Berlin rides nostalgia wave and tourist boom
Nearly two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital is becoming ever more popular with young tourists who have made it Europe's third most visited city, as much for the uber-cool nightclubs as for the history.
Defying all expectations, the city drew more foreign visitors in the first half of the year than in 2006 when Germany hosted the Football World Cup. The trend continued in July, despite heavy rains, as tourism figures increased by 6.5 percent compared to the same month last year, and the capital's tourism office says Berlin is now Europe's most popular city to visit after London and Paris.
It is 2:00 am and he is queueing to get into the trendy club "103" in a tumble-down building metres away from where the wall used to mark the border between Berlin's Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain neighbourhoods.
Visitors not only come to sample the edgy nightlife, but to see the scars of the Cold War and to tap into "Ostalgie", the German word for the sort of nostalgia for the artefacts of the communist era that has made even East Germany's rickety Trabant cars collectors items.
Those who want the full treatment visit the remains of the Berlin Wall -- whose fall led to German reunification on October 3, 1990 -- then book into the new "Ostel" which was designed to lull visitors to sleep in a time warp under portraits of communist leader Erich Honecker.
This is partly owing to the success of big business fairs, like the bi-annual IFA telecommunications fair and the so-called "Green Week" ecological event, but major companies like DailmerChrysler and Lufthansa also choose to hold their annual general meetings here, though their headquarters are elsewhere.