine this- chat!
#5 Low Rent-
I mean COME ON! It’s like the 1890’s on this one! If Kevin McCallister had come to Berlin with his dad’s wallet, he could’ve survived until adulthood on the cash alone. Real estate prices are through the opposite of the roof, and it really is a buyers’ market right now. If you’ve got 20 euros laying around go out to Wedding and buy yourself an apartment building; the value has nowhere to go but up.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, undeniable proof that somewhere on the plane between Dusseldorf and Potsdam you passed through a rip in the space-time continuum and it’s actually 1993 right now. Clip a bunch of buttons onto your denim vests, buy stock in internet companies, and forget you ever heard the term Global Warming, because here in Berlin we’re reliving the glory days! I wonder if Friends is on.