Traveling while Black? Try historic Berlin

African American travel expert Kesi Irvin recommends Berlin for a vacation. (photo by Kesi Irvin)

The NNPA’s Black Travel series continues with a journey to Berlin.

With travel restrictions mostly eliminated, many are exercising their pre-pandemic will to take to the roads and the skies to embark on that much needed and long-awaited excursion.

Kesi Irvin, who quit her job on Wall Street six years ago and is a self-described Black solo-female traveler, has lived a nomadic life. She has visited more than 60 countries over the past six years and teaches others to travel further and deeper without breaking the bank.

The Ivy League graduate said she did not impulsively quit her job. Instead, she planned and saved for two years. “Somehow, my one-year career break turned into five years and counting,” she wrote on her blog, <Kesitoandfro.com>.

Now a travel blogger, Irvin has earned features in BuzzFeed and PopSugar.

or the Black traveler, Irvin recommends a cross-Atlantic trip to Berlin, the capital and primary urban center of Germany.

“Berlin is a city filled with art, culture, and history,” Irvin told NNPA Newswire.

She noted that the city is open about its dark history and offers many tours regarding the old and hateful Nazi regime.

“I would recommend going on one of the Underground Berlin tours, which shows how people escaped from East to West Berlin,” Irvin said.

“These tours are interesting because you see what extreme measures individuals took to escape East Berlin.”

One of the tours called the Dark Worlds, reveals an air-raid shelter, bunker, and a collection of objects from World War II. Tour operators offer patrons a chance to “go back in time and travel through the history of the cellars, the breweries, the postal network, the sewage system—until the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

Home to the famous Berlin Opera and the Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin offers a diverse art scene with galleries and museums lining downtown.

The city’s nightlife is often compared to tourists’ hotspots like New York, London, and Paris.

Berlin also features the Brandenburg Gate, a more than 85-feet tall sandstone monument commissioned by King Frederick Wilhelm II in 1788.

Berlin also features the Brandenburg Gate, a more than 85-feet tall sandstone monument commissioned by King Frederick Wilhelm II in 1788, and Museum Island. (photo by Kesi Irvin)

There is also Berlin’s oldest and largest Prussian estate, the late 17th-century Charlottenburg Palace which the editors at <www.planetware.com> said was, for decades, the primary residence of German royalty.

“Beautifully restored, this huge palace has extraordinary features, including a massive 50-meter-high central dome, opulent Baroque and Rococo décor throughout its expansive rooms, and a large garden that was inspired by the gardens at Versailles,” the editors wrote.

Planetware.com also notes that “one of Berlin’s most iconic hotels is the magnificent Das Stue, centrally located and overlooking the western section of the beautiful Tiergarten.”

They point out that, at the Tiergarten’s opposite end, the Regent Berlin and Hotel Adlon Kempinski are just steps away from the historic Brandenburg Gate and are perfectly positioned to explore the city’s famous Museum Island.”

Mid-range and budget hotels include the Hampton by Hilton Berlin City West, the Circus Hotel, Hotel Gat Point Charlie, the Ibis Berlin Kurfurstendamm, Motel One Berlin-Hackescher Markt, and CUBE Lodges Berlin Mitte, a collection of bungalow-style ‘cubes’ capable of sleeping up to four people and set around activities including volleyball courts and bike rentals, all just a short walk from the Berlin Wall Memorial.

A 10-hour flight from Washington (12 hours if connecting) starts at about $550.

“Berlin is a good place for Black Americans to travel because we don’t stick out. I fit in and love wearing my natural afro,” Irvin said.

“It’s an international city filled with Germans and international ‘expats.’ Berlin is not known for its cuisine, but there are many vegan and Asian options.

“Berlin is unique because it embodies a coolness since it is filled with local artists and people with alternative lifestyles. It’s one of the most affordable capital cities in Europe, making it a great place to travel on a budget.”

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