Vu Phuong Thao - 05/2019

Riding to work on my motorcycle through the dusty air of Hanoi, suddenly, I just really miss the train stations of Berlin. The green city with a quality environment that comes with a reason.

I came back to Hanoi from Berlin on season-change days, when thhe humidity in the air reaches 100%, and the drizzling rain persists constantly every day. Riding to work on my motorcycle, passing through the familiar road with crowded construction site and the noisy sound of car horn, urging traffic participants to be more impatient among long lines of motorcyclists jostling every single centimeter;  all the sudden, I just really miss the train stations in Berlin.

Berlin is ranked as 1 in 10 cities with the best public transport system in the world. With our trust for the voting results from List25 website, we chose public transports as our main transportation during our business trip. We bought 7-day tickets to travel with all public transportations such as such as U Bahn, S Bahn, bus and tram systems, in combine with Google Maps' excellent public transit guide utility, we can easily move to any places in the city.

Moving by U Bahn and S Bahn is enough for me to realize that Berlin's transportation system is very convenient and easily accessible. Despite what I have imagined about public transportation, U Bahn and S Bahn are not crowded, even at rush hour, in additions, it’s extremely spacious and clean. German society impressed me because they highly values people’s self-awareness, expressed through the purchase of train tickets. People in German can freely access public transportations without having their tickets checked. However, if passengers are found not having tickets when there’s a sudden check, they will be fined 40 euros, 20 times the value of the ticket.

While working at the International Tourism Fair ITB Berlin, I interviewed a German visitor about his impression when he travelled to Vietnam; and his answer was that he did not see the friendliness or smiles of the Vietnamese people because he only saw people with a gauze masks covering their faces. It is easy to understand why the German tourist was impressed with the image of people in Hanoi going out with gauze masks on their faces. I did not see such images like that in Berlin, because is called “the green city”, where more than 2500 gardens and parks was built to create a clean environment for a bustling capital. People in Germany do not just enjoy such a quality environment for no reason; it all comes from the awareness of environmental protection of the whole German society. Supermarkets encourage shoppers to recycle and save resources by not giving away free plastic bags. Shoppers either have to carry bags from home or have to pay extra for shopping bags made of environmentally friendly materials. Furthermore, people will receive a change of 1 euro of they bring 4 metals cans to super market to recycle. Such small jobs have partly encouraged people to be more aware of avoiding waste of resources and protecting the environment.

German society’s awareness of environmental protection is also expressed through the use of bicycles as a means of transportation in the city. There’s always a bicycle lane on every sidewalk in Berlin. Convenient public system is also an advantage in encouraging people to use bicycles more. During my stay in Berlin, I often find people carrying their bicycles on trains. Thus, instead of driving cars, people can travel by public transportation and bring their bicycles, stop at the nearest point, and continue cycling to the destination; it’s both environmentally friendly and can save time from walking.

The thing I regretted the most about my short trip to Berlin was that I did not have the opportunity to visit Tiergarten park, Berlin's largest and most ancient park, to feel more about the "green" of the German capital. However, Berlin has left a big love in me. I saw a neat Berlin when looking through the glass windows on the train; I saw a peaceful Berlin when looking from the roof of the Berliner Dom church; and I could feel a proudly beautiful Berlin even in a gloomy afternoon. Crowds don’t always mean noisy, and modern doesn’t always mean not ancient. Berlin has left such beautiful impressions in me. When I bought a souvenir shirt with the words “I love Berlin” on the day I left, I knew that I will always want to return to this city immensely. Travel tips: There are many types of public transport tickets in Berlin such as retail tickets, daily tickets, 7-day tickets. Tickets can be easily purchased at ticket counters or automatic ticket machines at the stations. 7-day tickets cost about 30 euros and can be used for all public transports in the city. Tickets will be discounted if purchased by group. Please note that it is mandatory to stamp the date no later than one day after purchase the ticket, otherwise, the ticket will be useless and ticket owners will still be penalized as usual if checked.