Weekend in Berlin

9 Oct

Berlin, Germany

We spent a wonderful weekend in Berlin in September. We were there for the Marathon (you can read about that here) and stayed on for a few days for some shopping and sightseeing. Berlin is a fascinating city, full of history, alive with culture, constantly redefining themselves. There’s a mix of old and new; buildings that survived the war, new buildings built to look like old one’s, and new modern architecture replacing the old. Then there’s street food, pub food, fine dining restaurants. I’m sure that no matter what you are into, Berlin has something for everyone to enjoy.

We stayed at the Hilton (swanky!!), chosen for its proximity to the Brandenburg Tor and the start of the marathon. It’s the fanciest place we’ve stayed in for a looooooooong time so I had to get a picture.

When visiting a city for the first time, we like to join a walking tour on the first day to get an overview of the city, its main landmarks and attractions, to get our bearings and to decide on what we might want to see again later on. Berlin is quite a large city so we chose a Fat Tire Bike Tour for our city highlights tour. The 4h full day biking tour included stops at Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Hitler’s Bunker, Watchtower, Luftwaffe Ministry, Victory Column, Soviet War Memorial, Reichstag, Museum Island, Bebelplatz, and of course lunch in a beer garden. Our guide was Sumi. Not only did she have a vast knowledge of 16th Century through to modern day history of Berlin and Germany but she was very pleasant to listen to and was not deterred by the marathon road blocks (2 days prior) en route to the Brandenburg Tor. I would highly recommend the tour and Sumi!

On the bike tour we stopped off at a small section of the Berlin Wall that is still standing which happened to be just around the corner from the famous Checkpoint Charlie. In the days of the still standing Berlin Wall, these checkpoints were the only way to cross into the opposing territory. This one has been recreated complete with US military (actors if you will). I think they look rather strapping in their uniforms 🙂

A little further from the main centre of the city along the river is a section of just over 1km of standing wall. Local and international artists have been called in over the years to cover the political propaganda with colourful flair.

There’s this place in Berlin called the Reichstag Building, the meeting place of the German Parliament and one of only a few buildings in Berlin to have survived (mostly!) during WWII. We booked a tour of the Reichstag but really all we got to see was the new dome and the roof terrace. The rest of the building was heavily guarded. We were escorted through the entrance to the elevators and from the elevators to the rooftop, the starting point of the tour. On the roof terrace you can obtain an audioguide, which provides a great deal of interesting information about the Reichstag Building and its surroundings, the German Bundestag, the work of Parliament, and the sights you can see from the dome. The inside of the dome is pretty cool. There’s a spiral walkway all around the outside and a fancy mirror thingy in the middle – used for projecting light into the dome or something like that.

And now to my favourite part of any holiday, or any day of the week really, the food! My father would often say that the best meal consists of beer, meat and potatoes. Someone should have told him to live in Germany.

Ok do you see the little paper plate with a pile of chips covered in ketchup? Well under all that sauce are “currywurst” or sausages doused in curry powder, a Berlin favourite. We snapped up these from Curry 36 on Mehringdamm. Apparently you need to order them “ohne darm” or without skin and they must be served in a swamp of sauce. That’s what everyone else was getting so that’s what we got! On the same street just a few steps away was this kebab stand with a huge queue (no joke!). We had to take a picture of it cos it was soo long!! Seriously, Berlin has the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey so if you’re wanting a good kebab, I guess this is the place to go.

That’s a wrap from Germany. So much to see and do but too little time to do it all. Berlin, we’ll hopefully be back.

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