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Published: April 2nd 2007
A landmark we always wanted to see
Sunday April 1
After a drive just over 2 hours, we dropped off our rental car, and took the shuttle to Terminal1 at Heathrow airport. We checked in at the Premium check in area, and then passed through the very strict security and went to the British Airways Terraces lounge. It was large and busy, but well designed to still have enough of a feeling of privacy.
Our flight to Berlin was delayed 30 minutes. We boarded the Airbus A319-200, and had a long taxi to the runway, then a short wait for take off. Heathrow is a very busy Airport. The crew served dinner, a delicious Chicken Salad, hot bread rolls, and for Dessert a yummy White Chocolate Cheese Cake. The wine was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
The flight was 1 hour 45 minutes, quite short and enjoyable. After we disembarked we passed directly through Immigration and arrived at the baggage carousel only to find that the trolleys were chained, and needed to have a coin inserted to release them. Considering most people arriving would not have local coins on them we thought it was very strange, but an Aussie dollar helped us out by
We took a taxi, and as we were approaching the city area through the Tiergarten, we saw the Brandenburg Gate all lit up, a terrific site. The Westin Grand is a lovely hotel, and after we checked in unpacked, bed was very welcome.
Monday April 2
Up and off to a wonderful buffet breakfast, and we consulted the travel books and maps before we started off. Berlin is a flat city and bicycles are quite common, but today we decided to take an open top bus tour to familiarise ourselves with the city. We plan to hire bicycles tomorrow.
We took a short walk from the hotel to the new Holocaust Memorial, over 2000 large concrete blocks over an area roughly the size of a football field. Quite moving. The visitor centre was closed today, so we will return in the next few days. Then we walked up to the Brandenburg gate, so wonderful to see a sight that we have seen on TV, movies and read about in books. There we caught our hop on hop off tour bus, and saw many of the wonderful sights of Berlin. We decided to hop
Newly built rail terminal
off half way through the tour in the shopping area of Charlottenburg.
We went to Ka De We, a very upmarket department store famous in Europe. Each department was large and very trendy with exclusive brand names. We have noticed how well dressed Berliners are, especially the women. If you are a shoe hound this is definitely the place to come.
We had a traditional German lunch at a delicatessen. Pavement dining is extremely popular here; we just can’t understand why Australia is so behind in this type of thing, especially the serving of a glass of wine or beer.
Today was the start of German School holidays, and everywhere was very busy. We jumped back on the bus and finished with the tour taking us past Check Point Charlie, a remaining part of the wall and back to Brandenburg Gate. As our bus was so crowded, we stayed on board and went back were we hopped off first in the shopping area. We strolled up and down the Strasse, and being the bargain shoppers we are, found the One Euro Shop, selling a bottle of wine for 1 euro!! Yuck!! The Berlin Zoo nearby had a
A very chequered history
huge queue, as the baby Polar Bear Knut has just gone on display.
Back to our hotel and we relaxed for a few hours. Since most restaurants stay open till 11pm, we left our room at 9pm and found a Italian Trattoria. It was quite busy and we ordered a entrÃ©e to share, and a main course each, more than enough. After dinner we found a bar, and had a beer talked to some locals about the best places to go in Berlin.
Tuesday April 3
Today we got our hire bikes. A company called Call a Bike has bicycles all over Berlin. You just call them, give the code of the bike, and they give you the Pin code to unlock the bike, and we were off.
We went to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe first off, as it was nearest to the hotel. It is a very Sombre place, and we both had tears in our eyes listening to the audio tour of families who suffered during the Holocaust.
As the Tiergarten is alongside the memorial, a quiet ride through the garden seemed appropriate. The Tiergarten is extensive, and the
Memorial to the Jewish Murdered
It is on the site of Goebels Bunker and Hitlers was 200m south, a good location a sombre place
wooded paths and gardens were peaceful and relaxing. Arriving at the Siegessaule, we then cycled to the Brandenburg gate.
Our next stop was to be Check Point Charlie, but riding down the street we turned left instead of right and ended up in a old part of East Germany. It was lunch time, so seeing a Cuban restaurant we popped in. It was a good choice.
Back to Check Point Charlie, and lots of tourists about, many of them Americans. We read the history of the wall, a sad history of oppression and death. It was a colder day today then yesterday, so afterwards we found a Starbucks as a warm drink was needed.
We locked our bikes back right outside the Westin. Later on we went to the Potsdammer Platz for dinner. We browsed around and decided on the Haus 100 Biere, which offered a traditional German menu. Potsdammer Platz is where all the movie theatres are, also Legoland and an Imax, very popular with Berliners.
After a long day of cycling and sightseeing we were tired. We hailed a taxi for the hotel. Most taxis are Mercedes and comfortable, a new innovation for their
Easter Egg Display
Part of the Lindt display Ka De Wa
meters is, the fare is displayed on the rear vision mirror so you can see it clearly from the back seat! The drivers don’t expect a tip, and most other businesses seem to be the same here.
Wednesday April 4
Our last day in Berlin. The sky was a brilliant blue and a maximum temperature forecast today of 15c. We went to the H&M Store to see Madonna’s new range of clothes. They seemed very popular primarily for young trendy girls. We wandered through the men’s department, but discovered H&M is not for us, or lots of Aussie men we know since a 36” waist is the largest size they carry!
A few blocks further on is the Haus Vogtei Platz, 2 churches built by the Huguenots who fled persecution in France which are now museums. As mentioned before, the sky was a brilliant backdrop, and we had our photo taken in front of the statue of famous German Architect, Shiller.
We made our way to the Museum Island in the middle of the river Spree, to take a river tour. We walked down a very wide boulevard called Unter De Linden, the central strip was
Easter Egg Display1
Part of the Lindt display Ka De Wa
at least 20 metres wide and planted with trees. The Humboldt University was on our way, all throughout Berlin are impressive buildings that had been built prior to WW2. The extensive repairs and authentic re construction after the bombardment and the reunification is amazing.
We found the river tour and were told the commentary was in German, English commentary does not start until next week! We went anyway, and it was a welcome break to just cruise up and down the river and not have to concentrate on the commentary. We actually nodded of here and there along the way. We could notice scars of the war on some buildings.
After the cruise we wanted to go to the shopping area at Charlottenburg, so we caught one of the city circle buses. Berlin has a efficient public transport system, and we were able to purchase a 2 hour ticket which gave us the chance to hop on and hop off where we liked.
After a late lunch we caught the bus back to the hotel began packing for tomorrows flight. We walked around the streets, and later that evening took one last look at Berlin. We passed
a few restaurants and ended up near the tram lines, (only the old East Berlin had trams). An Italian Trattoria was in a side street and it was a good choice for dinner.
It has been a great holiday so far. We are amazed that spending so much 24/7 time together compared to being at home, we have gotten along really well. Not to say we have not felt a little tense with each other, but that is relationships for you!
Berlin is a very liberal city in many respects, too many too mention. Most Berliners speak English, it’s easy to get around, and prices are on par with Australia. Paul liked the bicycles as we covered a lot Berlin on that day. We would definitely come to Berlin again.
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