We have so many cities in Europe are on our travel wish list and so when we had a weekend free in-between South Africa and London we decided to make a start on some of them.
Berlin was the winner because we have some friends who are currently living there, we managed to get convenient and cheap flights with Air Berlin and we could also use some free suite nights we had been awarded by Starwood Hotels Group.
My husband and I have very similar ideas about what a city break should include. A little bit of sightseeing, a couple of historical or significant buildings, a cathedral (but only if its an interesting one architecturally), nice walks and good food.
For us Berlin had enough to keep us busy and ticked all the boxes, except the food. No one ever went there for the food....
Our first day we decided to go for a walk and get orientated. We walked from the hotel towards the Berliner Don and on to the Tiergarten. This is a HUGE city park. It was a lovely walk, and there was plenty of shelter from the 37 degree sunshine that we had for this trip. We walked through the park towards the Reichstag Building, the home of the German Parliament. The building is beautiful with lawns in front where people were relaxing, enjoying the sunshine and meeting friends
We noticed a small queue for the dome on the top of the building and asked how we could get entrance. We were told it had to be booked online and so weren't holding our breath when I accessed the site on my mobile phone. To our amazement we were able to get timed tickets for later that day. Don't assume this will be the case. It was Sunday evening and the next other tickets I could get were for the following Sunday...
You can get an audio guide that tells you about how the dome was constructed and also about the spectacular views from the dome. Its well worth booking in advance to do this.....
Located on museum island the Berliner Dom was very impressive. If you are feeling energetic you can walk to the top of the dome.
There are parts where it is one way so there is a bit if chaos on busier days and times but the open views are well worth the effort.
Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie were really just sightseeing points. you can't get inside as there is nothing to get inside of. There is a Checkpoint Charlie museum though. Both are significant as at one point they divided the city. Depends on how interested in history you are as to if this will appeal to you or not...
Charlottenberg Palace was a bus journey away from the city centre but was worth the trip. It is beautiful. It is the largest castle in Berlin and sits in lovely grounds. It was severely damaged during the war but has been restored beautifully.
Obviously only one for the summer months is the city riverside beach bar. You can see a couple near to the main station as you arrive into Berlin from the Airport. There are two bars with rows of deck chairs on the river side. A lovely spot for a beer and to relax your sightseeing feet.
Blueman Group Show was a show both hubby and I had been wanting to see for a while. We got great tickets 6 rows from the front - in the poncho area. The show was fabulous, but the tickets were expensive. Its not for everyone, but we loved it.
Lastly the Pergamon Museum. The museum was far more popular than I anticipated... there were HUGE queues (over 2 hours) every day so on the last day we bought timed VIP tickets to get in and out quicker. This was something my husband wanted to see, me not so much. I even sub consciously placed it last on the list.... the exhibitions were impressive though.....
We stayed at the Westin Berlin, part of the Starwood Hotel group. We had a suite voucher to use up and got a beautiful room. The hotel is perfectly situated for all the sightseeing we did and we only needed a bus to see Charlottenberg Castle.
All in all a great weekend, despite the food being a bit 'basic'. There were a couple of great restaurants with good reviews but all three we wanted to visit were closed during the month we were there...... sadly, although we loved the weekend, we have too many other cities to visit to go back anytime soon.
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