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Published: December 29th 2017
It's 14 years since we were last in Berlin. It's hard to believe that our last visit to this amazing city was before my days on Travelblog, back in an era when we both had "proper" jobs!!! We loved it then
, and we still love it today, although the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz
has changed a lot, and not for the better in our opinion. On our last visit it was a very friendly and comfortable place to stay. Now it has been "modernised" and the rooms are about half the size, no doubt to pack in as many visitors as possible. We didn't even have a bathroom! Instead there were glass screens and a "modesty curtain".
Principally, we were there for another of Trish's RAF reunions and an opportunity for them all to reminisce about days in the city before the wall came down. There was plenty of time for sightseeing though and we certainly made the most of it despite the bitterly cold days and nights. Lots of eating and drinking was done, but mostly in bars and restaurants as the aforementioned cold meant dwelling on the Christmas markets for bratwurst and gluhwein was simply not going to happen. We did find one stall with
a large brazier to keep us warm, but we are more used to hot days than cold ones now.
A real highlight was the DDR Museum
. It's very well put together and contains some amazing insights about what life in East Berlin was like. We could have spent many more hours browsing the exhibits in there. In contrast, the Stasi Museum
was slightly disappointing. It concentrates too much on the history of the Stasi and not enough on what they were actually doing to people. Right outside the museum is a much more interesting collection of pictures and information boards about events leading up to the fall of the wall. Had it not been so cold, we would undoubtedly have spent longer there than inside.
We stepped back in time again at the Trabi Museum which houses an interesting collection of trabants. It's more of a curiosity than an educational museum, but nevertheless we would recommend a visit. It's also one of the starting places for a trabi tour of the city, although we didn't find ourselves with enough time (or free cash!) to go on one.
Another leap into bygone days was our visit to Templehof
. The old
airport has been preserved rather than built on and now forms a massive urban park. You can run, walk, cycle skate, or even nordic ski along the length of both runways. Visits to the old terminal are possible with a bit more foresight than we had! On the apron sits an old US military transporter and the KLM plane which the fire service used to train on stands in a compound in the middle of the airfield. The site is so vast that it takes a good few hours just to walk along but if you are looking for a place to stretch your legs and blow away the cobwebs after a night on the town, look no further.
The plan had been to visit the Olympic Stadium and see Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. When the TV schedule moved the game from Saturday to Sunday it meant the match clashed with the ice-hockey for which we had already bought tickets. In retrospect, we made the right choice anyway because watching the Eisbaren
on the rink was a fabulous experience. Just a word of caution though - no bags larger than an A4 sheet of paper are allowed inside
the arena. We had to leave them at a storage place right outside and collect them afterwards. That meant Russ didn't have his camera inside, so his photos are all from his phone!
Finally, graffiti. Not everyone likes street art but Berlin has many fine examples of it in various locations all over the city. keep an open mind and open eyes, and you'll find a visual treat in almost any district.
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