Berlin has become a transport hub for me now that I live in Poland. International flights and especially those to Africa and the Middle East don’t really have many direct options from Poland. But with the Warsaw / Łódź / Poznań Polskibuses to Berlin being so cheap, fast and cosy, I now often crackpack my way to Berlin on route to somewhere else. There’s a pure irony here as one of the first international borders I ever crossed was the Germany to Poland border in 2005. I now live in Poland and do the opposite. Like old times?
With a brace of international airports, Schöenefeld and Tegel, Berlin offers a huge range of flight options that were never available to me either growing up in Northern Ireland or even living in Poland. Warsaw and Kraków airports have less unusual options for me. It’s like a new world has opened up as Berlin is an easy stop over on route to somewhere else. And also – it’s cheaper to fly via Berlin. My latest Africa tour was £330 in total including the Warsaw to Berlin buses. When I priced the same trip from Warsaw or Kraków, the minimum was £800. Crazy but no issue for me as a long time tourist. I get sentimental each time I am in Berlin, remembering the times I was here with my friends, years ago.
Berlin in 2018
It’s bad news I’m afraid. I used to like Berlin back on my first two visits, 2005 and 2007. But now I can’t feel the same. It seems to have turned into an ugly dirty city that’s not even German any more. It’s the complete opposite of Warszawa which is Polish to the core. They lost their Germanity in Berlin when they adapted the horrific Euro currency, tried to cover the bloodshed in their history and started to let immigrants in to live. And I don’t mean European immigrants, I mean mostly Islamic immigrants from the Middle East. The country is Germany, on my latest visit it took a while to locate a German.
The fact remains if there is a war or instability in countries like Iraq or Syria, those who escape should be looked after by their own people and culture. Why does Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates not step in and take these refugees??? I will never understand that. Their own cultures should support them. Sadly Germany was too nice and let them all in, partly destroying the beauty of the Berlin I once loved and backpacked. I felt rather sad at the dirtiness, the lack of Germanity and the overall change in the city. Governments of Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates etc. should be ashamed of themselves in such a situation – help your friends. Charity begins at home? Not for them. Berlin has gone downhill as a result, this was the street life beauty on my latest arrival… 🙁 I didn’t bother photographing the other dirty parts I saw…
Anyway I still get to pass through Berlin and have now done so a whoppaday 4 times since moving to Poland. But I didn’t care about Berlin itself. Its charm has gone, its fall from grace resemblicing a Magaluf or an Ayia Napa. Those towns were fads.
” The lazy days and the crazes and the fads” – Suede.
So each recent trip to Berlin was a stopover. I passed through it on all 4 occasions and always to the ZOB Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof (I’m calling it the ZOB Bus Station in this post). It is a bus station in West Berlin (once an enclave of West Germany). I didn’t even stay overnight and still haven’t done so since 2007. But it is an easy city to navigate through, with a well organised public transport network. Again Berlin threw me and blew me. I still LOVE the history of it, I like the bars and the completely differing neighbourhoods. I’m a fan of Checkpoint Charlie as a tourist site, I love it. But the city has changed. Still at least it’s not as complex as this system…
I normally arrive by Polskibus or Flixbus to either Berlin Schoenefeld Airport or to the ZOB Bus Station. Both places seem drab and uninspiring to me now. Once I left by train from the main train station (Haupt Bahnhof) and twice was coming and going from Tegel International Airport. The Flixbuses and Polskibuses leave you at Berlin ZOB Bus station so here is the quick cheap and easy way to get from there to Tegel.
S Bahn from Berlin ZOB Bus Station to Jungefernheide train station
From the outdoor ZOB Bus Station in Berlin, cross the main road (use the orange painted subway to go underneath) opposite where Andy’s Diner and Bar is. You’ll go down the steps and head left in the picture below.
From there, walk straight on the same side of the road (the left) to the Messe Nord S Bahn train station.
Buy your ticket on the platform from the machine. It accepts card and Euro cash payments. Sadly Deutschland Marks are not accepted. You have a few options for tickets – by time, by stops or by day. If you’re using public transport a lot that day, get a daily ticket. However I buy a single short journey ticket for 1.70 Euros. This covers you for 3 stops on the train or 6 stops on a bus or tram.
Luckily Jungefernheide is exactly 3 stops from Messe Nord! And Tegel International Airport is less than 6 stops from Jungefernheide. This means your journey costs a maximum of 3.40 Euros. I bought two separate tickets. Validate them at the ticket machine on the platform before getting on the train.
Tickets are not usually checked. But you never know. Get the S41 ring train which will stop in Jungefernheide. 3stops later get off the train at Jungefernheide. Trains are regular during daylight hours. I waited 3 minutes.
Bus from Jungefernheide train station to Tegel International Airport
Once you get off the S Bahn at Jungefernheide turn back the way the S41 train brought you and go down the steps.
Turn right at the bottom of the steps and through the exit. Turn left and walk straight to the road that is there. The bus stop is virtually unmissable. From here there are a few options by bus. It is a mere 4 stops to Tegel International Airport! Choose the X9 or the 109. The bus takes less than 10 minutes in normal traffic. Buses are regular during daylight hours. I waited for 7 minutes. You validate your ticket from the machine on the bus.
Arrival at Tegel International Airport
The bus leaves you right outside the airport. Tegel International Airport is very well organised and impressively has no wasted wide open spaces like other airports have.
Despite my slagging of Berlin, I secretly still like it, I just wish it was cleaner and less full of tramps and immigrants! I will write about it again soon.
Here are some videos from my trips to and from Tegel International Airport in Berlin: