We visited Berlin (among several other European cities) in late December of 2007 and really liked the undercurrent of chaos that permeates the city, especially the eastern side.
This chaotic energy is most notable through the pervasive graffiti and occasional trash in the streets. Poitiers, with its nightly trash collection and frequent sidewalk and street cleaning, seems anal in comparison. While we aren't particularly fascinated by the graffiti (or the trash), these seem to be manifestations of a ubiquitous creativity than can be hard to find in wealthier, more established cities like Paris or Boston. There always seems to be something going on, or something for sale, that you would be hard-pressed to see replicated anywhere else.
We stayed in the Fredreichshain area in the eastern part of the city. The area is more out of the way (and thus less frequented by tourists) than areas to the west, but with the all-encompassing S/U-Bahn system, this isn't much of a problem. The area is full of interesting cafes, used clothing stores, vintage record shops, streetwear outlets, and boutiques by independent designers.
Since we don't speak any German, we had to rely on websites like exberliner.com and berlin.unlike.com to give us a head start on food, movie and music happenings. Through these two sites, we were able to find Thai food that was as spicy as we're used to (a review mentioned dishes are "a tad too hot for the European palate," a good sign), as well as good movies in English with German subtitles (Moviemento and Babylon-Kreuzberg are two theaters that often have English-language films).
We also found a film festival titled "Around the World in 14 films" showing at the Babylon-Mitte Cinema. We were able to attend two of the films: Silent Light and Garage.
Part II coming soon...