At the end of last month we were off on a little trip, this time to Berlin. Bryan had signed up for a suicided run (some people call them marathons) so we tacked on a few extra days and made it a mini-break. It’s always fun to compare cities, and this is what we found. We met up with Adam, a freelance travel writer, blogger and gay travel expert, of Travels of Adam to get a local’s perspective.
Berlin – Tall, blond and solid is the best way to describe the German men. We don’t often feel short, but a group of German men can easy do that. They have a simple and relaxed dress sense, think 80s and mainly black. Adam confirms that black is the color of choice all year round (there were a few more adventurous characters from time to time). Adam also tells us that everyone in Berlin is young or young at heart, it's a fairly open society, and German guys are often more willing to try new things in bed (even some straight guys are open to gay things).
Paris – Dark features, lithe, and chic (or at least with a sense of their own style) describes the French men. Somehow, the majority know how to match shoes and belts and jackets effortlessly. Also, they all seem to know about hair and skincare too. The questions for most non-European visitors is – how do you know which ones are gay?!
Winner: Berlin for the blond lovers and Paris for the brunette lovers.
Berlin – TK Maxx! Need I say more? If you don’t know what this is (TJ Maxx for the Americans), it’s a magical land of discount fashion. And, the gays seem to know about it, so you can shop for a man at the same time. Plus, we have a thing for the shoes in Germany – they have a great selection and good prices. Adams favorite shop is Voo Store, which he describes as a hipster kind of place with a curated selection of stuff: books, beauty products, fashion, shoes.
Paris – Shopping in Paris runs the full gamut. It goes from lux brands down to second hand where you buy by the kilo. There are department stores to small boutiques. You can find all types of shopping in Paris.
Winner: Berlin – You can’t pass by a good deal at TK Maxx
Berlin – The Berlin gay nightlife is spread all over the city. What you’re into will define which area you visit. We went out and had a bit of a look for ourselves (don't really bother before 10pm because everything starts late) and were a little shocked by the fact that people can smoke inside! Adam told us it’s like that everywhere. He also told us that the Berlin nightlife is quite amazing. They host parties for all kinds of groups, muscled, twink, Jewish (Meshugge), Turkish (Gayhane at SO36), even French.
Paris – The Paris gay nightlife is centred around the Marais. There are bars for all different groups, backrooms and saunas and the other aspects of gay nightlife too. There are regular parties but the mostly cater to variations of the white, French community.
Winner: Do you like your smokers inside or outside? For us, the winner is Paris because we prefer them outside.
Berlin – If you like it cheap, copious, and without vegetables, Berlin has you covered. We has a great time eating schnitzel, currywurst, bretzel, and sourkraut. Don’t forget the coffee and cake. Also, you can eat at anytime of the day, restaurants aren’t restricted to specific meal times. Adam's favorite street food is the 4AM döner, and we totally agree that they're amazing.
Paris – Paris has some of the world's greatest food, and they are the masters of pastries for a reason, but it generally comes at a price. They also are cheese and wine specialists. It can take a bit of time, but when you find the good places, you'll never be disappointed
Winner: For us it was Berlin. We've done Paris :) Plus, being able to buy a round of drinks and get change from a €10 was a real treat. Plus, we love the street food aspect.
Berlin – There are 2 official memorials in Berlin for the Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism. One is a pink granite triangle on Nollendorfplatz and the other is at eastern edge of Tiergarten park (check this one out for yourself – we don’t want to spoil the surprise). Unofficially, the Nollendorfplat U-bahn station lights up like a rainbow flag at night. and there is a red ribbon AIDS memorial on An der Urania street for all HIV-related deaths.
Paris – Paris doesn’t have the same history as Berlin. The one memorial plaque in Paris commemorates the last gay couple to be punished for homosexuality in France in the 1700s.
Winner: Berlin really has done a remarkable job in this category.
Berlin – Adam explained that same sex marriage isn’t legal in Germany as yet. But, since 2001 same sex-unions are recognized under registered life partnership. It looks like they might have to wait for a change of government, as the current party is against changing the laws, for any further developments in this area.
Paris – It has been in since 2013.
Winner: Paris – Because it’s official.
Because we went for this event we thought we should tell you about it.
Berlin – Berlin is one of the six World Marathon Majors. It is known to be a fast course as the city is very flat. It snakes it way around the central area of the city and the course is lined the whole way by cheering crowds and has several long, straight stretches that are great for achieving a PB. We’re not really sure why, but it seems to attract quite a lot of Danish men, so if you’re attracted to them, it’s not a bad time of year to visit.
Paris – The Paris course isn’t the easiest, it’s not very flat and there are several sections though the woods where the crowds don’t often come to cheer. But it is quite a spectacular route with many iconic monuments visible along the way. They different categories are color coded and there a pacers with large banners that make it easy to spot different groups of runners.
Winner: For the runner – Berlin – it’s a great course with great atmosphere. For the spectator – Paris – it’s easier to move around and spot the runners you’ve come to see.
In the end, we have a great time in both cities. Still, let us know what you think of the two cities.