A “Trabant Safari” car takes visitors on a tour of Berlin’s sights. Trabant means “fellow traveler” and it was named in honor of the Soviet Union’s satellite “Sputnik,” which was launched the same year as the car: 1957.
Berlin – Been There

The car that makes everyone smile...

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Berlin – Been There The car that makes everyone smile...

Not everything in old East Germany was grey. Its signature car, the Trabant, came in glacier blue, papyrus white and beaver brown when it launched in 1957. And everybody wanted one.

Meera Dattani
Meera Dattani Travel Writer

Why not drive a Trabant yourself through the streets of Berlin? That’s the deal at Trabi Safari. There are over 100 cars, in various colors and prints – including animal. I opt for an open-top, army-edition Trabi. It’s been modified of course – these chugging, vehicles with their loud two-stroke engine need catalytic converters to grace the streets of Berlin these days.

With three Trabi tours to choose from, I go for The Wall Ride, a route tracing the old divided city to present-day Berlin. The guide drives upfront in the first car and his commentary is piped into my car through the radio.

Whenever we stop, or I stall, people photograph me but I know I’m not the one they’re after. When Germany marked 25 years after the fall of the Wall in November 2014, two convoys of Trabis paraded through Berlin as part of the celebrations. The sight of this car, an unthreatening symbol of Germany’s past, always brings a smile to many a face. It may not be green or efficient or fast, but the Trabi has a charm all of its own.

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The brightly painted cars of Trabant Safaris seen from the Berlin “Die Welt” Balloon, a captive helium balloon that rises to 150 meters and is one of the world’s largest. Trabants were originally available in a limited range of pastel colors, from beige to pale blue, although owners could not choose which one they received. Photo by Andrea Innocenti / Alamy

Andrea Innocenti

Andrea Innocenti

Agency
Alamy

The brightly painted cars of Trabant Safaris seen from the Berlin “Die Welt” Balloon, a captive helium balloon that rises to 150 meters and is one of the world’s largest. Trabants were originally available in a limited range of pastel colors, from beige to pale blue, although owners could not choose which one they received.

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