With its dark history left far behind, Berlin—reconstructed and revived since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989—has acquired a highly entrepreneurial character. Relatively cheap rates ensure that small and midsize businesses can flourish here, in turn attracting big players in industries such as music. Now a third of the world’s top 50 companies have offices here. Prior to the current recession, tourism and real estate were also booming.
Your flight may be leaving from Tegel, but a stop at the BBI Infotower at Schönefeld Airport gives a preview of Berlin-Brandenburg International, or BBI. It’s scheduled to open in 2011, after which Tegel will close. Call +49 30 6091 2250 to arrange a visit.
In the city’s most historic area, Hotel de Rome (Behren Strasse 37, +49 30 460 6090) inhabits a wonderful old building that once housed the bank of East Germany—the vault is now the hotel’s superb swimming pool.
Great coffee, a good continental breakfast and a key location near the Brandenburg Gate make Café Einstein (Unter den Linden 42, +49 30 204 3632) popular for early-morning meetings with Berlin’s movers and shakers (from 8 a.m.).
Borschardt (Französische Strasse 47, +49 30 8188 6230) is elegant, old-fashioned, and invariably packed with prominent Berliners enjoying classic dishes—including a countrywide favorite, Wiener schnitzel.
One of Berlin’s best views makes Solar (Stresemann Strasse 76, +49 163 765 2700) a trendy 16th-floor bar (once home to the U.S. intelligence service), the perfect place for drinks at sundown. One floor down, the restaurant offers excellent food.
German business culture is formal, so protocol is important. For example, the Anglo-Saxon “open-door” mode is not followed. If someone is working with her door closed, knock politely and wait to be invited inside.
• The huge number of startups (11,000 in 2007).
• The newly renovated Neues Museum collection, which opens in October, includes a bust of Nefertiti that was recently called a fake.
• Beer: Germans love it (though not everyone drinks) and are experts at making it.