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To the Straßenbahn!

The Straßenbahn (or Tram) is the real thing. After a while you'll find you've had enough of pacing underground tunnels, shivering on lonely elevated platforms and staring blankly out of the windows of growling buses as they crawl along. The experience of the Straßenbahn is something else altogether as it rumbles and bends, accelerating through the city streets of what was once East Berlin. Its play-toy yellow cars full of light glide though the day and late into the night, creating a sort of moving showcase of Berlin faces. Although it is often an annoyance to cars and seen as a source of traffic problems in congested areas like Mitte, the Straßenbahn is perhaps one of the best ways to see the eastern parts of the city in way one never could otherwise. To more than a few hard-core West Berliners, the Straßenbahn is regarded as something akin to an extra-terrestrial kitsch object, a left-over from former East Berlin which they are cautious to approach.

On a more practical note, the newer easy-on-easy-off trams are perfect for those with disabilities, small children or those carrying a load. For those with special needs, the fact that newer trams have a low floor with no stairs to climb will be much appreciated.

It is not always easy to get a plan of the Straßenbahn lines from the windows of the Berlin Transit Authority (BVG). In the middle of this elaborate yet simple network plan, which one can most always acquire on-board the trams themselves, rise two small pictures, one of the Fernsehturm and the other of the Brandenburg Gate. From these to central points, the colorful lines of the network fan out to cover the city's eastern half..

For an adventurous beginner to this form of travel experience, it might be best to not bother looking where a given tram is going but to just simply board one and ride. You will most always be able to cross the street or tracks and go back in the direction from which you came. Any city transit ticket is also valid for the Straßenbahn and there is a machine onboard every tram should you need to buy one or renew your old one. Should you venture an outing on the Straßenbahn, however, be warned that you may fall under its spell. Afterwards the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and Bus may somehow seem lacking.

If going on a Straßenbahn outing, you might want to take a city map (like the "Falk plan") which shows its routes so you can follow the scenery and sites as you go along, learning more of the city in the process. A plan of the tram system "Tramnetz" can be viewed at or downloaded from

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