We’ve visited Berlin a couple of times in recent years – once in 2013 and the other earlier this year (Monsieur also made a day trip to East Berlin with his West German host family as part of a school exchange trip way back in 1978!). Both our recent trips were in spring, when the weather was pleasantly mild without being hot, the spring flowers were out and it was warm enough most of the time to enjoy the outdoor cafe lifestyle. It can get chilly at night though and quite windy so jackets and jumpers are still definitely needed!
I’ve done a few posts about Berlin before (see here, here and here) but I wanted to bring all my photos and stories together into a series. Obviously this is my personal insight into Berlin – there are so many aspects to such a fascinating place, which somehow has managed to survive terrible destruction and reinvent itself into the modern, eclectic and culturally diverse city of today.
It’s certainly not the prettiest of cities with so much building work going on (just as much as far was we could tell in 2016 as there was back in 2013). We had an interesting insight into this as we stayed both times at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Karl Liebkneckt Strasse, linked to the famous Unter den Linden by the bridge over the River Spree. On the other side of the street the former communist era palace has been ripped down and work is underway to reconstruct the Kaiser’s Palace with an original Baroque exterior albeit with some modifications. Estimated to be completed by September 2019, it will house the Humboldtsforum Museum and a congress complex.
The Radisson Blu proved to be an excellent base situated right on the river front with its pretty walkways and cafes. Part of the vibrant Mitte district (straddling both the former west and east zones of the city), it is also near the Museuminsel (Museum Island) and the famous Alexanderplatz dominated by the iconic Fernsehturm (Television tower).
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the stylish and modern Radisson Blu, which had a range of guests of all ages and nationalities, many of them appearing to be independent travellers like ourselves. The lobby has an amazing feature in the form of the AquaDom, the world’s largest freestanding cylindrical aquarium! You don’t have to be a hotel guest to visit it but we didn’t bother paying our discounted entrance fee to go in as we already had superb views of the fish, especially when we went up and down in the lifts.
With an excellent public transport system, Berlin is easy to get around. We mainly used the Hackescher Markt S Bahn station about a 10 minute walk away from our hotel. As well as the local overland trains we took from here, Hackescher Markt is also a major tram interchange with trams running down the Oranienburger Strasse and the old Jewish quarter towards Friedrichstrasse. The square in front of the station has become a popular hub with street performers entertaining the patrons of the many cafes and restaurants dotted round the perimeter. Even more so on our first trip, we found it easy to eat here at night as we just hopped off the train and had a meal before going back to the hotel.
Hackescher Markt is also the “East Berlin” meeting point for city walking tours (the western one is at the Zoologischer Garten Station). We did three walking tours with Original Berlin Walks during our first stay. I’d highly recommend at the very least their introductory tour, Discover Berlin, as this really helped us to get our bearings and work out what we wanted to explore further. All the guides were extremely knowledgeable, linguistically skilled and very entertaining. The ones we had were mostly PhD students who had a wonderful grasp and understanding of the history of the city and the political and social context. The exact meeting point was outside the Weihenstephaner Restaurant, which seemed to suit Monsieur very well!
Next week we’ll go on a river tour along the Spree. In the meantime “Tschuess”!
Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved