This week we caught up with William, one of the great guides we work with, to talk about his experience as a private guide in Berlin:
Q: Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is William and I am originally from Sydney, Australia, but have been living in Germany since 2009 and Berlin since 2011. Originally I came to Germany to study German literature and history (University of Cologne), but in 2011 made the plunge to Berlin as it is such a dynamic city.
Q: What inspired you to become a guide?
First and foremost my German background. My father emigrated from West Germany in the early 1980s and I was raised bi-lingually. I always had a fascination with Germany as a child and guiding is one of the ways that I explore this.
Q: Have many tours have you led?
That is a tough question, as I have led a lot of tours! I have also led a lot of different tours, such as two week-long trips within Europe as well as all over Berlin, so it depends how you count them. I would guess somewhere north of 500, heading close towards 1,000 these days :).
Q: Which tours do you specialise in?
The tours that I feel I do best are all of the classic tours (Berlin highlights, Cold War, Third Reich), but I especially love showing people Berlin’s thriving Craft beer scene as well as it’s funky street
Q: Can you remember your first tour?
Yes very clearly. I also remember being very nervous. But after no one laughed at me, it was quite good. I think!
Q: Can you recall a particularly memorable (positive) experience from your tours?
The most positive experiences for me are the discussions I have with people and then witnessing their “ah, now I get it” moments. These moments are all extremely satisfying :).
Q: If you were to visit Berlin again for the first time what three things would you want to
experience again for the first time?
1. Sitting on the canal drinking beer and watching the sunset go down.
2. Bicycling the entire path of the Berlin Wall.
3. Witnessing awesome buskers near Warschauerstrasse entertain more than 300 people at once. It was really intense!
Q: Do you have a particular book or movie about Berlin that you like to recommend to
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen). It’s an incredibly honest, yet also enjoyable film that gives a bit of insight into the workings of the Stasi (East German secret police).
Q: What advice would you give a new guide?
Be flexible. Don’t stick to a script and expect everything to go the way you want it to. Our profession is based on having discussions and so I think it is very important to listen to a given
client and react accordingly.
Q: Is there a particular aspect of Berlin’s history that you find fascinating?
I think the 1950s is an era that I’m always surprised about. You don’t read as much about it because the building of the wall in the 1960s overshadows that decade. But it is the decade that saw the foundation of the modern city as we know it.
Q: What’s the best thing about working as a guide in Berlin?
Being able to travel throughout Berlin and discover new things all of the time. Friends who work in offices here say to me that they have never been to some places and yet those same places are my office ;).
Q: What is your favourite place for a day trip from Berlin?
Potsdam. It’s so close, yet so different in that it is very walkable, very beautiful and offers a very different version Germany.