Slow travel Berlin: Travel slowly!

A new web portal shows tourists how diverse Berlin can be away from the main attractions and trendy spots.

The Slow Travel Berlin project shows the diversity of the capital – away from the big tourist attractions. Photo: Ole Spata

The British Paul Sullivan and his fellow campaigners want to make Berlin a slower place to travel with the website "Slow Travel Berlin" to invite to the conscious, leisurely pleasure on journeys and to set a sign against rushed checking off the most prominent objects of interest – also in Berlin. This means staying a few days longer in Berlin, walking through the capital instead of driving, and leaving the well-trodden tourist paths behind.

Sullivan is inspired by the "Slow Food" movement, which an Italian proclaimed in 1986 in protest against the opening of a McDonald's branch near Rome's famous Spanish Steps-against the same, monotonous fast food worldwide and for enjoyable, regional and seasonal food.

Berlin beyond the hipster scene

"Berlin is much more than "hipsters"", Techno-scene and start-up companies. It has many open spaces and parks. Families and older people also characterize the cityscape," says 39-year-old travel journalist Sullivan. "When I first came to Berlin, the "cool" side of the city, i.e. fashion and nightlife, already represented in many projects and blogs. I wanted to offer something more inclusive that wasn't just aimed at young, trendy people," he says.

Berlin attractive for tourists 40+

The fact that the German capital offers both sides, on it also their tourism marketing company "Visit Berlin" sets. "Slow travel is definitely a theme for us, we just call it something different," says managing director Burkhard Kieker. "We market the city worldwide with the slogan "Berlin is adrenaline and chillout at the same time," says Kieker. "This is also the image of Berlin, if you think of the many parks, beach bars or the huge Tempelhofer Feld, a unique selling point worldwide," stresses the tourism expert. Many people always thought Berlin was dominated by young easy-jet-setters. "That's not true. The average age of our tourists is just over 40 years old."

City romance on the Modersohn Bridge in Friedrichshain

Discover unusual places in Berlin

Briton Sullivan's website Slow Travel Berlin draws attention to places that don't find a place in guidebooks, such as the Philological Library of Freie Universitat, designed by star architect Norman Foster, or the Museum of Things in a former Kreuzberg workshop, an old Charlottenburg corner pub or the German-Russian Museum in Karlshorst. Around twenty people from different countries, mainly women between 25 and 35 years of age, support him in his work.

All work on a voluntary basis

Everyone works on a volunteer basis, so far "Slow Travel Berlin" doesn't make any money, but costs Sullivan time and a beer a month for all the staff. This is about to change: Sullivan already offers a guided walk through Prenzlauer Berg, more tours are to follow. In addition, the group will soon publish a book with their hundred favorite places in Berlin.

Places that are not yet in all the media

So far, however, it's the city that's benefiting more from the project: Berlin visitors are encouraged in articles and newsletters to shop in small stores and stay in apartments rather than international hotel chains. Restaurants or museums that already receive media attention are not featured by Sullivan on principle: "They don't need our help anymore, after all". If visitors spread out to different places instead of flocking to the center, Sullivan believes, it will also solve the much-discussed problem of Berliners' rejection of tourists.

Slow is the new good

"For me, traveling slowly means being sustainable and connecting with locals," says Sullivan. And, "I'm a big fan of the idea of slowing things down to really enjoy them. This actually applies to everything in life – be it travel, food, sex or being a father".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *