I’ve been to Berlin three times. Once when it was a divided city, and the last two times over the space of 2 or 3 years. This time it was football (aka soccer) that drove me back; my annual visit to the Champions League Final, between the great Barcelona and the black and white of Juventus.
The city had changed again – not just that there were 70,000 people milling around with football jerseys. This place is actually one of the most cutting-edge cities in the world. It’s youthful, there are clubs and restaurants on every corner. New buildings are popping up, especially in the Eastern sector and the bicycle paths are on par with most Danish and Dutch cities. If you’re feeling athletic, check out BikeMap.net for some cool ride suggestions.
So here I am, standing in what’s called the Champions League Village, a hastily erected mockup of the event itself, except the Germans had figured out how to put an AstroTurf soccer pitch underneath the Brandenburg Gate. Yes, the same gate that Napoleon did a victory march through in the 1800s. Man these guys are good. In spite of the vast marauds of Spanish and Italian fans wondering around the city with Heinekens held in their hand – yep Heineken is a sponsor – everything worked perfectly. Transportation didn’t skip a beat. You could grab an Uber when you wanted to. Yeah. And the bars stayed open late. If I could think of a better venue for a champions league event, I would probably have to say Copenhagen or Amsterdam. But in the end I actually think the Germans have it. Berlin is an awesome city that has pretty much everything – except, oh yah, they don’t have a soccer team!